Freaks and Geeks grad James Franco rose to bad-boy fame with his Golden Globe winning turn in the TNT biopic James Dean. Then, he was Peter Parker's wicked best friend in Spider-Man. Next up, he's playing a male prostitute in Sonny (opening Dec. 27). How's that for a spicy holiday treat?

Franco always spends plenty of time doing background research for his roles. So, while in New Orleans filming Sonny, he didn't shrink away from meeting some real members of the world's oldest profession. While he stays teasingly vague about where he found prostitutes, it sounds like he dropped in on some houses of ill repute, shall we say...

"In New Orleans," he says, "I'd go [out] nightly and there were all types. I'd go 'there' to meet the guys, and then I'd go to 'the other ones' to talk to the girls."

The handsome 24-year-old admits he had trouble convincing sex workers to spill their secrets. "I went in and said I was a writer doing a book on prostitution," he recalls, "and nobody would really talk to me. So I finally said, 'I'm starring in this movie that Nic Cage is making.' Everybody knew about it, and so they were suddenly very open.

"They'd tell me everything," he continues. "Or I would just pay them for their time." By the way, Franco — who is dating The Practice's Marla Sokoloff — insists he paid for their conversation only.

In one particular situation, Franco got a bit more than he bargained for. "There was one guy who was very talkative," he says, "and he took me to meet his client." How did the john react to an actor sitting in on his illicit fun? "[The gigolo] just said that I was a prostitute," he explains. "And [the client] was kind of out of it. I just saw how they negotiate and all that stuff." Kids, don't try this at home...