A politician who gets turned on by wearing lingerie, a guy that likes to watch his girlfriend having sex with other men, a lesbian couple trying to spice up their relationship, an enamored gay man who pays just to chat. All kinds of people search for the services of Eric Portenho, fake name of a 19 year old from São Paulo who, without bragging, tells the story of his life as a gigolo on the internet. “Most of my clients are men who have wives. I don’t know how to explain it, I also shouldn’t be the one to judge them, but I think they’re cowards”, he tells Palma Louca. Controversial accounts and opinions such as these attract more and more clients to his blog that went on air in December 2008.
Indifferent to comparisons between him and Bruna Surfer Girl, the hooker who transformed a blog into a best-seller, Eric says he doesn’t intend to become famous, even less to write a book. The idea of opening the doors to his intimacy came up during a sort of existential crisis. “ I was going through a lot, I started to think I was insane or abnormal. So I decided to write and put those feeling out there”, he explains.
The internet is the space he found to share his experiences. It was also online that he started his career as a rentboy. Not really knowing where to start and afraid of the exposure of adverts, Eric started joining chatrooms for gays, bisexuals and swingers, using a nickname that identified him as a hustler. Until today, the internet is his main source of contact with his clients. Only when things are slow does he appeal to nightclubs, where he has to share the profit, or even to the streets.
Even with fake names, a client has already recognized himself in Eric’s blog
In his blog, Eric tells stories such as the one about how he found out that Ibirapuera Park was a good spot for finding clients. “I don’t know how it works but there’s a huge number of closet gay men there. So that day we just went around flirting. When someone showed interest, we would say the price”, he tells me. His blog became a success faster than he expected. “I installed a hit counter and was astounded because it received a thousand visits a day. I felt violated, I wanted to delete the whole thing, but that would be caring too much about what others think. So I was careful not to publish personal information”, he said, and he agreed to talk to Palma Louca as long as his identity remained a secret.
Even though he makes sure all characters are protected by fake names, his stories have given rise to complaints from a client. “I don’t talk about the blog, but one of them found me on Google and, although I change people’s and places’ names, he recognized himself and called me immediately”. Eric is extra careful because he still lives with his family. “Although they’re extremely liberal, they don’t know I hustle and probably don’t suspect it”, he believes. He is a first-year student of Physical Education and says he enjoys his free time like any boy his age. “I take karate classes, I like sports”.
Claiming he’s up for anything, Eric affirms he has no preference between having sex with men or women. “Women are more affectionate, shier, and they treat you like a boyfriend. Men, on the other hand, treat hustlers like sex machines”. Of course, there are also clients who try to have more than one date. “I never fell in love with a client. Some say they’re in love with me, one even asked for my hand in marriage. But the ones who weren’t lying weren’t really emotionally level-headed”, he says, before admitting he has doubts about his own sexuality: “I honestly don’t know. I feel emotionally and sexually attracted to women. To men, it’s only sexual. That’s why I prefer not to label myself as straight, gay or bi”.
A ripped condom, an AIDS test and bizarre fantasies
The rentboy exposes not only the details of his appointments but also his personal dramas. For example, he describes the day a condom broke in the middle of an orgy on New Year’s Eve, and his desperation when taking an HIV test months later. Another drama is his abandonment by a girl who rejected him when she found out he was a rentboy. “I have few friends but they all know what I do and they accept it just fine. But there’s always some astonishment when I tell people”, he admits.
His blog also tells of some clients’ fantasies. In one post, Eric narrates a date with one who paid him and other rentboys to urinate on his body. “We’re all a bit mad. But behind closed doors, when they’re paying, clients feel the right to forget their rational side. That’s when the bizarre stuff happens”, he says. On another date, Eric had to defecate on a man who got pleasure from spreading faeces on his own body while masturbating. He tells me that, initially, he refused. But the client raised his offer and cash spoke louder than disgust. “There are also clients who dig smelly feet, B.O. and so on. Human beings are very exotic. What is strange and disgusting to some is pleasurable to others”, he states. “And it’s not easy to have sex with someone you’re repulsed by”.
In some posts, Eric says he charges an average of R$ 150 a date. For this interview, he didn’t want to say how much he earned a month. “It depends on my willingness to work”, he admits. “Whoever said prostitution is easy money never had a prostitution date. You might get the money fast but there’s nothing easy about it”. In São Paulo, the hustler tells me that competition is getting tougher and more disloyal by the day: “Things are getting difficult. There are drug addicts who go into prostitution and, at the peak of their desire for drugs, they end up charging R$ 5 for a date.
As for prejudice, he guarantees he doesn’t mind what people think. “I never cared much about society’s opinion. I’ve got male and female friends who don’t work with sex and change partners as frequently as I do, simply because they like to. But with me, just because I charge people for it, I’m wrong”, Eric protests. He is thinking about investing what he earns in real property. “My plan is to build houses for rent. I’ll start with small places. In a distant future, I intend to own lots of them”.
PS: On July 11th, days after his last contact with Palma, Eric used his blog to reveal his real name, Diogo, and announced the end of his life as a rentboy. “I realized that Eric was taking leave and that from that moment on he would no longer be a part of my personality”, he wrote, after recounting his last date. The post didn’t mention the now ex-rentboy’s property plans.