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A new French law, enacted April 13, legalized solicitation but criminalized the purchase of sex in an effort to put the onus onto paying customers. But it hasn’t crimped business on the Croisette.
“The atmosphere is fun and I have had a lot of work during the week,” says “Katia,” an escort who comes down from Paris for two weeks surrounding the festival. “The festival is always busier than usual, and this year is no different.” Katia, who gave her age as 27 though it’s listed on her website as 24, has attended a red-carpet premiere and several parties during the fest’s first week as part of the “girlfriend experience” she offers for 550 euros ($620) an hour. She also has a strict “4- and 5-star only” hotel policy, but skips yacht parties that she feels have a more hostile environment. (Clients are 50-50 French and foreign, including some American execs.)
For more than four years, local law enforcement has fought visible prostitution with nightly monitoring: “We fight it every night,” says Pierre Boutillon, deputy director of the municipal police.”We have a night service that monitors any activity. You will not find any street prostitution in downtown Cannes,” At hotels, however, “even the security doesn’t know what is happening in the rooms,” he adds. “It’s hard for us to check that when you have modern prostitution with internet and cellphones.” A young Russian named “Kate,” who is based in the area year-round, agrees: “[Men] contact me through a website and discuss on the phone. I don’t understand how anyone could enforce this.”
A version of this story first appeared in the May 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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