For six seasons on Showtimes Gigolos, Garren James has let us into the world of male escorts that specialize in offering companionship to women. In a world of constant online harassment and unsolicited dick pics destroying our phones like an angry genital tsunami, James has managed to get women to pay for male attention. I got to speak with James about how Cowboys4Angels came to be and how it works.
So I guess I just wanted to know how did you come into and get the idea to provide the services that you do?
I was actually dating a woman who ran an agency woman for men when I first met her, I knew nothing about the industry and so started learning from her and sort of helping her with different things. She looked at me one day, and she said, “Why don’t you start an agency for women?”
Yeah, so she just looked at me one day and said, “Why don’t you start an agency for women,” and I went online and I couldn’t find anything, and I said, ” I don’t think so because there’s nothing. There isn’t anything.” And she said, “Well, there you go.” And I said, “Okay.”
In doing my research, I did see that some men listed that they saw women, but they also wrote that they would see men so I think that was the problem. I didn’t get a good feeling that women would want to see men who were also seeing men. I just thought that that would be kind of strange for them in the back of their minds, thinking that the escort they hired saw Joey the night before or something like that. So I decided to do completely 100% straight men only for women. I put the website up and found a few guys and there was like nothing. I remember just like, “What is going on here?” I guess is there’s a reason there wasn’t anything thing out there but then I got a call from the Tyra Banks show the show Hung was popular at the time.
I started the agency before that and then Hung came out, and suddenly people wanted to talk to a male escort and so I went on the show and then the day that episode aired Cowboys4Angels was in the top ten Google searched site in the nation. It was just like an incredible buzz. Then since then it’s just been kind of crazy with all the kind of media attention. We’ve been on Dr. Phil and 20/20 and Nightlight News and then Gigolo show, which we’ve done six seasons on Showtime so, it’s a popular show. Since the Tyra show we’ve just haven’t looked back.
That’s kind of cool, I guess. It seems like the idea came from the demand, but once the idea got more popularized especially by such women-friendly mainstream media outlets, the ladies came out of the woodwork.
Yeah, that’s it and I guess that they were always women that were interested, you know, I think that women have always, liked the idea of hiring somebody for the evening, I just think that they were turned off by the fact that most of the men were seeing men, so I think they thought about it, but they were like, “Eh, no thank you.”
Cowboys4Angels seemed to have been the first company in the United States that said, “Hey listen, we’re only for women,” and we were serious, though we got ridiculed at first. There were a few articles that were saying when the Gigolo show aired, “No. This is all fake.” Some people want to think there’s no such thing as a straight male escort.
People always say “These guys are secretly seeing men on the side because women aren’t allowed to hire a guy.” But women are allowed to do this. It’s something that men and women should be able to do. It was mostly male reporters that were sort of giving that vibe and it was just uncalled for. Men shouldn’t be the only one that should have the power or enough money to hire a companion.
I know you specifically see women, what type of women do you see? Who would be your average customer?
That’s a good question. I wish I could say that there’s an average. We have so many different spectrums of clientele. We have the very beautiful, fun, client that is a very successful woman who is traveling to a city and she doesn’t know anybody. She’s there on business and she wants to go out and have a good time.
You have the clientele that needs men for business functions or weddings these are women that usually call and the first thing that they say is, “I don’t need your service. I’m very pretty. I just want to have some fun,” and so you have those clienteles.
We have the clientele that has gone through a bad break up who just want to have some fun, gone through a bad divorce or have lost a spouse. These women have been with the same person for twenty years and they just are scared to go out and date again. So they want to use us to get their feet wet. You have special needs clients that have gone through some sort of traumatic experience in their lives and just are afraid of men.
I’ve had women call and say, “My therapist suggested that I hired a man for the night to help get me going again,”
So there’s like a big spectrum from women who need the service to women that are just doing it for fun that could walk into any bar and pick up any man but instead they call us for a person who is well reviewed, who’s nice, charming. A date who’s been background checked, and they feel safe and comfortable for like a no-strings-attached, this-guy’s-not-gonna-call-me-tomorrow-type experience. So there’s no real average. I guess you could say they’re several different kinds of clients.
I’m kind of that a lot of your clientele are using the money to overcome stigma.
A lot of women are just tired of going on bad date after bad date. They tell me this is and this is like a lot of calls. The say “Listen. I’ve gone out on bad date after bad date, after bad date, after bad date, and I’m looking for a guy to be like the old perfect gentleman again,” and so you know, I get a lot of those calls as well like, “I’d rather pay somebody (laughs) to treat me like a queen instead of wasting time on going on bad Tinder date after Tinder date after bad Match.com date.” (laughs)
What was the most interesting request that you’ve had?
