This amazing interview with the then unknown student / teacher Alastair Campbell, later to become New Labour’s Svengali, was conducted by Liz Hodgkinson and published by the Sun in May 1980.
When Campbell’s biographer Peter Oborne tried to find the cutting, it had mysteriously disappeared from all records.
However, Liz kept a copy of her original article. Here it is:
If you are young, handsome and hard up, it is all too easy to become a gigolo. That is what 22-year old Alastair Campbell found when he went to the South of France two years ago.
He arrived in Nice as a student from Cambridge University to teach part-time in a French grammar school as part of his modern languages course. But it wasn’t long before money and expensive gifts were being showered on him by rich, bored and lonely ladies in search of sun and fun. A tall, clean-cut English youth like Campbell fitted the bill nicely.
He says: “One evening, at recreation for the English students, a woman came up to me and asked me to go out to dinner with her. At the dinner, she asked whether I would be interested in becoming a gigolo.“
The way it worked, she said, was that she gave parties in the afternoon, which women attended for a fee. “At these parties, there would be a selection of young men, all available for hire, so to speak. Your job was to entertain them, and put yourself at their disposal. You would talk, have dinner, make love. In return they would give you money or gifts. The women I met were mainly between 35 and 50 and wanted a young man who would make them feel good.”
“It was all done very discreetly. It was completely civilised and there were very few risks. Only once did a husband turn up unexpectedly.”
“Often these women didn’t even want sex. More than anything, they wanted an intimate companion – for pillow talk, for affection, to make them feel desirable. The most I got paid was £250 for one night. The least was £12.”
Alastair had three things in his favour as a gigolo. He was tall – six foot three – fair-haired and English. He says: “There were plenty of gigolos in Nice, but they were Italian or French and short and swarthy.
“I enjoyed the work because French women are more passionate than English girls.”
Doesn’t he feel there was something unmasculine about being a kept man? “Not if you do it for just a short time,” he says. “But there are men in the South of France who turn it into a profession, and become very rich.”
“You can be successful between the ages of 20 and 28. After that, you’re less in demand. But think of the advantages – you choose your own hours, have a high standard of living, no ties, and all your clients are upper class, rich and civilised.”
“It’s never hard work, but the women do expect a high standard of performance.”
The Sun - May 1980