Revealed: Confessions of a male escort
HE takes special care getting ready for work.
He slips on his Tom Ford suit, attaches his platinum cufflinks and slides into his Christian Louboutin shoes.
He takes one final look in the mirror before he leaves his Sydney home, ensuring his short cropped hair is just right.
He travels to one of the many hotel lobbies around Sydney, which you could say doubles as his office. And he charges his clients $500 an hour for his services.
Meet Ryan James, a 31-year-old male escort. You could be forgiven for mistaking this well-groomed young man for an advertising executive or an investment banker; most people do.
James is never shy about admitting what he does for a living, but he takes pride in the fact people can't pigeonhole him.
"People like to put you in a box when they find out you're a sex worker and see you as a one-dimensional person," James tells BW Magazine as he releases his book, A Memoir Of A Male Escort.
"Everything about us is seen through the lens of being a sex worker and people don't realise there is more to us than that. There are so many sex workers out there that you wouldn't know in a million years were sex workers.
"I still do my groceries, I still see friends for coffee and nights out, and I still spend nights at home playing video games or watching Netflix with my cats like everyone else."
The softly spoken man is relaxed talking about his career of the past five-and-a-half years. He has a cheeky side grin that he mostly uses when talking about what goes on behind closed doors with his clients. But he's also quick to defend his often misunderstood and sometimes vilified profession.
Yes, he enjoys his job, yes it pays well and yes he gets to travel the world. But he says it's vastly different to how many people understand it - especially through the lens of Hollywood.
In the 2004 romantic comedy The Wedding Date, Dermot Mulroney plays a male escort hired by Debra Messing to accompany her to her sister's wedding.
And who can forget the ultimate fairytale ending of Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts plays a call girl hired by a rich businessman played by Richard Gere. In both movies, the clients fall in love with the sex workers.
James is quick to point out this would never happen in real life, at least not where he is concerned. But surely - when he prides himself on making women feel special, loved and pampered, even for just the few hours he is with them - there must be times they develop feelings for him.
"Some have said that and to some degree it might be natural for them to develop feelings but it's part of my job to manage their expectations," he says.
"It does happen though.
"An important part of working as an escort is you need to establish boundaries with clients. Part of those boundaries is that, even if you enjoy spending time with them, you are an escort and they're a client. You can still be quite close to them to some degree and you might know more about their lives than almost anyone else in their lives but you are an escort and you have to remember that."
James says his clients range in age from 20 to the mid-60s, but most are middle-aged women. He says he has seen 20-year-old virgins who wanted to lose their virginity in a safe, gentle and controlled environment, as well as married older women, divorced, widowed and single ladies. And business is booming. He claims to be "happily busy" with bookings ranging from one-hour "meetings" to three-week engagements.
He says it's a big misconception that women who turn to a male escort must have a problem in their relationship or difficulty finding one.
"Women are coming to see me because it is just what works for them," James says.
"They might not want to go out and meet a random guy in a bar, or they're too busy with work to date or they could be a single mum with their kids or a career to worry about.
"They don't have time for a partner but they still have their needs, needs that aren't purely sexual, they might still want to go out on a nice date, but it's just what works for them."
And he says that while 95 per cent of his bookings involve sex, there are some who "just want to go on a nice date".
James is not the first Sydneysider to lift the lid on the sex industry.
In 2015, former journalist and mother of two, Samantha X, wrote her book Hooked: Sydney's Top High-Class Call Girl.
An important part of working as an escort is you need to establish boundaries with clients
In it she details her move into working in a brothel and the fly-on-the-wall stories of what went on behind closed doors with her various clients. She charges $1200 an hour and now runs the prestige escort service Samantha X Angels.
In his book, James describes a regular childhood in Hornsby on Sydney's north shore with two siblings. He played cricket and soccer, went to Sunday school every week and was in the Boy Scouts. He didn't lose his virginity until he was 18.
Ask any of his childhood friends and they will say the socially awkward and often shy James was the last person they expected to become a sex worker.
The idea to become a male escort was planted by a girl he was seeing about six years ago who had worked as an escort herself. Until that point, James had worked in the finance industry - for a stockbroker and investment banker.
"It almost seemed like a bit of a joke … I never ever contemplated I could be capable of (escorting)," he says.
"It just had never crossed my mind. It would have been in the same kind of fantasy as, 'One day I want to be an astronaut,' or some other outlandish career path.
"I had all the usual misconceptions that other people outside of the industry would have. My only exposure to it had been what I saw in movies and on TV, and it just seemed like such an out-there concept.
"But I thought I'd give it a go and see what happened."
Almost six years into his new career, he has no plans to stop escorting any time soon.
His job has taken him around the world, to the best restaurants, top musicals and adventures that involved jetskiing and helicopter rides.
"It can come across as quite glamorous but that's not all there is to it," he says.