God, I’ve had so many different kinds of interesting requests. You know, one that really stands out for me one was a woman who was overweight, not happy. She went on a long-term diet. She hired a nutritionist, her goal was to lose 100 lbs. She said, “Garren, you know, I’m gonna set up weight loss goals and if I meet my goal for the month, I’m gonna treat myself to an overnight appointment,” and I said, “Okay.”
So you know, each month I would check with her what is her weight loss goal and then before the appointment, she would send me a picture of the scale and it took over a year she lost 100 lbs. and it felt great to be a part of that with her.
I also got a call from a woman who was terminally ill with cancer and she always wanted to go to India. I don’t know why India, but she was a little frail but this was on her bucket list. She couldn’t travel alone and she didn’t want to hire nurses to go with her so she hired one of the men to go with her on a week-long trip to explore India. She did pass so but you know, the letter that I got from her after her trip was, pretty incredible just thanking us.
How do handle calls if their request is very eclectic, how do they choose who they will go with that client? Do you have a hand is matching ladies with cowboys?
Yeah, well sometimes when they’ll they haven’t even seen the site, which is kind of frustrating because we have a variety man. I try to get them to pick out two or three people of who they like and then I’ll sort of feel out their personality. If they have like a type A personality, they might not like Joey who is a laid back sort of southern California-type laid back attitude. I try to listen to the clients and feel out their personalities to see who they’ll like more. If they seem really educated, we try to find somebody that’s gonna match their education level. I try to make sure I hire all men with college degrees but some guys are a little bit smarter in different areas than. Is the woman down and out? Is she doing this because she’s sad, you know, going through a rough time? Then I want a guy that’s really funny. A guy that can make her laugh.
So yeah, I mean, I try to do my best to try to guide people. Sometimes a woman will call and just like, “I like the way this guy looks. I want to hire him,” and so we just roll the dice and hope it’s a good match and often times it is and sometimes it isn’t and then I’ll try to help guide her with somebody that more fits her personality.
Pretend I am calling – what’s the process?
(laughs) Well. You know, a lot of it’s just like just like hearing somebody talk. You can kind of tell somebody’s personality just in how they’re sort of calling you. You seem like a little laid back to me. If you were calling I’d ask, “Do you have a date in mind?”
“Well, no, not really,” you know, sometimes they’re a little shy and so you can’t have this really overbearing sort of personality with somebody that’s you know, laid back and a little shy. With you I would just start out with like, “Have you taken a look at any of the men? Does anyone kind of spark your interest in how they look?”
Hmm. I will say they all look really heteronormatively masculine.
Oh, they all look really good. Yeah. So obviously it also matters where people live so, of course, we’re going to try to find somebody for them in that area but often women are just gonna say, “Hey, I’m going away for the weekend and this is kind of like what I’m looking for. Here’s the height, I like guys with dark hair and blue eyes,” or you know, give an eye color, “just kind of my type. I like bigger stronger guys, taller guys,” you know, and then I’ll go through the list and we just give it a shot.
Its sounds like you have to gauge what women actually fantasize about versus what society tells people women fantasize about. What do you think is more in line with reality?
Some of the biggest complaints, back when we started was, “Hey, you know I hired this guy to make me feel good about myself and he didn’t give me a lot of compliments,” and so you know, that was something that I learned right away is that when women are hiring men, they’re doing it they want attention. Maybe before they’ve gone on dates and they have to like give a lot of attention to a guy and they’re like, “Hey listen. I want to sit back and be pampered.”
You know, it’s just like going to get your nails done, going to the spa, pedicure, manicure, your hair done. You want to sit back and just like be served almost. And so you know, that’s huge with the training now is with the guys is like do everything that you know, your mother taught you to do. Open every door. Hold her hand when you’re walking somewhere. Pushing in her chair, then throughout the night getting as many compliments as you can. You can’t give enough compliments and of course you know, the big thing is that you don’t lie to a woman. You know they’re not that skinny, don’t say, “Wow, you look skinny in that dress,” but there’s you know, a thousand other compliments that you can give a woman. What we do and that’s what a lot of what they’re looking for is to feel special and to feel loved and to feel warmth and to feel you know, complimented, so you know, I think like at the end of the day, that is kind of one of the most important things is making her feel special in that way.
