Feb. 16, 2012— -- Gigolos, catering exclusively to women, used to be considered a sort of urban legend, but as more women are willing to say they pay for sex in no-strings-attached situations, this once taboo topic has become more mainstream.
Some women said they like paying for what they called the "perfect boyfriend experience," because at the end of the night, they pay the guy to go away.
"I definitely don't want somebody telling me what I should be doing with my money, or my time, or anything like that," said Heather Smith. "This works perfect for me. I know they aren't going to call. I don't want them to call. I know that whatever I say is what I say and they either like it or they don't, I don't care, and there's a freedom there. There's a liberty in just being whoever you are and knowing it doesn't matter."
Reality TV series, "Gigolos," helped draw back the curtain on the world of male gigolos. The show chronicles the lives of five straight male escorts, Brace, Nick, Vin, Steven and Jimmy, who live in Las Vegas and are employed by a real agency, Cowboys 4 Angels.
Garren James, 36, a former gigolo, is their agent and what some would call a pimp.
"Sex for money is illegal," James said. "It's not illegal to charge somebody for your time, and that's basically what we're doing. We're charging somebody for somebody's time."
That mantra, where payment up front is no guarantee of sex for clients, is legal in all states where the Cowboys 4 Angels services are available -- prostitution, by contract, is defined as a guarantee of sex for money and therefore illegal. Vin, who has a live-in girlfriend and was a former philosophy major, believes that what he is doing is not prostitution.
"Everything that happens with me is voluntary, no one has to hire me," he said.
Essentially, the men of Cowboys 4 Angels said they make themselves available for dates exclusively with women, for a price. James doesn't believe what he and his employees do is immoral.
"I think a moral thing is just something that's right or wrong," he said. "If I'm a man and I want to take a woman on a date, I'm paying for dinner... I'm paying for everything. I don't see how it's much different in the fact that just because a woman is paying now, that it's wrong. It doesn't make sense."
James' company employs 35 men, who work out of Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta and Vegas, and since being on the show, business has been booming. James said he also has received over 2,000 employment requests. But it takes a specific type of person to join the Cowboys 4 Angels team.
"They should look like a model-type guy -- Educated, humorous, intelligent and a gentleman," James said.
James said he conducts four-part interviews with prospective gigolos, but because his company is not offering sex for money, he cannot demand STD testing. However, James said he runs a background check on each one and the men who spoke with "Nightline" claim they all practice safe sex.
His clients, James said, are often smart, affluent women, who are coming to his company's website in spades.
"Most women are successful in business, college educated, can be in their 20s, 30s, 40s, women that travel a lot," he said.
Heather Smith, a 39-year-old single business manager at a Fortune 500 company, knows the men of "Gigolos" well -- she has had dates with five of them and spends between $500 and $1,000 a month on gigolos. But she said being with a male escort is not all about sex.
"I don't think of the gigolos as sex workers or prostitutes at all," Smith said. "They certainly don't feel like that. I think with women there's so much other stuff before the physical, all the talking... Makes it a different sort of date than if it was a man client with a woman professional."
Smith said dating these "professionals," as she called them, helped her get over the grief she felt after her fertility treatments ended tragically.
"I don't know why, maybe because I'm a single woman and I went through the loss alone, and I didn't have that husband in bed at night to hold you when you're just bawling your heart out because of this loss. I don't know why but for whatever reason the gigolos helped through all of that. That right there you can't put a price tag on It's worth everything," Smith said.
These dates even became an incentive for her to lose weight. Smith said she rewards herself with a date every time she loses around 10 pounds.
"Since I've added gigolos to the weight loss plan, I've lost 27 inches," she said. "My first date, I was wearing a size 28 dress. I'm an 18 now."
James recently recruited Shawn, a former stripper, from a modeling website. "Nightline" tagged along on one of Shawn's dates at a Vegas hotel with one of the company's "regulars."
When asked what clients are looking for when they hire male escorts, Shawn said, "Sometimes they are just lonely… Sometimes they just need to feel like somebody cares about them. Sometimes they're just out of a bad relationship, bad divorce, sometimes it's their birthday, sometimes they just have too much money and want to blow it."
For four hours and about $1,000, Shawn wined and dined the client.
"I showed her back up to her room and um gave her a good massage with my hands and then time was up already time to go," he said, "I'm just being a gentleman and what happens in Vegas and I'm in Vegas. So I have to stay in Vegas and so do our stories and our secrets."