Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Every now and then, like all people, I whine. And given my knowledge of social networking, sometimes I whine in front of a global audience. Sometimes it takes looking at other people's experiences in sex work to remind me that despite everything, I am pretty damn lucky.

David Henry Sterry writes about his experiences as a hustler in the 1970s in the amazing book Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent. He experiences things that I never did: abandonment by his parents, violence on the job, even a disturbing encounter with a woman who vomited. True, Sterry's account isn't without its laughs or enjoyable parts.

The same cannot be said for another memoir.

Rick Whitaker's Assuming the Position: A Memoir of Hustling is a decidedly darker tale on his life as a male prostitute. Whitaker experiences something that many people assume plagues all sex workers: drug addiction. I wouldn't wish chemical dependency on anyone, and Whitaker is no exception. One of the worst parts about sex work is that there are, in fact, people who are forced into the profession -- sometimes to fund a drug habit.

So what is the moral of this post? Both books are engrossing and certainly worth reading -- but they also served as a wake-up call of sorts for me. Much as I ignore it on this blog, there are sex workers who are both unhappy in the profession and only in it because they have to be, not because they want to be.

Many sex workers who are in the business by choice seem to ignore that fact. I don't blame them; who wants to read a blog or book with a moralizing tone? I suppose I just wish there was something I could do to help the less fortunate in my former business.

Are free clinics the answer, complete with medical and psychological treatments? A change in laws and legislation to bring the abused out of the shadows so they can get help? I vote yes on both counts.  

I realize this entry might not make much sense. Even I don't even know why I decided to write it. But the next time you see a street walker or a teenage hustler, don't write them off as trash, OK? They're people too. And if the two memoirs featured in this post are any indication, they have more going on inside of them than we will ever know.

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