From May 15th-26th there will be a whole lot more for sale in Cannes than just movie distribution rights — the most expensive escorts in the world will descend on La Croisette to sell themselves to the wealthiest men in the world. At $40,000 a night, these are by no means your average hookers.
In a feature story published in The Hollywood Reporter, reporter Dana Kennedy profiles one pimp in particular named Elie Nahas. Nahas is still in prison after his 2007 arrest and conviction for his part in the most explosive prostitution scandal in Cannes history. Nahas worked for Moatessem Gadhafi, the playboy son of Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi (both were killed in 2011), and would furnish Moatessem with high profile prostitutes during the Festival. Nahas flew in more than 50 women of various nationalities to not only service Moatessem at Cannes, but also a large number of wealthy Middle Eastern clients as well. “Why me?” asks Nahas during a phone interview with THR from Beirut. “The police know what goes on during the film festival, and they turn a blind eye. But they went after me. Why? Because I worked for Gadhafi.” The following is an excerpt from the THR story:
Every year, women ranging from what the French call putes de luxes (high-priced call girls), who charge an average of $4,000 a night, to local streetwalkers, who normally get little more than $50 or $75 an hour turning tricks in nearby Nice, converge on Cannes for what one Parisian hooker calls “the biggest payday of the year.” The influx is hard not to notice. “Hookers stand out in Cannes. They’re the ones who are well-dressed and not smoking,” tweeted Roger Ebert in 2010.
“We all look forward to it,” says a local prostitute in Cannes who goes by the name of Daisy on her website but declined to give her surname. Daisy is one of many independent escorts who have their own websites and usually avoid going to hotels and bars — except during the festival. “There’s a lot of competition because there are so many girls, but the local ones have an advantage. We know the hotel concierges.”
The local prostitutes, says Daisy, routinely drop cash off with concierges at the town’s top hotels. In return, if they are lucky, concierges sometimes steer clients their way. During the 10-day festival, an estimated 100 to 200 hookers stroll in and out of the big hotels every day, according to hotel sources.
Nahas says the money can be bigger than most people realize. The most beautiful call girls, he says, know to target the high-end hotels “where all the Arabs stay.”
“They can make up to $40,000 a night,” says Nahas. “Arabs are the most generous people in the world. If they like you, they will give you a lot of money. At Cannes, they carry money around in wads of 10,000 euros. To them, it’s just like paper. They don’t even like to count it. They’ll just hand it to the girls without thinking. I know the system.”
The story doesn’t end with European prostitutes — even some of Hollywood’s most famous women have taken part in the fast cash escort circuit. THR writes: “Women installed on yachts in Cannes during the film festival are called “yacht girls,” and the line between professional prostitutes and B- or C-list Hollywood actresses and models who accept payment for sex with rich older men is sometimes very blurred, explains one film industry veteran. ‘You’d definitely recognize more than a few names from Hollywood,’ he says. ‘These are actresses who made bad career choices and fell off the radar. They tell themselves what they’re doing at Cannes is OK, that they’re just on dates with rich men, when the reality is they’re doing what prostitutes do. But they like the money.’ Carole Raphaelle Davis — a longtime French-American film and TV actress (2 Broke Girls, Angel) who grew up in international circles in Paris, London and Thailand — says few people realize that some prominent and moneyed society women spent many years as high-priced prostitutes.”
There’s much more to the story and you can read every word by visiting The Hollywood Reporter. And on that note, what better time than now to watch and listen to the amazingness that is Lana Del Rey’s “Ride” directed by Anthony Madler.