This afternoon, hours before the premiere of Showtime's new show Gigolos, Salon dropped a bombshell: It's possible that not everything on the reality show is real!

Specifically, while Gigolos is purportedly about male escorts who cater exclusively to female clients, the women didn't pay the men, and were actually compensated for appearing on the program. Tracy Clark-Flory writes:

That would mean "Gigolos'" stars were paid for their performances โ€” which included having sex with one another โ€” for entertainment. And that, of course, sounds a lot like porn.

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The accusation comes courtesy of Garren James, who runs an escort service that three of the men are involved with. He served as a creative consultant on the show and recruited female clients to appear on camera. He says this "wasn't easy," but eventually he found 12 women willing to be featured on the series.

When asked to confirm that the women were paid, Showtime's publicist said, "We don't know. Nobody can say for sure." Well, presumably somebody knows, but the show was produced by Long Pond Media, not Showtime.

After the piece ran, Vin Armani, one of the escorts on the show, responded that he believes there were some women who weren't compensated because he had to convince one woman (who is now his girlfriend) to appear on the program, and another has had another encounter with him since the show ended.

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Even if the women were paid, that may not be the most unrealistic thing about the show. The New York Times review notes:

... [The escorts'] efforts to make it all seem like a Las Vegas lark seems forced, whether it's meeting for cocktails in a bar or boutique hopping. Viewers are supposed to invest in their camaraderie, but there isn't much chemistry or even joie de vivre in the group.

While straight male escorts do exist, they're certainly rarer than female escorts, and we have a hard time believing that five of them just happen to be friends who regularly get together to banter about their clients. While Showtime claims to be exposing the reality of an unusual profession, it's actually just concocting a fantasy about what gigolos' lives are like. And if we're going to be fantasizing about a male escort, it's going to be Richard Gere, not the sketchy dudes in Gigolos.

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Who's Paying For The Sex In Showtime's "Gigolos"? [Salon]
Gross? Maybe. But It Got Me On TV, Right? [NYT]