Joseph Itiel’s Weblog
Joseph Itiel is a San Francisco gay author who writes about travel, sex work, and hypnosis.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
SEX WORKERS TO THE RESCUE
Just over two months ago I broke my upper left arm. For six weeks my arm was in a sling and then I started physiotherapy. Except for my immobilized arm there was nothing wrong with me. But that was enough to make most positions in bed painful or awkward. When I was with another person, the latter had to be careful not to put pressure on my left arm or shoulder and be mindful at all times of my position in bed.
There were so many activities I couldn’t’t have done with a sex partner that our lovemaking was mainly to satisfy my needs. If I had had a boyfriend, I hope he would have tried to please me without caring too much about his own needs. But the men one meets on the Internet, say through Craigslist, or in the bathhouses , are not interested in giving satisfaction to disabled sex partners.
So what about sex workers? The general view is that they do whatever they must do to satisfy their able-bodied clients. If clients have physical problems (for instance, cannot even be given a decent back massage because they cannot lie face down) that is not the sex workers’ problem. It is not the duty of the workers to cater to the special needs of invalids. They get paid, one would assume, to perform their ordinary duties, not to accommodate patients. It turned out that the opposite was true. My workers, all regulars, went out of their way to make me feel comfortable in spite of my handicaps. That took a lot of effort because all sorts of techniques had to be tried out. At times, I was ready to give up, but the workers persisted. Obviously, I was a regular client and they were willing to work a bit harder for me. Still, they went beyond the call of duty as a matter of course.
For six weeks, the time my arm was in a sling, I needed someone to wash and dress me on a daily basis. (I couldn’t’t even tie my shoes laces.) One of my “retired” workers is a home care provider. He and I have known each other some thirteen years and are close friends. I hired him to come to my home every morning, with no days off, to get me ready for the day. If there was time, we chatted and joked with each other before or after the bathing and dressing. Certainly, I could have availed myself of a nursing service. But the daily company of my former sex worker pleased me so much that I almost decided that once I was well again, I would still have him still come in daily to bathe and dress me.
I know that many gays are displeased by my positive feelings toward my sex workers: Positive feelings that I have had for decades. I am sure that my relationship to my sex workers is not the answer for every gay man. All I can say is that my rapport with my sex workers has worked for me from the time I was in my late twenties right into old age. I also can state with certainty, that with my broken arm I would not have encountered any playmates that would have been willing to accommodate my condition.
Labels: Lessons From aroken Arm
# posted by Joseph @ 9:26 PM 3 comments
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
“A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-face with modern day slavery”
By E. Benjamin Skinner
It would have been better had the author named his book “The Downtrodden of the World.” But he chose to refer to the diverse victims of many societies as modern “slaves,” which, to my mind, is not quite accurate. His stories of the modern-day slaves are pretty gruesome. The author took great personal risks writing this book, both in terms of his safety and health. I commend him for it.
A good part of the book is devoted to sexual slaves, women who under a variety of pretexts, are trafficked from their home countries to distant parts of the word and forced into prostitution. In this review I will not discuss child sexual slavery, like the male and female Restav èk in Haiti, where sex is often included in their duties.
In my first book about sex work (“A Consumer’s Guide to Male Hustlers,”) I wrote at length about the differences between male and female prostitutes. My editor thought that this part was superfluous and wanted me to delete it. I refused, because the difference between male and female adult sex workers is between free male independent contractors and enslaved women.
I have never encountered a pimp for male sex workers anywhere in the world. I have heard of unpleasant incidents that adult male sex workers have with their clients (usually not being paid and, very rarely, a physical altercation) but, by and large, for male sex workers, it just a contractual job. In many cases, the customer is at much greater risk. For example, in 1997, the famous designer Gianni Versace was murdered by his expensive and deranged hustler. There are many male sex workers all over the world who ply their trade in a country where their immigration status is illegal. But they do that of their free will, usually making more money than working at the few menial jobs available to them. They are not lured to that country under false pretenses or controlled by vicious pimps, who abuse them physically, confiscate their passports or threaten their families in their homeland.
In my book, “Escapades of a Gay Traveler: Sexual, cultural and spiritual encounters,” I tell the story of a Sri Lankan sex worker in Zurich, Switzerland. The Sri Lankan, Maitri, had been stuck in Zurich trying, without success, to immigrate first to Canada, where his boyfriend lived, then to England. Both attempts failed. He lived with a Swiss family that had some connection with Sri Lanka. They housed and fed him, though he had overstayed his welcome. He had no money at all for his personal needs, as a tourist couldn’t obtain a legal job, and his Swiss visa was running out or had already expired.
Maitri was an engineer by profession. A handsome, dark guy, dressed in a white tennis outfit, he stood out at the Zurich railway station where local and foreign hustlers waited for their johns. It seemed to me that Maitri liked what he was doing-maybe I was lucky and he enjoyed being with me-but certainly it was an easier job than working illegally for a pittance. (Many years ago I saw an Italian film “The Chocolate Soldier,” about illegal immigrants in Switzerland, eking of a miserable living.) For business reasons, I had to be in Zurich a number of times. I saw Maitri for two summers in a row. Waiting for sex customers in front of the railway station was not an engineering job. But it made it possible for Maitri to have some money for his needs and, more importantly, not run afoul of the Swiss authorities by holding a regular job. Maitri who took his meals with the Swiss family who hosted him, was able to control his schedule and work as much or as little as he wanted. Nobody trafficked him, no pimp threatened him and, as far as I know, no customer brutalized him. Maitri had been a semiprofessional tennis player in Sri Lanka. He could take care of himself if it came to a physical confrontation.
The author of the book gives a lot of credit to the US for fighting against trafficking. He gives very little credit to other countries, Holland, for example, for doing anything positive about this phenomenon. Foremost in this fight under the Bush administration were American evangelicals.
Here is a direct quote from Skinner’s book: “For the American neo-abolitionists, [many of them evangelical Christians] Amsterdam was a latter-day Sodom. In addition to prostitution, gay marriage was legal in the Netherlands.” (P. 184.) Comparing gay marriage to prostitution demonstrates the great love the evangelicals have towards their fellow human beings.
The kinkier point is that there are a good number of gay males who advertise, say on Craigslist, that they want to be slaves, find brutal masters, or be “whored out.” Of course, some advertisers just play mind games. Though others are deadly serious about it and get their kicks by being ordered to have sex with men they don’t like. The main difference between them and coerced female prostitutes is that usually they can bring the game to an end when they feel like it, whereas the slavery of women is for real.
Labels: the difference between male and female sex workers
# posted by Joseph @ 7:58 PM 0 comments
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Recently, I had an encounter with a Cambodian guy who contacted me through an older-for-younger board. He lives in Petaluma, a fair distance from San Francisco. We e-mailed each other a number of times and then spoke on the phone. He even used the M word, that is, Monogamy. I wondered how I could promise I guy I had never seen to be monogamous with him.
He drove all the way to SF to meet me, getting seriously lost. But eventually he found my house. He claimed to be 33 but looked 23 – the oriental optical distortion? Rather cute and *very* intelligent. After five years in this country he spoke English quite well.
He brought me a musical box as a gift. I invited him for lunch. On the way he told me that he liked women and . . . older men, especially their upper bodies. He told me I would be his first man. We had a pleasant lunch and an interesting conversation, mostly about Cambodia.
When we returned, I made coffee for us, and we chatted some more. Some thirty minutes later I persuaded him to join me in the sex room. While I stood in front of him naked, so he could admire my upper body, he was reluctant to take off his clothes. But finally he complied, and we made it into the bed. He refused to kiss – as we had agreed upon – because of an alleged cut in his mouth. Serves me right. I had lied about my age, he about kissing! He said he wanted to play with my body – lifting me this way and that, and fondling my muscles. He was extremely shy about his tiny penis but I finally took it in my mouth. For such a small instrument even I am a master blower. It took ten seconds, I exaggerate, five seconds, before he climaxed.
