Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Social psychology: Altruism · Attribution · Attitudes · Conformity · Discrimination · Groups · Interpersonal relations · Obedience · Prejudice · Norms · Perception · Index · Outline

This article is in need of attention from a psychologist/academic expert on the subject.
Please help recruit one, or improve this page yourself if you are qualified.
This banner appears on articles that are weak and whose contents should be approached with academic caution.

Male prostitution is the sale of sexual services by a male prostitute (commonly called a "hustler" or "rentboy"; see below for other expressions) with either male or female clients. The gender of a male prostitute's sexual partner or the sexual act that he and the client participates in may not indicate a prostitute's sexual orientation; a male prostitute may be heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual regardless of his client's gender.[1]


Common slang terms for males involved in prostitution in the Anglosphere include "escorts", "man-whore", "rentboys", "hustlers", "working boys", "trade", "call-boys". Slang terms from other regions include: "taxi boys" (Argentina and to a lesser extent in Chile), "gigolos" (Turkey), "Callboys" (Germany and in the Philippines), “鸭子” pronounced "yāzǐ" and meaning "duck" (Mainland China),"ホスト" pronounced "hosuto" and meaning "host" (Japan), "gigolò" or "puttano" (Italy), "garoto de programa" meaning "program boy" (Brazil) and "tapins" (France). The rentboy name is derived either from the fact that the boys were renting themselves out, or that they paid their rent with their earnings. An escort who doesn't identify as gay, but who has sex with male clients, is sometimes called "gay for pay" or "rough trade". While less frequent[How to reference and link to summary or text], male prostitutes offering services to female customers are sometimes known as "giglis" or "gigolos".

Clients, especially ones who pick up escorts on the street or in bars, are sometimes called "johns" or "tricks". Those working in prostitution sometimes refer to their trade as "turning tricks".

People who prostitute themselves with others while in an amorous/sexual relationship are sometimes said to hustle "on the side".

Male prostitution in other cultures and periods[]

Same-sex male prostitution has been found in all advanced cultures.[1] The practice of "sacred prostitution" (the selling of sexual favors by men or women in sacred shrines) in the ancient world is attested to in the Old Testament. Prostitutes in ancient Greece were generally slaves or freedmen (free citizens selling their services as prostitutes could lose their civic rights).[1] Ancient Greece and ancient Rome both saw the existence of male brothels.[1] Work as a same-sex male prostitute in the Medieval Islamic world was similarly restricted to social "inferiors" (boys, slaves) and while frequenting prostitutes was considered a sin, the practice was nevertheless tolerated.[2]

Historical evidence from court records and vice investigations shows male prostitution in the United States as early as the late 1600s. With the expansion of urban areas and aggregation of gay communities toward the end of the nineteenth century male/male prostitution became more apparent, and included baths, brothels (such as the Paresis Hall in the Bowery district of New York), and prostitution bars (in which so-called "fairies" solicited other men for sex and received a commission for selling drinks). [3]

For more on cross-cultural and historical male prostitution readers should consult individual country articles (see Category:Prostitution by country) as well as the following articles:

  • Bacchá - in northern Turkic-speaking areas of Central Asia, an adolescent of twelve to sixteen who was a performer practiced in erotic songs and suggestive dancing and was available as a sex worker.
  • Hijra - in the Indian subcontinent, a physically male or intersex person who may enter into prostitution.
  • Jineterismo - literally "horse jockey" (i.e. someone who "rides" tourists), this is a term used to describe Cuban male prostitutes (female prostitutes are called "jinetera") who play a large role in Cuba's booming tourist industry.
  • Kagema - young male prostitutes in Edo period of Japan whose clients were largely adult men.
  • Köçek - in Ottoman Empire culture, very handsome young male rakkas, "dancer," usually dressed in feminine attire, employed as entertainers and sex workers.
  • Tellak - masseurs/sex works in Turkish hammams
  • Sanky-panky - a male sex worker in the Caribbean who solicits on beaches and has clients of both sexes.
  • Hosuto[2] - a male sex worker in Japan who solicits female clients.

