Roberto Dulce, or Sweet Roy as he calls himself, is one of Italy’s most famous gigolos, but is he also an unlikely pin-up for feminists?
In such a conservative and male-dominated country, some see Sweet Roy's popularity as proof that wealthy working women are taking more control.
“If a woman is hungry she fills the void at a restaurant, if a woman has psychological problems, she fills it at a psychologist, if she has sexual and emotional problems, she fills it with me,” he tells Fabiana Formica from SBS’s Dateline program.
Clients pay him between 500 to 2000 Euros (approximately $700 to $3000). On offer is a range of services from meeting women for a simple dinner to helping those looking to lose their virginity.
“I think that women in Italy, like the rest of the world, are becoming emancipated. They're trying to copy, to emulate men," he says.
“So now women are paying us back in kind.”
Sweet Roy is a regular on TV talk shows and soon to be the subject of a book, and he has no shortage of clients.
“One could argue that the fact that we are paying for sex is not a great social achievement,” one of his clients, ‘Maria’ tells Dateline.
“But I wouldn't see it only from that point of view... even being able to physically take what we're entitled to is a sign of emancipation," she says. “It's a sign that times are changing."
Psychologist Alessandro Pedrazzi, who’s also the man behind Roy’s book, agrees.
“Italian society is… male chauvinist imprinting for historic and religious reasons,” he tells Fabiana.
“I think there have always been women who pay to go with a man, from ancient Roman times. The difference is that now we know it… now they can talk about it.”
But what does it say about Roy’s own relationship with women?
“Usually one falls in love when you feel incomplete, so you have to find the missing piece,” he explains. “Women fascinate me, but I can’t fall in love because I feel complete.”
Watch Dateline’s full story of ‘The Italian Stallion’ above.