[Paleopsych] Observer: The brothel creeper
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Mon Sep 27 15:11:31 UTC 2004
The brothel creeper
As the debate rages about the pros and cons of legalising
prostitution, Sebastian Horsley - a man who's slept with more than
1,000 prostitutes - gives a controversial and candid account of his
experience of paying for sex
Sunday September 19, 2004
I remember the first time I had sex - I still have the receipt. The
girl was alive, as far as I could tell, she was warm and she was
better than nothing. She cost me £20.
I was 16 then and I'm 41 now. I have spent 25 years throwing my money
and heart at tarts. I have slept with every nationality in every
position in every country. From high-class call girls at £1,000 a pop
to the meat-rack girls of Soho at £15, I have probably slept with more
than 1,000 prostitutes, at a cost of £100,000.
I am a connoisseur of prostitution: I can take its bouquet, taste it,
roll it around my mouth, give you the vintage. I have used brothels,
saunas, private homes from the internet and ordered girls to my flat
prompt as pizza. While we are on the subject, I have also run a
brothel. And I have been a male escort. I wish I was more ashamed. But
I'm not. I love prostitutes and everything about them. And I care
about them so much I don't want them to be made legal.
In English brothels you shuffle into a seedy room so dim you can only
meet the girl by Braille. But in New York last year I sat on a
four-poster bed while 10 girls paraded in front of me one by one, like
bowls of sushi on a carousel. 'Hi,' they would say, 'I'm Tiffany',
'I'm Harmony', 'I'm Michelle', and I would rise and kiss them. It was
so touching, so sweet, so kind. There should always, no matter what,
be politeness. It is the way the outside world should work, selfishly
The great thing about sex with whores is the excitement and variety.
If you say you're enjoying sex with the same person after a couple of
years you're either a liar or on something. Of all the sexual
perversions, monogamy is the most unnatural. Most of our affairs run
the usual course. Fever. Boredom. Trapped. This explains much of the
friction in our lives - love being the delusion that one woman differs
from another. But with brothels there is always the exhilaration of
not knowing what you're going to get.
The problem with normal sex is that it leads to kissing and pretty
soon you've got to talk to them. Once you know someone well the last
thing you want to do is screw them. I like to give, never to receive;
to have the power of the host, not the obligation of the guest. I can
stop writing this and within two minutes I can be chained, in the arms
of a whore. I know I am going to score and I know they don't really
want me. And within 10 minutes I am back writing. What I hate are
meaningless and heartless one-night stands where you tell all sorts of
lies to get into bed with a woman you don't care for.
The worst things in life are free. Value seems to need a price tag.
How can we respect a woman who doesn't value herself? When I was young
I used to think it wasn't who you wanted to have sex with that was
important, but who you were comfortable with socially and spiritually.
Now I know that's rubbish. It's who you want to have sex with that's
important. In the past I have deceived the women I have been with. You
lie to two people in your life; your partner and the police. Everyone
else gets the truth.
Part of me used to enjoy the deception. There was something about the
poverty of desire with one's girlfriend. Sex without betrayal I found
meaningless. Without cruelty there was no banquet. Having a secret
life is exhilarating. I also have problems with unpaid-for sex. I am
repulsed by the animality of the body, by its dirt and decay. The
horror for me is the fact that the sublime, the beautiful and the
divine are inextricable from basic animal functions. For some reason
money mitigates this. Because it is anonymous.
What I hate with women generally is the intimacy, the invasion of my
innermost space, the slow strangulation of my art. The writer chained
for life to the routine of a wage slave and the ritual of copulation.
When I love somebody, I feel sort of trapped. Three years ago I was
saved. I found a girl whom I could fall in love with ... and sleep
with prostitutes with. She sends me to brothels to sleep with women
for her. I buy her girls for her birthday and we go to whorehouses
together. I am free forever from the damp, dark prison of eternal
A prostitute exists outside the establishment. She is either rejected
by it or in opposition to it, or both. It takes courage to cross this
line. She deserves our respect, not our punishment. And certainly not
our pity or prayers.
