$40,000-a-Night Call Girls: What Happens in Cannes, Stays In Cannes

  • By Dana Kennedy
  • Sep 23, 2018

A recollection told by a Lebanese businessman convicted in a 2007 prostitution ring reveals the dirty secrets of how high-profile escorts (and even Hollywood actresses) swarm hotels and yacht events in search of some serious gold. According to one escort, it's

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Like Johnny Depp, Paris Hilton and Sharon Stone, Lebanese businessman Elie Nahas was a regular at the Cannes Film Festival.

But given that his bust in 2007 for his part in the most explosive prostitution scandal in the history of the festival, Nahas, 48, is prohibited from leaving his native country of Lebanon. He hopes that his jail sentence, slapped on him in absentia through a French choose after a trial in Marseilles in October, will be overturned on appeal this year, but he's now not overly optimistic.

Nahas owns a Beirut-based modeling agency, and he is labeled as the right-hand man for Moatessem Gadhafi, the playboy son of Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi, Nahas' longtime friend. It was during this time that Nahas was arrested on expenses of jogging a prostitution ring that provided greater than 50 women "of various nationalities" to the younger Gadhafi and other wealthy Middle Eastern clients at the festival. Moatessem was killed with his father in Libya in 2011.

reddlights.comMelanie Meder Photography

Power to Women

The women there ran the show, from high-profile escorts to fashion icons to beauty queens. They serviced men in hotels, on yachts and in the palatial villas in the hills above Cannes. Philippe Camps, an attorney for a Paris-based anti-prostitution company that was once a civil plaintiff in the trial, says that some of the women were brought into Cannes underneath false pretenses and were coerced into prostitution.

Police broke into Nahas' room at the city's famed Carlton resort in August 2007 and arrested him after a lengthy investigation involving wiretaps, which helped them bust Nahas and seven others as key participants of the vice ring. (Prostitution is felony in France, but soliciting, whether with advertising or on a road corner, is not.)

Nahas is still bitter about his arrest and subsequent conviction, and denies he was involved in the jogging of a prostitution ring. He says he was unfairly singled out in a sea of wealthy players who pass in and around the Cannes Film Festival's second-biggest business after movies: prostitution.

"Why me?" asks Nahas during an interview with THR from Beirut. "The police know what goes on in the festival, and they turn a blind eye. But they went after me. Why? Probably because I worked with Gadhafi.”


'They Can Bank In About $40,000 a Night'

Every year, women ranging from what the French call “putes de luxes” (high-profile call girls), who charge an average of $4,000 a night, to nearby streetwalkers, who normally get little extra than $50 or $75 an hour turning hints 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.”

"We all look forward to it," says a prostitute in Cannes who goes through the identify of Daisy on her website but declined to supply her surname. Daisy is one of many impartial escorts who have their personal websites and typically keep away from going to motels and bars -- besides at some stage in the festival. "There's a lot of competition because there are so many girls, but the nearby ones have an advantage. We understand the resort concierges."

The local prostitutes drop money off with concierges at the town's top hotels. In return, if they are lucky, the concierge steers clients their way. During the 10-day festival, an estimated 100 to 200 hookers stroll in and out of the big lodges each and every day, in accordance to lodge sources.

Nahas says the cash can be better than most people realize. The most stunning call girl, he says, knows 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. If they like you, they will supply you a lot of money. At Cannes, they raise money in wads of 10,000 euros. To them, it's simply like paper. They do not even like to rely it. They'll simply hand it to women without thinking. This is how the system works."

The serious motion starts after 10 p.m., he says. Call girls sit in the lobby, while clients check them out.

"It's all completed with hand signals," he says. "The guys sign their room numbers with their fingers and the women comply with them.”


Everything is Organized

Some of the "luxury escorts" come as part of an geared up ring, the kind of operation that police accused Nahas of running, and others fly in small parties on their own, from Paris, London, Eastern Europe, Brazil, Morocco and Russia. Still others take benefit of the other large events taking place on the Cote d'Azur, the Monaco Grand Prix, and hotel rooms in the city of Beausoleil, just behind Monaco, and travel between there and Cannes, a 40-minute drive.

Nahas denies he was once strolling a prostitution ring, however, admits he arranged for girls to come to Cannes during the festival. His job was to select them up at Nice International Airport, carry them to the port at Cannes and place them on small boats that took them out to Gadhafi's yacht, the Che Guevara, and other luxury vessels.

"I don't understand what took place between any of them. I had no understanding of it. They might have just been there to talk and have fun,” pleads Nahas.

Until his 2007 arrest, Nahas was known for throwing million dollar birthday parties for Moatessem Gadhafi in Marrakesh in 2004. He paid Enrique Iglesias $500,000 to attend and flew in stars like Carmen Electra for $50,000, he says.

“But Gadhafi never touched Carmen," says Nahas. "In fact, she was a little annoyed because she felt he did not pay enough attention to her. But Gadhafi was shy, believe it or not. Women had to make the first move."

Nahas -- who was jailed for a year after his arrest in France and then released for lack of proof -- says the younger Gadhafi sent him $25,000 a month to live on after his popularity was ruined in Lebanon and he no longer could work. Since Gadhafi's death, the money has dried up. "I cry blood for him every day," says Nahas.

When Nahas was arrested, police confiscated a book that contained dozens of names and contact records for some of the richest princes and potentates in the Middle East. Nahas admits that he knew them all but denies that he procured hookers for them.

But even if he did, there are lots more like him all over Cannes in the course of the festival.

"Please," says Nahas. "Every year throughout the competition there are about 50 luxurious yachts in the bay at Cannes, and each boat belongs to a very wealthy person. Every boat has about 10 girls on it; they are normally models, and they are usually nude or half nude. It's pills and drink and beautiful women. Go out on one and you will see. The female are all waiting for their envelopes at the beginning of the night. It's been going on there for 60 years."


The Envelope, S’il-Vous-Plait

The so-called “gift" contained in an envelope, according to Nahas and a wide variety of Cannes escorts interviewed through THR, is how prostitutes get paid at the festival.

"It's a gift," says a Russian woman who oversees a Paris-based escort business enterprise with branches in London and Dubai. "Clients are informed to put the money in an envelope and write 'gift' on the outside of it."

Women established on yachts in Cannes at some stage in the movie competition are referred to as "yacht girls," and the line between expert prostitutes and B- or C-list Hollywood actresses and models who receive charge for sex with wealthy older men is every now and then very blurred, explains one film business veteran.

"You'd definitely recognize the big names from Hollywood in attendance," he says. "These are actresses who made bad choices and fell off the radar. They tell themselves what they're doing at Cannes is OK, that they're simply on dates with rich men, when the fact is they're doing what prostitutes do. But they like the money."

Davis, who is married to TV comedy writer Kevin Rooney and divides her time between France and LA, says she has two friends who used to work at the festival as well as other exotic events around the world. "I could never understand how they could do what they did," says Davis.

Davis says she has been propositioned by some of the richest men in the world but could never imagine having sex with them for money.

She says the women she knew traveled the world, and one of them eventually ended up marrying one of the richest men in France.

"This woman didn't even enjoy sex, she told me," says Davis. "But she didn't mind it, either. She didn't mind sleeping with men who were repulsive. She said it never lasted more than five minutes, so it wasn't that bad."


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