Suppose you have a Hooker with a Heart of Gold. She's probably had a world's worth of men, ranging from unsavory to less savory. But sometimes, either to her relief or to her profound annoyance, she meets one of these.
These men — and they're almost always men — visit prostitutes not to have sex with them, as one would expect, but for some other purpose. Perhaps he's religious and trying to reform her. Perhaps she's too young for the business and he wants to get her out of it. Perhaps he just wants conversation and can't think of another way to get it, or he wants his friends to think he's more promiscuous than he really is. Perhaps he wants information concerning one of her clients. Perhaps he's a Transsexual or a Sweet Polly Oliver, and doesn't want her to discover this. Perhaps he's just creepy. He'll usually pay her anyway. If other characters find out, they will rarely believe that he's not in it for the sex. "We played chess" is quite common to hear afterwards; from either one of them.
This is Truth in Television — in real life, surprisingly common.
May be a consequence of the customer being asked Need a Hand, or a Handjob?
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Anime & Manga
Sōsuke from Full Metal Panic! gets this in an episode of The Second Raid. When he was in Hong Kong, a female prostitute that was almost identical to Kaname saw him (during his Heroic BSOD) and thought he looked cute. So she decided she'd like him as her client. However, when they get a room, he apparently only really wanted to talk and listen to some advice. When she actually started to try to have sex with him, he freaked out and ran away.
Ichimatsu from Samurai Gun is one of these. To the frustration of the lady, since she's in love with him and would actually like to sleep with him, especially after he rescues her from the whorehouse and gets her a proper job.
In an episode of Samurai Champloo, The Stoic Jin falls for a girl when he sees her staring off of a bridge and discourages her from jumping (characteristically enough, he does this by informing her that the water is too shallow and the drop too short — she'd most likely just wind up breaking a leg and a few ribs). He later finds out that she was contemplating suicide because she'd been sold to a whorehouse to cover her husband's gambling debts, and after shaking down Mugen for cash, he buys his way in to see her — in order to try and convince her to leave her husband and run away. They eventually do end up having sex, but only after it becomes clear that she's fallen for him as well.
In the Doll manga, one of the main characters owns a sophisticated male robot designed for sex, but refuses the robot when it comes onto him, much to the robot's confusion (turns out he has bigger plans for him).
In Blade of the Immortal, Magatsu hides out at a brothel occasionally, since he's a wanted man, and befriends one of the girls there. However, while he does share a bed with her, he refuses to touch her out of respect, even though O-Ren makes it clear she loves him and wants them to have sex.
Kenji does this in 20th Century Boys in order to gain access to Professor Shikijima's daughter.
In one of the side stories written for Victorian Romance Emma, a prostitute propositions the lonely-looking young opera singer protagonist at the pub. He spends a pleasant evening with her — by buying her dinner and having a nice chat.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Everybody just chalks Colonel Roy Mustang's frequent visits to Madame Christmas's place up to Handsome Lechery. They are wrong. The proprietor is his aunt and adoptive mother, and he uses the girls as an information network.
Happens in Texhnolyze when Yoshii gets a prostitute who starts acting like a Dominatrix, he stops her and tells her he just wants to talk. We soon find out he killed her after getting information.
Gintoki in Gintama is maneuvered into this situation with Tsukuyo. (To make a long story short, he was promised free drinks.) Tsukuyo assumes that she's supposed to sleep with him to pay him for saving Yoshiwara. Gintoki is appalled at the suggestion. It would have been a nice, friendly evening after that except for Tsukuyo's alcohol intolerance and subsequent violent behaviour.
One of the Road to Perdition stories has Michael O'Sullivan visiting an underage prostitute named Juana who he wants information from concerning his nemesis Connor Looney. For obvious reasons, he doesn't do anything with her, but instead gets the information that he needs from her and leaves her with enough money to leave if she wants to.
In Knights of the Dinner Table, Chad had a girlfriend whom he hadn't told about his roleplaying hobby out of fear of ridicule. But when Patty and the other members of his groups harp on him about telling her the truth, he finally relents and offers to invite her to a game. Instead, he hires an escort for an hour to show up and pretend that she's his girlfriend. Turns out that Trish loves roleplaying games and lets him have an extra forty-five minutes free before she gets called away. After she leaves, though, Patty lets Chad have it, having seen right through the charade (for one thing, her hair was the wrong color). In a follow-up strip, Tank ends up spending over two hundred dollars to have Trish on a date and play Battleship for a few hours.
While spying on a target, Frank Castle once paid a prostitute two hundred dollars to eat lunch with him at the restaurant and forget the entire thing — he would have been too obvious if he had been there alone.
Transmetropolitan had a rather strange but heartbreaking example. Spider solicits two young boys who are prostituting themselves on the street, paying them with food for an interview about their "business". The heartbreaking part comes in when one of the boys asks if they can go to a restaurant that has toys.
