Published on May 10, 2012
Type the words “the girlfriend experience” into your favorite search engine. Within seconds, you’ll find ads promising companionship by the hour. Much of the sex industry has moved online. Today, an entire workforce of women is just an internet connection and a phone call away. National Geographic’s Mariana van Zeller journeys to the heart of the American escort industry and uncovers the gritty reality behind the supply and demand of high end sex work.
Mariana heads to Las Vegas, ground zero for the escort underworld. Here, high-end escorts like Sarah explain how they cultivate their illegal business online. As an independent escort, Sarah calls the shots and commands big money from clients. Yet for many women, a much different reality awaits.
Las Vegas Vice Detective Chris Baughman is on his way to investigate another pimp. He says that the image of glamour and luxury that high-end escorts project is a part of the problem. For the majority of men, “what they’re getting isn’t some knockout that lives in a penthouse, that saves all her money and has the little toy poodle. It’s the same girl that’s getting beat. That’s being threatened.” His mission: to dismantle the Las Vegas sex industry — one pimp at a time.
Not far from the bright lights and bustle of the Las Vegas strip, Mariana sits hidden in a van in a parking lot beneath a highway overpass. She is investigating an office building that houses call centers for dozens of escort agencies. These agencies send girls to hotel rooms for private lap dances, and as long as they don’t advertise prostitution, they’re protected by free speech laws. We can’t get the agencies to talk to us, so we go undercover to learn what’s really going on behind closed doors.
Copyright By: National Geographic
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