At its heart, Showtime’s Gigolos is a show about women who pay for sex and the men who provide it. This Las Vegas-based series is part of the same small canon as other sex-driven reality TV shows like HBO’s Cathouse, but it differs significantly by focusing on male sex-workers.Airs: Thursdays, 11 p.m. EST on Showtime
Location: Las Vegas
Premise: Gigolos follows the trials and tribulations of five male escorts in Las Vegas.
The reality show, launched April 7, 2011, follows five high-end male escorts on their sexual adventures and hanging out as “regular guys” in Sin City. The Showtime series premiered with a group of male escorts being asked to accept a newcomer, Vin. Another gigolo, Steven, deals with being both a single dad and a sex worker. The opportunity to escort a rich client to a black tie gala turns into a high-stakes competition.
Brace is a Michigan native and a jack-of-all-trades who has dabbled in modeling, competed in bodybuilding, studied engineering, moved up in corporate America and even developed a hair tool that was sold on QVC.
Jimmy Dior grew up on the West coast and is a former ski instructor turned trainer, nutritionist and sports masseur. He’s is also a classically-trained musician who volunteers at a youth musical arts program.
Nick Hawk, a Wisconsin farm boy and athlete who did a stint in the Air Force, won second place in the 2009 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championship.
Steven is a Texas-born single dad who started his own escort agency at 18. He’s also worked as a chef, model and bartender.
Vin Armani holds a degree in philosophy and is a professional-caliber beach volleyball player.
Gigolos is a joint project of Showtime and Relativity Media, where all reality programming is spearheaded by award-winning producer and RelativityREAL division CEO, Tom Forman. Formerly at CBS, Forman produced and developed the reality/comedy series Armed & Famous and the controversial Kid Nation. He also created ABC's hit reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (for which he won two Emmys and two People’s Choice awards).
Early in its first season, Gigolos was panned by several critics who maintained:
- It Feels Scripted: As The Onion's Claire Zulkey, argued, the sex feels scripted and fake. “Parts of it feel a little too shiny and glossy to be truly real.”
- The Women Allegedly Don't Pay: According to Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon, the female clientele don’t pay for sex; in fact they may have been paid to be on the show. To Flory, that “sounds a lot like porn.”
My Two Cents
Authentic or not, Gigolos is almost as engaging as HBO’s Cathouse, but viewers might be put off by the early commentary about whether Vin Armani’s ethnic background is “black” or “black-ish.” Don't worry about prostitution charges though: Showtime skirted the issue by making sure nobody got paid...for sex. Garren James, owner of the men's escort company, Cowboys 4 Angels, explains (to new hire Vin) in Episode 1: “We are a companion service and clients pay a rate per hour. First thing you're gonna do is collect the money from the client and then from there, whatever happens between you two is two consenting adults. It's illegal for you to take any money after that for any sort of sexual services or whatever.” Good to know.