WASHINGTON — The perfect man may be hard to find. But renting him is easy.
That’s the concept behind a new company called Rent A Gent, which is a marketplace where women can lease handsome, talented and educated men. For $200 an hour, women can rent men for dates, as entertainment, an instructor or a handyman.
“We believe that some things are better done when you have a handsome guy by your side,” says Rent A Gent President and CEO Sara Shikhman.
The less than 1-year-old business came about after Shikhman attended an ex-boyfriend’s party and wanted to have the perfect man by her side.
“I wanted to make him jealous and couldn’t find hot enough dates,” says Shikhman, who was a corporate lawyer in New York at the time. “[Rent A Gent] is a way to do this and have a companionship service without sex and kissing and all of that stuff.”
It’s more than just arm candy, Shikhman says — it’s about enjoyment as well. Some of the company’s more popular clientele are married women whose husbands purchase the service for their spouses.
“A lot of times, there are situations where the husband may be traveling or the wife may want to do an activity the husband doesn’t like, like going to the opera or going rock climbing and he’s like, ‘You know what, I’ll hire someone to go with you and I’ll know with this service there won’t be any hanky-panky, so why not?'”
D.C.’s most popular rental
Cordario Worrell of Gambrills, Maryland, has rippling washboard abs and a degree in English/Telecommunications as well as a minor in Theater Arts.
His education, physique and talents — among which are modeling, singing and dancing — have propelled him to the top of the ranks of the D.C. Rent A Gent network.
Worrell, who goes by “Michael” at Rent A Gent and Bodi professionally, is the most popular local choice, Shikhman says.
The D.C.-area Rent A Gent program, which spans the District, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware, began about three months ago.
So far, Worrell says the experience has been exciting.
“I saw it as a new starter business, something positive to society and women,” he says.
“I see it as a means to get my talents recognized by doing something positive.”
Rent A Gent has a thorough screening process and Shikhman says all applicants have to meet three qualifications: They have to be handsome (which means at least 6 feet tall and have six-pack abs); they have to be educated; and they to possess a talent.
“We made one exception for a guy who was 5-9, but he organized Occupy Wall Street, so we figured ‘OK he can have a three-pack since he did have major accomplishments.'”
The talents can range anywhere from martial arts teacher, bodyguard, poet, comedian or personal shopper.
Like Shikhman’s inspiration of the business, many people want to have a Rent A Gent hunk accompanying them to events. The “accompanying to an event” service is particularly popular in the D.C. area.
“[The women want a] guy showing up there looking spectacularly nice and having a great conversation with her and making her look even better in front of everyone,” Shikhman says.
Worrell says he has been on a number of dates.
Recently, he accompanied a D.C.-area woman in her mid-40s to a work-related banquet. The pair spent the evening dancing, laughing and having great conversation. It wasn’t awkward, it wasn’t sexual, it was just a good time, Worrell says.
Worrell says none of his dates or events has ever been sexual or unprofessional. All customers and employees of Rent A Gent sign a contract saying they will follow the company’s rules and refrain from sexual activity. Not doing so is grounds for immediate termination, Shikhman says.
But the rules haven’t stopped some people from trying.
One time, a man called to rent a hunk for his girlfriend, but wanted to meet up with them after the date to join in on “whatever they’re comfortable with me participating in,” the man said, as Shikhman recalled.
Shikhman said she politely told him that Rent A Gent was not that kind of business.
A controversial company
Some may say Rent A Gent objectifies men or sets unrealistic expectations in the dating world, but Shikhman has a message for her critics.
“It’s 2014 and women and men both have lots of options, and if somebody wants to make extra income making $100 an hour, God bless them,” she says.
Worrell says the service gives women confidence and helps them realize the qualities they want in the man of their dreams.
“This is not an escort service. It’s actually a means to make women comfortable and feel alive.”