PAYING FOR IT: Sex & Money

Disgaytalk is the online discussion group associated with BENT, where cripgay guys talk about the issues that matter to them—funny, serious and everything in between.

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News of an Australian brothel that's made one of its rooms accessible prompted this discussion of sex, money, and disability. The initial question (Have you ever used the services of a hustler?) opened up the topic to a whole range of experiences.

BF: I think hustling can be a noble profession. If it's done with caring and sincerity I think it's akin to sex therapy. I used to go to an English guy named Patrick and he was great. He did exactly what I wanted and even gave me a discount, but many hustlers don't do right by their clients (one stole my tape recorder) and take advantage of the fact that you can't report them. I remember that a sighted friend read me ads in the Advocate, but believe it or not, many hustlers turned me down when I told them I was blind. Some of them laughed at me, some accused me of making it up.

The English guy was kind on the phone and that's how we met. I know that this goes back at least ten to twelve years, because I had my previous dog. I tried to find another hustler, but nobody seemed quite right. I'd love to try a disabled hustler. What counts for me is honesty and integrity. I may be naive and stupid, but it doesn't seem to me that being in a wheelchair should make one less desirable as a hustler. As long as you can use your hands and mouth, what else could a client want?

By the way, is it true straight hustling is legal in Nevada? Why not gay? Oh, and I associate hustling with drugs, which scare me. What are poppers?

RC: First, and easiest, "poppers" refers to amyl nitrate, a drug, of sorts. Actually, you can't just go buy the things (never could, really), but you used to be able to get something over the counter that wasn't too adulterated. The stuff they sell now is pretty nasty, and not much fun, unless you know how to get some of the better stuff, but that's still questionable. Poppers drop your blood pressure while raising your heart rate, giving you a dramatic body rush that lasts for a few minutes. They are sort of like, oh, bliss in a bottle, heightening physical sensations, including orgasm, while not messing you up for an extended period like, say, alcohol would. Even the best poppers should be viewed as dangerous inhalants, and the shitty stuff they sell is very toxic. That said, the good stuff is big fun.

I agree with you, BF. I don't think there's anything wrong with hustling, all things being equal with the hustler and the consumer. Generally speaking, if you're dealing with someone who advertises and visits you in your home or hotel room, he is probably pretty much in control of his situation. Whatever else is going on in his life in terms of choices, he is probably not being forced by circumstances to have sex with you to afford his next meal or a place to sleep that is safe or dry next night. It's likely to be an equitable exchange. While a consumer in that situation runs some risk ( violence, robbery, catching a disease), the hustler is not likely to be forced to transact the encounter. That's not the same thing as street hustlers, a starving youth with no home or, worse, a kid who's being forced to fuck for bucks. I can't condone that sort of situation and don't understand anyone who does.

PS: I agree with everybody so far, but my situation was unique. In the late '70s/early '80s in San Francisco I ran the very first (and as far as I know the only) escort service for HIV positive individuals, both clients and escorts. It was, for a time, a lucrative business venture, but the 'training' that I insisted on giving all new escorts and clients ate up what little time I had for other things. I conducted the business like this because I did truly care about the satisfaction of the clients and the escorts, all of which began with my own search and need for intimacy with the stigma (then) of HIV.

It is a noble profession in my mind and I still see nothing wrong with hiring an escort. In fact, I prefer to do this when I need intimacy simply because it is far less messy than going to a bar, buying some guy drinks, then working on him the rest of the night in hopes of taking him home for a bit of the ol' bumping uglies, although currently this is not an issue, since I'm being faithful and monogamous with my other half, something unique for me.

CC: I have been approached to be an escort for men who find amputees a turn-on. Since apparently it can be difficult to find amputees it may make sense to pay for the services of an amputee hustler rather than search the ends of the earth for one you may or may not find. I guess I wouldn't mind being an escort if it was done with a sense of integrity and it mutually satisfied the client and the escort.

PS: Plus you could probably make very good money at it! My hat goes off to anyone who actually does something like this, given the often sensitive nature of our disabilities and how intimately they are bound up with self-image. I still have horrific images and dreams about removing my clothes and having sex with a man, even now with the man I love who I know loves me in return and is not, repeat, IS NOT, turned off by the disfiguring I've suffered because of my disability. It is a complex and irrational fear which to date nothing solves, except very supportive, very tender exploration with my lover, who recognizes my body-image fear and insecurity.