"You forget they're just kids."
Films — Live-Action
In Taxi Driver, Travis hires an underage prostitute, Iris, but only because he wants to talk to her and convince her to give up that life.
Lethal Weapon: Martin Riggs does this once. After a conventional "john picks up hooker" scene, they watch The Three Stooges.
Used in the Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay movie. Kumar first hires some prostitutes (on Neil Patrick Harris' dime) for regular reasons, but ends up just spilling his guts about how much he misses his ex-girlfriend to them.
In Irma La Douce, The protagonist plays cards with the eponymous prostitute.
In the movie Rat Race, a character is hired to pretend to do this as the result of a bet to see how much money the hooker would request. He asks that instead of having sex, they both get naked, get into a jacuzzi filled with Pepto-Bismol while wearing nothing but sailor hats, and he clips her toenails while she shaves his buttocks.
In Five Mile Creek, the telegraph operator falls for a prostitute but her boss won't let them see each other unless he pays for it.
In Unforgiven, the protagonists are working for some hookers and while the others are taking part of their pay in sex, Clint Eastwood's character is having heart to hearts with the one who got cut up.
Deceiver has this in the crucial flashbacks.
In Three Seasons, a bicycle cab driver in Vietnam uses the money he won in a race to spend the night with a prostitute he has a crush on, but all he does is watch her sleep.
In the Bill Murray movie What About Bob?, Murray's character hires a hooker to telephone his psychiatrist's answering service and pretend to be the psychiatrist's sister.
Inverted somewhat by the movie Trading Places. Dan Aykroyd's character never actually hires Jamie Lee Curtis' but he enjoys her "services" all the same. They then begin a purely business relationship where technically she is his sponsor.
Played straight when Beeks hires Ophelia to pretend to be Louis' girlfriend at the police station.
Milk Money. A group of young boys try to hire a prostitute to let them see her body.
In Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, Lenny visits Linda trying to convert her. They end up in bed, but only because they both try to console each other, and much later.
In Memento, Leonard hires a prostitute to trick his future self for a moment into thinking that his wife is still alive.
Shoot 'em Up features a prostitute hired to keep watch over a baby.
The same thing happens in The Orphan Of Anyang: A worker hires a prostitute to look after an abandoned baby he came across.
In Dark City, J. Murdoch has lost his memory, and the only evidence of his past that he can find suggests that he was a serial killer who targeted prostitutes. He's convinced that this can't be true, so he goes home with a streetwalker, and only hangs around long enough to prove to himself that he doesn't feel any urge to kill.
The film version of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer has Grenouille hire a prostitute when he is testing if he can capture the scent of a human being by enfleurage. When she finds it creepy that all he wants to do is wrap her up in lard-covered bandages, she attempts to leave but he kills her to continue his experiment.
This is the only trope played completely straight (the premise, even) in the Deuce Bigalow movies.
In Titanic, Jack Dawson's drawings of nude women are of French prostitutes acting as models. Which isn't to say he might not have had sex with them too, it's just not the main reason he hired them.
Actually fairly common practice in Real Life in France at the time- most of what we'd now call 'life models' in late 19th century Paris were... well, a version of this trope. (And a lot of the young artists in Paris were quite libertinous and may have also had sex with them- although they possibly didn't pay for it as most of them were usually broke. In fact a few had long-term relationships with their models. Musetta and Marceloo in La Bohčme are drawn from a real couple, although Musetta is more of a serial kept mistress than a prostitute.)
In Breakfast on Pluto, Kitten has a client at a peep show who doesn't want her to act sexual, but instead only wants to talk. Said client is Father Liam, who came to confess to her that he was her father, and to give her her long-lost mother's address.
In Klute, one of call girl Bree Daniels' regular clients is an old man, who just wants companionship from her.
The protagonist of The Hills Run Red, in his quest to find a lost horror movie of the same title, sets out to speak to the director's daughter, seemingly the only person connected with the film who hasn't disappeared. He finds her working as a stripper, and gets a private dance from her so he can talk to her alone, but because the room is being watched through the security camera, she has to keep dancing.
In Balls of Fury, Randy Daytona is given a courtesan of pleasure with which to spend the night, but all they do is play Boggle. Of course, the main reason why he restrains himself is that the 'courtesan' is Diedrich Bader.
Sort of happens in Eyes Wide Shut. Bill wants to sleep with the prostitute, but his wife calls him and he has to leave. He pays the hooker anyway.
In Dirty Work, Mitch gets back at a jerkass owner of a used car lot by hiring a bunch of prostitutes to get in the trunk of his cars and pretend to be dead during the broadcast of a live television commercial. Later in the film Mitch hires the same prostitutes to act as security while getting revenge on the Big Bad.
