GFE Girlfriend Experience
Here's what happens when you—a slightly neurotic, straight, white male who's been in a committed relationship for years—goes on a "girlfriend experience" date to write an article about it. First, you make a clumsy and ill-advised tense shift because the situation's extreme specificity makes the second-person perspective invalid.
Then, I asked my lovely and kind partner for her approval.
"No sex, " I said.
"Sure, whatever, " she said.
With that pesky detail out of the way, I went to Google to find the right gal for me. The appropriate search terms were obvious: "Girlfriend experience, " or "GFE" for short. I added my own location because I didn't have a travel budget. If you're living in or near a city, you're among escorts. The more money that city has—if you haven't heard, the Bay Area's busting—the more escorts there are who offer "GFE services." They are expensive, roughly $500 an hour.
During my search, I ignored listings on BackPage (too many pimps) and Eros (too forward for what I was trying to accomplish), and focused on personally created websites, looking for independent freelancers like me. At the very least, we'd be able to commiserate over the looming tax day. After that self-imposed restriction, I tried to find someone I'd "connect with." The world of sex work is a rich tapestry hidden from public eyes, so research is important when you're searching for someone to spend time with. After a weeklong search, I found Jessica. I can't go into exactly what I enjoyed about her site—Jessica is not her real name—but I emailed her, explained I was a writer, and gave her information to locate me online. She responded.
Here's a good place to disclose my awareness of the observer effect principle—how the act of observation changes the thing being observed. Maybe I could even get into the inherent problem that comes with trying to document anything, even mention how the first documentary film, Nanook of the North, was filled with forced recreations. It would, if anything, at last recoup some value from my college film minor. But you're smart, you get all that. So when we planned the date with a brief phone call—not necessarily her norm—I broke down how, while this would technically be a date, there'd be no sex.
"I don't want to say dates have a guarantee of sexual activity, because they don't, " she said. "A, because it's illegal. And B, they simply don't. There have been a good number of instances where I have not been able to get there with somebody."