Male prostitution

Male prostitution is the sale of sexual services by a male prostitute 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.


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:

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 does not identify as gay, but who has sex with male clients, is sometimes called "gay for pay" or "rough trade". Male prostitutes offering services to female customers are sometimes known as "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. The practice in the ancient world of the selling of sexual favors by men or women in sacred shrines, or "sacred prostitution", is attested to in the Old Testament. Prostitutes in ancient Greece were generally slaves, as prostitutes could lose their civic rights. Ancient Greece and ancient Rome both saw the existence of male brothels. Work as a same-sex male prostitute in the Medieval Islamic world was similarly restricted to social "inferiors" such as boys and slaves, and while frequenting prostitutes was considered a sin, the practice was nevertheless tolerated.

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.

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.

Some young men come to hustling only once; some engage briefly while others work as hustlers for an extended length of time. Financial incentives may be the primary reason that prostitutes engage in this work, but they are by no means the only reasons. 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), or in some cases erotic gratification, or of societal rebellion (breaking social conventions) or mystery. 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. 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. 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.).. The clients in male prostitution are not exclusively older gay men. Typical clients include married men, business men, inexperienced gay men, gay men looking for sex, and gay and straightcouples.

Some male clients, including those who identify as straight, may prefer escorts who are crossdressers or pre-operative transsexuals.

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 can be especially true in societies in which a young man's access to women is strictly prohibited before marriage. 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.


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 and agency-based. 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:


Professional escorts tend to advertise independently on male escorting websites, or else through an escorting agency. 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 US$30 to upwards of US$300 monthly. 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. In most cases an escort agency will examine, interview a potential male escort, offer him photo session and will include the details it receives in the profile of the escort. It is not rare that one and the same male escort works for multiple agencies to secure full time employment and maximum income.

Craigslist 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 offered (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 who are 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 (such as pre-1990s Times Square in New York, Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, "the Wall" in Sydney's Darlinghurst, the Porte Dauphine in Paris, Polk Street Gulch in San Francisco 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. Homophobic gangs can prey on individuals in these areas. 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.

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.


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, willingness to engage in different fetishes, fame and reputation, and 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 five percent of the active male prostitutes in the U.S. would fall into the "escort" category. 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 US$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 know better where to advertise and what the market price is.

As a benchmark, a young, very attractive, full-service professional escort in a major U.S. city typically charges between US$200 and US$250 per hour, although the bulk of less high-end escorts in the same cities charge a maximum of US$150 per hour. Similar high-end escorts in major cities in the United Kingdom typically charge between GB£80 and GB£120 per 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 US$2,000 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 including sexually transmitted diseases, drug-use, physical abuse; legal/criminal including solicitation, drug and age of consent laws; societal/familial social stigma, rejection by family and friends, gay-bashing, loss of job; and emotional including 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.

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.


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. 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". 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. 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.

Popular culture

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).. 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.

See also


For novels about male prostitution, see Male prostitution in the arts.