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How My Danish Friend Paid Off His Debt By Becoming A Gay Prostitute
October 31, 2012 4:16 AM   Subscribe

How My Danish Friend Paid Off His Debt By Becoming A Gay Prostitute
posted by reenum (51 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read this the other day with fascination and this comment on his client base (apart from his obsession with spreadsheets*) really was the takeaway for me:
“Honestly? The only thing they have in common is that they’re unattractive,” Henrik says. “There’s a guy I still see once a month, he’s like 100-kilo plus. He works at PWC. There’s nothing wrong with him on the inside, just nobody wants to fuck a fat guy.

“The funniest thing is that the sex is phenomenal. There’s this great big fat guy and I feel like I’m the only one who knows he’s great in bed.”
(Which as one commenter points out, ignores the obvious question of whether there's a bear community there.)

*Not a euphemism.
posted by psoas at 4:54 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can a society really survive without artificially forcing sexual frustration on unattractive people? Something something socialism.
posted by Winnemac at 5:15 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Must suck to be in that situation.
posted by Flashman at 5:28 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, it beats imperialism.
posted by pompomtom at 5:30 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Denmark has a complicated relationship with taxes. According to the OECD, it is the world’s 4th most taxed country. The top tax rate, which applies to whatever you earn above 389,900 kroner ($70,000), is 56.1 percent. The word for taxes (“skat”) is also the word for “honey,” as in “honey, I’m a socialist.”

In Denmark, you can call up the tax authorities, tell them your problem and they’ll give you on-the-spot advice to help you solve it. The concept of paying a private company to do your taxes is as foreign to Danes as students getting a salary to attend college is to Americans.


Well that last sentence is ridiculous, but what is interesting about this for me is it shows how easy it is to start a business in nominally "socialist" Europe.

My experience starting a business in Sweden (which is the world's most taxed country) was surprisingly similar. The tax authorities are helpful and responsive. Registration of a business is easy and regulations are generally pretty accommodating to small business. Taxes are high, BUT NOT COMPLICATED, which is why you don't normally need to engage private assistance. The rules are simple and easy to follow and when you have questions you get prompt, complete answers.

One thing not mentioned (or not noticed by me) in the article was health insurance. I imagine the health insurance rates for gay prostitutes on the private market like the U.S. would be barrier to market entry for a lot of people in this industry.

The existence of national health insurance in Denmark (and Sweden) - separate and apart from your business - means that you take no risks with your health or with that of your family by taking the risk to start a business - which is, in fact, a huge advantage when it comes to entrepreneurial activity.

Bottom line is that if you make it easy for gay prostitutes to start legitimate tax-paying businesses, you make it easy for everyone else too. This is the Scandinavian model in a nutshell: progressivism and growth. (Because you can't have the former without the latter.)
posted by three blind mice at 5:31 AM on October 31, 2012 [37 favorites]


Startup idea: web platform for prostitutes with online booking, crm, scheduling
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:33 AM on October 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


For more information, I would recommend John Preston's Hustling: A Gentleman's Guide to the Fine Art of Homosexual Prostitution. I imagine it's a bit dated now, being written in the mostly pre-internet days, but he had a lot to say, including managing money and relationships, which would still be applicable today.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:46 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Bottom line is that if you make it easy for gay prostitutes to start legitimate tax-paying businesses, you make it easy for everyone else too."

Looking forward to someone adapting that line as a campaign slogan!
posted by Blake at 5:54 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Blowjob creators
posted by burnmp3s at 6:07 AM on October 31, 2012 [43 favorites]


So true about the b.s. we hear about Socialist Yurp, and the reality of clinging to jobs with health insurance for safety inhibits entrepreneurial energy, whereas a safety net allows one to take some jumps.
posted by C.A.S. at 6:15 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The existence of national health insurance in Denmark (and Sweden) - separate and apart from your business - means that you take no risks with your health or with that of your family by taking the risk to start a business - which is, in fact, a huge advantage when it comes to entrepreneurial activity.

If all that political rhetoric in the US about being on the side of small business, and how critical entrepreneurship is, were actually true, we would absolutely have some kind of national health insurance. There is a significant percentage of my colleagues and friends who dream of starting a business, and in some cases right now run it as a small side business but would rather do it full time, but instead stay in their regular jobs because of the health care. Especially if you have dependents, dropping that coverage is like stepping off the abyss.

