Never mind that the 35-year-old Armani, an avowed expert on “human sociosexuality” with a shaved head and a philosophy degree, has declined to do any of these things. Never mind that I already have a male companion named Charlie—not a “companion concierge,” but the real thing—and that he does not seem to appreciate this exercise. For days now, Charlie has filled our home with gloom: “Are you kidding? If I organized an evening like that with my buddies, you know how much shit I would get?” He has grimly gone off to see a colleague of ours perform art songs at a downtown gallery.
Be all that as it may, it’s Friday night, and here we are, the All-Too-Real Ex-Housewives of Pasadena, decked out in stilettos and slinky partywear. We’ve gathered at Stella’s tasteful Craftsman home, a hideaway filled with Mission lamps and Audubon bird prints. Dinner, complete with cosmopolitans and strawberry pie with Chantilly cream, is being catered by a Zagat-rated chef.
At precisely 6 p.m.—$400-an-hour escorts are punctual—the doorbell chimes. Standing before us is Vin, a 195-pound, 6-foot-2-inch-tall glass of water, wearing tight jeans and a collared shirt. According to his publicists, he is “a unique and exotic ethnic mix of French, Black, and Latin”; in person, he looks like a friendlier version of Vin Diesel, with a toothy, fetchingly boyish smile. He enters the kitchen as if on oiled ball bearings, his bulging biceps weighed down by gift bags. Here are two bottles of his own brand of vodka, with my name inscribed in a lipstick scrawl of Vegas gold.
“Hi, I’m Vin,” he says, putting a massive hand out and introducing himself to each woman, repeating our names in a deep, silky voice.
“Will you have a cosmopolitan with us?,” I ask, suddenly anxious that he will be the type of elite male companion who is watching his carbs.
“Of course!” he exclaims, with a rumbling laugh, as though the question were faintly ridiculous. “Bring it on!”
We lift our glasses and each propose a toast: “To Friday night!” “To men and women!” “To romance!” “To love!” “To mixing business with pleasure!”
Vin goes last. He tilts his head to one side and narrows his eyes, as though searching for just the right words. A bicep flexes. He brightens. There they are. “To adventure, both intellectual and otherwise,” he says, cocking an eyebrow at us. Pause. His head bows in thought, then lifts. “And I’d also like to toast you ladies for your courage. It is rather courageous to have an intellectual discussion about the things that we are about to.”
“Can I feel your arm?,” Lise asks suddenly.
“Of course.” Another toothy grin. All at once our guest is encircled by women touching his arms, but with a curious objectivity, as though checking out luxury merchandise. Vin is easy about this, like an affable golden retriever, or maybe Aslan, the great lion of Narnia, who regally lets children ride on his back and run their hands through his silky fur.