You could do some other things but if you don’t do those particular things you won’t get a good review. You can do other things, but if you don’t do the little things, she’s not gonna feel like she spent the money well.
Have you ever had to recruit somebody specifically because you had a hard time trying to satisfy what a client was looking for?
Well, you know I have had a client that have gone out on an appointment and then you know, even though that that particular guy got good reviews, it just wasn’t a good match so I have had women that, have tried one or two or even three guys and been like, “Finally, yes, like this is chemistry.” So a lot of this has to do with you could have the perfect guy that’s getting the perfect reviews but it’s not perfect chemistry with everyone. I mean that’s impossible. It’s impossible to have perfect chemistry with every single woman on the planet. So you know, often that’s the case is just trying to find that chemistry for an individual client.
What other types of training do they get? If any?
We have an employment page and then once we like their photos, it’s just a quick phone call just to get a sense of their personality like is this guy making me feel comfortable right away? Is he personable? I mean, there’s … there’s a lot of good looking smart people that are very introverted and so that just won’t work and then you know, you call a guy and all he can do is talk about how amazing he is and he’s the world’s greatest lover and every single woman you know, hits on him at the bar and you know, and then there you go that’s a warning signal that this guy’s ego is just way too big for this job because you know, this job is about others-centered not about self-centeredness so you have to worship the client, not expect her to worship you. You can sort of zone out anyone who’s not going to be good at this job on a first phone call. With a five to ten-minute call just from doing this in eight years.
Once they’ve sort of passed that little phone conversation, I do a Skype interview unless I can meet them in person. It depends on where I am and where they are and again it’s just getting a sense of their manners and how they present themselves and how they speak. Their little mannerisms and things like that. Then they’ll get a list of the kind of like the agency rules. The do’s and don’ts and then I do a follow-up conversation with them going over those again and then we have a lot of women that have been with the agency for many years that are sort of like testers. So they will if anybody new, they get a slightly discounted rate and so they’ll give feedback on each individual guy and then from there it’s just giving pointers after dates because we do review after a date with each client we’ll give the gentleman any pointers that a client gives and that’s pretty much it.
You know, it’s like a learning process just like any job. You’ll learn things that possibly you’re doing wrong or doing right. Some people can do this job and just some people can’t and so you know, if … if somebody is not even capable of doing this kind of job, you know, I don’t think they’ll get to where they’re going out on that tester date. Like, it just won’t happen. I’ve spoken to many men and even done some Skype interviews with many men and just not moved forward. So (laughs) you know, it’s kind of like a sixth sense of knowing who’s good at this and who’s not. Like, okay, I get it. You’re good-looking, but are you smart? Are you funny? Are you are you into others? Like, do you care about people? Do you have good manners? Are you a gentleman? Have you left your mother? Like, how-often-do-you-call-your-mother-um type questions.
There is training involved and there are do’s and don’ts and we do have a company list of rules and so and then we also get constant feedback for the guy. Hmm. Pretty cool. And uh, I know that on the site it kind of features certain guys, you know, especially the guys who are gigolos. I don’t know if you want to …
Guys on the show Gigolos? Or do you call yourselves gigolos?
Well, you know, Showtime approached the agency they said the name of the show is Gigolos and I was like, “Are you serious?” When you hear the word gigolo, it’s like, “Oh, here’s a man who’s preying on older women to pay his rent,” and so I just didn’t like the name of the show at all, but It’s sort of grown on me and we sort of changed the name a bit to where it’s like, “Hey, these guys are providing a service and they’re being paid for their time.” They’re not con-men. You know, it’s very honest and up front on what we’re providing for a client and the reason to any you know, men do not exchange contact information with the client so there’s no, “Hey, baby you know, uh … I … I just got a flat tire,” or you know, “My rent’s due and my dog died. Can you send me $500, I’m desperate,” type thing.
We don’t do that. We’re a very professional classy service. We get paid for our amount of time and that’s you know, what we’re compensated for, so at first I did not like the name, but it’s sort of grown on me now and I feel like we’re sort of changing the perception of that name.
I forget the name but, like, this guy wrote how this is all fake. These guys aren’t being hired. Women don’t do this type of thing. Uh, you know, in the sense that they weren’t allowed to do it, it seemed like, very sexist to me and it was sort of putting it down and it’s like a lot of media just you know, came to talk about us just to find out, like, “What kind of woman would do this?”
And it was like, “Are you serious?” Like, “What do you mean? Well, why can’t it be your neighbor who would want to do this?” Or, “Why can’t it be your boss?” Or your … your … “your fellow employer?” Like, “Why are they not allowed to do this?”