After the curtain fell, he didn’t mind talking to me, but sexually he was spent and, probably, somewhat disgusted. He took a long shower, to cleanse his body and soul. I decided that I would be better off resting by myself, and bade him adieu.
Had my book “Dirty Young Men” not have been published already, I could have had another story. As I wrote in that book, I was well in my fifties when a young guy first used me as a sex object. I thought it would be fun, helping to enhance my self-image. Actually, all such encounters have left me empty.
Labels: Dirty Young Men
# posted by Joseph @ 8:47 PM 1 comments
Monday, January 05, 2009
Sex Workers’ Fees – Part II
On December 13, 2008 under “Sex Workers’ Fees Always Go Up” I wrote that when the economy is in a down cycle, sex workers usually raise their prices. This is their way of coping with a financial downturn. They have lost some clients and are trying to make up for it by charging more. But I have never witnessed a near economic collapse. How will sex workers act given the present dire situation?
If I remember my Economics 101 correctly, in bad economic times there will be a cadre of new sex workers seeking employment, after having lost their regular jobs. Because many former clients are also unemployed, the fees sex workers charge should go down. However, these workers operate in what economists call a “disorderly market,” and predictions are difficult to make.
For one thing, most sex workers (not erotic masseurs) look at their situation with complete disregard for the economic realties. They are willing to escort only for a fee that suits them, regardless of market conditions. I have written about this particular phenomenon at great length in my three books on sex work. In this their clients help them. The latter are sometimes inexperienced in hiring workers, or do it so rarely that the price doesn’t matter that much, or feel guilty about the transaction and the higher fees assuages their guilt. Whatever the reason, prices do not seem to go down in hard times. Whether this will change in the present economic downturn I am unable to predict. It is also not all that certain that there will be many new workers as a result of the economic hard times. From time to time one sees ads saying something like this: “I am broke, rent is due, and am willing to do anything for $$$.” But these are not the same kind of people who have advertised their services for the last ten years and, miraculously, are always “young.” Escorting is not a “neutral” occupation, like data processing. It requires a set of psychological traits that some men possess and others lack.
Things were different in the bad old days. When the former hustlers stood on street corners soliciting johns and setting their fees, they were keenly aware of their personal needs, and only to a limited extent of the market conditions around them. On a cold and rainy day, a hustler who stood on street corner at eight o’clock in the evening, would be motivated by midnight to lower his asking price regardless of what the competitors around him were demanding. A colleague, who may have arrived at midnight, would stick to the market price on the street, until he too felt that enough was enough.
Erotic masseurs are much more business minded. First, many of them don’t consider themselves sex workers and are often not considered as such by their clients. Second, masseurs are more likely to have a regular clientele. Third, “release” masseurs can see more clients per day than sex workers. Physically, most sex workers who are tops have their performance limits. If they are bottoms, they have psychological limits. Physically, it may not be easy for masseurs to give many massage in one day, but not impossible. Also, their clients are more likely to discuss their economic problems with the masseurs, while the latter do their thing. Therefore, masseurs are much more aware of the trials and tribulations of the clients and understand when they must lower the prices to keep their clientele. Indeed, masseurs’ fees have started – ever so slowly – to go down in San Francisco. As I wrote a year ago, prices in Los Angles move more in tandem with the economic realities. I have no explanation for the divergence between San Francisco and Los Angles.
Economists refer to price elasticity of demand. That is, the phenomenon that as prices for certain commodities go up people buy less of them. For example, when gasoline prices rose, people curtailed their driving. The classic example of non-elactic commodities is water. People do not drink less water when its price goes up. Is it possible that sex workers’ prices are also not elastic?
Labels: Escort Fees During Economic Downturns
# posted by Joseph @ 9:34 PM 1 comments
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Craigslist has reached an agreement with the attorneys general of 40 states regarding its listing of male/female erotic-service ads. Henceforth, Craigslist will charge advertisers on that list $5.00 per ad through their credit cards. (This will identify them to the authorities if a subpoena is granted.) Since such ads have always been free on Craigslist, the proceeds will be turned over to charity.
Ostensibly, the wise attorneys general imposed this innovation on Craigslist to avoid exploitation of minors and women. But I believe that what really bothered them was that these ads could be posted without charge and therefore ran more frequently, and in different styles and formats, than the very same ads in newspapers or on Web sites that charged for them.
Flagging (removal of ads) on various forums of Craigslist has been an annoying occurrence since its inception. The ads are flagged by the “Craiglist Community” for being too explicit, by erotic-service competitors, and by mischief-makers of all sorts. In addition, anyone can comment negatively on an ad appearing on that list. While anything is possible, it is unlikely that male or female minors would get away with such ads. Certainly, they couldn’t advertise that they were underage and thus attract pedophiles. Foreign women, brought to this country under a legitimate pretext and then forced into prostitution, would not be allowed by their captors to make out calls. It would take only a single comment on the Craigslist to alert law enforcement to an apartment or a house where such activities took place.
The “erotic services” lists also allow males to advertise their services frequently and with no charge. But it serves a much greater benefit for female advertisers. The fact that the person who placed the ad can remove it at will makes it possible for women to “deprostitute” themselves instantly. Males, not under the control of pimps, have always been able to do this. One day they’ll advertise that they are straight, broke and willing to do anything for rent money; the next day their ads will have disappeared. In the olden days, they would be hustling on the street when there was a convention in town and then disappear until the next such event took place.
It has never been that easy for women. Pimps, physical abuse by clients, the concept of a “fallen woman” (have you ever heard of a “fallen man?”) make it difficult for them to move in and out of sex work with the ease of their male counterparts. Craigslist, where they could post anonymously, without giving an address or phone number, made it is easy for them to be sex workers when they wished, and stop doing it at will. They could also include or exclude their photos, always having the choice of attaching it to their e-mails. I believe that this is what the attorneys general disapprove of. I also am reasonably sure that they don’t much care about males. Naturally, they cast a wide net and inconvenienced males while seriously hurting women.
Labels: Craigslist – ertoic services
# posted by Joseph @ 8:34 PM 1 comments
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Looking Back at 1964
Recently I visited the GLBT Historical Society home in San Francisco. It was a group visit and a volunteer explained to us the collection of their many thousands of documents and memorabilia. While listening to him, I realized that I had three publications to contribute to their collection.
The first two items are copies of One magazine. One, based in Los Angeles, was one of the first homosexual publications in the US. I bought my first copy, in 1964, while still living in Toronto. One had lots of trouble with the US postal authorities that accused them of disseminating pornographic written material through the mails. Nonetheless, they managed to send their publication even to foreign countries. After reading a few copies, I decided to write a story for this publication about my cruising adventures in Mexico. My story was called Papacito and the Jotos (Daddy and the Queers) about a Mexican police detective who shakes down homosexuals. During my first four-month-stay in Mexico, I ran into a lot of these “detectives,” some of whom were probably detective-impersonators. But since a small mordida (the famous Mexican bribe) would take care of the mess, it was simply the cost of doing business. In those days, it was far better than a possible jail sentence in other countries, including the US and Canada. Naturally, I did not use my own name. The editors assigned me the pseudonym Gary Teller.
My second article, published by the same magazine in 1965, from my new home in San Francisco, was titled The Hustlers in Our Midst. It could have been written in 2008 with two exceptions. The age of the former hustlers, now sex workers, has risen considerably, and street hustling is almost defunct, at least in San Francisco. In 1965, I was in my early thirties; even then I did a lot better with paid sex workers then with “freebies.” In the long run, this has actually been of great advantage. As I grew older, I did not feel that because of my age I had to pay for sex.
The third article for Vector, the San Francisco publication of SIR (Society for Individual Rights), one of the earliest gay male organizations in the US, was published in 1965. I titled it “I Give You My Word As a Homosexual,” lamenting even then the flakiness of gay sexual activities. After the article was printed, a number of older men explained to me that the flakiness (this word was not in vogue then) was a result of the terrible oppression we all had to endure. Forty-two years later I wrote in my blog about the very same subject. Now I am convinced that when it comes to sex, homosexual or heterosexual, many people will do whatever they feel they have to do to fulfill their carnal desires, with little or no regard to social mores.