A major theme in Steven Soderbergh film The Girlfriend Experience. Porn star Sasha Grey plays a high-class prostitute who specializes in the eponymous "girlfriend experience," which entails doing all sorts of platonic activities with her clients in addition to having sex. Some of her clients don't even want sex. For example, her last client in the film is an Orthodox Jew who pays her to simply hold him.
Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye does this, sort of. He hires her for sex, but gets uncomfortable and ends up turning her down.
In Monstrous Regiment, a veteran Sweet Polly Oliver passes on the tip for a woman-playing-a-man-in-uniform to visit the camp followers every once in a while, just to keep up appearances. She says she always brought a book and told the other girl to take a well-earned break. It also mentions that the ladies in question are familiar with the type of customer who hires them to preach at them.
"You know, you look a bit too young to be that sort of customer," said Gracie. "What sort?" said Polly. "Oh, a holy joe," said Gracie. "'What's a girl like you doing in a place like this?' and all that stuff. Feel sorry for us, do you?"
In Guards! Guards!, Carrot is offered a place to stay at Mrs. Palm's house of very good repute after he rescues one of her “daughters”, Reet. As he writes back to his parents, Reet woke him up during the night to ask him if there was anything he wanted, but they didn't have any apples. So he stays. And pays for the first month up front. Because he thinks it's a boarding house. Many people are surprised and rather impressed to learn that he stays there every night. Carrot ended up being an unwitting bouncer when "The daughter's unruly gentlemen callers" get too rough.
Seamstresses have been challenged by this for at least 30 years. In Discworld/Night Watch a rather embarrassed older gentleman called on a young Miss Palm with something he just hasn't been able to do since the missus died. A bag of socks that needed mending. Luckily her roommate is a needlewoman.
This happens in Lord John and the Private Matter, a spinoff of the Outlander series. Lord John patronizes a prostitute, but not for her services. He wants information about one of the whorehouse's clients. Besides, he doesn't swing that way. He considers it for a minute, though, since the Scottish hooker's accent reminds him of someone else...
In the young adult novel Bloody Jack, the protagonist is a Sweet Polly Oliver in her early teens who hasn't had any older female confidantes in the past few years, and winds up hiring a prostitute once she's on shore leave to fill her in on what is going on with her body (because of course, she can't ask the ship's surgeon).
In one of Leonard Tourney's Elizabethan mysteries, the hero (an amateur detective) visits a particular prostitute to question her, and naturally the receptionist, and the prostitute at first, think he's there for sex.
In The Painter from Shanghai, the eponymous heroine, while working as a teenage prostitute, is sent as a good-will present to a local official. But said official is a principled man and, although he keeps her for the night, he doesn't do anything with her. Ultimately he falls in love with her and takes her up as a concubine.
A short story by Woody Allen, "The Whore of Mensa", depicts a call-girl service for frustrated intellectuals: instead of sleeping with their customers, the girls discuss literature and philosophy with them. They're oftenfaking it.
In Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White, pious Henry Rackham visits the prostitute Caroline and just talks with her, much to her surprise. His motives are not altogether chaste, but he's so psychologically and sexually inhibited (and completely devoted to Mrs. Fox) that there is no chance he would ever solicit Caroline's services in earnest.
In Ursula Vernon's short fantasy stories about The House of Red Fireflies, it's mentioned that frequently patrons will visit for anything from conversation to knitting. Even the really dangerous ones. Especially the really dangerous ones.
The Adepts of Eglantine House in Kushiel's Legacy. In addition to being Servants of Naamah (i.e. prostitutes) they're all trained as actors, acrobats, musicians, dancers and the like and are frequently employed as such.
In Greg Egan's short story "The Moral Virologist", a religious fundamentalist regularly pays prostitutes to try and tempt him to "sin," just to test his resolve (in a slight inversion, one of the prostitutes ends up lecturing him about morality).
Gentleman Bastard Locke Lamora tries to hire a prostitute for the normal purpose in the first book, but ends up just getting conversation and a massage because his pining for his true love prevents him from, er, performing.
The protagonist in Allen Steele's story "The Death of Captain Future" mentions that, at times, hiring a prostitute without actually engaging her services was the best way to get a decent place to sleep for the night.
In Gray Lensman, it's implied that the hostesses at the space-dive Kinnison is infiltrating are prostitutes. Asteroid miner "Wild Bill" (Kinnison) pays them well... to dance with him while he's on his drunken bender.
Female example: Rather early in the Anita Blake series, the eponymous character needs some information from someone who happens to be a prostitute — she was previously a suspicious man's mistress. It takes Anita quite a while to convince her that, really, yes, she really, truly, actually wants to talk.
In Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune, one of the prostitutes Eliza travels with has a client who visits her just to talk, because he likes her that much. They end up getting married. There's also a scene where Tao Chi'en visits a prostitute for information.
