Gentlemen for Hire

Searching for a knight in shining armor?

Genevieve Yang, CC '08, would be glad to help you find one.

"One day last year I was thinking, what if instead of a one-night stand, you had a one-night-walk-in-the-park-hand-holding?" she said.

So began the Anachronistic Gentleman Rental Service, of misleading title.

Though deemed a rental service, Yang, who founded the service in November, allows ladies in need of an anachronistic gentleman to borrow one, complete with period dress, free of charge.

"Someone who would join an anachronistic rental service probably already has a pocket watch, or wouldn't mind getting one," she explained. "No one would have to pay unless they wanted something extra, like an elephant or something."

According to Edward Rueda, CC '05 and one of the rentable anachronistic gentlemen, Yang herself is relatively anachronistic, and is well equipped to resurrect the past.

"She's one of the only girls I know who caries a parasol when it's sunny," he said. "And she's definitely the only girl I know who wears a corset."

Yang stressed that her service is not a sexual service, and is intended "just to promote style, and have fun doing it. Imagine, for instance, that you got some great clothing from a thrift store, and you wanted someone to walk around on your arm."

Despite the fact that the service's Web site has been online for almost three months, Yang has yet to see her first client.

"I'm sort of laid-back about it," she said. "I haven't done any advertising, besides the Web site and a facebook group. If someone wanted to use the service, I would be amused, but right now I'm pretty amused by its existence."

Anyone who did use it would have plenty of choice. Seventeen gentlemen, both current students and recent alumni, have expressed willingness to be rented. One of them, Gregoire Etrillard, is a law student from France who claims to have been born in one of the stables at Versailles.

Etrillard has never met Yang, but found out about the service from the facebook group.

"I am French, so I really liked the idea of a group dedicated to being a gentleman," he said. "I once worked as a doorman just so I could open the door for girls."

Rueda, who was one of the first gentlemen to join up with Yang, wore a top hat and tails to his high school prom.

"I was the best-dressed guy there," said Rueda, who met Yang last year, when the two were members of the Philolexian Society. "Another guy had a cane, but it was an old person's cane, with a rounded top. No good."

When Rueda heard about the service, he was eager to join. "Things have gotten very informal now, and there's something about doffing your hat when you see someone. It's an elegant gesture that doesn't really exist anymore."

Leo Gertsenshteyn, CC '06, is another original member of Yang's service, and another Philolexian. Last Thursday, at Glass House Rocks, a young lady asked his opinion of her dancing abilities.

"Having only seen her shaking her rump to some hip-hop, I responded by saying that I can't judge someone as a dancer until I've waltzed or foxtrotted with them," he said.

Gertsenshteyn said his willingness to put on a period costume and escort a lady free of charge stems from the fact that "putting on a fob watch and taking your beau to the nickelodeon has a certain charm that poking someone you like on the facebook will just never have."

As it turns out, Gertsenshteyn was exaggerating. He added that a facebook poke may develop its charm to a greater extend when "we're all old or dead, and the kids with their damn flying cars will think it's genial and old-fashioned to say 'holla!' at a passerby."

Though none of the gentlemen have yet been rented, they expressed willingness to enact their roles.

"I'd be up for it," said Rueda. "In fact, I'd be exhilarated."

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