So you know, and it’s funny too that a lot of women when they’re calling they say, “I’m really nervous calling you. Uh, this is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. I just want you to know.” Like trying to say like, “Hey, I don’t do this all the time,” like, “I’m not a bad person.”
You know? This … “I just want to try this once.” And I’m like, “Listen, you know, uh … It’s okay that you’ve never done this before. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ve been doing it for eight years. You’re in good hands and I’m gonna promise you like, the best experience that we could possibly give for you.”
So, you know, that’s always great too is like, when a woman tells me after everything it’s like they’re in high school again doing something for the first time, like their first date ever, but their first paid date ever. So it’s kind of fun being a part of that.
I try to make this a superior service, the best sort of customer service they can get because a lot of women that are very wealthy are used to superior customer service and so the men need to be ten minutes early. They need to be dressed to impress. They need to be amazing. We have a high standard and a high goal to introduce somebody to something they’ve never done before and made it amazing for them, so you know, I take the business of people having fun very seriously.
For people who might be way too afraid to click on the link to your site when I run this interview, what are -… like, the … How much of an investment is uh, getting to know one of your companions?
A lot of the guys have different rates based on their notoriety, I guess. Some of the guys have been with the agency longer and they’ve built up a lot repeat clients and so their time is more limited so their rates are a little bit higher. Like the guys on the gigolo show, their rates are higher because of you know, being on television. I always like to tell a client that just because a guy’s rate is lower doesn’t mean that he isn’t as good as somebody else. He just might be newer with the agency. Most women have longer appointments than men, so we give a rate discount for the more time that you book. The lower the price but each gentleman has their rate listed on their profile page. There’s an orange button that says view rate. The starting rate for like, a two-hour appointment is, five-hundred and fifty and then for the more time booked, the lower that rate gets per hour.
Hmm. That’s pretty cool. So if there is somebody who’s reading this interview and has thought about it but is a little too afraid, what would you say to her?
Yeah. I would say to her, “You’re in good hands.” You know, I think most people would not call somebody because they’d be scared that it wasn’t gonna be professional. If people take the time and look at our press page, the shows that we’ve been on. I think most people are afraid that they’re gonna do this and then no one’s gonna show up or that, the wrong guy’s gonna show up, if they’re afraid, just know that we’ve been a business for eight years and we take this extremely seriously. This is a very private service. It’s a confidential service. We do our best to make everybody happy.
A lot of women will call and say, “Are you gonna release my name to the public?” I like to tell clients; we’ve had A list celebrities use our service. We’ve had famous authors, famous musicians, CEOs of major companies. I’ve had people that are CEO’s and never once in any of the press that I’ve done have I ever said, “Well, guess what? So-and-so used our service, so should you,”
I’ve never once name-dropped, so if I haven’t done that with a celebrity, then obviously I wouldn’t do that with your name.
We’re very private and very, fun. The good news is it’s just a temporary sort of fun thing. I know I’m giving a very long answer, but, this is kind of an important thing like you know, women that call, they’re so nervous and they’re so worked up and I’m like, “Listen, it’s four hours. You know, I’m not asking you to marry this guy, like go have some fun.” You know? It’s a short appointment. It’s meant to be fun. It’s not a long-term commitment. You don’t have to commit to seeing this guy once a month or anything like that. Go have some fun and then when he’s done, he leaves.
Hmm. So I know there’s a lot of different types of companions. Do you offer different types of companionship? Like, there are people who like sexy maids or … Would you honor certain kinds of requests?
Well, you know, we get like, “Hey, can you show up as a police officer or something like that.” You know? Yeah. But you know, the guys don’t really have costumes (laughs)
I once had a call from a woman who really had a big crush on this guy at work and she had a work function at a bar and she gave us her picture and his picture and said, “I’m gonna go over to find this guy and I’m gonna start talking to him and I want the guy to come up to me and just sort of chat with me and hit on me and ask to buy me a drink ask me for my number.”
She just felt like he needed a kick in the ass. (laughs)
So I mean, there’s a lot of different kind things that we’ve done and one call that we get a lot is, “I’m gonna be somewhere and my ex is gonna be there and I want to go with the hottest guy you have to make him jealous.”
