The rich and ultrarich are used to getting extra service for their extra dollars -- and that holds when it comes to prostitutes.
Allegations that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer met with a high-priced prostitute have shined a fresh light on the most expensive side of the world's oldest profession. Spitzer has been linked to the Emperor's Club, an alleged prostitution operation that charged up to $5,500 an hour for one of its prostitutes. Spitzer allegedly spent $4,300 for the services of a prostitute who met the governor in a Washington D.C., hotel room the night before he was scheduled to testify before Congress on the state of the bond industry.
What do high-end prostitution operations offer that a street-corner working girl might not?
Former Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss told ABC News that for rich, busy men, the convenience and predictability of using expensive prostitution rings are worth the price.
"The world's a lonely place -- it's hard to meet people, especially someone you like," said Fleiss, who was convicted in 1995 of tax evasion and money laundering in connection with a prostitution ring she ran. "It's so much easier to come home at night, to call an escort service and you know what you're going to get."
Fleiss' now-defunct service charged a flat rate of $1,500 per hour for each woman. Prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada, and Susan Austin, the madam of two Nevada brothels -- including the "world famous" Mustang Ranch -- said that some women there charge between $10,000 and $15,000 for a night or two days.
Though Austin said there is a huge distinction between legal brothels and illegal operations, the Emperor's Club's alleged rates didn't strike her as unusual.
"I know that ladies will charge that much or more, depending on what the gentleman wants," she said. "Everything's just according to what the gentleman wants."
Fleiss said that while the prices may seem exhorbitant to some, it's all relative, especially when a client's income is taken into account. Fleiss said that her affluent patrons often paid more than the flat rate, partly because their ultradeep pockets wouldn't feel the pinch.
If a wealthy man "sees a girl and has a great time and he gives her ten grand, who cares?" Fleiss said. "It doesn't change his life, but it is a lot of money, and it makes a big difference in her life."
Fleiss said that for her customers, she honored requests that men had for different kinds of women. She once, for instance, found "gigantic, gigantic girls" for a client who preferred heavy-set women.
"It's just like when you go to a restaurant," she said. "You're paying -- you can order what you want."
Austin said that at her brothels, it's often older, more experienced women who command the higher rates.
"A woman with a little age under her belt has a lot more patience," Austin said. "She's more versed in the business. The young girl a lot of times just starting out doesn't have all the necessary tools. That comes with age, and it comes with practice. It's like taking a rookie baseball player versus a seasoned baseball player, if you know what I mean."
What else are patrons paying for? Though Spitzer's very public outing and other high-profile cases may indicate otherwise, discretion is also considered a key benefit of high-priced prostitution operations.