This article originally appeared on VICE Italy
Francesco Mangiacapra is a professional escort from Naples, and he's not afraid to talk about it. In fact, Francesco is so open about his work that he wrote a book, Il numero uno. Confessioni di un marchettaro (The Number One: Confessions of a Male Escort), in which he talks about his experiences and the state of the business.
"I didn't write about my career to promote my services," Francesco told me. "In fact, I was perfectly aware that it would put many people off becoming new clients." I caught up with him to find out what the night-to-night life of a male escort is like, and hear about the time a client came over to clean Francesco's flat.
VICE: How did you become an escort?
Francesco Mangiacapra: After getting my law degree, I worked as a trainee at a law firm for a few months. I quickly realised I was working very hard for very little money, and the traineeship didn't guarantee any job security. I just started thinking that I might as well make way more money as an escort. I appreciate it might seem like a bit of a bold choice, but I was never afraid of what other people might think.
What was your first time like?
My first time was unplanned – it happened almost by chance. A person I would not have slept with for free offered to pay me for sex, and I became curious. He was a lawyer too, and for just 20 minutes of sex, he offered the exact amount of money I made in a month as a trainee. I accepted, but not because I needed the money that badly – I did it mostly to boost my self-esteem, which at the time was very low.
Soon after, I realised there was good money to be made in being an escort, but that the job had somewhat of an expiry date. I was almost 30, so I had no time to waste. When I posted my first ad online, clients just started calling.
What's your typical client like?
I don't have one. My clients are incredibly diverse in terms of their social class, age, marital status, profession and sexual preferences. Happy singles, lonely people, gay, straight, married couples, lovers, couples with friends, couples with other escorts – it's all work for me. I generally do attract more men than women. From my personal experience, people you'd least suspect would pay for sex often have a more conflicted relationship with their sexual fantasies. The more they repress their desires, the stronger they come out in bed.
How do your sessions work? Is it awkward when it's time to pay?
I always try to establish some sort of dialogue with the client. I pretend to believe everything they tell me, especially when they conjure up a fictional identity. I listen to them and make them feel special because they're paying to be the centre of attention. Some clients tell me I'm better than their therapist.
How they choose to pay me usually reflects their character. Smug clients casually hand me money like they're paying at a toll booth, the shy ones act like it's a present – which I hate because I worked hard for that money. The more uninhibited refer to it as a fee, acknowledging that I'm a professional. The romantic ones put it in an envelope with a little message, while the old nostalgics pay by cheque. Then there are those who just leave the money on the table or sneak it into my pockets.
What do you do if you don't find a client attractive at all?
I don't take any sexual enhancement pills, so foreplay or my imagination can be really important to get me going. But even when my client is a really hot guy, I can't fully enjoy it because they're paying me. It's not someone I met randomly, I can't let go as much as I would with people who aren't my clients.
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Have you ever agreed to have sex without a condom?
People who sleep around are normally the ones who are most worried of getting an STD, so it's rare that you're asked to do that. I always have safe sex – it's not worth the risk.
What are some of the weirdest requests you've received?
Even though I've been doing this job for years, I still get shocked by certain people's sexual fantasies – mostly because they rarely have anything to do with the act directly. Once, a client turned up in a nappy. Another time, a customer tied the condom in a knot so he could take my come home. Someone paid me so he could come over to mine and do my house chores. Apart from that, there are always plenty of people who pay to be insulted, beaten and tortured.
In your adverts, you say you can provide both top quality and low cost services. How does that work?
I don't have a fixed fee – I accept the maximum amount a client is willing to pay. That's just how I choose to sell myself. At one point I just started calling myself the best on the market, so that clients would think of me the same way and actually help me become the best on the market. That's what marketing yourself is all about. My clients like me because I offer something they won't find anywhere else. It doesn't matter if someone else's ad lists a few extra centimetres height or dick length – a client wants quality.
Is it hard to have a relationship when you work as an escort?
Yes, it can be. In my experience, people prefer to have a partner who cheats on them on the sly, than accept the idea that monogamy is an outdated social construct and that true loyalty lies in mutual honesty. I've made various attempts to start a relationship, but it has never been easy. Perhaps one day I will meet the right person. Many people eventually do, but maybe I'll be so busy with work that I won't realise it.
What are your plans for after you're done being an escort?
Since becoming an escort, I've also become a fully licensed lawyer. I don't practice law, but I was keen to sit the bar exam to remind myself and the people around me that I had other options. Whatever happens, being an escort will leave me financially secure for a while.
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