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High-Priced Call Girls' Lips Are Sealed

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By David A. Fahrenthold and Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What do you get when you pay a prostitute $4,300?

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Okay. Yes. Other than that.

The answer, according to vice squad detectives and people familiar with the sex trade, is a pledge of ironclad silence, and the promise of an unusually attractive, intelligent companion -- albeit one who measures companionship by the hour. They said this price, allegedly paid by New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer for a purported few hours with a New York call girl at the Mayflower Hotel, exceeds the rates of even the priciest of Washington's hometown escorts.

But, these experts said, the economic logic of high-end prostitution is the same everywhere. Often, they say, it's not what happens in the bedroom that costs.

It's a question of who comes in, and what does -- or doesn't -- come out.

"You have your streetwalkers. You have your local escorts who do the Yellow Pages or the paper, and you have your escorts who do the Internet, and then you have, like, your courtesans, who are like the top of the top," said one woman involved in the local industry who asked that her name not be used so that her business would not face scrutiny. "It's not that they do anything particularly special. . . . It's the image."

Still, even for the top of the top, and even considering part of the fee in question may have been a deposit on the next excursion, she said the price Spitzer reportedly paid was shockingly high.

"People are like, ' How much money? Oh my gosh,' " she said. "I know some girls are like, 'We need to move' " to New York.

Spitzer, 48, was allegedly caught on a federal wiretap arranging for the woman, identified as "Kristen," to meet him in a Washington hotel room on the night of Feb. 13. Court documents say "Client-9," whom a source familiar with the investigation identified as the Democratic first-term New York governor, forked over $4,300. Spitzer testified on the Hill the next day, Valentine's Day, about the state of the bond industry.

The documents do not say how much this client paid per hour, since the sum allegedly included a down payment on future services. But, since his time with the prostitute apparently lasted less than three hours, experts on the Washington area sex industry said, Client-9 appears to have paid far more than the local going rate.

"Even the high-end escort services are anywhere between $300 and $500 per hour," said Detective Mark Gilkey, a D.C. police investigator who has worked prostitution cases in the city for 26 years. Detective Steven Schwalm of the D.C. police department's prostitution enforcement unit said some call girls charge $10,000 for an evening that lasts three or four hours -- and $250,000 for a weekend getaway where the woman provides "sex on demand." He added, though, that he knows of no arrests in this exclusive tier: "We don't have enough in our confidential funds to order up a high-priced call girl like that."

Police said high-priced women constitute just a tiny fraction of the area's sexual underworld. They can command a higher price, police say, mainly because they claim to stand out among a population affected by drug addiction and sexually transmitted disease.


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