Of course, the general feeling in this country is that the man is
somehow exploiting the woman, but I don't believe this. In fact, the
prostitute and the client, like the addict and the dealer, is the most
successfully exploitative relationship of all. And the most pure. It
is free of ulterior motives. There is no squalid power game. The man
is not taking and the woman is not giving. The whore fuck is the
purest fuck of all.
Why does a sleazy bastard like me like whores so much? Why pay for it?
The problem is that the modern woman is a prostitute who doesn't
deliver the goods. Teasers are never pleasers; they greedily accept
presents to seal a contract and then break it. At least the whore pays
the flesh that's haggled for. The big difference between sex for money
and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs a lot less.
But it is more than this. What I want is the sensation of sex without
the boredom of its conveyance. Brothels make possible contacts of
astounding physical intimacy without the intervention of personality.
I love the artificial paradise; the anonymity; using money, the most
impersonal instrument of intimacy to buy the most personal act of
intimacy. Lust over love, sensation over security, and to fall into a
woman's arms without falling into her hands.
Having an instinctive sympathy for those condemned by conventional
society, I wanted to cross the line myself. To pay for sex is to strip
away the veneer of artifice and civilisation and connect with the true
animal nature of man. Some men proudly proclaim that they have never
paid for it. Are they saying that money is more sacred than sex?
But one of the main reasons I enjoy prostitutes is because I enjoy
breaking the law - another reason I don't want brothels made legal.
There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it desirable. When I
have dinner every evening in Soho I always think: isn't scampi
delicious - what a pity it isn't illegal. I'm sure I am not alone in
this. Even Adam himself did not want the apple for the apple's sake;
he wanted it only because it was forbidden.
As for the girls, the argument is that making it legal will somehow
make it safer, but Soho has one of the lowest crime rates in the
country. Anyway, crime and risk are part of the texture of life.
Indeed, Freud tells us: 'Life loses interest when the highest stake in
the game of living, life itself, may not be risked.' Risk is what
separates the good part of life from the tedium.
I decided to ask my Claudia, my favourite prostitute. I first spotted
her in the street in Knightsbridge 10 years ago and was so taken by
her haunted beauty that I decided to follow her. There was an air of
great quality about Claudia. The faces of English girls look as if
there is not enough materials to go round. They have thin lips and
papery eyelids, box jawbones, prominent Adam's apples and withered
hearts. Claudia looks Mediterranean - her lips are full and curly, her
nostrils flared, her eyes black and as big as saucers.
She walked and I stalked all the way to Soho and down Brewer Street.
No. No way. She couldn't be! She turned, and walked into a brothel. I
couldn't believe it. I could fuck Raquel Welch for £25.
When I ask if she wants prostitution legalised, she reacts violently:
'No way! I tried to take a regular job a few months ago. After tax and
national insurance I was left with practically nothing. So I came back
here. On a good day here I can take £500. I don't have a pimp, so
after paying the overheads and the maid I've got more than enough.'
There you are. Income tax has made more liars out of the British
people than prostitution.
I know a little bit about the business side. Some years ago I became a
madam and a male escort. I turned one of the rooms in my flat in
Shepherd Market into a knocking shop and joined an escort agency. I
went into prostitution looking for love, not money. That said, I
always took cash. The women wanted company, someone willing to please
at the midnight hour, and straight sex. It was nerve-wracking
wondering if I was going to be able to get it up or get on, but at
least I had a valid reason for liking my lovers - they paid me. I
didn't care if someone called me a whore and a pimp.
So you see, I have always been a prostitute by sympathy. As for the
rest of society, prostitution is the mirror of man, and man has never
been in danger of becoming bogged down in beauty. So why don't we
leave it alone? Or learn to love it, like me? Sex is one of the most
wholesome, spiritual and natural things money can buy. And like all
games, it becomes more interesting when played for money. And even
more so when it is illegal.
Hookers and drunks instinctively understand that common sense is the
enemy of romance. Will the bureaucrats and politicians please leave us
some unreality. I know what you are thinking. That it's all very well
for people like me to idealise whores and thieves; to think that the
street is somehow noble and picturesque; I have never had to live
there. But so what? One day I will. Until such time, I have to pay for
it. How else would someone young, rich and handsome get sex in this
city? Yes, yes, I know. Prostitution is obscene, debasing and
disgraceful. The point is, so am I.
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