Present-day male prostitution[]


In same-sex male prostitution, participants may engage in a variety of sexual acts based on the client's desire and sexual orientation. Although some prostitutes may restrict the clients, restrictions often fall when the price of the service increases. Commonly performed sexual acts include masturbation, single or jointly performed, oral sex on or by the client, anal intercourse performed by or on (self-identified) straight clients, or anal intercourse performed on or by gay or bisexual clients.[1]

Some young men come to hustling only once; some engage briefly while others work as hustlers for an extended length of time.[1] Financial incentives may be the primary reason that prostitutes engage in this work, but they are by no means the only reasons.[4] Hustling may also confer on the hustler a sense of self-worth (when he feels desired by the client), or of social status (when treated to expensive restaurants, high-end designer clothes, or travel destinations)[1], or in some cases erotic gratification, or of societal rebellion (breaking social conventions) or mystery.[5] Conversely, some prostitutes may also experience a sense of self-destructiveness or exploitation, or difficulty in distancing private sex from commercial sex, or suffer from the social stigma (see below) of hustling. [6] The reasons for hustling are thus extremely personal and may involve a mixture of positive and negative justifications.

Few prostitutes in the West rely exclusively on sex for their income. [7] Some prostitutes supplement their income by work as a pornographic actor or model (and vice-versa), nude model, massage therapist, burlesque dancer (a "go-go boy", "erotic dancer" or (in the Philippines) "macho dancer"), by performing in sex shows or by running a personal website (with, for example, pictures and erotic webcam shows available for subscribers). Other prostitutes have jobs entirely unrelated to the sex industry.

The same complexity of motives may underlie the justifications of the prostitutes's client: although sexual gratification is often a primary motive, the client may also be moved by many emotional concerns (including issues related to sexual orientation, power and emotional attachment, their own age and attractiveness), as well as needs for special treatment (i.e. fetishes, sadism, humiliation, etc.).[1]. The clients in male prostitution are not exclusively older gay men [8]. Typical clients include married men, business men, inexperienced gay men, gay men looking for sex, and couples (gay and straight). [9]

Some male clients (especially men who identify as straight) may prefer escorts who are crossdressers or pre-operative transsexuals transwomen ("she-males").

Male prostitution with male clients is more or less tolerated in a number of Western and non-Western countries. This kind of sexual relationship may be a transitory practice (with financial benefits) for a young man on the road to adulthood which he will subsequently abandon once he is married. (This is especially true in societies in which a young man's access to women is strictly prohibited before marriage.) [How to reference and link to summary or text] The tolerance, reduced price and exoticism of male prostitution in other countries leads some clients to engage in sexual tourism.

Male prostitution in urban centers is also an outlet for economically and socially disadvantaged individuals, including immigrants. In recent years, Western Europe has seen an increase in prostitution by young men from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

Venues for male prostitution[]

Clients and male sex workers match up in several ways. Male sex workers are often referred to by different names based on where they find their clients. Men working on the street, in bathhouses, or parks are typically known as "hustlers"; men working in bars are called "bar hustlers" if they are not dancing, or "go-go boys" or "exotic dancers" if they are dancing or stripping at a club. Men advertising for clients in print media or via the Internet are typically known as "escorts," "massage/masseurs," or "rent boys." There are two kinds of escorts: independent (not working for an agency) and agency-based (working for an agency). The number of street workers (hustlers) has been declining with the advent of Internet-based resources, but the need for quick cash by homeless or poor men guarantees the continued availability of street hustlers.

