In 2010, the late Roger Ebert tweeted: “Hookers stand out in Cannes. They’re the ones who are well-dressed and not smoking.”
While the annual Cannes Film Festival has become famous for images of A-list stars arriving via yacht for star-studded movie premieres, the real drama is what happens on the peripheral of the paparazzis’ lens.
The Hollywood Reporter has done an exposé on the sex-fuelled sub-culture surrounding the glitzy film festival in an article titled “$40,000-a-Night Escorts: Secrets of the Cannes Call Girls”:
Every year, women ranging from what the French call putes de luxes (high-priced call girls), who charge an average of $4,000 a night, to local streetwalkers, who normally get little more than $50 or $75 an hour turning tricks in nearby Nice, converge on Cannes for what one Parisian hooker calls “the biggest payday of the year” …
The women ran the gamut, from full-time escorts to models to beauty queens, and they serviced men in hotels, on yachts and in the palatial villas in the hills above Cannes, police said.
“We all look forward to it,” a local Cannes prostitute, who goes by the name of Daisy, tells THR. “There’s a lot of competition because there are so many girls, but the local ones have an advantage. We know the hotel concierges.”
“Knowing” the concierges means routinely dropping off cash to those who man desks in the town’s top hotels. In return, Daisy explains, concierges sometimes steer clients their way.
“During the 10-day festival, an estimated 100 to 200 hookers stroll in and out of the big hotels every day,” hotel sources tell THR.
Another source adds “It’s all done with hand signals. The guys signal their room numbers with their hands and the girls follow them.”
The source, who has frequented the film festival and been linked to the prostitution ring, explains that the most beautiful call girls know to target the high-end hotels “where all the Arabs stay.”
“They can make up to $40,000 a night,” the source continues. “Arabs are the most generous people in the world. If they like you, they will give you a lot of money. At Cannes, they carry money around in wads of 10,000 euros. To them, it’s just like paper. They don’t even like to count it. They’ll just hand it to the girls without thinking. I know the system.”
Part of that “system” includes “yacht girls” on the 30 or 40 luxury yachts anchored in the bay at Cannes.
“Every boat has about 10 girls on it; they are usually models, and they are usually nude or half nude. It’s drugs and drink and beautiful women,” says the source. “The girls are all waiting for their envelopes at the end of the night. It’s been going on there for 60 years.”
The envelope, presented as a “gift” to the yacht girls, is how most prostitutes get paid during the festival.
But not all women getting “gifts” are local, French prostitutes.
“The line between professional prostitutes and B- or C-list Hollywood actresses and models who accept payment for sex with rich older men is sometimes very blurred,” one film industry veteran explains to THR.
“You’d definitely recognise more than a few names from Hollywood,” he says. “These are actresses who made bad career choices and fell off the radar. They tell themselves what they’re doing at Cannes is OK, that they’re just on dates with rich men, when the reality is they’re doing what prostitutes do. But they like the money.”
This year’s Cannes Film Festival runs from May 15 – 26.
To read The Hollywood Reporter’s full article, click here >
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.