Daily Archives: March 10, 2008

John Gapper

Reading the federal complaint against the prostitution ring in which Eliot Spitzer, the New York state governor, apparently became caught up is an insight into how even this sort of business is just that – a business.

The Emperors Club VIP was clearly at the top end of prostitution enterprises. It operated across borders – in Paris and London as well as in US cities – and it was very expensive. Clients had to pay between $1,000 and $5,500 per hour for its services.

Like other service businesses, it had a loyalty club for the most elite clients who paid even more than $5,500 per hour, known as the Icon Club. It allowed some clients to “buy out” their favourite prostitutes, permitting the men direct access to the women without going through the Emperors Club.

The 47-page complaint shows the Emperors Club also faced many operating challenges. The federal wiretaps of conversations show the organisers facing problems such as having too few prostitutes for the demand from clients in one city and having to hassle clients to pay bills. 

John Gapper

I have just spent a few days in London for work. As always, when I return from New York, it feels richer and more cosmopolitan than the place where I grew up.

One thing that struck me was the nationality of the aircraft passing overhead in west London. When I was a child, I used to gaze up at the aircraft coming in to land at Heathrow and try to identify the countries from which they came.