In Lynn Flewelling's Tamír Triad, on Tobin's birthday his cousin Prince Korin insists on paying for a prostitute so Tobin can lose his virginity. Tobin, who is not all that into women, ends up bouncing on the bed with the prostitute, moaning and shouting "Yes!" for the benefit of Korin in the next room.
Sparhawk uses the spying variation a few times in The Elenium. Thee's one particular girl he visits, who consistently tries to seduce him.
In The Sun Also Rises the main character hires a prostitute, but as he is impotent from an injury sustained during World War One, he just hangs out with her and compensates her for her time.
In Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, Swann visits brothels to mope about his failing relationship with a courtesan.
Tommy does this in High Society by Ben Elton in an effort to convince Jessie to leave the brothel with him. It doesn't work.
Two examples in Sergey Lukyanenko's Labyrinth of Reflections, both of which involve a virtual brothel. Leonid, the protagonist, is running away from a mob of angry gamers and enters the first building he sees, which turns out to be a brothel. While he initially doesn't want to hire a prostitute, he starts thumbing through the catalog and sees someone who looks exactly like his Windows avatar. He hires her but doesn't sleep with her. They spend their time just talking. They do have virtual sex later after he takes her out on a date. There is another man who is a regular at the brothel whose thing is to hire a prostitute and then spend the time berating her for being the scum of society. According to Leonid's Love Interest, this is much worse than just sex, no matter how perverted (it's not real, anyway), as this is literally a Mind Screw for an unfortunate girl who happens to be hired by him. For reference, the Love Interest only runs the virtual brothel as an experiment for her Ph.D. thesis in Psychology, so if anybody knows how such Mind Screws can affect a person, it's her.
A minor character in Good Omens is Madame Tracy, a middle-aged prostitute and part-time medium "whose gentlemen callers called as much for a cup of tea and a nice chat as for what little discipline she was able to extract."
In A Song of Ice and Fire, one of Daenerys' eunuchs is murdered while on his way to a brothel. When she wonders aloud what use a eunuch would have for a brothel, her captain responds that "even those who lack a man's parts may still have a man's heart" — the eunuch paid the women to "lay with him and hold him." It's something of a Tear Jerker.
After Tywin explicitly tells Tyrion he can't bring Shae to court, Tyrion keeps her safe in an undisclosed location that can be reached via a tunnel connected to a brothel. Tyrion visits Alayaya, the prostitute whose room connects to one end of the tunnel, pretending to stay the night but instead sneaking off to be with Shae. Alayaya says she likes the alone time a lot and has been using it to teach herself to read. Perhaps the first time someone has been The Beard for a member of the same gender!
Callgirl by Jeanette Angell is a memoir of her time as a prostitute and discusses a number of different clients, including a few who didn't want sex at all. One amusing example is a client who asked her to bring a lot of exciting lingerie... so she could sit on the couch and tell him how nice he looked in it.
In Codex Alera, Tavi is known to visit a whorehouse outside the army camp ... to get a hot bath all alone, his clothes washed, and check on his spy network. Which is implied to be why Kitai doesn't kill him for it.
Seen in the BattleTech novel Close Quarters. Cassie Suthorn, properly paranoid scout for the mercenary regiment Camacho's Caballeros with some deep-seated psychological issues of her own, is looking for information for anything suspicious that might be going on around the city where their latest employer is paying them to stay and among other things ends up chatting amiably enough with a trio of prostitutes she's paid the going rate for their time. Then their pimp shows up, takes exception, and generally makes an ass of himself...so she kills him and takes over his job, at least temporarily. (The women aren't then actually seen again for the rest of the book, but her comrades don't miss the opportunity to comment on it.)
Stephen Maturin of the Aubrey-Maturin book series routinely stays at brothels when on expedition to distant cities, only as lodging. It is cheaper and less conspicuous than a boarding-house, and (more importantly) it allows him to meet with and question sailors from Spain and France for his espionage work. Since he also routinely runs into sailors from his own ship, however, stories have spread among Aubrey's crew about his surprising wealth in being able to whore and drink night after night on shore.
In Redeeming Love, Michael spends all of his savings this way in order to get the town’s most sought-after “soiled dove," Angel, alone long enough to propose marriage to her. Repeatedly. All of his visits are rather awkward and vitriolic, since Angel is definitely not a Hooker with a Heart of Gold. (He is ultimately successful in marrying her, but not via this trope.)
In the first novel of A Wizard in Rhyme, two of the supporting characters are a wayward priest and a local whore who is secretly a sex-powered witch. Everyone in the village knows the priest is sneaking off to the brothel, so there's a series of reveals around the fact that it's platonic, and why: 1) He's too devout and has barely started to touch her when guilt sets in; 2) he spends a lot of time trying to convince her to abandon her ways, with some success; and 3) they are both in love with each other. Oh, and, 4) He's a werewolf, but this is somewhat unrelated.