So yeah, even (or especially) for the sex workers, I'm glad they can be entrepreneurs without risking their health. Jokes aside, that's good for everyone, and almost certainly good for the economy.
posted by Forktine at 6:18 AM on October 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


Also, now that I've finished the article -- all that fuss and work for $4000? I mean, I'm glad he found a part time job that he liked, but if that's all the money he needed to get out of debt, he definitely had non-sexwork options.
posted by Forktine at 6:20 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, from the sound of it, he wasn't making much more hourly than he was from piano lessons.
posted by modernserf at 6:25 AM on October 31, 2012


Also, now that I've finished the article -- all that fuss and work for $4000?

Well he also paid about $4000 in taxes which contributes to the cost of the social benefits he receives.

Yeah, he might get those benefits anyway even if he didn't work, which for many people could be a reason not to work. But too much of that and socialism doesn't work which is why the strong, almost Calvinist, work ethic in the Scandinavian countries makes what works here, laughably impossible in other places.
posted by three blind mice at 6:32 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a job description many of us can relate to, just a bit more literally in his case.
posted by delfin at 6:34 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


THIS SOLVES EVERYTHING or at least it would if I were male, Danish, gay, unmarried, built, cool about hooking up, meticulous about my expenses, good with spreadsheets, better at being anonymous online...
posted by Madamina at 6:34 AM on October 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


“I did fake a lot of the orgasms though,” he says

As one female Dutch standup said, gay guys have it easy faking orgasms: just moan a bit and spit on the other guy's back...

he definitely had non-sexwork options

Three advantages prostitution had over other options in this guy's situation:

1) flexibility to work around his primary job
2) low startup costs
3) quick to start, easy to make enough money relatively quickly

Also, according to the article, it wasn't too different from what he was doing already.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:43 AM on October 31, 2012


That was really interesting. The title was a tad misleading, maybe it should have read "How My Gay Danish Friend.... Becoming a Prostitute" (I thought this was going to be a gay-for-pay story) but I figured it out pretty quickly. The talk about this being a legitimate business is a little confusing though - he did pay taxes, but didn't he tell the tax authority that he was teaching piano lessons?
posted by arcticwoman at 6:49 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


He and his ex-wife had been trying to have a baby for two years. The divorce had been literally as amicable as humanly possible, and they still slept over at each other’s apartments once or twice a month. They had divorced when they were both 25 and now, eight years later, she was a partnered lesbian and he was a single gay man.

“What, did you guys just look at each other one day, say ‘let’s have a baby’ and high-five?” I asked him when he told me they were pregnant.

“Basically,” he said.


This article is designed to make conservative heads explode.
posted by Artw at 7:00 AM on October 31, 2012 [30 favorites]


Yeah, he might get those benefits anyway even if he didn't work, which for many people could be a reason not to work. But too much of that and socialism doesn't work which is why the strong, almost Calvinist, work ethic in the Scandinavian countries makes what works here, laughably impossible in other places.

It works because you can assume a sufficient number of people will be working and paying taxes at any given moment, not because people aren't making a calculated decision of when to rely on state support, because people do do that. The whole point is that people understand that taxes pay for things that benefit them and aren't constantly trying to cut taxes for the sake of cutting taxes. Realistically, Scandinavia is probably benefitting from fairly having small populations more than Max Weber.

The talk about this being a legitimate business is a little confusing though - he did pay taxes, but didn't he tell the tax authority that he was teaching piano lessons?

When he phoned to inquire about how he would go about keeping his tax records, he pretended he was teaching piano lessons, but (presumably) said his side-business was prostitution on his actual taxes (for example, he presumably deducted the cost of condoms). I think the point was that, even though prostitution seemed like a super idea for a side business, he was still a bit embarrassed, at least before he started.
posted by hoyland at 7:02 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Bottom line is that if you make it easy for gay prostitutes to start legitimate tax-paying businesses, you make it easy for everyone else too."

What's the top line?
posted by chavenet at 7:05 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should note that what most Danes with IT skills I've known do when they want mOre money is go work in the UK or Germany for a bit, where you get more take home pay.

