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Making It Work: Men Selling Sex in the South

A HOOK Photoliterary Project

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Numerous books on male prostitution and biographies of porn stars have surfaced in the past decade. They’ve offered us valuable views of those who live in the upper echelons of the industry in many of the major metros like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

What of the rest of America? The majority of the nation? HOOK Online proposes a storytelling project liberating the silent storytellers of male sexwork – the bulk of the industry that works in college towns to pay tuition, escorts part-time to compensate for the low pay of healthcare and social services jobs, creates porn in the rural woodlands or goes ‘gay for pay’ when things get rough in a challenging economy.

Many sex workers lack the skills to negotiate safe sex with their clients and land in at risk situations. In line with HOOK’s goals, Making It Work will promote self-esteem within the male sex work community asking about best practices for health preservation, risk, avoidance behaviors re violence, and negotiating life issues – all the while exploring whether it’s the working in the industry or the approbation of society that causes some of the occupational issues.

For Making it Work (in the South), our team will visit with and speak with sexworker men in the southern United States during 2014, gather original writing from men who sell sex, encourage men to document their own 24-hour experiences, and sit down for one-on-one and group interviews. We’ll look to understand the daily challenges these individuals confront, the environments they work in, and the difficult decisions they face each day with a sense of humor and empathy. A secondary objective is to gather information that qualitatively enhances the academic work that has been skirting the surface of the industry for the last few years.

Participants will come from all areas of the industry and include men of color, men over 45, blue collar workers, and students. The subject’s residences will reflect the diaspora of the South, from the major urban centers to the lesser known rural sections where sexwork faces nearly improbable stigma and threat.

HOOK has 15 years of bringing these stories to people in and out of the sex industry, acting as a celebrated educational resource and developing research hub to better understand the needs of men working in the industry as well as how to educate the public about their choices to work in the industry. From its online publication to the Rent U workshop program, HOOK’s board and volunteers are committed to creating safe, smart environments where men in the sex industry can share their experiences and insights. Making it Work (in the South) is a natural evolution of that ongoing program goal.

With your support, we can achieve a unique, fun project that embodies important voices in America. We welcome both your financial support – or if that’s difficult, let your social media networks know of our project. Tweet out our address – post about our project. Help us meet the goals and you’ll be making a huge contribution.

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