10 things you didn’t know about male prostitution

A book titled Male Sex Work and Society, edited by Australian professors Victor Minichiello and John Scott, has hit the shelves from Harrington Park Press, and its pages offer interesting insight about male prostitution through the ages.

“Victor Minichiello and John Scott’s book shifts our attention from male sex work as a ‘social problem’ to a ‘social phenomenon,’” blurbs Gary W Dowsett, professor and deputy director of the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University. “They and their contributors reveal male sex work as a lens through which we can view shifts in local and global sexual cultures. This terrific book helps us rethink the ‘history of sexuality’ itself!”

Male Sex Work and Society is broken down into four sections:

Male sex work in sociohistoric context

Marketing of male sex work

Social issues and cultures in male sex work

Male sex work in its global context

Head over to Huffington Post for an interview with the authors, and check out these 10 fascinating facts about male prostitution:

1. Roman Emperors Caesar and Nero were bottoms. For rich and titled Roman men, it was culturally acceptable to keep a “concubinus” — a slave to service them sexually before marriage.

2. In 15th-century Florence, it was not uncommon for young men (12 to 20 years old) to engage in long-term sexual relationships with rich benefactors, many of whom were surprisingly young, often in their 20s. And the parents approved!

3. In mid-1600s Japan, kabuki wakashu male actors were often prostitutes, much sought after by male and female patrons for their beauty. It was common for Buddhist and samurai warriors to have sex with their young male apprentices, in much the same way that Greek noblemen were permitted to have sex with the youths they were mentoring — as long as the relationship was educational, not purely sexual.

4. The tradition of soldiers selling sex to gay clients dates back to the early 1700s and continued well into the 20th century. In “barracks prostitution,” hustling soldiers frequented their own bars, worked “soldiers’ promenades” and regularly initiated new recruits into hustling.

5. Oscar Wilde referred to sex with the young working-class male prostitutes (ages 16 to 20) he favoured as “feasting with panthers” because “their passion was all body and no soul.”

6. Popular in America and Europe at the turn of the 19th century were transvestite male hustlers known as “fairies.” Some worked in all-fairy brothels and saloons, others worked in female brothels as exotic offerings for male clients, and still others worked the streets, either on their own strolls or on strips known to have a mixed menu of hustlers on display.


7. In the late 1800s, London’s Cleveland Street Affair exposed a male prostitution ring run by young teenaged messenger boys from the Royal Post Office. None were charged in the bust, as the court decided the boys were too young to know better.

8. In 1899 New York City, hustler bars proliferated on the Bowery near Fifth Street (Little Bucks, Columbia Hall), Bleecker Street (The Slide) and West Third Street (The Golden Rule Pleasure Club, favoured by transvestite hustlers).

9. During the Depression, around 1932, so many men took to prostitution that the “straight-acting” hustler became the new norm on more popular strolls (also walked by down-and-out soldiers), pushing out the effeminate streetwalkers known as “fairies.”

10. As homosexuals became more visible and identifiable due to gay liberation, straight or straight-acting hustlers began to fear selling sex to other men, because by doing so they’d be identified as a homosexual. Not only did they reject “self-identifying” as gay, but even gay hustlers knew they could not identify as such without turning off their gay clientele, who far preferred straight trade. The upside was that with gay liberation, gay men began buying sex from other gay men instead of straight hustlers who recoiled at the thought of being identified as gay.

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