This important new book, which focuses on the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, but which looks back to the earlier decades of the century and has a conclusion dealing with the 1970s to 1990s, maps the world of those known as 'trade' - ostensibly straight men who would engage in homosexual sex - and hustlers - those who were paid for it.
It was a milieu that was central to the sexual histories of several generations of twentieth-century American men and also influenced American literary and visual culture; the 'trade aesthetic' informed the work of a variety of artists, filmmakers, and writers.
This sexual culture, though compelling in itself, also allows us to explore some key aspects of modern sexual history. For the hustlers and trade exhibit a remarkably flexible sexuality, traversing the worlds of male homosexuality and heterosexuality in ways that challenge many assumptions about sexual identity. The history of the sexuality (and masculinity) of the hustlers and their associates in postwar New York rethinks notions both of heterosexuality and homosexuality.
This pioneering work, which draws on a wide range of visual and literary sources, including previously unpublished material from the Kinsey archives, appears in a series devoted to new ways of writing history. Its subject matter and style will appeal to a wide range of readers, especially those interested in the histories of sex, the city, masculinity, and American culture.