BG: Wow. The idea of disabled hustlers may be even more radical than whether it's ethical for care-givers to assist clients with sex. And hey, suppose there's a middleman. Is he a gimp pimp?!

RA: It's good to know we can always count on you for high-class humor . . .

RC: Well, guys, A) my granny had a cathouse (a very long time ago), so I don't have any moral objections to either being or going to a hustler. B) I was one (before I got smashed up) and I hated it, but not because of a moral ish. Got lots of stories but most of them are grim. C) I would never characterize myself as sexually well-adjusted, even when I was able-bodied. D) I have never much cared for casual sex, generally. This is not to say that I haven't had the odd trampy streak now and again. Sometimes ya just gotta get it out. E) Since I want honest affection with sex, and want to be with somebody I want, like in yowza!! Calling up some escort, no matter how fine he might look in a picture in a mag/paper isn't likely to guarantee that the ol' chemistry will be there. F) I'm ashamed to say this, but while I do think I've got a certain amount of sex appeal left, and ain't such a bad piece, I do think that your average fag, (especially one who is a professional fuck and is going to be mostly motivated by the money) is not real likely gonna look at me and think, "Hot Damn! Let's get to makin' wit da love!"

I think that we as disabled gay men are going to be most attractive to men who have taken the time to get to know us, even if it is just a little. G) I am very conscious of some of the physical problems that my SCI engenders. I like to do a good job in the sack (even if it was me paying the other guy). Anything that mars that would taint the experience for me. H) I wouldn't rule out hustling in the future, but I think it's unlikely. I have considered it,
though !

TW: I think there's nothing wrong with buying and selling sex, given that nobody is being exploited, robbed, HIV-infected or worse. I do agree that legalizing prostitution is a good thing as it places sex workers in a less vulnerable position. Recently prostitution has been legalized over here in the Netherlands. (So the ladies and gentlemen in the business have become decent taxpayers like everyone else!).

It has the added advantage that safe-sex education can be distributed more easily. It also makes illegal immigrants (often girls from eastern Europe, Asia or South America who have been lured into prostitution and to whom it is certainly not a fun thing) less attractive as "employees" (sex slaves is a better description probably).

Would I use the services of an escort myself? Well, I never have in the past and don't think I ever will. PS wrote that he prefers using a hustler when he "needs intimacy" because it is less messy than the bar scene. To me the idea that another person only desires me for the money I have to offer would kill my lust. I need at least the illusion that my sex partner feels attracted to me.

Taking up a career in the sex industry on the other hand never really crossed my mind, but you guys have raised some interesting possibilities [LOL!]. Well, nah, I don't think so. Even though it is less difficult to imagine than using the services of an escort, I guess I will keep on charging nothing for my "services rendered"

JF: I am disabled and gay in Milwaukee. I can't find a hustler here. I would gladly pay for it!

GS: I have mixed feelings. First off, sex-for-money has been around for a long time and has probably done more good then harm, so I see no reason for it not to be around now. These days, though, there's the fear of disease, especially with AIDS back on the increase, not to mention any other diseases that unclean guys are not willing to be up front about.

I was married and hid my gay side for many years. Even though at the time I had a great love for my wife I could not be true to her because of my hidden desire to be with men, so we both talk about it and got a divorce. I did not seek a partner right off., being that I had the responsibility of raising two boys. After the youngest reached fourteen I started dating on weekends, but I found it not working and left it alone. I found an escort service a reliable way to fill the need at the time.

BT: OK, OK, You've forced it out of me! YES, I've hired a hooker, OK!! [grin], but it was about seven years ago, and two years before I became disabled. I was in Orlando on business, and went to the Parliament House for a few drinks. I spotted this guy who looked rather "streetwise." When I left the bar at closing time he was hitchhiking down Orange Blossom Trail so I picked him up! Got a quickie outta the deal.

After my disability, I had talked to a guy online for some time. I explained that I was a wheelchair user. He didn't care. He wanted me to go and pick him up from an affluent part of town. He was eighteen and I was thirty-three at the time (four years ago), so I thought it would be worth the drive. Well, I brought him back to my house, and there was never any talk of him wanting to get paid. We had a great time and then I drove him home. The next day I noticed that he had stolen some of my CD's, so I felt like I had been the one taken advantage of. If he wanted something out of the deal, I would have gladly paid him. Hell, I'd have paid him to come back once a week after the great time we had, but I couldn't trust him any longer!! (So now I've got a bunch of CD's I'd like to trade for sex! I'm thinking of contacting him again!! [grin]

RC: Jeezuz, BT! Call me a jaded old fuck with entirely too much music lying around, but unless you're talkin' about your hustler kid takin' some damned CDs that were Certificates-of-Fucking-Deposit, what's the big deal? He mighta brought them back the next time, and thanked you for the loan. How often to you notice teeny-boppers swapping music with one another? Alla th' time. Just keep an eye on your checkbooks and credit cards . . . well, and your mom's heirloom jewels.

