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In fact, though, Silverburg finds the drama addictive, and the sabbatical was short-lived. "I didn't want to do it again, but you can't quit," he says. "I'm gonna do it till I die." To get going again, he called three of his old escorts and had them stay at his Boca townhouse. "Then I let the people who know me know I have these girls," he says. "They say, 'Send 'em over in ten minutes,' and, boom, I'm back in business."
By now, Silverburg tends to see the world as a big anthill driven by "deals." "It never stops," he says. "Never. As we're speaking, there's guys going to see escorts. In the last five minutes, there's probably been 25 deals made in Broward, Palm Beach, and Dade counties. I know the two girls at my house are probably going out on calls now." That pair, he says, bring in as much as $3,000 a week each. "I have a 21- and a 41-year-old," he says. "The 41-year-old will probably give you a better time than the 21-year-old, who's only been in the business six months."
Older women tend to be more professional, he observes. "Most [prostitutes] are idiots with boyfriends who they give all their money to, or they take all their money and spend it on drugs. That's why most of my girls are 25 and older -- they can handle a little more responsibility."
One recent weekend, the 41-year-old in his stable received a call from a client who wanted to book her for two hours. "He ended up keeping her for another five hours and paid her $1,600," Silverburg says. "And then the next Saturday, another $1,600 visit. That's not sex for five hours," he clarifies. "You may have sex for an hour or two, but the rest of the time, you're just sitting around talking to a beautiful girl 'cause you're lonely."
Silverburg's escorts still use a hotel room or visit the client's home, though he admits, "If it's an emergency, I'll let 'em do a call in the living room. I don't care."
One of Silverburg's sons now helps run the business, or at least acts as chauffeur to the girls. "He hates them," Silverburg sighs. "He does it because he makes money; otherwise, he has no use for them." Life at home sounds like an adventure. A few years ago, Silverburg ended up meeting the principals of Hallandale Beach-based Pleasure Studios, where he was cast as an extra in Paige Shagwell PI: Undercover Lap Dancer. It was essentially a nonsexual role -- he kept his clothes on when he played a husband surprising his in flagrantewife -- but his pride is still obvious.
South Florida's surplus of escorts has driven prices down; Silverburg concedes that savvy locals now don't want to pay more than $150 for a session. "But you can still sell girls for $300 on the Net," he says, adding that the websites make it easy for tourists and business travelers to find a SoFla hookup. "It attracts a higher class of customer."
"The Internet has been a boon to the escort industry," Silverburg continues, describing the business as "so big and so quiet at the same time." He's glad law enforcement generally opts to let escort agencies operate in peace, as long as they're low-key. "They're stupid for not making it legal and taxing it," he says. "Let it be a respectable business, and go catch the terrorists."
Kristi Kannin (not her real name) says she was born to work in the sex-for-cash industry. "There's a lot worse ways to spend your days," she says, a mischievous smile on her tanned, freckled, 43-year-old face. After reading a New Times article about her former pimp ("Gingerbread Man," March 2004), the single Fort Lauderdale mom e-mailed a reporter and stated, "I worked for him from July 1999 to December 2001, made a ton of money, and had a great time."
In those days, Arthur Vanmoor was Broward's most notorious pimp -- a Mensa member, patent-happy inventor, and millionaire who was charged with racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy, and various prostitution-related charges before the system finally brought him down last year. He may be one of the last sex moguls who didn't use the Internet as his main storefront, and the resultant visibility turned out to be his downfall. The Dutch-born escort service owner virtually monopolized listings in the Yellow Pages and employed hundreds of girls during his high-life years, and Kannin gladly went along for the ride. Eager to tell all, she takes her old Toyota Corolla down to the paper's downtown office. Inside a meeting room, she breaks it down in simple terms.
"I needed money, and I needed sex," she says. "But I didn't really want a boyfriend." Escorting neatly solved both issues. "The first weekend, I made $1,500. In the first six months, I made $40,000 cash," she says. "I loved the job. In my mind, it's a business." But two and a half years was enough. "It got boring, like going to the same matinee over and over," she says, running a small hand and barn-red nails through curly, peroxided locks. Now, she says, she'd consider a return to the biz. "Age is getting to be a factor, but I still have a killer figure, I'm a lot of fun, and I'm really open-minded."