That sounds like a 90’s rom-com waiting to happen
You know, I sort of. Yeah, and so I kind of shy away from those kinds of requests. You know, I tell women, I say, “Listen. You know, we’re not in the jealousy business. We’re, you know, here to spread love and joy. I would much rather you hire a guy one-on-one for a nice fun romantic evening for you like, screw that guy. Like, who cares about what he thinks about you, you know? Hopefully, you’re moving on, you know, and that should be payback enough, like … you know, why …” I don’t know. You know, I’m just not big into that. I would rather it be something more fun for them than prancing around for some guy that doesn’t even matter, so … but I do get a lot of those calls.
I think it would be more intuitive to hire the guy to hit on your ex’s new girlfriend.
Oh, my god. I’ve had those calls. I’ve had calls from husbands “Okay so, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna tell you where my wife is. I want the guy to go up to her, hit on her, and …”
… and see if she goes for the bait?
Yeah, and I’m like, “What?” I’m like, “Sir. We don’t do that, again, hire a detective.” That’s not what we’re about you know? “Sir, you need to like, get a therapist.”
Well, it’s just kind of horrible because sometimes women have to give numbers ’cause we just want you to go away without being murdered or harassed.
Oh (laughs) I’m gonna tell somebody that.
It’s very true. When I used to go out, I used to have my old cell phone on me that had like a go number so I would give that number, which is my fake number out to guys just so … cause sometimes guys will call you to see if you gave them the real number? So, that was my, “I’m going to give this number to men that I want to go away.”
Exactly. That’s a good one. Yeah. I should tell them that, “Well, if she gives you a number, that might be uh … that might be a good sign just to get them away.”
I actually did an interview with a pickup artist who, not the greatest human beings on the planet, but they actually say that but if you pressure a woman enough she’ll give you her number.
It’s interesting how different groups of people use different ways of getting women to do things.
Right. (laughs) But yeah, we’re not into that at all, like … Trying to find out if your wife is a cheater. You know, spend the money on a therapist.
Hmm. That probably would be better, but so let’s say I have like a crazy request. Would you charge more for that?
Um … no. I mean, we have flat rates. Um … again it’s just by time so, I mean, if the guy’s traveling out of the country, that’s not an issue or traveling – Oh – – somewhere – What if I – to another city.
What if a lady gave you a picture of like, a Bollywood actor says, “I like this guy. I want to find somebody like this and I want him to come to my apartment dressed like a storm trooper and I want him to play Mortal Kombat with me.” How would you rate that?
(laughs) You know, I don’t know, I don’t know. I guess we’d have to do some research on where to rent a costume. You know, we try our best, A lot of times, women are going to black tie events so we do have to rent tux so, you know, we’ll give it a shot, find out how much a storm trooper rental is, then let her know and if she’s willing to rent the costume, sure why not? Yeah.
As a somewhat professional woman, I have noticed that there’s sometimes pressure to not be a single woman in the office.
So knowing that this is such a pressure in this society, why do you think that there’s so few companies like yours built?
Um … (sighs) I don’t know. Like, I’ve had so many people like, “Hey I like your business model. Um … and uh … will you teach me this business so I can start an agency because I see you don’t have guys in this city?” Um, and like … I’m like, “No … um, you know, it took me eight years.
So, I don’t know. I guess it’s kind of hard to um … find the men um … and I guess it’s … I don’t know. I guess they’re just not up for the challenge.
I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know why more people haven’t had it started. You know, it’s getting bigger and bigger in different countries in Europe, Australia, you know, there’s several companies there, so who knows. There might be some new opportunities on the rise to women here in the US.
Oh. Okay. Uh, is there anything else you would like to say …
No, I think you’ve had a lot of very interesting questions. I appreciate that. You asked a lot of questions that people don’t really ask, which is great. A lot of times people will be like, you know, “Tell us how …these women gotta be unattractive.” You know, “How does a guy et up? like, “What?” (laughs) you know, anyway, I appreciate your line of questions.
Men can get hard from looking at a mannequin in the mall. (laughs)
Right? I’m telling you.
That’s one question I’d never ask.
(laughs) Oh my god, but yeah, I mean there’s very kind of you know, professional questions, which I appreciate because that’s the image that we represent, so I really appreciate that. Hey, what city do you live in?
It’s a little town in Bergen county New Jersey, so I’m right outside of New York city.
Hmm. Yeah, How old are you?
Uh … old enough (laughs)
(laughs) I think for you after talking to you, this time, I think [redacted] in New York city would be the best match for you.
He’s got a private profile. Don’t put this in the interview because he’s, he’s kind of a private guy. Take a look at him.
Take a look at him and you’d
… yup. I’m getting a [redacted] vibe from you.
(laughs) Maybe I’ll take him to my company Christmas party.