RA: To answer BF's question some ways back, prostitution in general is not legal in Nevada. Certain counties have voted to legalize prostitution in brothels only. Hookers on the street and "escorts" are still illegal. I have no idea if there are any restrictions as far as straight vs. gay prostitution—interesting question.

I do know that sex workers have to register with the local governments that have legalized it. They're tested regularly for HIV and other STDs. From what I've read, occurrences of sexually-transmitted diseases are extremely low amongst legal brothel workers, which is a fantastic argument for legalizing and legitimizing sex work, in my little ol' opinion. TW wrote: "Even though it [being a hustler] is less difficult to imagine than using the services of an escort, I guess I will keep on charging nothing for my 'services rendered.'" In the words of the ever-wise George Carlin: "Why is it illegal to sell something that is perfectly legal to give away?"

MV: I work in consumer advocacy, but I have to admit that my job would be a lot easier and more fun if I had to deal with hustlers and their clients. I like what CC said about disabled men being hustlers for devotees. Has anyone visited the website for a man named Eyton, who offers photos and other services? He is a double leg amp. I have also spoken to one or two hustlers whose clients were mostly disabled guys, which is exactly how they liked it. Anyway, I'm glad that this issue was brought up. Might be good for some future BENT articles.

JM: My two cents: Hustlers are scum. Pick shit off the street, you expect it to smell. I don't need anyone in my house where I have to hide my wallet and lock my stereo and leather jacket in the basement.

DL: Well, back in the Old Days we used to call being relieved of property by a gentleman caller "Date-Burglary."

BT: I agree with you RC, my incident with the CDs was trivial. It could have been much worse, which just happens to remind me of this other time. Back several years ago when I was living with my lover he was out running around one night (tramp!) when I got a phone call from him about two in the morning. He'd seen this guy in the bar, and when he was leaving, the guy was hitchhiking, so he stopped to pick him up (sound familiar)? After getting to where the kid lived he was attacked by several of this guy's friends. They beat him up horribly with baseball bats, and kicked and punched him to a bloody pulp. I guess the moral of the story is, Don't pick up your hustlers off the side of the road!!!

BF: I've got to disagree about the CD theft. That's like saying, "well, he only robbed me, he could have killed me!" Stealing is wrong, and comparing it with being beat up is not the point. Just because we want the services of a hustler does not mean we need to accept being robbed. I think that's especially true for disabled guys, who are a lot more vulnerable to both theft and violence.

When I can't get into a restaurant because the owner refuses my guide dog access and I call the police, often they won't come because it's not a murder or a robbery. But my right to eat where I choose is at stake. One wrong deed should not be excused because it could have been worse! Otherwise, people could tell me "Well go to the restaurants that accept you and leave the others alone." If I choose to hire a hustler, I want my property safe.

PS: Did you guys read about the brothel in Australia (where prostitution is legal) that put in an accessible room for disabled clients? I like the idea very much, but then I guess I'm your resident bad boy (bad girl?.....oh well that will serve to confuse some!!!!!!). How many of us would, if given the opportunity, visit an establishment of this type? Lets have a show of hands?

MM: I would, as long as there were enough Men of the Night in the brothel to satisfy all my urges! Does this brothel offer a discount for disabled people on fixed incomes?!

RA: I admit that I have not, and most likely never, ever will hire a hustler. I'm hardly a prude (OK, shut up you, there in the back. You know who you are!) and I don't have any problem with hustling (as long as y'all are safe, please!) but I also know that it just ain't for me. I think it's the whole exchange of money. I feel like it would be way too impersonal for me to relax and have a good time. But then again, all sex costs something.

On that note, however, I have to 'fess up to visiting sex clubs on a few occasions, and while there was no money exchanging hands, the environment was too cold for me to enjoy it as anything other than a voyeuristic experience. Not to mention that no one talks in those places, so they are totally silent, except for the random slurps and flesh-slapping noises. So, imagine gimpy old me stomping around in my Doc Martens, because I was afraid to walk around in bare feet in there. STOMP STOMP STOMP. It would have been funny if I wasn't so self-conscious about it.

