Joseph Itiel


Joseph arrived in New York from Tel Aviv in 1950 at the age of nineteen. He first enrolled at NYU in the department of journalism and then studied creative writing at the New School for Social Research.

However, after obtaining his B.A. degree, more important matters than creative writing occupied his mind. On the one hand he wished with all his heart to become a straight man. On the other hand, he also wanted to try out homosexual liaisons, because there was little doubt in his mind that he was, and would always be, gay.

In 1956, he went to India to try to resolve both issues, including a stay in an ashram in Rishikesh. (The Beatles went there somewhat later.) The story of his sojourn in India is fully narrated in
Escapades of a Gay Traveler: Sexual, Cultural, and Spiritual Encounters. Because he was trying to achieve two opposing goals, neither one of them materialized.

For a few years, with Toronto as his headquarters, he traveled to many countries, including Mexico where he learned to speak Spanish fluently. There he also got used to paying for sexual favors which forever after has changed his gay life for the better. For one year he returned to Israel, teaching high school in the Galilee Mountains. Eventually, he studied social science for his M.A. degree at Hunter College in New York.

During all this time he kept writing, including a travel book. However, since he never narrated his gay activities (such as they were), the book lacked genuineness. That book, and many short stories, was rejected by publishers with great regularity. Eventually, in 1964, disdaining Toronto's cold weather, Joseph moved to San Francisco during the height of the hippie period. Here for the first time in his life, Joseph started making gay friends, including members of the Society for Individual Rights, a pioneering male gay organization.

Joseph has always been attracted sexually to men who looked very different from himself. This drove him to return to Mexico many times as well as to spend considerable time in Japan and the Philippines. Working as a teacher for the Community College in San Francisco afforded him enough time for traveling. In spite of a brief interlude with a lover and constant forays to the many bathhouses that proliferated in San Francisco before AIDS, Joseph never gave up on paying for sex. For whatever the reason, he grew closer physically and even emotionally to his paid-for partners than to the one-night stands he met in gay venues.

At the age of fifty, Joseph still did not know what he wanted to be when he grew up. One evening, he was invited to a demonstration at the Hypnosis Clearing House in Berkeley and right then and there enrolled in a hypnotherapy course. Being a gifted raconteur, a skill that helps make the hypnotist more efficient, Joseph soon became a star student. As his graduation project he gave a hypnosis demonstration at a branch of the San Francisco Library and, a month later, at a Manila high-society club. Joseph started teaching self-hypnosis in various colleges as well as practicing hypnotherapy. He gave daylong self-hypnosis seminars for ten years at the College of Marin.

It was at the College of Marin that Joseph was approached by Prentice-Hall and asked to write a book about self-hypnosis. A short book,
Financial Well-Being Through Self Hypnosis, was released by them in 1983. While the subject of homosexuality was not mentioned in it at all, Joseph wrote irreverently about the capriciousness of society at large when it comes to professional exams or obtaining employment. (He referred to them as "rights of passage.")

Joseph now started writing The Franz Document, his coming out novel. The plot starts in Vienna in 1937 and ends in the Philippines in 1950. Even though the book dealt with topics of general interest (World War II, the Holocaust, Indian spirituality, and the struggle of a gay person to lead a normal life), it was rejected by publishers and agents over and over again. Only in 1989, a small publishing house agreed to release that book, provided Joseph wrote a travel guide to the Philippines. The book about the Philippines (
Philippine Diary: A Gay Guide to the Philippines) has done very well over the years. To date, it still sells. There followed two additional gay guidebooks, one to Mexico and one to Costa Rica.

In the late 1990s, Joseph gave up hypnosis, and turned his attention to a subject dear to his heart, hustlers and their clients. Like all other books written by him, the book about hustlers was rejected by a number of gay publishers. As usual, not one of them gave a reason for it. Finally, Haworth Press agreed to publish
A Consumers Guide to Male Hustlers. It was followed four years later by an "upgrade," Sex Workers As Virtual Boyfriends. (The politically correct term for hustlers these days is "sex workers.") Escort Tales: The Trophy Boy and Other Stories, published in 2004, is a collection of stories describing the life of escorts and how they (not gay society) see themselves. In 2006 this book was translated into Turkish under the title Eskort Masallari. "Trophy Boys" are not mentioned in the title either because there are no such creatures in Turkey or, more likely, because no word has been coined for them in that language.

As he grew older Joseph discovered a new gay subspecies: Young men, quite often married or singles considering themselves straight, who like women their own age but are also attracted to much older men. A personal collection of such fleeting liaisons between such younger men and an older gent appears in "Dirty Young Men and Other Gay Stories," published in 2004.

Joseph is now in the middle of the eighth decade of his life. As Sigmund Freud, in his later years, said: "All one can do is love and work." Joseph continues his work trying to write a book a year, doing translations from Hebrew into English, and making love to his sex workers who are also his friends.

 

You can write to the author at:

authorinsf@yahoo.com

 

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