The following categorization of the male prostitute is not exhaustive:


Internet prostitution has surged in popularity over the past five years.[How to reference and link to summary or text]Indeed one possible explanation for the drying up of street prostitution in previously notorious areas (e.g., Polk Street in San Francisco) may be the ease of meeting sex workers online.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Professional escorts tend to advertise independently on male escorting websites, or else through an escorting agency[How to reference and link to summary or text]. On the former business model, escorts usually pay a monthly fee to list themselves with pictures, text, and contact information on a website listing male escorts. These fees range from around $30/month to upwards of $300/month. Clients contact the escorts directly, and the escorts keep all their earnings. On the agency business model, the agency runs a website listing the escorts, clients contact the agency, and then the escort and client meet at a determined time and place. Escorts turn over a percentage (usually 25-33%) of their earnings to the agency, and keep any gratuity for themselves.

Occasional, infrequent, or one-time escorts tend to find clients through "m4m" (male for male) message boards or online chat rooms. Not knowing the market or because of an immediate need for cash, they tend to charge below the market price. They also tend to be less willing to show pictures of themselves online, and tend to be more restrictive in the services they offer (many will not kiss, or not engage in anal sex). They will frequently use barely concealed code phrases like "looking for generous" or "$eeks help".

Print advertisements[]

Most major U.S. cities have weekly gay-oriented newspapers or magazines. Escorts and male massage therapists (themselves frequently willing to engage in prostitution) often advertise in the backs of these publications.

Streets, bars, and clubs[]

The male hustler may solicit clients on the street (like pre-1990s Times Square in New York, Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, "the Wall" in Sydney's Darlinghurst, the Porte Dauphine in Paris, or Taksim Square in Istanbul) or in another public space (like a bus terminal, park or rest stop), in a bar (such as the former gay hustler bars Rounds in New York or Numbers in Los Angeles, or go-go bars in Thailand and the Philippines) or a dance club.

Most big cities have an area where hustlers regularly make themselves available to potential clients cruising by in cars. The informal name of such an area varies by the city, but it can be known as "the block" or "the hill." These areas are dangerous for both the client and the hustler, since local residents quickly figure out what is happening and report it to the police [How to reference and link to summary or text]. Homophobic gangs can prey on individuals in these areas [How to reference and link to summary or text]. However, the element of danger may be part of the appeal of a cruisy area.

The line between escort services and other services can sometimes be complicated: although the men working at a Host club (initially found in Japan, but expanding worldwide), are paid to offer conversation and companionship to female clients, the encounters may also involve prostitution.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Bathhouses and sex clubs[]

Hustlers may attempt to work in gay bathhouses or sex clubs, but prostitution is usually prohibited in such places, and known prostitutes are often banned.

Male brothels[]

A hustler may also work in a male brothel or "stable." This is common in South-East Asia (Thailand, Manila) and may also be found in some larger U.S. cities. The pimp is relatively rare in male prostitution in the West, where most hustlers generally work independently or, less frequently, through an agency. [1]


Price is determined by many factors including: age, attractiveness, endowment, sexual position, race, personality, skill in bed, length of time spent with the client, ability to maintain an erection, charm, travel time, willingness to engage in different fetishes, fame and reputation (famous porn stars often charge the most), and (not unimportantly) the factors of supply and demand. Further, an escort will sometime charge over or under his perceived market value in order to affect the number of bookings he gets.

It should be pointed out that "high end" escorts or prostitutes are not the norm or the bulk of male prostitutes, even in the United States. As pointed out in the Journal of Homosexuality, it is believed that less than 5% of the active male prostitutes in the U.S. would fall into the "escort" category.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Many more are "rentboys", young men who have varying degrees of financial stability and use prostitution as a method of supplementing their income. In these situations, charging $100 or more an hour, even charging by the hour, is rare.

Full-time or professional escorts tend to charge more than newcomers or people who only occasionally work. This may be because they better know where to advertise and what the market price is.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

As a benchmark, a young, very attractive, full-service professional escort in a major U.S. city typically charges between $200 and $250 per hour, although the bulk of less high-end escorts in the same cities charge a maximum of $150 per hour. Similar high-end escorts in major cities in the United Kingdom typically charge between £80 and £120 an hour. The highest average prices for top-tier escorts are in Manhattan, Los Angeles and London. High-end male escorts typically charge less than high-end female escorts, who can bill over $2000 per hour (often with a multi-hour minimum).