Arrested Development: Michael unknowingly hires a prostitute for his entire staff, but everyone just uses her as a shoulder to cry on. Of course, he later gets a call stating that she's "blown them all away," which he notes kept forgetting to include the "away". It's also shown that while she was frequently hired by Michael's womanizing father and brother, both also used her as a "shoulder to cry on" rather than for sex.
Played with a bit in House, where House hires hookers for various non-sex reasons (like pranking his team or making sure he doesn't stop breathing) — but then has sex with them too. One episode had House auditioning girls after his regular tells him she's leaving the business. Skills he's interested in are fixing home appliances and tuning pianos. Why? He says he wants to get something out of them for the remaining 57 minutes of the hour he pays for.
They hired a stripper (not a hooker) for Bob Vance's bachelor party in The Office, but then she ended up doing office work after no-one wanted a lap dance.
In a flashback from the fourth episode of LOST, John Locke converses with a phone sex operator as if they share a relationship. He tries to get her to accompany him to Australia but she completely dismisses him as merely a customer. Later revelations about Locke's character make it seem like he was looking for a Replacement Goldfish for ex-girlfriend Helen.
In French series Kaamelott (episode "L'Habitué" — "The Usual Customer"), we find that Perceval has been seeing the same prostitute for a long time now. What we hear him tell the prostitute is one of the most heartwarming moments of the show.
Real person Dave Attell did exactly this a couple times on Insomniac With Dave Attell. Not "prostitutes" technically, for obvious legal reasons, but escort girls. Much fun was had listening to them explain in graphic detail just how little shade of difference there was between the two, if any. He would then pay them to join him for some completely wholesome activity like bowling. Bowling while sloppy drunk at 3AM, but wholesome all the same.
In The IT Crowd, Moss accidentally tells a crowd of people about how he and his fellow Heterosexual Life Partner ended up picking up some prostitutes but were too nervous to do anything with them. So they ended up going to a fairground.
Moses Jones has the main character do something like this — he just talks to the woman. However, there are cameras around so they have to "go through the motions" as they talk.
Occurs at one time in The Unit with Jonas Blaine merely talking to a prostitute. Whatever the team do on missions — they do not cheat on their wives.
In the MacGyver episode "The Assassin", the eponymous assassin would hire call-girls to do small errands for him, such as picking up a suitcase in the park. He would later kill them.
In Lady Bar, when a French tourist in Thailand is talked by a friend into bringing a prostitute to his room, he also just watches her sleep.
In an episode of Lie to Me, the team discovers that a politician regularly visits a prostitute, but not for sex. She turns out to be his daughter.
Booth from Bones was mistaken for "one of those guys who only wants to talk" when he needed to interview a call-girl as part of a case.
Parodied in an episode of Kids in the Hall, where a nice man offers to take the prostitute away from her life of prostitution, and ends up marrying and having kids with her... and then the money runs out and her pimp (now an old man) comes to hassle the guy.
In Saxondale, an old mate of Tommy's who he's reunited with hires a couple of prostitutes for an evening. Whilst Tommy's mate receives the standard service, Tommy himself is in a happy, stable relationship and unwilling to risk it, with the result that he and the other prostitute end up in her room sitting on the bed making awkward conversation. Much to his bemusement, she ends up giving him some useful pointers on how to help improve his fading vision without resorting to his glasses; turns out she's an optometry student.
In the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "The Car Pool Lane", Larry picks up a prostitute just so he can use the high-occupancy-vehicle lane to get to Dodger stadium in time for the game (being Larry, he then haggles over the amount she charges him based on the number of blowjobs he believes she could fit into the same amount of time).
Played for laughs in Castle, when Richard hires a High-Class Call Girl who may have potentially useful information in solving that week's murder solely because it'll be an easier way of finding her than the police department's method of tracking her down via her offshore-based website. As soon as she turns up for their "date", Beckett intercedes.
Inara isn't just a prostitute, though sex is usually included as part of the "Companion" package. Nevertheless a few clients (like Atherton Wing) hire her for a primary role other than sex (though it was implied that sex was in the offing, at least before Mal went and got himself into a duel with Atherton).
In "Jaynestown", a governor hires Inara to "make a man" out of his son. Being more simple than her usual clientelle, he gets angry when she doesn't immediately sleep with the boy but starts with a tea ceremony and a conversation. She does sleep with the son eventually but only because she happens to like him. The Companions only accept offers from people they like.
On Veronica Mars, Keith goes to see a prostitute, but to get her to provide an alibi for Abel Koontz that he was 'elsewhere' on the night of Lily Kane's murder.
JJ in Skins, largely because he'd been dragged to the brothel against his will (by Cook).
