What is a ManServant®? “A man, only better.” I believeManServant’s®? catchphrase is pure brilliance. I thought my readers would enjoy reading about the founder of said brilliance. Enjoy.
YENW: As the founder of ManServants®, please tells us a little about yourself and the genesis of ManServants.
DK: What began as a joke, then became real. My co-founder, Josephine Wai Lin, and I (Dalal Khajah) were in creative advertising at the time, a friend of ours was planning a bachelorette and strippers were out of the question—we all suffered from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stripper Disorder, with the horror stories to prove it. We wanted Thor, or Bartholomew, an emotionally intelligent gent to pour us cocktails and shower our girlfriends with compliments, all with the promise of keeping his tuxedo on. We realized male strippers were a hand me down fantasy from men, and no one had ever asked women what they wanted. To us, that answer was ManServants, a gentleman sent to treat women like queens.
We were in advertising so in between laughter, we took that idea and blew it out before we even had proof of concept—a promo video, website, and a new code of chivalry. The promo video went viral—like quit your jobs and dedicate yourself to this full-time kind of viral. I’m from Kuwait so the idea was a bit of a shock to my family, and Jo had been in advertising for 10 years prior, but still, we knew it was our responsibility to bring dream men into existence. So with the help of our friend Annie Pariseau who gave up studying to be a diplomat to jump onto operations, the three of us became accidental entrepreneurs. It’s been one amazing and strange pseudo social experiment ever since.
Four years later, we’ve never stopped asking our clients what they want. ManServants are available for private parties and event staffing in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and New York. My cofounders and I are even writing a manual book that will enlighten men about what it takes to become a swoon-worthy gentleman.
YENW: Where/How do you find the men who are fabulous enough to be a ManServant?
DK: We’ve searched far and wide to find the most interesting, debonair group of gentlemen, here to show the world how to treat women right. The qualities we look for in a ManServant are charm, wit, showmanship, emotional intelligence, feminists, and easy on the eyes, of course. All ManServants then undergo a 3 step interview process, which includes a female-led training program on the ManServant Code of Chivalry and Lady Psychology, and FCRA compliant background checks.
YENW: Any certain skills required to be a Manservant?
DK: Emotional intelligence is the primary skill—a natural ability to make everyone around them feel comfortable. Secondary to that is showmanship, so most of ManServants are actors, musicians, comedians, and bartenders. We pair them with the event they’re best suited for. ManServants who are dancers will carry out events with a duty such as the ‘Dirty Dancing’ lift, for example. Being able to use their natural ability to make it about the ladies is what makes it fun for both parties.
YENW: Please share some of your favorite Manservant stories or incidents.
DK: I’m laughing at the question because there have been so many! Personally, one of my favorite events was a ManServant was booked by the bride-to-be’s sister. She wanted him to arrive pretending to be the bride’s long-lost lover, determined to stop the wedding. After the hilarity ensued, he went right into making sure all the bridesmaids were taken care of and doted on.
For another event, the bachelorette wanted a ManServant to hold a parasol as they went bar hopping, every time a bystander would stare, he was tasked with yelling at them, “No photos please!” He also proposed to her dramatically in public so that she may refuse him, repeatedly. We had another client request a ManServant serve as the half-naked figure drawing model for their painting class—there were some amazing paintings. Our business really is a battle of the wits—the way friends show friends they care through ManServants never ceases to impress us or make us laugh.
YENW: Any Manservant disasters you care to share?
DK: We had an event where we were led to believe was a book club, but in fact was a smut poetry reading. Luckily our ManServant checked his ego at the door and played up the part—keeping it as PG as he could, which if I’m being honest, became a bit tricky. Sometimes we’ll have a guest at the party who doesn’t really know what ManServants is about and tries to push the boundaries. We educate our clients that ManServants are not her objects or accessories, they are her subjects, intent on pleasing her. It’s about adoration, not domination. We believe everyone should get to experience feeling like a queen for a day. For that to work, there needs to be mutual respect between ladies and ManServants. That involves ManServant training and client education on what ManServants is really about.
YENW: Is there a training period or a class they have to take to become a Manservant?
DK: First, they learn the ManServant Code of Chivalry and other bits of female psychology so they know how to read the room, make women feel special while knowing what they’re thinking and the intention behind their actions, and be great brand ambassadors (aka. gentlemen). We go through the ManServant Signature Service, which includes but isn’t limited to, pouring drinks, serving compliments and adoration, taking photos, and waiting on you hand and foot. Then we throw them into the fire. We bring in a group of ladies and give guys test scenarios, which we call Self Defense. Like what do you do if a client who’s had too much to drink makes a sexual advancement? The answer is: handle it with charm. There’s usually a graceful way to make an exit. He may say something like, “I’m here for the ladies, not the lady.” Or “I would love to my lady, but I’m on duty.”
YENW: How many men do you currently have on staff?
DK: To send a ManServant to a group of ladies—there’s an intimacy there, so we keep our roster tight. For our private parties, we have 10-15 active ManServants per city. For event staffing, we have 40-50 per city.
YENW: Have you ever been a recipient of a Manservant?
DK: Our first event, Jo & I were actually party guests! We always send ManServants to our friends for special occasions. When you have swoon-worthy gents at your beck & call, it’s only fun when you get to share that experience with your girlfriends.
I would say my favorite times of being a recipient is when they catch me by surprise. One time, I had just finished a work event, it was pouring rain, and as I began to walk outside, two of our ManServants swept to both sides of me, one grabbed the box I was carrying out of my hands, the other held up an umbrella and they escorted me to the car as they were drenched in the rain. My Uber driver thought I was Jane Bond.
YENW: Where do they draw the line on activities – do they come with you out at night and order drinks for you, or do they just hang out during the day?
DK: ManServants is always for a group of friends, we don’t do one-on-one’s because he’s an entertainer, not a date, and we always say, adoration is always better with an audience.
We don’t draw the line on activities as we do his character. The activities are almost always PG and creative, which we love. We will have clients that put too much emphasis on his look and we have to manage their expectations. They’ll say they want a ManServant to play Teddy Roosevelt, know ghost stories, be 6’5 with blonde hair, and have an accent. While we’re in the business of making dreams come true, we’re not a build-a-bear factory. Because of that, clients never see a portfolio of ManServants. She builds her ideal royal treatment and we pair them up with ManServants who can bring it to life. The men offer up their special talents to make women feel special, whether it’s serenading them with a guitar or complimenting them in French. It’s fun for both parties.
YENW: On your bucket list – who would you like to gift a Manservant?
DK: I’d love to send a ManServant to RuPaul and have him give silent rounds of applause after every time he/she speaks. Honestly, I think RuPaul needs 24-7 ManServants so our men get to know what it’s like to wait on a real queen.
Thank you, Dalal! We hope one day we get to be the lucky recipient of a ManServant!