the take

Life vs. Art: Eliot Spitzer and ‘Pretty Woman’

Photo: Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures; Getty Images

Movies transport us to places we’d never actually see and introduce us to the kinds of characters we’d never meet in our boring, usually lawful lives. So when it came out that Eliot Spitzer was having sex with a $4,000-a-night prostitute, we thought, Oh, we’ve seen that before! But Kristen is played by Julia Roberts, Spitzer upgraded to Richard Gere, and the Mayflower Hotel transformed into the Regent Beverly Wilshire. We readily admit that Pretty Woman — the classic 1990 prostitute-turned-Cinderella story — is our only reference point to the world of high-end hookers. But it turns out that Hollywood was mostly right!

A close look at the transcript of the now-famous affidavit in the Spitzer scandal reveals the similarities between Spitzer’s whore-of-the-moment, Kristen, and Vivian, Julia Roberts’s character in Pretty Woman. At least we hope so! Client 9 is described as a “difficult” man who sometimes asked the prostitutes “to do things you might not think were safe.” What could that mean? Well, in Pretty Woman, Vivian, memorably, is “a safety girl,” offering Richard Gere a “buffet” of condoms — just like Kristen, it seems, who has “a way of dealing with that.” (We’re assuming here that Client 9’s “difficult” requests were not some horrifying sexual fetish but something rather vanilla.)

And that’s not all! “I’m here for a purpose,” Kristen says in the affidavit. “I know what my purpose is. I am not a … moron, you know what I mean.” And Julia Roberts, as Vivian, knows what her purpose is too! “When I’m with a guy,” she says, “I’m a robot, I just do it.”

The affidavit ends with Kristen’s booker, Ms. Lewis, remarking on her seemingly novel wisdom. Said Ms. Lewis, “You look at it very uniquely, because … no one ever says it that way.” Aha! But we all know that Julia Roberts said it very nearly that way almost twenty years ago.

So we’re left wondering, Is this all just a coincidence? Safe sex and knowing not to fall in love with a client seem like pretty standard hooker guidelines. We’re hoping, though, that this is case of life imitating art — we’re picturing a young Kristen watching Pretty Woman over and over on VHS (as we did), and subconsciously absorbing how a hooker should act … and then acting accordingly. Too bad the Luv Guv is no Richard Gere. —Emma Rosenblum

Life vs. Art: Eliot Spitzer and ‘Pretty Woman’