With her 10/10s piling up, Natalia’s hourly rate jumped from $800 to $1,200 with a two-hour minimum. (The split: 45 percent for the escort, 45 percent for the agency, 10 percent for the booker.) If clients haggled, they would be told to call back when they were “more successful.” Jason says, “I always ask prospective clients to give me strong points about themselves, where they went to school, if they’re good-looking. It established rapport but also put them on the defensive, let them know that I was interviewing them, to see if they were good enough to go out with our girls.”
Jason’s hyping sometimes was faintly embarrassing. “Jason would be saying, ‘Natalia is the greatest escort in the history of the world, as good as Cleopatra or Joan of Arc,’ ” says Natalia, “and I’d be like, ‘Jason! Joan of Arc was not an escort, she was a religious martyr.’ Then he’d be saying I was the greatest escort since Mary Magdalene.”
But all the hype in the world (an Asian toy manufacturer wanted to mass-produce Barbie-style Natalia dolls, complete with tiny lingerie) wouldn’t have helped if Natalia, who never imagined she’d wind up staying in “every expensive hotel in New York,” hadn’t turned out to be a natural.
“I’m a little moneymaking machine, that’s what I am,” she says as she takes a languorous drag of her Marlboro while stretching out on her apartment couch in a shiny pink satin corset, Marlene Dietrich style. Then she cracks up, because “you know, the whole thing is so ridiculous sometimes.”
People wonder what it is about Natalia that made her the Perfect 10. “From the start, you know this is going to be fun,” says one client. “It is like having sex in a tree house.” Says another, “Nat isn’t this all-knowing geisha thing. But in a way, it’s deeper, because she gets to a place inside where you used to be free.” And another: “With her, there’s none of that shit like this is costing enough for a first-class ticket to London and the girl’s in the bathroom for, like, half an hour. Natalia’s this one, total this-is-all-about-you.”
“Yes, he sold the shit out of me, but he sold me as myself, someone who really likes sex. Because the truth is, I do. I loved my job, totally.”
Suffice it to say, it’s in the pheromones. According to Natalia, she’s always gotten along with men. “Jason understood who I was,” she says. “Yes, he sold the shit out of me, but he sold me as myself, someone anyone can be comfortable with, someone who really likes sex. Because the truth is, I do. I loved my job, totally.”
It is another old story, along with the heart of gold, that many “providers” actually like what they do. But even if she professes to be “horrified” by stories about sexual trafficking and “sickened” by nightmarish exploitation of the street prostitute, Natalia says, “At the level NY Confidential was at, the guys I was meeting, I would have gone out with 80 percent of them anyway. People have so many misconceptions, preconceptions, about my life. Last year, I got a call to play an escort in a Broadway play. But the part was so dark, so icky. I said no. It didn’t fit my experience at all.”
You never knew who might be behind the hotel door. Once, she was summoned to a guy’s room, told only that he was a famous, championship athlete. “I’m not a big sports fan, but I recognized him, the quarterback. He turned out to be very laid-back. He mostly wanted to make me happy. In the middle, he looks up and says, ‘Well, you know me, I’m more of a giver than a receiver.’ ”
What no one could have predicted, least of all Natalia, was how driven she would be. “I knew she was talented,” Jason says. “But once she started going, she was unstoppable, like the Terminator.”
A glance at Natalia’s booking sheets raises an eyebrow. Annotated with Jason’s exhortatory commentary (“Awesome guy!—$5200, wants to be a regular!” “Big Wall Street guy!” “Software king.” “Hedge fund heavy! Says he will give investment lessons!”), the records of Natalia’s bookings through June and July of 2004 reveal a workload exceeding 250 hours, or nearly a normal nine-to-five, at an average of $1,000 per hour, not counting little presents like fancy $350 underwear from La Perla.
“Victoria’s Secret is all right,” Natalia says. “But you know you have a good client when you get La Perla.”
Some weeks were particularly frenetic. From July 29 to August 1, she had a four-day date in the Florida Keys for which Itzler charged $29,000. The very next day was a four-hour appointment. August 3 was filled with a ten-hour appointment and another two-hour job. August 4, three hours. August 5, a three-hour followed by another four-hour. August 6, two hours. August 7, one four-hour job and a two-hour. August 8, she was off. But the 9th was another ten-hour day, followed by a pair of two-hour jobs on August 10.