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Showtime's 'Gigolos' reality series: Guilty pleasure or primetime porn?
Some say the premium channel's latest show, which follows male prostitutes around Las Vegas, crosses the line into porn
Five male escorts in Las Vegas discuss their sexual adventures in a scene from Showtime's new reality TV series, "Gigolos."
Five male escorts in Las Vegas discuss their sexual adventures in a scene from Showtime's new reality TV series, "Gigolos."
Screen shot, Showtime
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howtime, known for boundary-pushing programming like Dexter, continues to push it with Gigolos, a new reality program that premiered Thursday. The premium cable channel's much-buzzed-about reality show follows a group of dapper male escorts on their sexual adventures with female clients in and around Las Vegas. Is it just trashy or does it cross the line into obscene porn? (Watch a trailer for Gigolos.)

No, it feels clinical... and sort of fake: As on HBO's Cathouse, which documented life in a legal brothel, says Claire Zulkey in The Onion's A.V. Club, "the sex is graphic and straightforward," more business-like than arousing. But, unlike Cathouse, which was interesting because it felt accurate, Gigolos seems scripted and fake. "Parts of it feel a little too shiny and glossy to be truly real, and that's a turnoff and a distraction."
"Gigolos"

It's pretty much porn... and it's lousy: The "bluntly pornographic" Gigolos serves as "one of the crudest reminders that there really is nothing some people won't do to be on television," says Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times. And unlike Cathouse, Gigolo's very premise is dubious. Sure, there are women who pay men for sex, but there are far more men who pay for gay sex. "A look at women-only gigolos in Las Vegas is a little like a cooking show devoted entirely to vegan steak recipes."
"Gross? Maybe. But it got me on TV, right?"

Even the payment scheme is porn-like: Not only did female clients on the series reportedly not pay for the men's services — the women were actually paid to be on the show, says Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon. So the show's producers paid both the gigolos and their female "clients" to entertain viewers. That "sounds a lot like porn." While there are surely some women who do shell out for sex, on Gigolos, "the line between fiction and reality is a very blurry one."
"Who's paying for the sex in Showtime's "Gigolos"?"

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