(SAN FRANCISCO) — The phone rang only once before he picked up.
“Hello. This is Jeeves.”
Jeeves is an employee of “ManServants,” a startup based in San Francisco that allows customers — women or men — to describe what type of fantasy-driven man should, “wait on you hand and foot,” including his dress code, name and whether you prefer “James Bond” or “Middle-Earth.”
Jeeves isn’t his real name, but it was given to him based on a client’s request. The proceeding conversation was laden with the phrase, “as you wish,” and a polite British accent that was presumably fake. He was made available to talk to ABC News by ManServants, which first asked the reporter what his name should be.
When asked what Jeeves did in his previous life, he said ManServants’ backgrounds and identities are kept a secret.
“We really are here for the ladies so we don’t have a back-story,” he said, adding that many of the ManServants come from the service industry, including bartenders and VIP table hosts. “We are ready and equipped to answer the beck and call of the ladies and give them the time of their lives.”
“I’ve always been a ladies’ man. What I mean by that is chivalry. I’m willing to lay my coat down for a lady,” Jeeves said. And he said he’s based in San Francisco.
ManServants is the brainchild of advertising creatives, or copywriters, Josephine Wai Lin, 31, and Dalal Khajah, 25. In a two-minute video on the company’s website (that begins with a bachelorette party gone wrong), an actress states: “Ladies, if you hate your friend and yourself, get her a stripper. If you love her, get her a ManServant.”
What does Jeeves do when a woman attempts to cross the company’s strict boundaries against sexual activity?
“I will say, not to toot my own horn, we pick some good-looking gentlemen. Some of the ladies are forward, but what we do is let them down easy with a compliment or two,” Jeeves said. “It’s the gentlemanly thing to do.”
The company says it vets the part-time ManServants with background checks and interviews. They are all trained with the ManServant code of conduct listed on the company website that includes no nudity, according to Khajah.
“ManServants are her subjects, not objects. We’re telling women to come up with their own idea of what’s sexy. And women are responding in droves,” Khajah tells ABC News.
The two founders say they have employed about 20 ManServants for “beta testing” with family and friends, but they are ready to cast additional men.
Jeeves said he and the other ManServants have been testing before the company officially launches in September in San Francisco, with hopes to expand to Los Angeles and New York in the future. Last weekend, he said he and another ManServant were working at a bachelorette party in Napa, serving drinks, taking photos of the ladies and lighting their cigarettes.
“We hired a chef as well to cater the event. It costs a little bit extra. We are still working out the pricing. The takeaway is that every event is different. We recommend two or more ManServants, which is better for chemistry,” he said, referring to event hiring.
Overall, Jeeves said it’s a great gig.
“You’re appreciated by a diverse group of women, and you are there for their service and their wishes,” he said, including hiring a ManServant to hang frames around your house or be your pseudo-bodyguard around town.
How did the idea for ManServants develop? Khajah said one day her advertising project manager came to work with a mock proposal for a ManServant for her bachelorette party.
“She was terrified her friends would get her a stripper and how awkward it would be,” Khajah said. “That’s when we realized strippers were just a hand-me-down fantasy from men and that it was time to give the world what women really wanted: ManServants.”
That project manager, Christina Nickas, 32, was one of ManServants’ recent beta testers. Nickas said she hired three ManServants to cater to her and 14 of her closest friends on a vineyard in Healdsburg, California. She named them Claude, Kingsley and Westley.
“I received a compliment and flower every hour, and even though I was a bit too tipsy to remember to reapply sunscreen, ManServants saved me from getting any burns by consistently reapplying without ever being asked,” she said. “The best thing about them was that we had everything we could ever want before we knew we wanted it. I personally selected every detail about their performance, which means that Westley, Kingsley and Claude will never exist for anyone else but me and my friends. That’s really special.”
The company, which is bootstrapping without external funding for now, has filed its business paperwork with the IRS and the city of San Francisco about a month ago, Lin said.
Lin said the company’s closest competitors are other “men for hire” type companies like Rent A Gent or Butlers in the Buff.
Rent A Gent, launched in December 2013 in New York City, offers two specific services to women: to “rent a date” or “rent a stripper.” Rent A Gent told ABC News it now employs about 60 “gents” in 12 cities and is in the process of hiring another 20 after their independent contractor agreements are finalized. Rent A Gent charges about $200 an hour.
Khajah said ManServants is different than Rent A Gent because it doesn’t offer men for dates and it doesn’t offer a portfolio of men on their website.
“It’s about the woman and what she wants,” Khajah said.
ManServants’ pricing will become public when the company launches in the fall, she said.
Jamie Miles, editor of TheKnot.com, said there is a growing demand for original bachelorette and bridal party services.
“I think it’s great people are getting more creative and offering these services, so a bridal party has an alternative to the stripper, which might fit some personalities more than others,” she said.
Miles said she has seen some bachelorette organizers plan alternatives that include pole-dancing classes, nude-model drawing, and destination bridal showers.
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