As in all forms of prostitution, the male prostitute and his client can face a number of risks and problems: health-related (sexually transmitted diseases, drug-use, physical abuse), legal/criminal (solicitation, drug laws, age of consent laws), societal/familial (social stigma, rejection by family and friends, gay-bashing, loss of job) and emotional (sense of exploitation or of leading a "double-life", loss of affect, self-destructiveness). Teenagers and runaways engaging in sex work are particularly at risk. For clients, risk may come from being robbed, or, much more rarely, being blackmailed or physically injured [1] (the death of Pier Paolo Pasolini was allegedly due to a violent encounter with a hustler).

When male prostitutes steal from their male clients or take money without "putting out" sexual services, it is sometimes referred to as "rolling a john".

Research suggests that the degree of violence against male prostitutes is somewhat lower than for female sex workers. Men working on the street (hustlers) and younger escorts (especially teens) appear to be at greatest risk of being victimized by clients. Conversely, the risk posed to clients of male sex workers (in terms of being "rolled") seems to be less than many imagine. This is especially true when clients hire male sex workers from an established agency or when they hire men who have been consistently well reviewed by previous clients.

Legal issues[]

In a number of countries, such as Australia, brothels (with male or female staff) are legal (except in the states of Western Australia and Tasmania), while street prostitution is most often still illegal. In other countries such as the United States, brothels are still technically illegal (except in Nevada), but many cities do not rigorously enforce the law in this area by policy or unspoken agreement, allowing a large class of working prostitutes to avoid arrest as long as their activities do not involve "street walking". Often in such situations, "escort services" is the euphemism for prostitution, and "escorts" who work with such services insist that the exchange of money is for time and not for sex, and any sexual activities that take place between them and their clients are spontaneous and consensual.[How to reference and link to summary or text]


The difference in age, in social status and in economic status between the hustler and his client is also a major source of social criticism.[6] This same social stigma may also be attached to amorous relationships that do not involve prostitution, but which may be seen by society as a form of "quasi" prostitution. The older member of the relationship may be qualified as a "sugar daddy" or "sugar momma"; the young lover may be a "kept boy" or "boy toy".[10] In the gay community, the members of this kind of couple are sometimes called "dad" and "son" (without implying incest). This social disdain for age/status disparity has been less pronounced in certain cultures at certain historical times (see "Male prostitution in other cultures and periods", above).

With regards to the age difference between a hustler and his client, there appears to be a societal double standard concerning gender: whereas the age difference between a gigolo and a female client may be a mark of the hustler's sexual prowess, a similar age difference between a young male hustler and an older male client (frequently denigrated as a "troll" in the gay community) is seen as exploitative.[How to reference and link to summary or text] See also: Age disparity in sexual relationships.

For more on the topics of age, exploitation, health risks and the legality of prostitution, see the article prostitution.

Male prostitution in popular culture[]

Main article: Male prostitution in the arts

The male prostitute or hustler is a frequent literary and cinematic stereotype in the West from the 1960s onwards, and especially in movies and books with a gay perspective, in which he may be a stock character, often portrayed either as a tragic figure (as in the film Mysterious Skin in which a male prostitute has a history of molestation) or as an impossible object of love or an idealized rebel. Though less frequent in the cinema and in novels, the male prostitute with an exclusively female clientele (the "gigolo" or "escort") is generally depicted as less tragic than the gay hustler; films such as American Gigolo have done much to portray the character as a sophisticated lover and seducer (a portrayal also satirised cinematically in the Deuce Bigalow films).[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Yet the film My Own Private Idaho, starring Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix, focuses upon the friendship between two male hustlers. Currently, the male prostitute also appears occasionally in popular music (i.e. the photographic spread for The Bravery, and Fall Out Boy), and contemporary fashion advertising and visual art.

