New York Hustlers: Masculinity
and Sex in Modern America
by Barry Reay
Manchester University Press. 208 pages, $35.
THE HUSTLERS in this book’s title are self-identified straight men who exchange sex for money with a homosexual clientele. Author Barry Reay, a professor of history at the University of Auckland, claims that through this lens he can examine a slice of heterosexuality as well, since these men cross over the great divide between homo- and heterosexual worlds. Reay’s study, which covers the years from the 1940’s through the 60’s, focuses on the category of men known as “trade,” which he describes as “ostensibly straight and similarly masculine men, often those in uniform, who would engage in same-sex sex.” Indeed the hustler’s sexuality was a key ingredient in his appeal. As Edmund White remarks in My Lives (2005), reflecting on this period: “We wanted a real man, a heterosexual man.”