"What you need," says one of my friends, "is a patron. In the Renaissance sense."

This is probably true, but unfortunately I was born in the wrong time for it to happen. On the flip-side, I get to wear trousers and have access to medical care more sophisticated than leeches and quicksilver. Overall, I think I've come out ahead.

The idea also makes me quite nervous. Like most other modern women, the closest I've come to having experience with "I'll lay out money so that you can flit about doing awesome things" is exchanging beauty and charm for comestibles, i.e., paying attention to some dude who wants to buy me dinner. If I could actually get anyone to understand that this is what is going on, I'd be fine with it -- modeling is essentially exchanging my presence and ability to not be terrified by cameras for money and/or credit, after all. Modeling, however skeezy people occasionally try to get, is a recognized commercial occupation, and as such I have legal and social backup if I need to enforce the business aspect. There's not much anyone can do if I decide I've had enough and inform whoever hired me that my job is done now, and they need to cough up my money/portfolio prints just prior to going the fuck away.

Exchanging money for company is murkier. It is a technically legit business, and is the 100% legal service advertised by "escort" agencies. (I believe that regulation-wise, it falls in the same negotiable area as personal assistants and non-medical companions for the elderly.) Unfortunately, it's so often a cover for prostitution that it's difficult if not impossible to actually work at escorting without the customers expecting you to put out at the end of the night. Jobs that genuinely involve standing around, looking attractive and making conversation, are referred to as "hostessing", they advertise for models in the same places I get work from artists, and still sometimes serve as a cover for expensive hookers. Depending on assignment, even the non-hooking ones may fall under the umbrella of "sex work", as strippers, phone sex operators, and professional dominatrices do.

And if they're not erotic in nature, they pay for shit. Business-wise, in that context, your wits are worth nothing, and you're considered a warm body with a pulse that might be able to take tickets without fucking something up. Waiting tables pays more, because then you have to also be able to carry things without spilling them.

It is even riskier doing things like that in a non-business setting. Customers do get pissed at sex workers, for one reason or another, but it's relatively uncommon for them to take something personally. They lose their temper for the same reasons people lose their temper at customer service peons, which is that they think it's your job to kowtow and you're not doing it well enough. If you take up being Holly Golightly as a part-time job, it is well-nigh impossible to convince anyone you pay attention to that you're not falling head-over-heels in love with them. You can outright tell them that you're talking to them because they bought you something, but they never believe they're not playing the Richard Gere character in a remake of Pretty Woman. It's rather akin to taking a one-time job to install someone's business network, and having them hope against hope that you're just sitting there waiting for them to call at 3am, begging you to fix whatever their porn browsing broke on their home PC, except that people are rarely if ever killed in a jealous rage over technical support.

(For the record, I've never managed to see all of the movie Breakfast At Tiffany's. I'm given to understand it ends in the traditional movie fashion, with the leads paired up for a happily-ever-after. I have read the book, however, in which Holly fucks off to South America because she's mixed up in a murder trial, and the protagonist is left with some bewildering memories and Holly's irresponsibly-released cat. Capote was not good at happy endings.)

It also very quickly gets insulting. People expect your undivided attention while they're buying you things, and for you to be available for some indefinite time afterwards. It implies that your company is worth so much less than the price of the "date" that you end the evening indebted to them. And that isn't even getting into the entitlement issues that surround what people tend to think you owe them, which is an entirely different kettle of very dangerous fish.

I'll accept getting into clubs and getting comped drinks by the bartender because I'm wearing a push-up bra and a very short skirt. That's strictly business, with clubs -- it's unofficial payment for being a shop-window mannequin, essentially, because the more attention-getting the women are inside your establishment, the more hopeful men will line up outside and hemorrhage money once you let them in. Once you start accepting drinks from individual people, though, it can get hairy in a hurry.

So I'm very, very wary of accepting random money just for being me. It's not that I don't think I'm awesome, it's that I can't guarantee that I'll stay awesome in the way the patron wants, or at a constant rate, and I'm accustomed to people getting royally peeved at me when I deviate from expectations.