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I always thought men who paid for sex would rather drop dead than admit it.

Visiting a call girl is hardly on a par with dropping in at the garden centre.

Whenever a police car tours a red light district you can't see kerb crawlers for exhaust fumes as they speed off into the night.

And on the odd occasion when the rich and famous are caught sneaking out of dodgy massage parlours they are always quick to explain they are only there for relief from aches and pains. But Witness (C4) miraculously managed to get six punters to face the cameras.

They were a pathetic bunch.

The depressing documentary could just have easily have been called The Dirty Half Dozen or Men Behaving Sadly.

The youngest was Wayne, an unemployed 22-year-old Jack The Lad looking for love but happy to pay for a bit of lust in the meantime.

He claimed his first encounter with a member of the oldest profession was when he innocently went to a massage parlour with a bad back.

No, I didn't believe him either.

He said he got a shock when a girl appeared in a sexy basque, put a porn video on the telly and handed him a list of charges for more than just a rub down with Deep Heat.

More poseurs than perverts, they were filmed at home moodily staring into mirrors or parading around like models for a downmarket fashion catalogue. But their taste in clothes matched their taste in women.

It looked as if they had picked up bedroom tips from the brothel with a ghastly selection of bedside lamps, pillows and bedcovers.

The creepiest customer was 43-year-old Charles, whose addiction to naughty trips to Amsterdam cost him two marriages.

You would move seats if you found yourself next to him in a cinema or on the bus and it came as no surprise to learn that the only other members of his household were a dog and a cat.

"I was so hooked on illicit sex it destroyed my life", he said.

The others included twice-married Bill who reckoned his regular visits to a hooker named Joy made his second marriage stronger, and a rock DJ called Monty who used prostitutes because he had no luck with girlfriends.

Civil servant John, 73, had a pony tail, a posh accent and a failed sexual history.

He spent a lifetime paying girls just to chat because he was virtually impotent and terribly lonely.

For a while it looked like merely an excuse for men to talk dirty, until guilt -idden Lesley, 76, told how his friendship with a prostitute had shocked his second wife.

The former RAF officer, who would look at home on a bowling green or down at the Darby and Joan Club, said it upset her more than he ever dreamed and he wanted to come clean.

"Her health deteriorated and she died.

"If it were possible I would like to put it right", he said fighting back tears.

The true price of vice is tragic.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Purnell, Tony
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 16, 1997
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