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Monday 08 November 2010


Class, Choice and Sex Work

Posted in: Safe Sex
By Craig Young - 12th October 2009

In September's Attitude magazine, there's an interesting comparative perspective on how class background affects male sex workers.

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Neither of the young men presented fits the stereotype of young male sex workers as runaway gay teenagers from dysfunctional or abusive families who get hooked on drugs and find themselves forced to resort to sex work to fit their habit.

One of them, Pete Pittaros, has since left sex work, but he only took it up after he dropped out of a history degree at London University and explored it out of curiosity. He even had an independent film made about him, Greek Pete, which will hopefully screen at Outtakes here in 2010. He has now returned to tertiary study and is even planning to open a restaurant with his brother, possibly due to the revenue derived from escorting.

All right, one might respond, but Pete is a middle-class bloke. What about working class guys who do sex work?

Attitude obligingly has another interview with one Matt Hughes, a straight gay-for-pay ex-builder who is lucky enough to have another sort of prodigious (...) tool (...) which led him to consider alternative career options after mates complimented him on his endowment after laddish hi-jinks on holiday. Matt investigated further when he got back and realised that he could make much more money in gay porn, although most of his work is in straight porn these days. Given the depressed construction industry during the current recession, it strikes me as a wise choice. Unlike Pete, Matt has no plants to give up his lucrative career trajectory at the moment and hopes to meet either a compatible female performer in the same line of work or a broad-minded woman outside it.

Insofar as exploitation goes, it's a mixed picture. Porn actor Joey Stefano lived fast and died young, as did the highly literate and libertarian Scott O'Hara. On the other hand, Jeff Stryker is still alive and kicking, and Aiden Shaw has gotten out of the industry, is now happily monogamous and working on a creative writing degree. Is it possible to draw any conclusions about the intersection between class, sex work and the market economy? Is it the case that the pursuit of money puts paid to any fragile inhibitions about pounding other men when it comes to the other sort of pound?

And how does the illegality of UK (and most US) sex work affect matters?

Britain occupies a grey area. In 1982, its Criminal Justice Amendment Act removed imprisonment penalties for actively soliciting as a sex worker, but its Sexual Offences Act 1985 and Police and Criminal Justice Act 2001 have criminalised male kerbcrawlers, who act as clients for sex workers but also sexually harass non-sexworker women on the street.

Recommended:

Colin Crummy: "Greek Love" Attitude 183 (September 2009): 22-23.

Jamie Hakim: "Penis Envy" Attitude 183 (September 2009): 60-63.

Judith Outshoorn (ed) The Politics of Prostitution: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2004.



Craig Young - 12th October 2009

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