How Many Male Escorts Are There?

Following up their fascinating 2014 book, “Male Sex Work and Society,” a groundbreaking collection of essays and studies on male sex work, sociology professor Victor Minichiello and criminology professor John Scott are sharing the results of a recent survey they conducted of online male escort profiles around the world.

The results, recently posted on their website and blog About Male Escorting, range from the fairly predictable–confirmation that the majority of male escorts in the U.S. cater to men–to the surprising, such as the finding that, though we think of the U.S. and U.K. as socially similar, in the U.K. over 53% of male escorts cater to women, compared to just a little over 13% doing the same in the U.S.

Rough estimates suggest that male sex workers account for 10-20% of the overall sex worker population worldwide (40-42 million*) with online profiles being the most popular method of seeking clients.

A ranking of the top five countries surveyed with the highest number of male escorts seeking male clients, puts the U.S. second to Mexico, which, along with Brazil, Spain, and the United Kingdom account for 93% of the total male escort profiles worldwide.

“It’s assumed that men are the primary market for male escorts, and while it is true that most escorts target male clients, our survey suggests a significant market for women who pay for sexual services from men is emerging,” Professor John Scott from Queensland University of Technology said.

“As expected, we found twice as many male escorts had male clients versus women or straight couples. While more than 57% of identified websites catered to male customers only, 11% were specifically for female clients and a similar number of sites were for straight couples.”

The survey found a total of 324,852 profiles of male escorts online but after eliminating duplications (many male sex workers list on multiple sites) there was a total of 105,009 online male escorts, with Mexico leading a top ten list countries with the most escorts. The top ten list below includes the number of male escorts and the percentage of catering to men in each country:

1 Mexico - 37,958 (61.72%)
2 U.S.A. - 25,356 (86.28%)
3 Brazil - 19,576 (64.98%)
4 Spain - 6354 (61.92%)
5 U.K. - 5487 (47.68%)
6 Belgium - 945 (67.52%)
7 Germany - 891 (59.71%)
8 Japan - 787 (58.45%)
9 China - 765 (99.13%)
10 Netherlands - 726 (60.06%)

Professor Scott said even traditional, socially conservative societies hosted male escort websites with escorts who advertised online as catering for women and straight couples. Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries where homosexuality is illegal, still supported male escort websites where nearly half the escorts listed catered to men.

“In jurisdictions where sex work or same-sex relations are heavily penalised, it is possible that escort sites are known only to participants within relatively closed social networks. They may also be listed on the ‘dark web’ – these sites were not included in the survey.”

“If you are a woman or a straight couple seeking a male escort using online male escort services, you are out of luck in Costa Rica, Finland, Israel, Panama and Taiwan where the male escorts have male clients only, says Scott. “And you’ll have slim pickings in Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Uruguay and Paraguay where each country has just one male escort who has found a niche in the market and offers this service.”

“The average price worldwide seems to be $200 an hour but it can be thousands of dollars for a weekend, especially among the international male escorts who list on websites around the world.”

“It is important to note that a number of websites that included escort profiles from around the world, such as Rentmen and Hourboy, were often hosted in countries where sex work was legal and these websites were among the largest overall.”

He said the survey counted only male sex workers operating online, not those in brothels or massage parlours or outdoor and street settings.

“The figures fluctuate over time with sex workers and websites entering and leaving the market. The fluidity makes the online marketplace appealing for many.” To check for this validity and emerging trends over time, Scott and Minichiello plan to conduct a similar survey annually.

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