The Uber for Gentleman Companions

"ManServants" are not hookers. They are not escorts. They are not gigolos.



Dalal Khajah and Josephine Wai Lin -- the two women behind the freshly launched, completely real San Francisco business that sends attractive men to do the bidding of (mostly) female clients for an hourly rate -- would emphatically like you to know this.



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"The Ladies" of ManServants (not my embroidery --"The ladies" is their shared email address) emphatically wanted me to know this when they made nervy, cautious arrangements for me to experience their "signature service" in the American citadel of sex work and absurd technological enterprise.



The splash page of the company's website promises "WHAT WOMEN REALLY WANT," operating under the premise that while men would like to pay a woman to take her clothes off at a party, women would like to pay a man to come to a party and be nice to them.



Though the men are available for a host of events, they are primarily intended to act as all-purpose-but-That-One entertainment for groups of women who want to spice up a girls' night or hen party with some hard-core courtesy. Women, asserts ManServants, don't actually want the female analogue of the bachelor party stripper. That stuff -- the gyrating and the grinding and the ambient possibility of ejaculation -- is men stuff.



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"It's not a stripper who gets naked and rubs his greasy body all over you," the site reassures or disappoints, depending on your idea of a good time. "It's aManServant: a gentleman who treats you like a queen. Book one for a bachelorette party or any gathering to be your personal photographer, bartender, bodyguard, and butler all in one."



The start-up, which is currently available only in San Francisco, feels equally motivated by the wedding industrial complex and a long night of flavored vodka: At its core, it's Uber for good-looking men you can order around.



I'd heard about ManServants over the summer when its wildly over-the-topvideo trailer lobbed a saucy pinecone at social media's spotty wasp nest. It showed attractive women with perfect blowouts being attended to by a mostly white cadre of model-hot guys.








One ManServant wheels a baby carriage for a woman in a cocktail gown. Another emerges from a pool in a tuxedo to refill a gorgeous woman's champagne glass while the kind of music plays that you might hear in a hotel lobby and think, "Whoa, people in this building are probably having sex."



Tech Twitter responded rationally to the ManServants promo by eating its own head. Several blogs provided incredulity and outrage in both male and female flavors. There were many comments made in comments sections by people who write comments in comments sections. Comments like, "No women are going to use this" or "Women don't need to pay for attention" or "Okay, no *hot* women will use this."



"But do they FUCK you?" everybody seemed to want to know.



No. Not according to the literature.



So if I have this straight (and I don't know that I do), the idea is to provide a group of classy high-femme straight girls with a fully clothed, light-submissive Chippendale. A stripper who doesn't strip.



Khajah and Wai Lin both have advertising backgrounds, so some of the copy on their site is surprising in its schizophrenic, Manichean approach to female sexuality.



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Beneath the repeated oath that women don't want to leer at a man's body or see his penis is the promise that you can pick the exact kind of man's body that you won't leering at: "Blonde to brunette, James Bond to Middle-Earth, if your type lives to serve, we've got him," they promise. Well, great. I've always wanted to not fuck James Bond.



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The sum total seems less cheeky and fun than forbidding and legally problematic. ManServants are supposed to address you as "My lady" and respond to your demands with "As you wish." As part of the "Standard Service," your ManServant must also act as "a bodyguard" and "human shield against douchebags." I'm the daughter of a personal-injury lawyer, so all I could think of is that if my ManServant decks an unlikely interloper during our chaste rendezvous, there's no way I'm not going down for it.



When it first gained internet notoriety, a lot of people thought ManServants was a spoof or hoax. And, conceptually, it is almost paradoxically retrograde. Yes, okay: I concede that some women may not want a set of oily testicles jingle-jangled in their faces before their big day. But what woman really wants a man to "always remain two steps ahead so she may gracefully make an entrance" or be sent "as a gift to a lady friend's cubicle, so she'll have a personal assistant for the day to do her bidding." Personally, I would rather have the testicles in my face -- or drink a large glass of lead paint.



This is an excerpt. Read the full piece on Matter, where it first appeared.



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