Inverted on MA Nswers, where asking streetwalkers to do some paid nude modeling is suggested. The inversion is that it's a ploy to determine if they're undercover vice cops (who wouldn't accept such a legal proposition) before actually offering them money for sex.
A variant: on Special Unit 2, Nick goes to a strip club and pays to have two twin strippers alone in the private room for an hour. His partner Kate is rather annoyed, until she realizes they're actually supernatural creatures (the politically-correct term is "Links", thank you very much) he needs to interrogate for the latest case.
Dollhouse is largely similar to this trope: the Dolls are often imprinted for sex, but can take on any number of legal or illegal jobs, and even romantic engagements can be about more than sex or no sex at all (for example, Joel Maynard having Echo imprinted with his dead wife, or another man getting his dead wife imprinted to help him take care of the couple's baby).
Lampshaded when Topher imprints Sierra for his birthday. He doesn't want her for sex, he just wants a friend to help him celebrate.
A skit on Saturday Night Live has Alec Baldwin appearing to be one of these (even orchestrating a telephone reunion with her estranged mother), until he asked for a handjob, explaining that he "gets off" on getting personal with prostitutes.
On Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Horace the Western Union Man was in love with Myra, one of the prostitutes at the local saloon, and she with him. He paid the saloon owner to spend time with her, and they just talked. After she left the biz, they got married.
Parodied on MADtv, where a guy hires a prostitute to verbally abuse him, just like his ex-wife used to.
In Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the one time Spartacus actually requests the company of Mira (who's technically a slave, but one of those who are apparently lent periodically to Batiatus's gladiators as a reward), it's so he can talk her into helping with one of his schemes. They kiss passionately just long enough for the guard to leave. Mira, who is in love with him, only agrees to help him (which will put her at great risk) if he sleeps with her.
Doreen also describes how, contrary to opinion, this sort of thing is actually what she spends most of her "dates" doing, her clientele generally being of an age where they want to be with a woman they can converse with as well as find sexually attractive.
In the 1990's Australian TV series Fire, Senior Station Officer "Spit" hires girls from the local "massage parlour" just to talk to. This is a sign of his general creepiness, so he'll serve as a Red Herring for the mad arsonist who's the antagonist of the series.
In the NCIS episode "Guilty Pleasure", the Victim of the Week is backtracked to a motel in which he'd been having a regular liaison with a call girl. Turned out he was a reporter working on a story about prostitution, and she was just one of his sources. Made funnier by the fact that they first hear this from the man's wife, whom they assume is kidding herself. Then they learn that that actually is what he was doing.
When detectives in the various Law & Order series need to talk to hookers, they're generally nice enough to pay the girls for their time.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Gul Dukat is shown doing this during the occupation, making Bajoran women sit and listen to him talk about how he's really a nice guy rather than a bloodthirsty Cardassian overlord.
In a fourth season episode of Californication: Hank asks Trixie (a call girl he was friendly with) if he could just pay her to be nice to him for a little while. He then apparently falls asleep with his head in her lap while she strokes his hair. When he wakes up, he finds that she's gone and had left the money he gave her behind.
In the original Traffic Light, Khefer takes Itzko to a prostitute to help him get his erection back. While he sleeps with a prostitute himself in the next room, Itzko befriends his prostitute, who tells him the story of her life in Moldova. Later she calls him for help with her pimp, and Hefer, who listens to Itzko’s end of the conversation, is amazed by Itzko’s perceives talent.
While normally averted with Charlie on Two and a Half Men, right after he got out of his long term relationship with Chelsea, all he wants from his prostitude is for her to read a magazine and make small talk. He even outright rejects sex.
Another episode featured a man who claimed that he deliberately sought out prostitutes who resembled his late wife, but didn't have sex with them, instead just wanting to lay in bed with them.
In Season 14, it's revealed that Cragen has been hiring escorts to have dinner and talk with. This is due to both loneliness and the horrific crimes he sees. Unfortunately, this is then used against him when he is framed for killing a prostitute. A number of them claim that he did sleep with them, and that it was all violent sex.
On an episode of The Nanny, Fran and Max are at the police station. While they're there, Niles pays a hooker who was there to pretend she was an old friend of C.C. (who he hates.)
On General Hospital, Lucky hires a prostitute so that he can unleash his lustful feelings on her rather than on his girlfriend, who's recovering from a rape (and was a virgin before this) and is therefore uncomfortable about sex. He ends up changing his mind because he doesn't want to cheat on her and ends up confiding in the woman about his situation. The hooker in question fell into this role for several of the men on the show.
Inverted on ER, when Dr. Kovac is heard talking to someone extensively, ostensibly a therapist, about his depression and loneliness, but as the scene concludes, it's obvious that the woman is in fact an escort. Although the scene ends with them starting to have sex, an alternate version did in fact have them continuing to talk as the evening progressed.