RC: Okay, okay, this is my guaranteed last comment but it's gonna be a long one! About those ripped off CDs again. I grant you that stealing is wrong. Period. But . . . some essentially inconsequential music CDs? That was really just poor business sense. The kid was sure never gonna get a callback acting like that.

But listen, guys, that whole stealin' thing set me to thinking about the Big Picture. Let me tell ya a little something that, if you ponder it, might soften your stance somewhat. God(dess/whatever) gives each and every one of us a chance. No matter how dismal our circumstances may be, there is always that "one big break" to get things right. Speaking as somebody who has looked at life from the bottom side of the gutter I can tell you that no matter how young a person may be, if they have been in ugly situations—and I'm putting hustling in here because it can be, and often is ugly and not what one would really like to be doing and it sure ain't about gettin' paid for a nut you would like to bust anyhow—by the time the "big break" comes, many people, maybe most, are too bitter and jaded to take it, especially in the spirit the Cosmos gives it.

That Big Break arrives and they are all too ready to lash out at real kindness, maybe take away what somebody else has, because experience has taught them that someone else would take it away from them. I KNOW. Not only have I seen how people have wasted that gift, but I did myself. Whomever runs the Universe was so unbelievably kind as to give me three such breaks.

Let me ask you, BF, have you ever been so hungry that you have had a fist fight with a good companion because you found out they managed to shoplift a candy bar, when you both had been without food for a couple of days? Have you ever watched a Mickey Dee's outside (well, obviously you wouldn't be watching. Substitute listening in as much as it fits) to see someone throw away a half-eaten sandwich and then dug in the trash to find and eat it because you were so many days without anything to eat?

Can you imagine being in a situation where some scuzzy guy, nasty, smelly (although by this time you are, too), mean and hateful, offers you two bucks for sex in a dirty alley reeking of garbage and urine and puke and filth, and after a little while it looks like a good deal? Think of someone opening their pants and the strong stink of long unwashed crotch hits you from four feet away. Imagine your face up close to it, thick skidmarks on the cloth a few inches from your nose. What do you suppose that would taste like? Somebody else's shit from somebody else getting drilled? Do you think he might even bother to spit on his dick to slick it up before he yanked you around, tore your clothes down and jammed it in you? Would you expect that he would be gentle, or even concerned? How much kinds do you expect for two bucks?

Can you imagine trying to decide which is worse, which goes the most against the good values you were taught— hitting somebody over the head and taking his money, or going out and whoring, knowing that right now you are at the absolute bottom of the sex-worker food chain, so there ain't gonna be no uptown potential Sugar Daddies. There ain't gonna be no warm fuzzy hugs. There is gonna be food you can't eat. Showers you can't take. Clean clothes you can't wear, and to get enough money to feed yourself, and, if you save for a few days and cop a couple of better tricks, maybe you can get into a shared room with some other mean-assed gutter whores so you aren't sleeping in the bushes. I was there. For a long while.

Now suppose that boy who took the CDs had been, too. He managed to fight and fuck and evade the cops (who most certainly are not his friends). He managed to clean up and steer clear of the worst of the drugs and brought himself up. He still has no job skills, and no means of support except to let somebody else use his body for their own desires. So do you think when he comes into some guy's home, a home that he can not even conceive of turning enough tricks in his lifetime to buy, 'cause baby, the banks don't loan money to no whores . . . do ya think he might be just a little bitter about it?

Do you think that even though he knows it's nothing much, that taking a couple of CDs that amount to a total of maybe $30 if the were purchased new, do you think that just maybe that thing, that little—yet dishonest—thing might do just enough to push back the bleakness, the bitter memories and the reminders of the gawd-awful horrible men who have fucked him, to keep him from, say, going out and scoring some hard drugs? Or maybe beating someone who cared about him, just because there was opportunity and the bile in him was built up so high? Or killing himself? Or simply weeping.

So while I recognize that it's wrong to steal, if a small theft prevents a greater wrong then I would be glad to lose the CDs. Maybe I have too many lying around to care, but on the other hand, I give money to winos, too, and I don't care if they use that $20 or whatever to buy a few bottles of hooch. "How can the Rose/ more than the clod/ From which it grows/ Embody God?"

Save contempt and hatred and high moral action for the guys in power who are the real nasty people in the world.


© 2001 BENT



BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/May 2001