Well, in a way, for gays, the world is a better place now. The Mexican police do not routinely shake us down; the postal authorities are not harassing us; the hustlers of yore are now sex workers, in most cases more professional and, as a group, even somewhat affluent. Only the sexual flakiness stayed with us!
Labels: Looking Back at 1964
# posted by Joseph @ 8:24 PM 0 comments
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
SEX WORKERS OFF LIMITS AT RED ROOM?
A while ago I applied for membership as an author to Red Room Web site. It is a site for published authors. I was rejected. This was their reason:
Thank you for your interest in Red Room. We appreciate you taking the time to submit your information. Unfortunately, we’re not able to grant your request at this time. We consider a variety of factors during the approval process, including an author’s body of work and community involvement.
For an author who has published 11 books (one translated into Turkish) I believe I am entitled to be a member of Red Room. As far as community service is concerned, I have twenty years as a college instructor, and have been a public speaker at various organizations here and abroad. Regarding that prerequisite, I also qualify. In that case, why was I rejected?
My application coincided with the exposure of the governor of the state of New York who hired a female escort through an exclusive service, paying a small fortune for the privilege.
I have written three books about male sex workers. I went out of my way in my first book (A Consumer’s Guide to Male Hustlers) to point out the differences between female and male escorts. Very briefly, males are not usually in physical danger from their clients; they don’t have pimps to “manage” them; and they are not brought from abroad under false pretenses. Most importantly, they are not “fallen men.” They can “escort” one week and opt out of the “profession” the next one. If there is exploitation involved, it is usually the escort who has the upper hand. Of course, it is highly unlikely that the Red Room examiners read my book; probably they just looked at my own Web site (www.josephitiel.com) and saw the titles of my books.
Jean Genet (1910 – 1986) the famous French author (and convicted felon) avoided imprisonment for the rest of his life as a habitual thief because Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau, and Andre Gide, appealed to the President of France to pardon him. One of Genet’s main themes was male prostitution. I certainly am not as gifted a writer as Jean Genet. But in France the quality of the writing is what matters, not the political implication of the subject. Genet would never have made it to the Red Room Web site. Had I been rejected by the Red Room for poor writing, I would have accepted it. However, I believe that they rejected me for the subject matter of three of my books.
Red Room is not a gay Web site. Had they read my books, or just asked me about them, they would have known that I write that male sex workers are (arguably, to be sure)) a boon to the gay community. They provide (for a price) a safer, healthier, and, in many cases, a more intimate choice than cursing the parks, drinking in bars, going to sex clubs, and often even answering ads on gay boards.
I am now in the process of appealing this decision to Red Room. I hope to report soon that they have reconsidered and accepted my request for membership.
AND HERE IS THEIR REPLY
Our team researched your work online as thoroughly as possible, and I’m sorry that you are disappointed by our decision. We appreciate the time you spent applying to become a Red Room author. We sincerely believe that there are other supportive online writing communities that will be a great fit for you. I wish you all the best with your writing and apologize that we cannot offer you an Author Page right now.
Also, I should probably clarify that we cite community involvement merely as an example of one of dozens of factors we consider during our selection process, which we gauge through our online research and from the application itself. We value diversity both in the makeup of our staff and in the reflection and inclusion of gay and lesbian authors on our website.
Thomas DotsonMember Services Manager, Red Room Omnimedia Corporation
http://www.redroom.com/ Where the writers are.
Labels: Benign Censorship
# posted by Joseph @ 11:39 AM 0 comments
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
David and Jonathan – A Fictitious Tale
I have just published a story that can be found at http://onerealstory.com/better-than-the-love-of-women/#more-84. It is a fictitious Biblical tale with the heroes being David and Jonathan. The love between David and Jonathan(very delicately hinted at in the Bible) does play a major role in my story. But I have always been fascinated by the religious-political interaction between the fanatic prophet Samuel and the melancholy (depressed in today’s parlance) king Saul. That too is part of my tale.
The Old Testament was not written as children’s literature. An ordinary story book discussing hacking off 100 foreskins of the Philistines would certainly not be found nowadays in a school library.
Readers comments – they can now be made in my blog – would be appreciated.
Labels: Beter Than the Love of Women
# posted by Joseph @ 9:08 PM 0 comments
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Sex Workers’ Fees Always Go Up
I arrived in San Francisco in December of 1964. Over four decades I have observed a strange phenomenon among local sex workers (previously known as hustlers). When the slightest economic crisis occurs, their fees go up in a matter of weeks. This is not what I was taught in economics 101, but sex workers may have taken more advanced courses.
When the economy falters, home sellers and car dealers lower their prices
to attract customers. Doctors, dentists, and lawyers keep raising their fees, disregarding the state of the economy. For some reason, the sex workers’ customers don’t have the courage to bargain with them, as they would do at a car dealership. Also, clients who seek the services of sex workers rarely share information with each other. Real-estate agents will inform their clients that the market is weak and prices of most houses will go down. Sellers know what is going on in the real-estate market. This does not happen with sex workers.
[A friend of mine who has read the draft added here: “As with doctors and dentists whose services are deemed essential even in a recession, I imagine that sex workers feel that their services are equally essential and not subject to recessionary price deflation. After all, one can defer the purchase of a new house or a new car, but when that sexual urge comes calling it can not be so easily set aside for a few years until the economy makes it through a rough patch. In this sense they may truly have their clients by the balls.” ]
The sex workers actions are so abrupt that, if I were superstitious, I would say that they bring about the downturn in the economy.
Just before posting the above, I checked with a friend who lives in Los Angeles. There the sex workers’ fees have gone down recently, and “bargain” rates are being offered. Why the difference between the two cities, I don’t know. There is more money in Los Angeles, I am told. But San Francisco has always been more expensive and jobs in general less available. The question I was asked by my friend was whether the sex workers’ fees ever go down. In my San Francisco experience, this has never happened. Once a higher rate has been established it stays in place until the next raise.
Labels: Sex Workers’ Fees During Economic Downturns
# posted by Joseph @ 7:46 PM 0 comments
Saturday, November 03, 2007
A few days ago I reviewed many of the critiques of my books. Quite a few reviewers make the point that the author (that’s me) has a compulsion to pay for sexual services. They are saying that I chose this method of obtaining sex, just as the homophobes accuse us of choosing to be gay. How can I make it crystal clear that when I was in my twenties, with hardly any money to my name, I did not make up my mind that paying for sex was the best method to pick up sexual partners? Added to this is the assertion of quite a few reviewers that I went to third-world countries where the erstwhile dollar would buy sex cheaply.
Yes, now I am convinced that it is the best method for me to find what I want and get friendship thrown in. Of course, I resisted this option for many years and, in any case, could not afford to avail myself of these services very often, because I didn’t have the wherewithal.
When I arrived in New York City at the age of 19, I was completely ignorant of where one encountered other homosexuals. (I am not even sure that the noun “gay” was used then, and I assumed that there were very few of us. For all I knew, there were no other such creatures as myself in New York!) I wrote a story about my first experience, “The Hurly Burly”(My First Time, Alyson Publications, 1995). Finally, I met a student my age, at Riverside Drive, a park by the Hudson River. Of course I didn’t pay him (where would I have gotten the money from?) and I was certain that it was my last time to be with a man.
I had no idea that there were other places besides parks where one could cruise. In the parks, I chose whoever was available and somewhat presentable, if he was willing to take me to his home. I was too closeted to bring someone to my little student room.
Moving from New York to Toronto after obtaining my BA, I did even worse. The very long Canadian winter is not a practical time to spend in the parks! With great trepidation I went from time to time to Queens Park to pick up another man. Rarely did I find someone. When I did, we were not necessarily each other’s type, but it was the best thing we could do.
