Selekane* has a confession to make.
She regularly uses male prostitutes. As an educated single mom who works at a bank and stays in Migson Manor, in Soweto, she admits that most people would never expect her to pay for sex.
“It happened by chance,” Selekane explains. “A good friend and colleague was getting married, and we organised her a bachelorette party. The girls decided to hire a male stripper, who charged us R2500 for his erotic performance.
“He was tall, dark, very well built and we all went crazy when he started performing.
“Afterwards, I found out that he had a fee he charged if you wanted to take him home with you.
“Maybe it was the drinks, but I asked him what the fee was, and he said it was R800. I forked it out and off we went. The rest is history,” she says with a shy smile.
Since then Selekane has used rent boys frequently. He even introduced her to another colleague and she solicits their services at least once every two months.
“They just know what to do in bed. No judgment and no emotions involved. It is very liberating and can be a much-needed break from the typical dating scene,” Selekane says.
While the use of female prostitutes sparks heated debate, the concept of women using male escorts is either unheard of or just not talked about at all. But, as Selekane’s case shows, it is certainly happening.
According to recent research called Women Who Buy Sexual Services in the UK, more women are using male escort services than ever before.
In the UK alone, the number of male escorts advertising online has more than tripled in the past five years, showing a growing increase in demand for their services.
But are South African women in the same boat?
Sowetan spoke to two male escorts we found online about their observations.
“Many of my clients are black, successful women,” says Rodney, who refused to give his surname.
“They have money, drive nice cars and have nice houses. I have never received a call from a broke student. Most of them are professionals and executives, and they pay very well.”
And how do these high flyers procure their services as male escorts hardly stand on street corners advertising themselves?
Rodney says most deals are conducted online. “Someone will respond to your ad, tell you what they want and, because we can travel, we can be at their house within an hour.”
Rodney, who is originally from Uganda, says he was introduced to the escort world by a Nigerian friend.
“He told me South African women [can] pay a lot of money for sex with us. For me it seemed like the answer to my prayers because I was struggling to get a decent job in South Africa because I don’t have a work permit.
“I started being an escort, or [a] rent boy, as they call us, and I am making a decent living. I bought a car [and] I stay in a great apartment in a nice suburb,” he says. Rodney says he charges R1000 per hour, and has a pricing list, depending on the client’s needs.
“If you want to have me overnight, my fee is R5000.
“For a two-day stay, I can give you a discount and charge R8000, but a weekend is between R10000 to R15000.”
Asked if his fees don’t put many clients off, Rodney confidently disagrees.
Another escort, Mike, says he deals specifically with couples. “I get a lot of calls from husbands asking me to come and render a service to their wives. Most like to join in, but some prefer to just watch. I don’t care, as long as I have my money in my pocket at the end of the session.”
Mike says his rate is R3500 per couple per session.