Books on male prostitution[]

For novels about male prostitution, see Male prostitution in the arts.
  • Understanding the Male Hustler (Phil Andros, 1991)
  • Hustling: A Gentleman's Guide to the Fine Art of Homosexual Prostitution (John Preston, 1994) ISBN 1-56333-137-3
  • A Consumer's Guide to Male Hustlers (Joseph Itiel, 1998)
  • Prostitution: On Whores, Hustlers, and Johns (James Elias, Vern L. Bullough, Veronica Elias and Gwen Brewer, eds.; introduction by Joycelyn Elders; 1998)
  • Sex for Sale: Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry (Ronald Weitzer, 1999)
  • Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write About Their Clients (Matt Bernstein Sycamore, ed., 1999)
  • The Male Escort's Handbook: Your Guide to Getting Rich the Hard Way (Aaron Lawrence, 2000)
  • Sex Workers As Virtual Boyfriends (Joseph Itiel, 2002)
  • Strapped for Cash : A History of American Hustler Culture (Mack Friedman, 2003)
  • Aggleton, Peter. Men Who Sell Sex: International Perspectives on Male Prostitution and AIDS, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

References and notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Wayne R. Dynes, ed. Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. Chicago: St. james Press, 1990. Vol 2, article "Prostitution", pp. 1054-1058. ISBN 1-55862-147-4
  2. Bruce Dunne, "Power and Sexuality in the Middle East" [1]: "male prostitutes were understood to submit to penetration for gain rather than pleasure; and boys, "being not yet men, could be penetrated without losing their potential manliness." That an adult male might take pleasure in a subordinate sexual role, in submitting to penetration, was deemed "inexplicable, and could only be attributed to pathology."; "Sex with boys or male prostitutes made men "sinners" but did not undermine their public position as men or threaten the important social values of female virginity or family honor."
  3. Heather Lee Miller, Prostitution, Hustling, and Sex Work.
  4. see, for example, European Network Male Prostitution ACTIVITY REPORT november 2003 (pdf file), "Practical experiences of Men in Prostitution" (Sweden, Denmark, Stokholm), pp. 23-26: "The motives for selling sex vary a lot. Half of the interviewed men have fulltime work or are under education, while the other half is unemployed. One person was 13 and another 16 when they were sexual exploited for money the first time. The others were between 18 and 25 years of age when they did their prostitution debut. For all interviewed the debut into prostitution became a result of social poverty, need of extra money, coincidences and/or sexual fantasies. The coincidence is explained as “I was on the internet looking for sex, a guy offered me money and I thought why not?""
  5. See, John Preston, supra, 24-25.
  6. 6.0 6.1 see, for example, European Network Male Prostitution ACTIVITY REPORT november 2003 (pdf file), "Practical experiences of Men in Prostitution" (Sweden, Denmark, Stokholm), pp. 23-26: "All [the] interviewed men [in Denmark] are aware of societies’ negative perception of prostitution and do whatever possible to cover up. As a result they live double lives and create more and more distance from close relations and the wider society. Isolation and sufferance from not having anybody to share prostitution experiences with is profound. Some men describe[d] how the clients are their main or only social relation to society, and consider the relations as sexual friendships or the customers as father figures."
  7. John Preston, supra, p.37
  8. John Preston (supra) states anecdotaly that "most customers are between thirty and fifty years of age" p.55. The European Network Male Prostitution ACTIVITY REPORT november 2003 (pdf file), "Practical experiences of Men in Prostitution" (Sweden, Denmark, Stokholm), pp. 23-26 gives similar age ranges: 35-55 (Sweden), 35-60 (Denmark).
  9. Preston, pp. 55-71. The surveyed prostitutes in Denmark in the European Network Male Prostitution ACTIVITY REPORT november 2003 (pdf file), "Practical experiences of Men in Prostitution" (Sweden, Denmark, Stokholm) pp. 23-26, described their clients as "bisexual men, probably married" (p.25).
  10. see Dynes, supra, for a discussion of the fine line between "kept boys" and prostitution.

See also[]

External links[]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).