It's no secret that prostitution is one of the oldest trades in the world. When we think of famous or notable prostitutes, we may tend to think about women.
It doesn't matter whether we're talking about royal lovers, such as Madame de Pompadour or Nell Gwyn, in the era of the great monarchies or women from Antiquity, such as Aspasia and Phryne, who were able to change the course of history via their charm, or even those from most recent history, including Belle de Jour and Xaviera Hollander, who influenced all of pop culture. Almost every single time, we imagine that the influential people practicing this profession are always women.
But history reminds us of a significant number of men who also took up the trade and who also had a strong impact on the movers and shakers of their day. These representatives of the stronger sex inspired poets, artists, led rebellions and became powerful political figures. Below you'll find a list of the most famous gigolos from Antiquity until the present.
Phaedo of Elis
Phaedo was a handsome young man hailing from an aristocratic family. He lived in Pyrgos, the capital of the Greek region of Elis. While still young, he was captured by the Athenians who attacked his country and subsequently forced into slavery. Due to his looks he was forced into becoming a male prostitute. However, the youth was noticed by Socrates. The philosopher bought him and then granted him his freedom. Phaedo, in turn, became a philosopher. His debate with Plato concerning the human soul was read at Socrates's funeral instead of a eulogy. Later, the aristocrat would return to his homeland and found his own school of philosophy that would become the most prestigious in the entire Mediterranean.
During the regency of Qin Shi Huang, the young ruler of the Qin dynasty, who would later become first emperor of China, hired Lao as a servant to the Queen Mother. The aristocratic employers believed he was a eunuch, although this was not actually the case. Not long after, Lao Ai became the queen's lover and quickly obtained power. He took full advantage of the fact and it was not long before he was practically running the country. His good days came to end after his attempt to remove the heir apparent (not without the approval of the Queen Mother) failed. Lao Ai was captured and executed. Once the Chinese nobles learned of his humble beginnings and aspirations however, they became unified, transforming the Qin dynasty into the most powerful in the region. Very soon, the young emperor Qin Shi Huang conquered all of the city states and thus marked the beginning of a unified China.
Mike Jones lies at the center of one the biggest scandals in modern American history. Officially, he worked as a male companion and gigolo. As it turns out, one of his regular customers was Ted Haggard - perhaps the most noted evangelical pastor in the US, adviser to George Bush and married father of 4. Haggard also happens to be one of the biggest opponents of same-sex marriage. Jones himself exposed his client, knowing that it would also spell the end of his own career. He told journalists that he was tired of the hypocrisy. After, he came out with a book about the scandal, selling millions of copies.
Cunanan was a highly successful gigolo, having clients all over the US. Despite the fact that top politicians and celebrities came to him, Cunanan always yearned for something more, to the point where he developed a psychological illness. In 1997, he began murdering his former clients. His first victim was his ex-lover Jeff Trail, then David Madson - a famous architect. Next, Cunanan murdered Lee Miglin - a renowned real estate entrepreneur. As a result, Cunanan earned his spot among the Top 10 Most Wanted Criminals in the US. The gigolo's final victim was fashion icon Gianni Versace. To this day, police are still looking for a motive for the killings.