Monday, May 15, 2006

Commerce [II, 12]


The archetypal commercial relationship among gay men is prostitution. Generally, hustlers work the street, while call boys wait by the telephone for clients to ring (or nowadays get custom over the Internet). Traditionally the call boy may operate under the direction of a mister, corresponding to the madam of heterosexual establishments. Recently, the more decorous term escort has begun to replace hustler. There is a connotation of higher quality—and higher prices. Also, the term escort is ambiguous, a useful quality for eluding the law when services are offered over the Internet.

In the middle of the twentieth century straight-identified young men available for sex (usually in exchange for money or other favors) were collectively termed trade. Oftentimes this status was transitional; hence the expression “today’s trade is tomorrow’s competition.”

In the UK hustlers are called rent boys or renters, terms which reflect the purchase of their bodies for temporary use. Adoption of this mode of economic survival is sometimes called on the game. In Germany the term for hustler is Strichjunge, because they patrol their Strich or beat. A new US term comes from a dubious practice of paid live performances by teenagers on the Internet using the camcorder; these young people are called cam whores.

Historically, gay-male prostitutes were sometimes found in a brothel, for which their were a number of terms: spintry (Elizabethan), molly house (London, early eighteenth century), jag house, peg house, stud house (all uncommon). In more recent decades the backrooms of gay bars, requiring beverage consumption and occasionally a fee, have been used for sexual purposes. Bathhouses are another venue for do-it-yourself sex, once the admission charge has been paid. Relatively low fees, if any at all, are required to enter tearooms, public toilets used for sexual purposes.

The world of gay pornographic films has generated fewer terms than one might expect. There is, to be sure, the money shot, the point where one of the actors ejaculates outside the body of another (unlike the real world where such ejections are usually internal). This expression seems to have generated the asexual “money quote,” a key quotation within a text that is climactic or revealing. In the gay porno industry the fluffer is a preparer to makes the star “ready” by his oral ministrations.

Less sordidly commercial, or so it seems, is the relationship between the sugar daddy and his protégé: financial support flows from the more financially secure person to the beneficiary. In this connection the term kept is considered offensive.

Historically, the homosexual meaning of gay was preceded by Victorian usage, in which gay (woman) referred to a sexually available (“loose”) female or a prostitute.

The term well=endowed, referring to the size of male genitals, is ultimately an economic metaphor. The lucky possessor may either “give it away," reaping the advantage in terms of numerous sexual partners, or (if desired) seek a career in male prostitution.

Successful gays and lesbians tend to have a fair amount of disposable income, which they spend on clothes, entertainment, and travel. This source of money (sought out by savvy niche marketeers) is called the pink pound (UK) or pink dollar.

In a broader sense, the gay ghetto with its network of bars, restaurants, baths, and bookstores, is commercial. Various guidebooks exist to indicate the location of these establishments, which may nowadays be looked for on the Internet.


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