Really though, what he needs to top this off as ultimate offemse to right thinking Americans is a well managed heroin addiction that causes no problems because everybody is cool with it.
posted by Artw at 7:09 AM on October 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


That bit that psoas quoted above... is just... so sad.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:28 AM on October 31, 2012


That's not news. "How My Gay Prostitute Friend Paid Off His Debt By Becoming A Danish", that's news.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:32 AM on October 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard:

Full many a guy of goodness to the bone
Is swallowed in the caves of idle talk;
Full many a man is born to sleep alone,
And waste his semen in a crusty sock.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:17 AM on October 31, 2012


That bit that psoas quoted above... is just... so sad.

Which is why it stood out to me. The rest of the story is an intellectually interesting overview of how this guy solved a bunch of logistical problems... and it's told almost like a caper story, really. That little nugget, though, is the emotional core of the story for all his clients, and exposes something to ponder: obviously not all unattractive people employ prostitutes, but some do; whereas (in his experience) no attractive men did. What he considers attractive, of course, is somewhat subjective.
posted by psoas at 8:49 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find myself wondering if groups of thin people who only sleep with each other should be called "the ferret community", and if people who only sleep with thin people should be called "skinny seekers." After all, if we're going to marginalize people, we might as well marginalize as many as we can.
posted by davejay at 9:11 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flashman: Must suck to be in that situation.
Well played, sir.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:24 AM on October 31, 2012


Startup idea: web platform for prostitutes with online booking, crm, scheduling
Hookr.
posted by deathpanels at 9:25 AM on October 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


three blind mice: The concept of paying a private company to do your taxes is as foreign to Danes as students getting a salary to attend college is to Americans.

Well that last sentence is ridiculous, but what is interesting about this for me is it shows how easy it is to start a business in nominally "socialist" Europe.
I think you misunderstood the sentence. They're not getting a salary from a job, nor living off their parents' dole; going to college is a salaried position.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:27 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Foci for Analysis: Startup idea: web platform for prostitutes with online booking, crm, scheduling
Be wary of pandering laws: make a web platform for private contractors. Of any sort.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:31 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The word for taxes (“skat”) is also the word for “honey,” as in “honey, I’m a socialist."
Cute, but a more proper translation would be "dear" instead of "honey". Dear has the same duality in English, although the monetary meaning of "dear" isn't much used nowadays. "Skat" can in other contexts also mean "treasure", and the link from taxes to the English treasury is clear.

(And before someone embarasses themselves, "skat" has nothing to do with actual honey. That's called honning.)
posted by brokkr at 9:37 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


As one female Dutch standup said, gay guys have it easy faking orgasms: just moan a bit and spit on the other guy's back...

Don't the homophobes in the movie Philadelphia have a similar line?
posted by biffa at 10:35 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's the top line?

Nice shoes, wanna buy me a drink?
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:44 AM on October 31, 2012


KRAMER: You know, I faked it.
JERRY: What?!
KRAMER: Yeah.
JERRY: You faked it? Why would you do that?
KRAMER: Well you know, if it's enough already and I just wanna get some sleep.
posted by modernserf at 11:06 AM on October 31, 2012


but didn't he tell the tax authority that he was teaching piano lessons?

I believe he only said that on the initial phone call when he was questioning the methods of starting the business.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:12 AM on October 31, 2012


but didn't he tell the tax authority that he was teaching piano lessons?

I thought maybe that's just what the Danish kids are calling it these days...
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:20 PM on October 31, 2012


... but if that's all the money he needed to get out of debt, he definitely had non-sexwork options.

As the article mentioned, he was already doing (and enjoying) most of that stuff already. I struck me more like someone who is an excellent amateur baker deciding to do a few wedding cakes for pay to earn a few extra bucks.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:03 PM on October 31, 2012


I asked Henrik why his spreadsheet listed the distance he cycled to each client.

“Bike rides,” he says, “are reimbursed half a kroner per kilometer.”


DENMARK FUCK YEAH.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:29 PM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Because alarm clocks are over-rated.
posted by Twang at 1:34 PM on October 31, 2012


It's sobering how much different the comments are here from the Molly Crabapple thread.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:50 PM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't have an issue with anything here, except maybe the baby-made-me-do-it part, because I don't get that bit at all.

