In the Old West, small-town sheriffs visited the ladies who lived over the saloon just like all the other men, and no one thought anything of it. But for the Sheriff of Wall Street, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, times have changed.

I have some sympathy for politicians who get outed for seeing prostitutes, although my pity is tempered by the fact that none of these guys are ever going to do anything to decriminalize the profession of these women. Still, politicians tend be polite, well-groomed, and reasonably well-heeled clients, and one hates to dissuade them entirely. (As if one could.) So let me offer you, the horny politician, some tips on keeping your name out of the paper.

Those glitzy, high-dollar escort services? Don't go near them. Yes, the glamorous pictures are enticing, and some of those outfits give good service. But the nice lady on the phone will want your real name. She will say it's for the safety of the ladies and swear to guarantee complete discretion. Most escort services don't rat out their clients, but once you give up your information, you don't know where it might go, and no one can really guarantee your anonymity.

What you want is an independent escort. Read the local escort-review board—every major city has one—and find a woman who works alone. And not necessarily the highest-priced girl in town, either. Look for someone well-regarded, but a bit more... accessible. Your challenge is to get her to see you without you telling her your real name. Some indie girls want to check your personal information just like escort services do, but there are women who screen by sheer gut instinct. I did so myself for years. Escorts understand that anonymity is the first priority to some guys, so just be upfront about that. Ask her, "What can I do to make you comfortable with meeting me without you checking my ID?" Offer to pay her to have a discreet cup of coffee, for example. But if it's a slow week, and you're really nice and charming on the phone, it's not impossible to get a private appointment right off the bat.

Granted, the first lady who takes a chance on you may not be the escort you've always dreamed of. But once you've met her, she then becomes a reference for you. Now you're in the loop, and you can approach more elite ladies who won't meet a new guy unless he gets vouched for by another local escort.

That's how to keep your real name out of it. Your face is another matter. I would probably have recognized Gary Locke or Mike Lowry if either of them had ever come to see me, so it's hard out there for a governor. But I read the paper and watch the news, and still, I wouldn't recognize Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen if he showed up at my door. Senator Adam Kline? No. Congressman Jim McDermott? I doubt it. So if you plan on making a habit of this, I suggest you focus your political career on "privacy and personal freedom" rather than "law, order, and family values." recommended

matisse@thestranger.com