Then, in 1957, with less than $300 to my name, I found myself in Monterrey, Mexico, on the way to the capital. Unlike Toronto, the climate in January there was balmy and walking in the park was pleasurable. I was attracted to quite a few people but I had no Spanish. Eventually, a young guy who understood some English picked me up. I invited him to my hotel – the room cost less than a dollar – and before anything happened he told me a convoluted story about his great need for money. The sum he wanted was the equivalent of two dollars. He seemed to like me, I wasn’t quite sure why, but he wanted me to pay for making love. Since finally I had met someone I genuinely fancied, I paid his fee.
When I made it to the capital, Mexico D.F., I was almost always asked for money. On top of it, men who were policemen, or pretended to be such, asked the cruisers for the famous Mexican mordida (bribe). The funny thing was that Mexico, under the Napoleonic code, unlike Canada, had no laws against homosexuality. But the bribe was and is the cost of doing business in Mexico. By then I had a job and I could pay it. For the first time in my life, I started enjoying my gay forays. The money given to my partners and the cops was a quaint way of finding sex, but it was better than picking up for free in other countries men I didn’t care for.
After a few months I had to leave the country because I was working there illegally. With a suitable bribe, everybody was cordial to me as they stamped my passport and took my expired papers.
By chance, upon returning to Toronto, I found a nest of hustlers. By that time I was schooled enough to understand that I had to pay for my pleasure. But, unlike the parks, I could pick and choose. As compared to Mexico, in Canada they asked for much more money. I had to budget myself. All the more so because the hustlers wanted to see me as often as posible, which tempted me all the more. Remarkably, we actually liked each other!
During the summer months, when I didn’t have to work, I went again and again to Mexico. There I could have sex often for very little money. Later on, I went to other countries, like the Philippines, where purchased sex was even cheaper.
Only many years later, when I started writing travel books, did I inform readers that prices (including sexual favors) were more reasonable in third world countries. But that was part and parcel of my narration. Meals, hotels, and transportation were also much cheaper. A travel writer must give such information. I have yet to read a travel book that fails to mention how, for example, Iceland is more expensive than most European countries.
There is one more advantage to sex workers’ relationships in poorer countries. The guys one meets have a lot of free time on their hands. I spent a month in the Philippines writing a book about this country. The publisher paid all my expenses and I traveled in style. In Manila, I hired a CB (call boy, as they are known there) in the main park to accompany me for a month. I didn’t pay him (except for gifts) but from abject poverty he found himself in five-star hotels. By far, his behavior in the unfamiliar surroundings was much more refined than mine. He turned out to be a good companion and quite helpful. No way could I do that in a country that offers living wages or unemployment pay to its citizens. Many men appreciate good company as much as an outstanding physical relationship.
Some ten years ago I traveled to Oaxaca in Mexico, a city known for its beautiful handicrafts. I planned on buying a bedcover there. The bedcover I purchased was pretty and much cheaper than I could have gotten in San Francisco. Of course, the inexpensiveness of the item was a result of the cheaper labor in Mexico. The pretty and cheap handicrafts draw tourists to that city. Did I exploit the people of Oaxca? Should I have failed to mention this in a travel article?
Labels: Sex Tourism
# posted by Joseph @ 10:05 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Thoughts About Gay Flakiness
It is disconcerting that the words flake and flakiness repeat themselves so often in gay ads. (Mostly, I am talking here about Craigslist that has gay sexual advertisements in numerous cities all over the world.) The ads will read “I am not flaky” or a comment about another advertiser will state: “Beware: he is a flake.”When I arrived in San Francisco at the end of 1964 and become aware of the flakiness in the gay community (not to speak of numerous treasurers absconding with the funds of the newly-formed gay organizations) my seniors explained to me that it was a result of the terrible emotional hardships young homosexuals were subjected to. And yet there was very little flakiness among my many gay friends, not sex partners. In the meantime, acceptance and personal freedoms have increased tremendously but the flakiness persists.In fact, decades later, the flakiness hasn’t gone away when it comes to sex.
Certainly there was very little of it among gay men who were caregivers during the worst time of the AIDS epidemic. But that task was not sexual in nature.So what gives? Why would even an escort who makes his living this way stand up a client without a word of apology? My own take is that rules of proper etiquette have been with us for millennia and more or less we try to conform to them. When I step on a stranger’s foot by accident I say “Sorry,” because I have been taught to do so as a child. My parents probably learned the same lesson in their childhood. In gay life, especially among persons who don’t know each other, there is only one goal: Having sex with the other person. If one changes one’s mind or wants to break the relationship, giving a wrong telephone number will do just as well as a sentence explaining this decision.The strangest thing is that our so-called leaders harp endlessly on our civil rights without giving any thought to our behavior toward each other when it comes to pure sex, and only that. My bi friends tell me that the same holds true in straight life when it comes to sex. This is a subject I know very little about but, if it is true, it is equally disappointing.The one attempt to change gay behavior – using condoms – worked for a while in the 1980s and the beginning 90s, because the ravages of AIDS traumatized us. Nowadays, judging from the ads on Craigslist, bare backing is acceptable again to many people. Our gay “leaders” dare not discuss the harm of drugs, bare backing or even criticize flaky behavior.
Labels: Gay Flakiness
# posted by Joseph @ 10:12 AM 0 comments
Friday, June 01, 2007
Proof of Friendship with Sex Workers
In March of this year I suffered a stroke from which I was not going to recover as a whole person. But after a few weeks I got better, and after enrolling in a rehab program, I am almost back to normal.
I had many visitors, more than I would have expected before my illness. Since I couldn’t communicate with most of my friends many discovered my illness by calling various hospitals. Most amazing to me was that my main visitors were two of my sex workers. One who has retired from the profession and we stayed best friends, and the other one I had been seeing regularly for some four months before I fell ill. He checked the hospitals when, suddenly, I missed an appointment with him and didn’t answer his phone calls. He visited me daily at the hospital including the week when I was completely mentally deranged.
One cannot even say that he did it to save his most regular client. For the first two weeks it seemed likely that I would be smiling at him from heaven . . . or the other place. It is true that I helped him establishing his business by writing his ads and telling him what to do in various situations but, still, he had no obligation to visit me daily. Yes, he does like older men and feels that we are friends not just escort and john but still . . .
Once my other sex workers (some of them whom I haven’t seen in years) discovered what had happened they visited or wrote to me – all of them offering their help.
When I wrote my book “Sex Workers As Virtual Boyfriends,” I thought it was a catchy and realistic title. I never imagined that the word “virtual” would be superfluous in some circumstances.
I realize that not many gay men who use the services of sex workers have this kind of a relationship. All I can say is that I have had such experiences from a very young age and, as I grow older, they get more intense.
Labels: Real not just virtual friends
# posted by Joseph @ 10:32 PM 0 comments
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Teaching Clients to Deal With Their Workers.
Since my books about sex workers were published, I have received a fair number of questions from clients who have difficulties in communicating effectively with sex workers. The workers themselves have similar problems, except that they learn early in the game from their mistakes and improve their communication skills. If they don’t, they usually give up on this field of endeavor. But their clients, who might hire their first worker at the age of sixty, often don’t learn from their mistakes, and give up on finding escorts
To give a specific example: A client calls up a worker and is quoted a fee that is too high for him. At a car dealership he would know exactly what to do: negotiate the price. But with a sex worker, he might become abusive (for instance, “I saw your picture and you are not worth that much,”) or just hang up the phone. Most workers try to obtain the best fee. If the client simply says, “I’m sorry, I can’t pay that much,” the worker will ask. “Well, what did you have in mind?” Usually, after some negotiations, a compromise will be reached.
It seems that many clients are extraordinarily clumsy dealing with workers for a number of reasons. First, they don’t feel they should pay for sex though they realize that they are not going to get what they want for free. Second, instead of thinking of the worker as just another independent contractor trying to make a living, they despise what he is doing. Third, they look at themselves, flabby, haggard, bald, wrinkled, and compare themselves to the handsome, slim and muscular worker in the prime of his life. Even if they pay for it, will he want to be with them? Somehow they don’t fully realize that this is the escort’s chosen job, and he ready for this scenario. The poor looks he will take in stride; bad attitude will offend him.
