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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Exactly how porny is Showtime's new reality show 'Gigolos'?

Steven and Vin, from Showtimes Gigolos
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  • Steven and Vin, from Showtime's 'Gigolos'
Showtime used to be a channel known for their steamy, made-for-TV late-night pornos of gross men and the plastic women who did them. People subscribed to the cable channel for that reason alone. Then Showtime started playing real movies, and before you knew it, Jonathan Rhys Meyers was starring as King Henry VIII in "The Tudors." Well, Showtime is returning to its roots! With its new reality show "Gigolos," premiering Thurs., April 7 at 11pm, the network pumps up your airwaves with graphic sex and wacky scenes of fraternal bonding. Just what my Thursday night was missing!

The show centers around five man-hos in Las Vegas as they please lonely women (and couples, many men simply watch while their wife gets screwed). Vin is the new guy who's half black and half Latino (as he pointed out to me on Twitter). The group was missing out on "black guys," said Nick, so they needed to hire Vin. He's got an odd-shaped head, but he's personable and found himself prostituting because he loves women. "I'm a feminist," he quips in the series opener. Steven is the male hooker with the heart of gold. He has a son from an estranged marriage, so everything he does, including gang bangs and other fetish scenarios, is all for his son. There's something disturbingly off about Steven, his nervous habits and his slightly effeminate mannerisms. His self-hatred for being a gigolo is palpable. The thought of him having sex is mildly uncomfortable, as I believe he might be gay.

All-American Jimmy looks like James Van Der Beek of "Dawson's Creek" fame, and like Steven, acknowledges he is escorting as a means of "survival." Meanwhile, Jimmy's roommate Nick is the affected douche of the century. Out of all the guys, he really has no moral conflict about what he's doing. Sleaze oozes from his pores and out of his giant green spilled-spaghetti tattoo encompassing his entire right side of his body. I'm not sure Nick has a soul at all, just a fuckable vessel body. But most tragic of all is Brace—and not just because his name is Brace.

Brace is truly a tragic figure—he is the oldest of the group and the most groteqsue looking with bleached hair, spray-tanned skin, hulking gym-rat body, and what suspiciously looks like tattooed eyeliner. He convinces himself that he has the best life, he loves what he does, but in fact, it's cost him a lot, including a grasp on reality. He desperately wants real connections in life, but instead fills it with sex for money. Most sad of all, he begins hawking an anti-aging pill that he puts all his hopes into. In a Power Point presentation with the catchy title "Anti-Aging Neutracuticals by BRACE," he tried to convince the other man-hos to get in on his million dollar plan, but they were too busy talking about "cock cages" to care.

The guys go from house to house having sex with sad women, and all these Las Vegas houses look exactly same. It makes me never want to visit Las Vegas. There is a similar vibe to Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing," in that watching self-loving, metrosexual douchebags is oddly compelling. "Gigolos" shows graphic sex scenes—you see it all—but the music remains oddly generic and upbeat, like the acoustic guitar tunes of a yogurt commercial.

But what undercuts the whole show is the sense of family these gigolos have for each other. When Steven can't pay for his kid's posh summer camp, the other four guys gangbang a derranged housewife for $3,000 and give Steven all the money. It is kind of sweet, in a Las Vegas hooker sort of way. But what I don't understand is why these women agree to have sex on camera. What do they gain from it? One of Brace's clients looks like a porn star, so I get that. But one of Steven's clients is a morbidly obese, self-conscious woman. Why would she get pounded on camera by Steven? Moreso, Steven talks about how unattractive he finds her in the confessional.

"Gigolos" is an all-around debasing experience—for me, the viewer. Probably great for the fat girl.

"Gigolos" premieres Thurs., April 7, at 11p.m. on Showtime.

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