Out In Perth

Book review: Male Sex Work and Society, edited by Victor Minichiello and John Scott

This new academic book from Harrington Park Press takes an in-depth look at male sex work presenting historical and modern perspectives.

The journey starts with a look at the evidence of an open and accepted profession in Greek and Roman times and moves through history to conservative Victorian England. It’s an intriguing lens to look at society through, revealing a lot about each society’s wider values.

Other chapters focus on current times providing a cross cultural perspective on male sex work, it’s promotion and societal acceptance including perspectives from the USA, South America and China’s ‘money boys’. Even though this is an academic text with peer reviewed articles and well referenced research it still makes for intriguing reading.

In one chapter Christian Grov and Michael D Smith report on the effect male sex work had on the supporting the gay print industry and the later change of this advertising into online spaces. The authors chart that post Stonewall a range of LGBT publications emerged including well known titled like ‘The Advocate’, in the early days promotion of bath houses, escorts and masseurs provided significant income to allow these publications to flourish. Later as the advertisements moved online to message boards and services such as Craig’s List, the publications began to struggle.

In an other chapter Russell Sheaffer looks at depictions of male sex work in cinema. He casts his gaze over films like ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (1969) and ‘American Gigilo (1980) before delving into the world of new queer cinema lead to many gay and lesbian film in the post AIDS era of the 1990s. Particular attention is paid to Gus Van Sant’s ‘My Own Private Idaho’ and the confronting European film ‘Mandragora’.

At 498 pages, ‘Male sex Work and Society’ is a weighty tome, but it’s content, though academic, is easy to read and by the conclusion of the collection your confident that the subject has well and truly been considered from every angle.

Reviewed by Graeme Watson


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