I don’t run into these problems not because I am so much wiser, but because I have started seeing workers when I was a callow youth myself. Over the years I honed my communication skills and often form lasting friendships with my workers.
I have often wondered whether it would not be a good idea to open a school for clients teaching them how to find and deal with escorts.
Labels: A School for Sex Workers’ Clients?
# posted by Joseph @ 4:51 PM 0 comments
Monday, January 15, 2007
Married “Dirty Young Men.
A few years ago I wrote a book titled “Dirty Young Men,” with stories about young guys who like men or women their own age and . . . old (not older) men. As I myself get longer in the tooth, I learn more and more about these characters. I wish I were younger so could write a PH.D. thesis about this phenomenon. Of course, it would not be accepted because my esteemed professors would find the subject too scandalous and the information grossly exaggerated.
Today I want to write about the married (not divorced) “Dirty Young Men.” Though, actually, some are not all that young. To my great surprise, in gay ads, the higher one’s age, the more likely one is to hear from younger guys lusting after him – his only advertised virtue being his dotage.
I need to digress here for a moment. Why would anyone happy with his sex workers seek out “Dirty Young Men?” Well, every now and then I want to re-asses my value on the gay San Francisco exchange. Not much, to be sure – except with the Daddy Seekers. (Not sugar daddies hunters.)
The noncommercial ads (that is, not sex work ads) almost invariably seek an older man to penetrate, dominate, and abuse the younger guy. This is not always so, of course, but much more often than the other way around. The advertiser will at times refer to himself as straight and offer his “virgin ass.” Often, there is a put down of his wife, like: “The bitch is away and I have the house for myself.” Very common are exhortations for discretion. These are always amusing. Does the advertiser think that his older gay contact usually invites his friends and neighbors to watch the proceedings?
In one area married men do pull rank. Without much thinking on their part, they inform the advertiser that they wouldn’t mind seeing his picture but they will not supply theirs. After all, they are straight and have to be cautious. Mostly they are satisfied with no photo exchange, because they are after older men who need not be particularly attractive for their age.
Naturally, they want to make sure that they don’t bring home to their wives little and not-so-little sexual plagues, but they also want to indulge in everything. This creates a guilt feeling in them during the session. Needless to say, they don’t understand their own desires. Their wives would be even less likely to figure out their competition.
I will say that these encounters are often physically satisfying because of the great excitement of the “straight” partners. Emotionally, they are barren. The nagging question of the married partner, “What on earth am I doing in this setting,” is very much on their minds. It is never discussed and, indeed, has no rational answer.
The chances of the younger guy getting cold feet at the last moment are pretty substantial. The e-mailing back and forth might be titillating enough. It is extremely rare that regardless of the intensity of the session, there will be encores. It is too threatening a situation for the married men.
Labels: Married (gay) Men
# posted by Joseph @ 6:17 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Sex Workers Fees
I have written extensively about the charges of sex workers that are often too high. Ironically, the workers who dub themselves as Elite Escorts (though they may have started their career last week) charge much more – adjusted for inflation – than the street hustlers 30 years ago. Being young, they do not know that not so long ago the only way for a hustler to make a living was to stand on certain street corners (or at the main railroad stations in many European countries) and wait for their customers. This may have taken five minutes or five hour under a sunny sky or in pouring rain. When I arrived in San Francisco in 1964, there were no papers to advertise services, no pagers or cell phones, not even answering machines. The lowly street hustler was more justified in charging a higher rate because an hour with a customer usually meant a long waiting time beforehand.
Things have changed radically. In San Francisco, all a sex worker needs is a cell phone. Here the worker can advertise freely (on Craigslist) and, if he doesn’t have a computer, go to an Internet cafe to post his ad. Of course, “Elite Workers” advertise on specialized Internet boards for which they have to pay. Handsome or ugly, thin or overweight, young or old, they sometimes charge more for their services than my dentist for a three-layer filling.
At least my dentist doesn’t expect me to tip him. In a book written by a sex worker it is made clear that they are entitled to their fees plus a tip. They really want to have it both ways: Be professionals and charge accordingly and, simultaneously, give the impression that they make so little money that they are entitled to a tip. Remarkably, that suits many clients. They prefer to think of sex workers as poor young men to whom they give money out the kindness of their hearts, rather than that they are paying for sex. The tip emphasizes this.
Having written all of this, I have often promised sex workers, during e-mail negotiations, more than they have asked for. Some of them, not knowing the market well, tend to undercharge; others have such a low opinion of themselves that the quote a minimal fee. Among “full-body” masseurs more than among sex works, vicious competition also plays a role. They underbid each other, with a view of getting more clients this way.
It is difficult to get into the mind of a worker. He may make $12 an hour doing his regular job, but charge $120 for “turning a trick.” While he may take three buses daily to get to work, he will stipulate in his escorting ad “plus cab fare.” Many clients who pride themselves on how astute they are when purchasing a car or a house, feel it inappropriate to negotiate a sex worker’s fee. When they do so, they are often insulting and manage to hurt the sex worker’s feelings without closing the deal.
Labels: Tipping Sex Workers
# posted by Joseph @ 10:29 AM 0 comments
Monday, December 11, 2006
Kiss Me Passionately But Don’t Get to Know Me
After many conversations with clients and workers, I came to the conclusion that there are two distinct groups. One group wants the physical part of the job to be performed excellently (often, though not always, in a hurry) and then get rid of the worker – and the same holds true for the latter who wants to bring the session to end swiftly. The same way one would want a handyman to do his job: expertly, efficiently, and fast. The second group wants to get to know the worker and have a “date,” combining the physical and the mental. I definitely belong to the second group. After two sessions, I have just dismissed a virtuoso worker. He seemed to enjoy his job, gave excellent service and then some, but wanted the session to begin right away in the bedroom and end there. He wasn’t even a clock watcher. It was not the time that mattered to him – he wanted as little human contact as possible. How a worker can be as affectionate as he was without the slightest interest in his client, is beyond me. Many clients are happy with this attitude. They have their friends. Their handyman, electricians, and sex workers are there to perform specific tasks, not to socialize with. The workers feel that their job is to please their clients physically, and then meet their own friends.
Over many years I have discussed this with scores of workers and clients. I still don’t understand the phenomenon of anonymous sex, though it turns on quite a lot of gay men. Hence ads that read, “The door is open, I am blindfolded, and on my knees. Let yourself in, screw me, and leave.” As an after thought the advertisers add: “Please send pic.” (If they are truly blindfolded why do they need a photo?) I understand this phenomenon even less when one pays for the service or gets remunerated for it. But then, I tend to see my workers for years and anonymity would not work. Or wouldn’t it? I have known clients who have seen the same worker on a weekly basis, and neither party cared to know much about the other.
I suppose it takes all kinds to make the word go round.
Labels: Anonymous clients and workers
# posted by Joseph @ 8:01 PM 0 comments
Friday, December 08, 2006
“Three Faces in the Mirror,” philosophy and sex.
A few days ago I joined Technorati. This is a site that is meant to make it easier for blog readers to find what they would be interested in. It was not an easy endeavor, since Technorati severely tests the computer skills of its users. The last task was to provide a list of key words that would make searches possible.
Here I ran into another problem. “Three Faces in the Mirror,” is a novel describing the love affair of a young university student with his philosophy professor. Since the instructor discusses philosophy on Public National Radio and ranges far and wide, and lots of key words, like Wittgenstein, are called for. His student, who has multiple personalities, is not only a budding philosopher, but also a very sexual being. Other terms are called for to do him credit. In the end, it is next to impossible to embed key words in a novel that does not focus on a very narrow subject. Also, one doesn’t want to confuse researches. Aztecs play a major role in the novel but the book is not a learned treatise about them.
I wish I knew the answers!