Brilliantly parodied and subverted in an episode of Black Adder, when Blackadder tries to pimp Baldrick out to sailors on the docks for money to pay off a Loan Shark. They are approached by a very large, very gruff sailor, who, it turns out, wants them to kiss him goodnight and read him a bedtime story, because he's missing his mother. Blackadder and Baldrick fulfill this innocent request, which he follows by asking...
Now then, how much for a good, hard shag?
Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poem "Jenny" is all about this trope.
In most versions of The Threepenny Opera (play, novel, films, etc.) Mack the Knife is seen visiting a brothel, but he mostly just chats with the whores a bit and sings about the time he dated one of them. Several other men (in some versions prominent characters in the story) can be seen lounging around the brothel, reading the paper or getting a foot massage. Of course, it's still heavily implied that Mack has sex with the whores, but Brecht's point was to show that the habit of visiting a brothel every week was a symbol of the decadence of the bourgeosie, and therefore more condemnable than the actual sex act. Also, the whores selling their own skin are meant to represent the result of capitalist system in which, as Marx and Engels stated, the common worker is robbed of the ownership of his tools and forced to sell himself on a daily basis to fit into the fascist ideology or a two-class society.
Marina in Pericles sort of enforces this on her clients. They come in intending to pay for sex, and leave talking about going to church. She's so good at converting the clients (and thereby staying a virgin) that she bankrupts the brothel.
In Planescape: Torment, "The Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts" caters specifically to this sort of customer. This is very fortunate for The Nameless One, what with his fetish for talking everyone's ears off. Anyone else see the irony in that Morte, the floating skull, is an example as well? He would LIKE to do more, but having a lack of body means all he gets is buffed (no, literally just polished) and a kiss.
The Asari consort in Mass Effect 1 notes that the services she and her acolytes provide aren't always sexual. Her reward to Shepard for helping her with a diplomatic tangle is a gift of words and a MacGuffin (OK, and an Optional Sexual Encounter if Shepard isn't satisfied). In fact her sexual offerings are rare enough to cause serious frustration to some of her customers, who end up actually falling in love to her (one-sidedly, ofcourse). Sex is on the menu only if the Consort both considers her client in need of it and deserving of it.
A variation in Max Payne 2: When Max checks out the apartment his would-be assassins were observing him from, the player can listen to the tapes from when they were tapping his phone line and hear a conversation of him calling a phone sex line to talk to one of the girls because her name is Mona. The conversation ends abruptly when he mutters "Killing them all didn't change anything. It only made things worse," which as we can probably imagine weirded the poor girl out soemthing awful.
This happens in the online adventure game Backdoor Man, where you play the prostitute (a male who has been hired for a date). Ironically, the only way you get sex is to piss her off at the right moment; she then thinks that since the social interaction was a waste, she might as well get her money's worth. Unless you do everything perfectly, in which case the two of you start to form an actual connection and have sex. For free.
In Heavy Rain, the first time we see Scott Shelby is when he pays a prostitute so he can ask her about the Origami Killer (although, at one point, it does seem like he's there for some non-Platonic Prostitution).
The Neverwinter Nights games both feature the "Moonstone Mask" brothel, which was frequently emphasised not to sell sex, but "privacy", whatever that meant to the particular client. It might have entailed the usual stuff, but it might just as well have entailed anything else one does in a quiet environment, from massages to board games to a casual conversation. The mistress emphasizes that what your money buys you there is time with one of the employees, and anything more than that is a matter of negotiation between the client and the employee.
Angels 2200: There is a male-featured Sex Bot for the all-female crew's use, but nobody ever uses him for his intended purpose, because he's viewed as a communal dildo. Most of his sex-related programming was replaced with other ways for him to help the crew.
In RPG World, Hero "hired" Diane because he had no idea what she was offering. He thought she was an adventurer looking to fight monsters. Turns out that it was all for the best regarding both characters.
Another phone sex operator variant in this unspeakably depressing Something Positive strip. Context: Erik is working as a gay phone sex operator to an old man who mistakes him for his former lover, Marvin.
Dreamless: In this strip, Takashi is given a free night with a prostitute as a birthday present by his buddies. But instead he just goes to sleep to achieve onirical contact with the girl he loves.
Inverted in Moral Orel. Orel creates a service setting up appointments for the people of Moralton to witness to sinners. Most of the sinners are prostitutes, most of his customers are men, and Orel never realizes that very little witnessing is actually going on.
A variation occurs on American Dad!, when Stan goes with his co-workers to a strip club despite being very uncomfortable. He winds up giving health advice to one of the strippers and hiring several of them to work at a laundromat he wanted to start up.
In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer is taking Santa's Little Helper out for a last night of debauchery before having him neutered, which includes hiring a canine prostitute for him. Homer asks the bitch's owner, who is also a prostitute, if she's up for some air hockey while they wait. She tells him she's $200 an hour, to which he replies "It's a deal!" and rushes into the nearby arcade.
