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Awards for male escorts? Isn't a credit-card swipe enough? Nope—these guys are entirely deserving of acclaim, especially if you've ever met some of the twisted trolls who hire them. (Kidding. It's all delightfully fun, I'm sure.)
And so, the night before the humptastic Black Party, rentboy.com staged its annual Hookie Awards at Roseland, making trophy boys out of contenders for Best Body, Best Ass, and Best Boyfriend Fantasy—and yes, those are three separate things. The place was filled with nominees, patrons, and gawkers, and though homophobic minister George Rekers's rent boy Jo-vanni Roman didn't show up as expected, everyone else did, all ready to lift your luggage with a smile and a twinkle.
Chickeny twinks and guys in pig masks mixed side by side with bearish Best Daddy nominees like Rusty McMann, who told me he segued into escorting at age 45. "I got tired of guys who couldn't take no for an answer," he explained, "so I put a price on it. Red hair is as much a fetish as piss!" To show me his worth, McMann flashed his privates, which were indeed framed by jungle-red pubes. You don't get these kinds of moments at the Pulitzers.
But it's not all fun and games for the escorts. When I announced the event on my blog last month, someone tweeted: "Just what we need. Another awards show highlighting gay4play molested hookers w/a 2 yr shelf life." That's typical of the grief sex workers have to deal with, but a much darker tale pervaded the evening: A 57-year-old man was recently found bound, gagged, and dead in his Chelsea apartment, cops initially believing he met the culprits on Rentboy. But that wasn't the case, as it turned out. "The Wall Street Journal later reported that the victim met the guys at the Blue Store," Rentboy's director Sean Van Sant told me. On with the celebration.
This was the sixth Hookies, which Van Sant said is "a way of recognizing escorts, who are underappreciated and stigmatized in the press, and bringing it out in the open." No kidding!
Their going rate is about $250–$300 an hour—I hear—numbers which amazingly enough haven't gone up in the past decade, either because of the economy or the glut of available escorts or both. A Hookie, Van Sant added, can actually up your price—and selectivity—sort of like an Oscar does for Jean Dujardin or Christopher Plummer. And there's just as much campaigning to get it.
But is this all legal? "We say the escorts are selling their time only," Van Sant informed. "What happens between you and the escort is up to you. That's the way it's considered legal." Whew! My friends will be so pleased.
Even if validated by the law, the Hookies were racy, fun, and tres bizarre. Van Sant knows that the escorts aren't always overly articulate. ("You can be great sexual therapists, but that's not necessarily going to translate onstage.") So to make up for the winners who can barely eke out a "thank you," he always books a funny host and makes sure "there's someone willing to show his dick onstage at all times to get gay people's attentions." (This time, it was Best Cock winner Jake Havoc, who unleashed his business and memorably told the crowd, "My baloney pony has a first name, and it's Uncut." He got their attention.)
The verbally uncut comic Alec Mapa was the host, cracking: "Every performer is a whore, even Meryl Streep. Look at Mamma Mia!" And my own bid for attention involved presenting Best Porn Star Escort to ex-naval officer Vito Gallo in between trading banter with the hookers throughout the night. I asked Best Live Performer nominee Gio what makes a bad client, and he replied, "Their attitude—sometimes they're too demanding or controlling." And not just when they're doing Nazi role-playing.
Best Fetish Escort winner Spencer Reed is the one who gives the 'tude, and people pay dearly for it. When I asked him what his limits are, Reed sensibly explained: "I'm a dom. It's not about my limits."
And Best Top nominee Rafael Alencar told me how he draws his own line. "I try to select on the cell phone," said the Brazilian hottie. "You have a feeling if it's gonna be a good or bad meeting. I say no five to 10 times for every yes. 'Hey, Rafael, can you do it raw?' 'Wrong number.' 'Hey, Rafael, wanna party?' 'Wrong number.' 'Hey, can you come right now?' 'Dude, I have a life.' 'Hey, I'm here with my girlfriend. . . .'" Wrong number? Well, maybe not. "I'm straight for play," Alencar added with a cute porn-star giggle.
And he has had way more than a two-year shelf life, though with disposable income still tighter than my butt these days, hard times for hustlers don't just refer to swollen membranes. "I used to have 50 calls a day," Alencar admitted. "Since the recession, I only have 20. But that's OK. I can only do a maximum of five anyway!"
Fortunately, he's still getting calls to do adult films, too. In fact, he just got bruised while shooting one, ending up with a stomach welt even redder than Rusty McMann's pubes. "I started doing more violent movies," explained Alencar, lifting his shirt. Yikes. "I'm very versatile" is becoming the credo of real-life strippers, not just the ones in Gypsy.
But it's still a living. What if all this glory (holing) ultimately ends for him? "I'm not afraid to get old," Alencar said. "I am a dentist, and I'll probably go back to that." More drilling. More oral. But not quite as satisfying for the baloney pony.