There was no explanation about why he and his ex decided to pursue a pregnancy, but according to the article they had been working on it for two years, so it shouldn't have been a shocker. And since he was planning on being a father and needed money for that, he could have chosen not to redo the kitchen, go to New York, and/or spend a ton of money on clothes.

Not that I care if he simply decided that he wanted to do it because he finds it a mostly enjoyable way to make extra cash, plus he wanted to redo the kitchen and go to New York and buy clothes. He seems perfectly fine and happy with all his decisions, which is great. Throwing the baby into the story was the odd note for me.
posted by taz at 2:56 PM on October 31, 2012


taz: "There was no explanation about why he and his ex decided to pursue a pregnancy ..."
Presumably, they wanted a kid.
posted by brokkr at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed at the fact that he looked at the available Danish websites, saw that there wasn't anything useful, and thought "I know! I'll spend hours hanging out in a chat window, bicycle all over the place at 1/2 kroner per km, sleep with people I don't like, and eventually earn $4,000!"

Instead of, you know, learning how to code.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:15 PM on October 31, 2012


Seeing as the article mentions he has a day job as an IT administrator, he presumably already knows how to code (or click around in a GUI, depending on what kind of IT he's administering). But unless you're already an established freelancer, you're not going to make a lot of money in six months in the current economic climate.

Besides, his work contract might very well restrict him from doing paid IT work on the side without his employer's permission.
posted by brokkr at 5:32 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed at the fact that he looked at the available Danish websites, saw that there wasn't anything useful, and thought "I know! I'll spend hours hanging out in a chat window, bicycle all over the place at 1/2 kroner per km, sleep with people I don't like, and eventually earn $4,000!"

Instead of, you know, learning how to code.


Six months is an awfully short time to learn how to code well enough to earn $4,000.

That and this attitude needs to go away. No, programming isn't as hard as laypeople tend to think it is. But it isn't something everyone has an aptitude for, and it won't solve the world's problems if all N billion unemployed/minimum-wage/otherwise destitute people suddenly learn how to program.
posted by spitefulcrow at 6:34 PM on October 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Space Kitty, I read both the Molly Crabapple story and this one while waiting for a friend to show up for dinner and I found this one to be better written.

The Crabapple story had the familiar epiphany that sex work is hard on the soul, and then an extended amount of navel gazing about what it all meant to her. It's hard for me to put into words, but the usual sex work memoir has a definite format and feel that I find off putting and pretentious. It's kind of like how a lot of novels by authors from India are full of "Eastern mysticism" and a precious style of writing that every one of those authors thinks is unique to him/her.
posted by reenum at 7:28 PM on October 31, 2012


What I meant was, he might have set up a dating website and sold advertising. The existing websites are, apparently, crap; and because it would be in Danish he would be shielded from a lot of the potential foreign competition.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:29 PM on October 31, 2012


What I meant was, he might have set up a dating website and sold advertising. The existing websites are, apparently, crap; and because it would be in Danish he would be shielded from a lot of the potential foreign competition.

I didn't get from the article that there was a particular gap in the Danish market for gay dating websites, only in the market for gay dating websites where one could advertise prostitution. It sounded like his frustration with the websites (not related to prostitution) was that there were just not enough people active on them, which doesn't really suggest there's room for another.
posted by hoyland at 7:48 PM on October 31, 2012


So, Joe in Australia, if you want to go boating, but can't find a boat you like in the price range that fits your current budget, would you be more likely to:

(1) learn to build boats, design one that's affordable and meets all your desired points, and open shop as a new boat company, or

(2) take an extra job for a few months to raise enough money to buy a boat?
posted by IAmBroom at 3:00 PM on November 1, 2012


IAmBroom, I don't think that's a great analogy. Firstly, opening a boat store is a hugely capital-intensive procedure that can't be compared to setting up a website; and secondly, he doesn't indicate that he actually wanted to be a prostitute. He just wanted to earn some money.

It seems to me that his activities as a male prostitute had a limited upside, while the founder of a popular website can potentially make many times as much. And the two things are not inconsistent: he was looking for a way to promote his activities, but he could have used his own website to promote himself while simultaneously earning money from other people's advertisements. But all this is hypothetical; perhaps he had good reasons for not doing this; perhaps he needed the money right away; perhaps he was frightened by an unruly webserver as a child and it scarred him for life. It just seemed odd to me.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:56 PM on November 1, 2012


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