Labels: Key Words for “Three Faces in the Mirror”
# posted by Joseph @ 6:08 PM 0 comments
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Raising an Orphan
As I have written here before, I have just come out with a new book, “Three Faces in the Mirror.” Since publishers were reluctant to touch the book, I paid for the job myself. iUniverse published the book (they did a very good job) but, unlike regular publishers, they won’t do the publicity to promote the book nor place it in bookstores. (Though the book can be ordered from a store.) Publishers invest more in publicity if they pay a handsome advance because they have to recoup their initial expense. Alas, I have never been paid a large advance. Still, publishers know more about publicity and have the resources (catalogs, etc) that I do not have.
I decided to do most of the publicity on the Internet, since most of the sales will be done this way. Unfortunately, I am not computer savvy. I would greatly appreciate advice from my readers on how to promote the book online.
Labels: Promoting “Three Faces in the Mirror.”
# posted by Joseph @ 5:06 PM 0 comments
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Human Element
One of my regular sex workers just visited me. We talked for a long time about his mother who is in intensive care in the hospital. He is her principal caregiver and was very upset about her deteriorating condition. There was little he or I could do about the situation but our conversation made him feel better.
Of course, in the end there was sex between us, but that had been taken for granted all along. The subject was never even hinted at during out long talk about his mother. Many clients deliberately want to know as little as possible about the lives of their workers so they wouldn’t get involved. Their reasoning is that the worker is there for only one reason, which is certainly not to discuss the poor health of his mother. Yet because of our long conversation before we went to bed, there was even greater tenderness between us than usually is the case. All he needed was someone to listen to him! True, he gets paid to provide a service not to tell his client sad stories. But he is not an electrician or a plumber. As far as I am concerned, I believe you cannot hug, cuddle, and kiss someone, without caring about his state of mind.
Having just lost his job, he would have performed his duties as a sex worker regardless of whether we had discussed the main problem in his life at that particular juncture. But he would only have gone through the motions. His mind would have been somewhere else and he would have wanted to bring the session to a close as soon as possible. In this particular case, he derived comfort from our conversation prior to plopping into the bed and wanted the session to be lengthy and truly emotive for both of us.
Labels: Comforting a Sex Worker
# posted by Joseph @ 9:52 PM 0 comments
Thursday, November 23, 2006
To Cum or Not to Cum
Lately, I feel the I have become “Ms. Manners” of sex workers’ clients. I am flatted that clients ask for my advice. I feel qualified, to a certain extent, to answer their questions, because I know pretty well how sex workers feel about their questions.
The most frequently asked question is whether the worker, like the client, should have an orgasm. In theory, this should not matter at all to the client. It is the job of the worker to make him climax not the other way around. But many clients want to feel that they are pleasuring their workers and that the latter enjoy the encounter. Experienced workers, when asked, “What do you like to do?” will reply, “It’s not about me. It’s your time to do what you like.” It is highly unlikely that a worker will enjoy his meetings with every clients. Nonetheless, savvy workers know how to cope with situations that are not particularly pleasant for them.
Some workers climax every session, their gift, as it were, to their clients. Others, sometimes cannot climax during the session (tops sometimes fake it), or do not want do so. The reasons are many: If a worker sees more than one client within a short period of time it is easier for him not to climax with the first or even second client. Some workers are not turned on enough and don’t know how to play the mind game with themselves that will make that happen. (See my book, “Sex Workers As Virtual Boyfriends.”) Still others are on drugs that inhibit their ability to climax. Some actually take drugs like Viagra tm to make it happen.
If it is important for a client that his worker climax, that aspect needs to be discussed before the latter arrives for the session. Logically, “release” masseurs who often schedule a number of sessions is succession should be exempt from such demands.
I would be curious to hear what other client think about my comments.
Labels: Climaxing by Sex Workers
# posted by Joseph @ 7:19 PM 0 comments
Saturday, November 18, 2006
“The Die Is Cast”
My latest book, “Three Faces in the Mirror,” (see my website; it is listed at the bottom of the blog) is out in print, published by iUniverse. My first time to publish a book privately, that is, not through a commercial publisher. I believe that readers who are interested in intellectual and carnal subjects will enjoy the admixture of these two aspects. Publishers are afraid of books that pull in different directions, especially combining the intellectual with the carnal. But human beings all too often combine lust and intellect in the same body. I hope readers will enjoy the book and let me know what they think about it.
Labels: Three Faces in the Mirror
# posted by Joseph @ 10:37 PM 0 comments
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Sex Workers Are Really Virtual Boyfriends
About a week ago I underwent a fairly serious eye operation correcting a botched surgery that had taken place some fifteen years ago. To pick me up from the hospital and stay the night with me, I chose one of my emeritus sex worker, that is, one who had retired from active service but stayed a close friend. While I was resting at home, the first phone call he answered, came from one of my present workers who wanted to know how the surgery went. The next day, another of my emeritus workers took me out for lunch.
I have discussed in my books the advantages of not hiring professional workers, or as they style themselves these days, “Elite Escorts.” The latter charge a lot more, watch the clock with great exactitude, and practice detachment from their clients. My workers are just guys who need some financial help and with whom I am happy to exchange favors, like writing their resumes. Of course, these arrangements don’t always work. But the ones who stay with me, sometimes for a whole decade, become real friends.
A lot of clients want to know as little as possible about their workers (and vice versa) in order to avoid getting involved in their mercurial lives. It may make for good sex but, in my opinion, lacks a human dimension. I have been accused, probably justifiably, that I am confusing sex workers with lovers. What I have noticed is that with lovers one tends to bicker about trivial matters, whereas with sex workers, where the encounter has a beginning and an end, both parties try to be pleasant to each other.
In the numerous questionnaires about the performance of a specific sex worker, clients are asked, “How long did the session last?” As soon as I recovered enough from my surgery, one of my regulars came by. First he prepared a melted cheese sandwich for himself; then he checked his e-mail on my computer; then he told me in great detail the sad news about having lost his job. Finally, when the time came to do what he had been hired to do, we spent a lot of time in bed. (Since neither of us watched the clock, I have no idea how long it lasted.) We genuinely like each other and are there to pleasure ourselves, not just get the sex thing over with. The time spent in bed is not relevant to our encounter. In this case it was I who told my sex worker that we had to end the our session because it was getting late, and before going to sleep I still had to apply an ice pack to my eye.
Labels: Real Virtual Friends
# posted by Joseph @ 4:56 PM 0 comments
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Surrendering to Grim Reality:
For almost a decade, I tried to find a publisher for my book Three Face in the Mirror. I have always considered it my best work. Obviously, publishers and agents disagreed with me. And so, against my own guidelines, I have decided to publish it by myself.
In the bad old days, it meant that authors would have a house full of their own books. After a while, if they couldn’t sell them, they destroyed their own children to make the house livable. Now publishing on demand took over. Customers order the book on the Internet, it is printed especially for them (one copy at a time), and shipped out. The sold books bring in a decent royalty. Within a couple of months iUniverse will release my book. I hope it will sell well. Though buyers will also be able to order the work from bookstores they won’t stock them. The Internet will be the best way to handle the order.
In the business, one never knows what to expect. Escort Tales: The Trophy Boy and Other Stories is discovered by a Turkish publisher. My favorite book can’t find a home because . . . a lot of philosophy and and abundance of sex are intertwined in the narration. Go figure!
# posted by Joseph @ 11:22 AM 0 comments
Friday, February 24, 2006
My book “Escorts Tales: The Trophy Boy and Other Stories,” has been bought by a Turkish publisher. Why – nobody knows. It will probably be a better read in that language.
In January 2006, I spent two weeks in Panama. It is interesting to compare Costa Rica to Panama. These two Central American countries share a border in common. Panama is much more modern and cosmopolitan. The Panama City skyline is quite impressive, but many of its streets are standard Central American, tending toward the tacky. The capital is divided into very safe areas and some that are not suitable for tourists. Remarkably, Panama City is not oppressively warm even though it is at sea level. That is due to the fact that the narrow strip of land that forms Panama is lies between two oceans. My purpose in going to Panama was swimming. The beaches are pleasant enough though Panamanians, unlike Costa Ricans, do not derive a large percentage of their income from ecotourism. Consequently, some beaches are not as clean as they should be. To me, Panama seemed somewhat less expensive than Costa Rica.
