Sometimes I’ll be sitting eating an ice cream cone or Spaghetti-Os, and I will think, “It’s sad there are no real modern day courtesans.” There just aren’t. Partly because there are very few real monarchies, so you can’t sashay out and seduce a string of noblemen and then the King of Bavaria as easily as you could when there were nothing but aristocrats running around Europe.
Beyond that, the sexual revolution did in courtesans. Premarital sex doesn’t make you part of demimonde society now, because nearly everyone does it. I think that freedom is good for at least 99% of the female population. But back in the time of the real courtesan there was that 1% who somehow parlayed seducing powerful men into a lifetime of carriages, diamonds and castles.
Who finds a wealthy lover and protector today using her sexual wiles? Courtney Stodden may seem to have no real talent outside of her seduction prowess, but she didn’t get a castle out of that skill. Kim Kardashian? I just like courtesans to have more style. The last woman that I think of as a true courtesan was Pamela Harriman.
Vanity Fair wrote:
Her men were all said to have been dazzled not only by her champagne voice but also by her desire to take care of them, her managerial skills, her flawless dinner parties, her superbly run houses. “Even the towels felt as if they were woven with silk threads,” a friend said. “Pamela understood that if you wanted to attract powerful men—the best men, in her view—you had to know everything.” If some of her men viewed her as frivolous, Mrs. Harriman knew better, even then. “I was always very serious,” she says now. “We used to say about Pamela that if you put a blindfold on her in a crowded room, she could smell out the powerful man,” a close friend since the forties said, with admiration in her voice.
Like a bloodhound! But with better towels.
She definitely found the most powerful men, including Edward R. Murrow, Élie de Rothschild, Jock Whitney, Gianni Agnelli, and Aly Khan. She also married Winston Churchill’s son, Randolph, producer Leland Hayward and Averell Harriman.
So, everybody good. How did she accomplish this? Supposedly by following the advice in Ovid’s Amores.
Which is pretty much my favorite “how to seduce men” technique, ever.