The secrets of Eliot Spitzer's favorite escort service, the Emperors' Club.

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March 11 2008 10:36 AM

So You Want To Open a Brothel

The keys to success, as gleaned from the Web site of Eliot Spitzer's favorite escort service.

Read more of Slate's coverage of the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal. Josh Levin was online on March 13 to chat with readers about this article; read the transcript.

The buffet of options at emperorsclubvip.com.
The buffet of options at emperorsclubvip.com

On Monday, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer apologized for failing "to live up to the standard I expected of myself." The standard he failed to meet: completing a full term without making the acquaintance of high-priced call girls. According to a criminal complaint (PDF) filed in U.S. District Court, Spitzer paid $4,300 for a night with "Kristen," an escort from Emperors' Club. Like any 21st-century escort service, Emperors' Club has a storefront on the Web—as of Tuesday morning, visitors to emperorsclubvip.com are informed that the site "has been disabled." Thanks to Google's cache feature, however, it's still possible to peruse the site's nongraphical elements. The membership guidelines, the promotional materials, and the model profiles are all still there for the browsing, offering a rare glimpse at the secrets of operating today's brothel for the well-to-do.

Josh Levin Josh Levin

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

Ingratiate yourself with the target audience. "Catering to the most financially elite social circles in the entire world," the site's welcome page begins, "Emperors Club is the elite recreation venue and private club for those accustomed to excellence." Apparently, those accustomed to excellence do not, as you might expect, demand copy written by native English speakers. ("When seeking an evening date, a weekend travel companion, or a friend to accompany you to your next business or social event, our Icon Models are paramount preference.")

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Build a feeling of community, but also exclusivity. For its members, Emperors' Club isn't a whorehouse. It's a whorehome—a full-service institution that matches "customers with the ... finest concierge luxuries." Membership has its privileges: "entrance to sold out events (Concerts, Sporting Events, Oscar Awards, Grand Prix …)!" and "a weekend date with your favorite celebrity (50% of Celebrity Date proceeds are given to charity / cause of choice)." But just like Augusta National and the Order of Skull and Bones, Emperors' Club knows the key to maintaining a private club is keeping out the crumb bums. "We act for a select group of educated, refined and successful international clients," the site explains. The stats: "92 percent of Emperors' Club International Members are CEO / Owner / Partners of a large (often international) corporation."

Hire an elite workforce. "Emperors Club Icon Models," the site explains, are carefully selected based on "[q]uality and level of education, family background, intelligence, personality, ability to create an enjoyable atmosphere and physical beauty." Skeptical about the Icon Models' credentials? Not to worry—each of the ladies on staff has a detailed CV that appears to have been ghost-written by Anchorman's Ron Burgundy. Maglia "speaks six of the world's leading languages fluently." Alyssa has "been educated at the finest Acting Academies." Giada, who has a B.A. in tourism, is an "interior designer for some of Europe's finest estates." (The site doesn't have a listing for Spitzer's date, who went by the sobriquet "Kristen.")

Push the merchandise. If only selling an escort were as simple as listing her degrees and job titles. Today's discerning customer requires both a rundown of likes and dislikes—Drew, for one, lists her preferred chocolates as "Milk, Dark, White"—and narrative flourish to stoke the imagination. For lovers of song, there's Emmy, "a fine country and folk musician. Her gifted voice and melodious harmony convey nature's beautiful appreciation at once. She is comforting … rustic. From the warm-toned autumn leaves to the rising flowers of spring, Emmy casually reminds you to savor every second of our surrounding, abundant beauty. Emmy… be revitalized to triumph." If you're more of a gourmand, you might prefer Trina: "A master of culinary tastes and combinations, her lithe fashion model frame shows not the elegant meals she delectably creates to savor, but only reveals the riveting years she spent as a professional ballerina."

Create a unique rating system. Roger Ebert has the thumb. Michelin has the star. Emperors' Club has the diamond. According to a page on "Introduction Fees," the club ranked its call girls from three to seven diamonds based on "individual education, sophistication, and ambiance." Prices range from $1,000 for an hour with a three-diamond prostitute up to $3,100 for a seven-diamond hooker; dawn-to-dawn rates go from $10,000 for a three-diamond to $31,000 for a seven-diamond. Bargain hunters take note: $30,000 will buy you a trio of three-diamond prostitutes—that's a total of nine diamonds for less than the price of a single seven-diamond call girl.

Exploit all possible revenue streams. Most brothels stick to selling sex. Emperors' Club has a more diverse business model. Alongside the hooker portfolios, there's a page inviting companies to advertise on emperorsclubvip.com. (To inquire about rates, please e-mail ads@emperorsclubvip.com). The site promises access to a well-heeled clientele, noting that members' gross annual income averages $3.63 million per year. Perhaps Spitzer received some kind of financial aid—his annual salary is a scant $179,000.

Nurture the mind as well as the body. For the john who just can't make up his mind, Emperors' Club's site map lists a buffet of options. Along with the requisites—"millionaire dating," "billionaire dating," "billionaire introductions"—there's a healthy supply of nonsexual fare, including private yacht charters and "authentic art for purchase." The site's contemporary art page claims that Emperors' Club represents "artists of superior mastery," linking to dedicated pages for Andrew Wyeth and Jeff Koons. Emperors' Club is a model of efficient Web design: The site's artist portfolios have the exact same layout as the prostitute portfolios.

Help your clients find true love. "We understand that some of our clients / members and represented models may be interested in long-term companionship / private dating on a more personal level," the site explains. "We are happy to contribute to such arrangements." How does Emperors' Club express its happiness on such joyous occasions? By demanding a "buyout"—"a mutually agreed upon lump sum which the client / member transfers to the company to compensate the company for its role in and allocation of valuable resources which make it possible for this relationship to occur between the client and model."

Offer flexible payment options. According to the site's "VIP rates" page, there are Emperors' Club "Gift Certificates Available Upon Request."

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