Panamanian gay life is much more subdued than that in Costa Rica. Nonetheless, it flourishes, as long as it is not “in your face.” I myself had warm affair with a Kuna Indian young man. He had a run-in with the police, because he had forgotten his cedula (ID) in my hotel room. When I retrieved him from the police station claiming that he was my guide, and I that I was completely helpless without him, the police made fun of him; not for being gay (which was obvious), but for styling himself a guide and not even understanding that in Panama everybody must remember to carry the cedula on his body at all times. No bribes were solicited.
As I have done now for many years, I find my partners using the Internet, and through friends who had visited the country. I know nothing at all about gay venues in Panama.
# posted by Joseph @ 8:42 PM 0 comments
Monday, August 29, 2005
I have just returned from a trip to Baja California. This time I stayed in a gay hotel. (I deliberately am vague about the exact locale.) The Web page of the hotel, including photos of the rooms and the landscape, were breathtaking. The owners referred to it as a fulfillment of a dream. Even the price was on the low side. Alas, it turned out to be a below-average inn. My room was not properly cleaned, the reading light didn’t work, and, for privacy, one had to draw the curtains across the wide glass doors, blocking any view of the outside, forcing the occupant to turn on the garish florescent lights while the sun was still out.
In my experience, some gay hotels are quite elegant and/or cutesy; others are run down and shabby. This particular hotel didn’t even have a phone in the room. I was told I could use the one in the office. However, once the clerk found out that I was about to place a call to a cellular phone (in Mexico the caller pays for it) the clerk directed me to a public phone in the courtyard. Since the privatization of public telephones in Mexico they work perfectly well. However, this particular hotel had an old unit placed in a dark corner, making calls a difficult task.
I checked out the next day moving into an ordinary, very pleasant tourist hotel, with excellent service and all the usual amenities. When a hotel advertises that it is “gay” or “gay-friendly,” one has no idea about its quality. One would think that the photo of the rooms would be a good indication of what it is like, but that often proves to be untrue. The alluring picture may just be a testimony to the skill of the photographer!
It is a pity that there is no star system that ranks gay hotels. The ranking of gay hotels is (arguably) even more important than that of ordinary ones, because the owners all to often are not hoteliers but rather gays who fancy this particular business without having the faintest idea how to run it.
# posted by Joseph @ 11:59 AM 0 comments
Sunday, March 27, 2005
I haven’t written in my blog for a long time because of my unsuccessful struggle with publishers and literary agents. Writers like me, who don’t fall into a well-defined genre, spend an incredible amount of time and effort to get their work into print. These days, most publishers don’t want to deal with “unsolicited manuscripts,” and have agents screen the work before it is submitted to them.
Like petulant children who reject a toy they don’t like, these (often self-proclaimed) agents have no suggestion as to what they do like. “Harry Potter,” is a good example. Its author was on welfare while trying to interest agents in her work. It was by sheer luck (an agent taking her manuscript for lunch because he had nothing else to read) that her first book was finally published. Most publishers—unless they commission a book—haven’t the faintest idea what they want. However, they have so many manuscripts on hand that they can afford to reject anything that they think wouldn’t sell well. The agents are even more clueless.
In the end, publishers often undermine a book they do publish because they are certain that they know better than the author how to market the work. For instance, they will deliberately misrepresent a book by designing a cover that does not reflect its contents. When I submitted to Prentice-Hall a book they had commissioned (“Financial Well-Being Through Self-Hypnosis”) they came up with a cover overflowing with dollar signs. My book was not a text on how to make more money. It was placed in bookstores in the Finance section instead of a how-to book. It definitely did not belong there. It is only when publishers pay a hefty advance, which they must recoup, that they pay some attention to the authors because they send them around the country to promote their works.
A while ago I finished a novel, covering the latter part of the last century, taking place in many countries, contrasting the fate of a communist woman who eventually becomes a follower of a Hindu guru, to that of a gay man who makes the best of the bad hand he had been dealt. I can’t even say that book has been rejected. The synopsis didn’t impress any agent to ask for a few chapters of the book.
Before the advent of computers there were vanity presses. They were the bane of the Better Business Bureaus. Typically, they would charge a small fortune to print 2,500 copies of works submitted to them. The author would order (“wholesale”) a hundred copies, selling or giving them to friends and relatives, Then, a year later, the vanity press would inform the authors that since their books didn’t sell they had to be destroyed due to space limitations. The authors could order more copies before their “children” went up in flames.
Nowadays, it possible to print books on demand. There are businesses that specialize in preparing a book, printing copies as needed, and sending them out. All authors have to do is to pay for their services beforehand. They even receive royalties for books sold. The trouble is that bookstores usually don’t want to deal with these publishers because they have their own payment policies. For instance, thirty-days net and the right to return unsold books. The on-demand publishers don’t work within this frame of reference. It is up to the author to promote his own books as best he can. Not an easy task, since authors typically are unfamiliar with bookstores outside their own cities. Personally, I feel that I should be paid, however little, for my work to be published, rather than shell out money for that privilege. I am also not interested in selling books, instead of writing them.
I have reached the end of the line. I wonder whether readers have any useful suggestions they would care to share with me. (My e-mail address is on the homepage of this site.)
# posted by Joseph @ 3:49 PM 0 comments
Sunday, August 22, 2004
A while ago I returned from my third visit to Costa Rica. There are a lot of American retirees living there. On a limited budget, it is easier for them to make ends meet while living in style.
Invariably, they have younger Costa Rican men living with them as employees, housemates, companions, and lovers. In theory, it is an arrangement that benefits both parties. The Costa Rican men earn much more at the Americans’ homes and don’t work as hard as they would in a factory. But there are sometimes serious sexual conflicts when the Costa Rican workers become sex deniers.
Having had my share of pleasant experiences in Costa Rica, a gay society that is, on the whole, age affirming, it took me a while to figure out what was really going on at the homes of the ex-pats. As employees, the Costa Ricans have to perform their daily jobs adequately or being faced with dismissal. Naturally, like any relationship between employers and employees, the latter have grievances against the former. By denying sex (“I don’t feel up to it tonight, dear,”) they get even with their employers without facing dismissal. I believe that their foreign employers genuinely like them and could not possibly demand sex with someone who just isn’t up to it.
I make it a point with my sex workers to be on equal footing. To me they are independent contractors who can accept or reject my offer. When my present worker complains about a headache—something that happens quite frequently—he is not signaling me that we won’t have sex but, rather, to go to my medicine cabinet a get him an anti-headache medication. Most importantly, my sex workers know that there is a beginning and an end to our dalliance. After a sex session at night there won’t be the daily work drudgery the next morning. There is no reason for them to be ornery about sex, nor do I expect anything from them after our sessions are over. Because both parties have no further obligation it is remarkable how much we actually do for each other on a completely voluntary basis.
# posted by Joseph @ 8:43 PM 0 comments
Thursday, April 01, 2004
UPCOMING READINGS OF “DIRTY YOUNG MEN AND OTHER GAY STORIES.”
Thursday, April 8, 7:30 p.m. at Books Inc. 2275 Market Street, San Francisco
Wednesday, April 14, 7:00 p.m., at the Peppertree Bookstore, in Palm Springs – 622 North Palm Canyon Dr. This will be more than just a reading. I will discuss my five recent books published by The Haworth Press. There will be a question-and-answer period.
Sunday, May 9, 2 p.m., at A Different Light, Castro at 19th Street in San Francisco.
# posted by Joseph @ 5:21 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
The other day my regular sex worker looked at my Web page and asked me about my one unpublished book, “Three Faces In the Mirror.” I made it available to readers who can download it from the Internet. (I consider it my best work!)
“Publishers won’t touch it, ” I said, “because the book discusses philosophy in depth. The publishers like the sex scenes but are afraid of the philosophy. Apparently, they think that readers won’t be interested in the subject.”
“Why did you include philosophy?”
