Sebastian Horsley - a man who's slept with more than
1,000 prostitutes - gives a candid account of his experience of paying
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 but honestly.
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
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
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 love.
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
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
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
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.