Rasputin. Yeah, THAT Rasputin reportedly would hire prostitutes, have them strip naked in front of him, stare at them for a while, and then dismiss them, after which he would walk the streets berating himself for his lustful thoughts. It Makes Sense in Context, as Rasputin was part of a small group of Christians who essentially believed in deliberately sinning so they could then receive forgiveness from God.
Earlier even than Rasputin, William E. Gladstone (a British Victorian Era prime minister) was very interested in "reforming" "fallen women". This apparently caused a lot of prurient speculation. According to the official story, he would often walk the streets of London at night, take a prostitute home, spend the entire night reading to her from the Bible, then spend what's left of the day flagellating himself for having lustful thoughts. Gladstone got a free pass for this one as he did set up a quite large charity and many halfway houses for helping said "fallen women".
Sex blogger and professional dominatrix Mistress Matisse has warned potential johns against this behavior — it makes the nice lady nervous. Indeed, this is standard for dommes, and anyone hiring one should assume this is how it works unless told otherwise. This really isn't any different from the fact that strippers don't, by default, have sex with their clients. It's a different brand of sex work.
Geishas very rarely actually had sex with their clients, and were instead predominately hired for their ability to entertain with music, dance, conversation and storytelling. And the few remaining ones still are — sex is permanently off the menu these days (though you can get prostitutes dressed as geishas, but they aren't the real deal). Classically, one could tell a geisha from a prostitute by how their sash was tied; while geishas tied theirs in the back, often helped by a servant, a prostitute's was tied in the front, so she could quickly get her kimono open. Geishas were never prostitutes but they could be "retained" as mistresses or formal concubines. This however was regarded as a kind of marriage and the lady was faithful to her patron. These days a Geisha's sex life is considered her own business.
The eccentric Austrian sociologist and socio-cultural anthropologist Roland Girtler writes many books about outsiders of society. In his books he says that he got the stories and information about prostitutes by paying them for talking to him. He says that he might as well just talk to them, because he pays them anyway.
Hetaerae in Ancient Greece had methods very similar to those of Geishas — there were even identical sayings about them; that you need a wife for your house, a prostitute for sex, and such a woman for the pleasure of your soul.
While making Bloodrayne, Uwe Boll infamously hired actual Romanian prostitutes to play... well, prostitutes. Why? They were cheaper than hiring extras, who would have to be paid SAG minimum. Which is... unusually ingenious of him.
Channel 4 once made a documentary about the sex trade involving two undercover reporters, one of them posing as a new, and then regular, customer in a brothel who always hired the same woman but only ever asked for a massage (the other reporter went undercover working in the brothel — but only as a receptionist).
Likewise, Peter Jennings once did a report on child prostitution in Romania by pretending to be a client for the various boys (who were all orphans being pimped by their older brothers because they had no other means of survival). He'd hire them, interview them, and then make up some excuse not to have sex with them, drop them off and leave.
A columnist for the Nevada Sagebrush did this as the subject of his last column, here.
Travel writer Tim Moore did a Monopoly board tour of London for the book Do Not Pass Go, looking into the history and character of the places used in the standard UK version of the game. At his first stop, King's Cross station, he experiences the area's seedy underbelly by hiring a Brazilian transsexual to play a game of Monopoly.
An American photographer did a project about male prostitutes in Los Angeles. After taking their pictures, he would pay them the amount they would have charged for sex, and the pictures would be titled with the man's name, home town and the amount, e.g Dan, Albuquerque, $25.
This New York based professional cuddler. Technically not prostitution, but she has been called one.
Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics, by Dr. Levitt, features several looks at the economics of the world's oldest profession, at least in the US. First, the majority of prostitutes aren't making that much for sex acts, but surprisingly, a higher-class prostitute who charges hundreds of dollars an hour has to perform a lot less acts for her clientele than a street prostitute. "Allie" was such a prostitute, and she was usually wined and dined more as her rates started to climb to several hundred an hour. She was being paid in part to give the illusion of "the perfect companion," as much as sex. Of course, it helped that "Allie" was very attractive, very well-educated, charming, well-read, and cultured. Of course, prostitutes of lower socioeconomic status were never wined-and-dined and subject to physical abuse, arrest, and worse. The economic data also showed lower-class prostitutes were "cheaper" if paid in drugs, actually gained a net benefit from having a pimp, and most surprisingly often worked seasonally, supplementing their income by turning tricks when tourists came to town.
Dan Savage has been known to recommend that socially-awkward men hire hookers for conversation to get used to talking to women, though he did once recommend this as a method of screening out undercover cops when trying to hire one for the usual purpose, as if she is a cop she won't make a followup appointment but won't arrest the john if he doesn't actually request sex. "There's nothing illegal about paying an escort to escort you places."