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Book Review: Gigolo: Inside the Secret World of the Super Rich by Ben Foster

This was not my usual choice of memoir…

This is the tale of one talented and (un? you be the judge)lucky young man’s journey into the world of money and privilege most of us only encounter on television. It was a LOT steamier than I usually read, and such an unusual blend of elements – family drama, VERY explicit sex, and a zen-flavored explication of one man’s approach to life and living. Those are NOT usually found together, and you’d think that combining them would lead to a jarring, discordant mess of a read. On the contrary, I found that the combination rendered the book into a delightful salty-sweet confection of a tale full of morality and questionable decision-making, and drama and fear, and unbridled optimism and equally unbridled glee.

Ben’s tale takes him from living hand-to-mouth (literally) with his wife and young children (yes, he has a family throughout this – which was one of the most difficult points for me to reconcile with his decisions) one day to a world of privilege where money isn’t even thought of because it’s so ubiquitous the next is a wild ride that vacillates up- and downhill at a rate that should by rights make him sick but yet somehow invigorates and energizes him. It should have all felt utterly unbelievable and like a caricature of a tale (or like porn) but the frequent injection of Ben’s views on life, hope, optimism, satisfaction, and what it means to be happy somehow kept it engaging and believable, even at its most dissonant. I don’t know how Foster managed that – except perhaps by actually living it (if that makes any sense).

It’s a very easy read. The story progresses quickly and Foster’s voice throughout is engaging. It is very graphic, with some highly colorful predilections portrayed in painstaking detail. But it’s also a tale of a man struggling to take care of his family – and even if I do not personally agree with the decisions he made along the way to do so, I did find reading about them (and reading about his justifications and internal back-and-forths about them) interesting and a bit of a guilty pleasure… The book claims to be non-fiction. Frankly, it all comes together a bit handily for me to entirely buy that – particularly given the interactions between Ben and his wife as the story plays out. But who knows, they DO say that truth is stranger than fiction!

Thanks to Thistle Publishing for my review copy.

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