“Because both protagonists are deeply involved with the subject. Eloy is a young philosophy student, and Dr. Brotbaum, his instructor, is a philosopher. They have sex together, but naturally they discuss philosophy much of the time. Eloy has a multiple personality disorder. His other personalities discuss different subjects. The philosophers they discuss most often are Socrates and Wittgenstein. The former was a bisexual, the latter a homosexual.”
We got into a long discussion of these two philosophers. Not so much their philosophies but the unusual lives they led. We were already in bed, and still talking about them. From my perspective, it made the sex session much more meaningful because we communed physically and mentally with each other.
I realize that this type of sex is not everybody’s cup of tea. I, however, prefer to go to bed with a whole person not just a sex object.
# posted by Joseph @ 4:00 PM 0 comments
Thursday, February 19, 2004
After reading my recent comments about sex workers’ fees a friend sent me the following e-mail:
Then double click on Message Center upper left corner, second row,
Then click on The Lounge
Then Click on Taking control of Escort Rates.
There are 113 entries about this important topic, so read to your heart’s content.
At least I am not the only one complaining about escorts’ fees. Some clients at the above site mentioned a $400 charge.
l’ll comment here about one posting:
A writer observed that he prefers the advertisers on Craigslist (available in many cities in the United States) who state that they are not professionals and just need some extra income for tuition, rent, or whatever. In my experience, some of these nonprofessionals are genuinely more affectionate and giving (after all they don’t do this as a full-time job) and often desire a friendly rather than a 60-minute encounter. On the negative side, if it is their first experience, they try to fit the client into their schedule rather than accommodate his timetable.
# posted by Joseph @ 9:46 PM 0 comments
Monday, February 16, 2004
A great deal of equanimity is required of authors when they read reviews of their books. That one reviewer likes the book and another hates it is not really the problem. Reviewers, like all other readers, have different tastes. What does hurt is when the author sees a review written by someone who has obviously not read the entire work, just went through a few pages. Then the reviewer criticizes the author for what he did *not* write!
Recently, I myself have been asked to become a reviewer for a gay publication. I was offered $50 per review including conducting an interview with the author of the book. The reading of the book, the interview with the author, and the writing of the review itself, would probably take 25 hours. I would be compensated at the rate of $2.00 an hour! No wonder reviewers skim books rather than read them cover-to-cover.
Puzzling are the reviews faulting me for suggesting that sex workers charge their clients too much. Had I written a book about lawyers claiming that their hourly fees are too high, giving pointers on how to negotiate and reduce their fees, I would have been applauded. Some sex workers come pretty close to charging as much as lawyers. The difference is that lawyers, regardless of their competence, spend many years studying their craft, must pass endless exams, and pay dearly for maintaining their offices. Sex workers can just advertise their services, sometimes for free on the Internet, and, voila, they are in business. They may prove to be quite competent or completely inept escorts.
My books certainly favor sex workers. I believe their services greatly enhance gay life. I am just complaining about their fees. Naturally, they disagree with me. They say that their work is often extremely unpleasant on a very personal level. Well, hospital orderlies, whose pay is quite low, also perform unpleasant intimate services. Actually, the orderlies must undergo training and personal checks from which sex workers are exempt.
That escorts don’t agree with me makes sense. But a number of reviewers have also taken issue with my views about sex workers’ fees. I believe that a lot of the sex workers’ clients feel guilty that they—the clients—elderly, flabby, and wrinkled, can have an exquisite youth for their pleasure. But this is precisely the service they are paying for! (Though sex workers sometimes also have young, good-looking clients.) The question is only whether the $250 fee per hour is justified.
The high fees are not much of a problem to those who can afford them (for instance, lawyers who themselves charge unconscionable amounts); or men who use the services of sex workers only on rare occasions. I t is the plain folk with average incomes who meet these workers on a regular basis who are negatively impacted by their high fees.
In my own life, for at least a quarter of a century, I have solved this problem by being almost monogamous with a single sex worker over a period of many years. Since they count on me as a steady source of income, and also have a line of credit with me, they are willing to offer their services at a reasonable price.
True, such an arrangement is sexually not as exciting as having a variety of sex workers, but is emotionally much more fulfilling. This way there is a much more intimate and caring relationship between worker and client. It also solves the problem of a surcharge when the session lasts over an hour. My sex workers often eat with me, take showers, check their e-mail, do their laundry at my place, and sometimes I even rent a non-porn video both of us watch. Naturally, the one-hour rule does not apply to us. However, if the worker has another call, I make sure he arrives there on time, often driving him to his next client.
# posted by Joseph @ 5:33 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
For the last 14 years I have been helped by one of my regular sex workers in harvesting my single apple tree. We share the fruit we pick, but there are more than the two of us can consume. These I give to friends and to the AIDS hospice.
I have arranged for the 2003 apple-picking sex worker an emergency appointment at my dentist’s tomorrow and will drive him there. By treating sex workers as friends who do little favors for each other, rather than mere paid tricks, one creates and emotional closeness in addition to the physical intimacy. It is the opposite of a professional relationship but much more rewarding. Even the sex becomes more meaningful.
# posted by Joseph @ 7:35 PM 0 comments
Monday, October 13, 2003
My sex workers and I spend a great deal of time chatting. We rarely speak about sex. Since we both know that it will take place later on, we spend our time discussing wherever happens to be the topic that particular evening. I make it a point not to have any physical contact while we converse. Being absolutely certain that sex will take place later on, I don’t have a hidden agenda, that is, how our pleasant conversation will, eventually, culminate in a sexual encounter. Sexual hidden agendas create tensions. With sex workers who are also friends – I am not interested in “professional” workers –one avoids frustrating tensions.
# posted by Joseph @ 7:32 PM 0 comments
Friday, October 03, 2003
Yesterday, my former sex worker took me out for lunch. We had seen each other for some six years, once or twice a week, on a regular basis. Next week it will be my turn to take him out. It will be a special occasion, because of his upcoming 27th birthday.
From the very beginning, our relationship had not been “professional.” For instance, he would make himself a sandwich in the kitchen; or we would watch together a TV program both of us liked. I often advanced him money against future services. When I wrote my book Sex Workers As Virtual Boyfriends, he was very much on my mind. There was not only sex between us, but also genuine friendship. This made each encounter much more meaningful to both parties. And when we finally “split,” our frienship remained intact.
In a way it is a pity that sex workers are trying to make escorting into a profession. Yes, they will be more likely to show up on time for their assignations and be clean and sober. On the other hand, the session will last 60 minutes or less, and will be solely about sex. That would be a difficult relationship to sustain for six years!
# posted by Joseph @ 3:51 PM 0 comments
Sunday, September 28, 2003
During the discussion period after a recent reading from “Escort Tales: The Trophy Boy and Other Stories” at A Different Light bookstore in San Francisco I was asked:
“You tell us that your relationships with your sex workers are caring and even loving. What will happen if you stop giving the sex workers their pay?”
“Well,” I answered, “You may have a very caring shrink. As long as you pay his fee he’ll continue being this way. If you run out of money, he’ll tell you that he’ll start caring for you once again when you can afford to pay for his services.”
# posted by Joseph @ 10:03 PM 0 comments
Monday, July 07, 2003
In this Weblog I would like to share with readers some of my thoughts and observations related to the books I have written. I’ll try to do so as succinctly as possible. I would greatly appreciate your feedback.
I have been reading David M. Freedman’s “A Mind of Its own: A Cultural History of the Penis.” I find the book full of information, often about obscure but fascinating subjects.
On p. 192, the author mentions that Sigmund Freud objected to the use of condoms (he fathered six children in nine years) and “Perverse forms of intercourse between the two sexes, in which other parts the body take over the role of the genitals . . . They are ethically objectionable, for they degrade the relationship of love between two human beings from a serious matter to a convenient game.”
In my opinion, the above quote is a lot of drivel. But more to the point: As I wrote in “A Consumers Guide to Male Hustlers,” love and good sex can go hand in hand. However, they can, and often do, exist separately, and nobody is the worse for it.
# posted by Joseph @ 3:50 PM 0 comments
Saturday, June 21, 2003
# posted by Joseph @ 6:18 PM 0 comments