Celebrity culture and escort services

Charlie Sheen. Anthony Weiner. Tiger Woods. Hugh Grant. Eliot Spitzer. President Clinton. President Kennedy, for that matter. Derek Jeter. David Beckham. Jerry Springer. Alex Rodriguez. Ne-Yo. Barney Frank. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Not just another set of names on a list, these politicians and celebrities have all been caught with their pants, well, almost literally down. Granted, a few names might not have been connected with paid sexual labor, but they do ask the question: do celebrities cheat more? Or is there just a higher likelihood of them getting caught?

For those on the list affiliated with the prostitution and escort trades, the answer may be a little more cut and dry. With celebrity comes a great deal of responsibility, prestige and, if by chance prestige should fail you, cash. And when you have cash, you can pretty much buy any sort of time with another person you want.

Let’s back up a second and go through these individually for a bit.

Responsibility. Alex Rodriquez makes more money playing for the Yankees ($31 million a season) than the entirety of his home-state team, the Florida Marlins. You can bet the Yankees are making sure their investment is worth it, and that he feels the weight of the $41 thousand dollars he’s making every time he’s at bat. Eliot Spitzer is getting $500,000 for his first year at CNN, and that’s only a fraction of what some news anchors get. Charlie Sheen got $1.25 million per episode for “Two and a Half Men” [1].

The networks and producers that pay these people those insane amounts of money only do so because they know their employees are products. They bring in viewers and therefore funds to the sponsor organizations that pay and profit from them. And as much as they need their stars to survive, as we’ve seen with Mr. Sheen, there’s only so much they can get away with before those contracts are going to start to ebb. While we common folk can balk at those amounts with jealousy, we pay into the system that keeps it going. And the things that keep that spotlight bright — public appearance, press junkets, red carpets, a life flooded with paparazzi — come with a heavy weight of responsibility.

Don’t get me wrong, life wouldn’t exactly be worse with the spotlights, the high-end products and the enormous salary, right? But the stress of being a public figure, of having every word monitored and their physical appearance picked apart day and night under flashing lights? Well, that can’t be easy. And for those who do it year after year, chances are they’re going to take whatever form of release they can. Whether it be yoga, or public service, or alcohol, or escort sex.

Now, point two: prestige. Scattered around our fair country are clubs with $600 bottles (for the cheaper liquor) and lines you may never see the front of. Also are high-end fundraisers that cost thousands a plate and opening nights with more glamour than most of us could imagine being sunk in the Titanic. The majority of us are never going to step foot in the door of one of those places. Or afford multi-thousand dollar dresses, bags, cars, watches… the list sadly goes on.

But with prestige comes access. And free stuff. Not only do you get into those events but, with certain celebrity status, you go to them for free. That car you sorta think is cool? Your network gives it to you as a bonus. The world of stuff unfolds like a springtime flower, and the pressure is on to pluck it.

With that level of prestige also come pretty faces, many who want the story of “I hooked up with so-and-so”. And generally those people give it up for free. Some people even have a “list” of certain celebrities that they’re allowed to cheat with if they ever have the chance. And, as a celebrity, if you’re not one of them and can’t get it for nothing there’s always…

Cash. You make millions an episode, a season, a fiscal year. There’s only so much stuff one needs, after the staff is paid and the family is more than provided for. What seems like a lot for someone making $50,000 a year is peanuts for someone making even a million. So if you can’t have the woman or man you want, you can always buy the time of someone that’s close enough to that perfect picture.

Not that this is necessary in a world where cash is behind in line to credit cards and name-dropping. Many celebrities can ride on their connections and prestige alone. Which is why it’s interesting that many celebrities get caught when they pay. Both Jerry Springer and Charlie Sheen got busted because they used personal checks to pay for escorts. Sheen reportedly paid over $50,000 to the madam in the two years she had been supplying him with ladies, and he paid one woman $30,000 with a check for about 3 minutes of sex.

JFK, Anthony Weiner and David Beckham didn’t get caught using an escort service or paying prostitutes, and their scandals were problematic enough. Thousands of celebrities have no doubt spent time sexually with people who weren’t their spouses that serviced them for free. But when someone in the spotlight pays for sex or companionship, it hits their career incredibly harder.

Before the rise of bold paparazzi, camera phones and the internet, affairs could be a bit more discreet. Sure, everyone knew JFK was having a fling with Marilyn, but that story saw dramatically less attention than President Clinton’s having a one-off with his intern. And while Jerry Springer’s paying of a Kentucky brothel with a personal check back in the seventies was a scandal then, it in no way resulted in the volcano that was Anthony Weiner’s texting pictures of his junk to a lady that wasn’t his wife.

Even Facebook and Twitter have something to do with the modern cheating phenomenon. Texting, as former Representative Weiner taught us, can give a certain level of freedom and somewhat-discreet naughtiness, along with an anonymity that emboldens our fingers when our mouths might stay mum (for an incredibly entertaining and somewhat disturbing transcript of Weiner’s texting conversation, check out Bill Maher and Jane Lynch on the Real Time With Bill Maher show – http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/06/watch.html). In the heat of any moment, we can reach out with a Facebook status, a tweet, a text… making any dark fantasy that much more of a reality.

I mean, be honest, have you never drunk-texted before?

(If you haven’t, god speed to you).

There’s no perfect conclusion to why celebrities cheat, and if their scandals are such because their world invites them to do so more than the common man’s (or woman’s, who are only slightly less likely to cheat) or if they just get caught more.

Responsibility, prestige, cash.