Showtime’s ‘Gigolos’ turns escort agency into thriving business

There were a couple of famous women on Monday’s Golden Globes that Las Vegas male escort Vin Armani (not his real name) was “familiar with,” he says.

“Pretty much every award show” features a star or two who hired him, he says.

Armani is the $500-an-hour escort on Showtime’s reality show “Gigolos” who once dressed as a supervillain and ran around a hotel with a client wearing a superhero costume (her fantasy).

He and other guys who work at the “straight male escort” agency Cowboys4Angels.com say they have wrapped footage for season six of “Gigolos,” premiering March 17.

And what a difference a reality show makes for an escort business’s bottom line.

“It totally transformed the agency from a small-time operation,” owner/retired escort Garren James says. “We booked out $3 million worth of sales last year” out of Las Vegas, L.A., Miami, Atlanta and New York.

“I’ve had 12,000 employment requests” through the site’s jobs page, James notes.

“I even started a crazy employment file of (unappealing) guys who are just like, ‘What are you thinking?'”

Who is hiring straight male escorts these days?

“I’ve had three Forbes listers (women from the Forbes magazine rich list), four celebs, one was very A-lister, and the other three were reality or B-lister or TV show-type people,” he says, protecting names.

One Forbes lister told James she pays escorts because when regular men find out what she’s worth, it ruins dating.

“A lot of these people are used to paying for services. Everywhere they go, they pay for bellmen, they pay for massages,” James says. “They like the idea of (an escort who) won’t start bugging them, calling them, emailing them, texting them.”

In addition to VIPs, corporate hustlers and New Yorkers who stop here en route to Los Angeles, his customers include special-needs clients in wheelchairs; burn victims; women traumatized by rape looking to “ease back in” to relations; divorcees; and widows who haven’t dated in 20 years.

Armani (who keeps 80 percent of fees plus tips) says many clients come to him because they feel it’s emotionally safer than dating after they’ve suffered trauma.

And Armani gets that, because he quit monogamy a decade ago because of that special person who destroyed him.

“She was an energy vampire. She just really broke my heart to the point I was in tears on the floor of a hotel room, just racked with grief and sorrow,” he recalls.

“I was, like, ‘I’m not going to ever let this happen again,'” he says. “I’m going to learn everything about myself, about why I’m feeling this way right now. That’s what took me on this journey, man.”

Armani didn’t look for this work, it was thrust upon him. He was a Howard University philosophy student, then a happy software developer working with startups, playing pro volleyball on the California coast, and he was a pickup artist in Los Angeles who wrote the book “Tao of the Gigolo” (“it’s a philosophy book”) — but one day a wealthy woman he was seeing told James he should really, really hire Armani as an escort.

Everybody asks him how being a nonmonogamous escort changes his romantic relationships, and he replies they’re better than before.

“It’s been an amazing filter, to filter out women who would be jealous, insecure” and possessive, he says.

“For a woman to be with me, she has to be internally very secure in who she is, in her sexuality, in her own value as a woman.”

Armani (who also owns the downtown art gallery The Basement) sees himself in a fruitful competition for a girlfriend’s time.

“At any given time, whoever she’s with intimately, I would always want her to choose the best option. I want the best for her,” he says.

“So if I’m the best option, she should be spending time with me. And if someone else is the best option, then she should be spending time with them. It really motivates me to always be the best individual I can be.”

Women can apply to be on the Showtime show by signing up on the escort website. This has been a news-you-can-use special report.

NORM’S BACK

Norm Macdonald has a cautionary tale for you. Don’t voluntarily give your Twitter password to a guy on Twitter you don’t know, as an act of faith he’ll tweet for you when you take a break for three months.

“I gave him my password and he just erased it,” says Macdonald, who performs Friday at the Orleans Showroom. “I tend to trust people based on their avatar.”

That was his secondary Twitter account, where he tweeted about books.

But as you can see on his main Twitter account, he had a disaster with that one, too.

“I was just trying to change my picture, which I can never do, but as I was doing it, I kept doing other things” — and he ended up deleting almost every tweet he’s ever posted. What started him down this path?

“I didn’t like my picture because I had a Blackberry on it,” he says. “Everybody was making fun of me that I had a Blackberry.”

Doug Elfman can be reached at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman. On Twitter: @VegasAnonymous.

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