A stone solid pro

(Largely about male prostitution, so distasteful to many, but not, I think, actually over any lines.)

A stone solid pro, a street hustling boy, plying his trade for a better grade of customers, comfortably indoors, in his sexy Water Briefs, at a pool bar:

(#1) [from the Daily Jocks e-mailing of 8/30; ad copy:] Skip through the beach club line ups and go straight to the pool bar in the new PUMP! Water Briefs. The wide waistband on this low-cut cut brief gives you comfort at the waistline. The customised multi layered leg elastic offers the ultimate support and accentuates the butt.

You don’t see an impudent cruise face like — not his real name — Joe Dallesandro’s every day. For the use of his body and his company, you pay $400 (cash) an hour (extra for a few special services), plus the cost of a hotel room at the beach club’s hotel and the expense of a background check on you (he’ll give you references from his regular clients, and, as part of the background check, he has ways of getting references from your previous escorts — JD’s an independent contractor, and a sharp businessman; don’t let that boyish face fool you).

Most high-end hustlers make contact with new johns electronically, but, having come up from working the street as a sassy teen — risky  but thrilling — JD still prefers the physicality of face-to-face negotiation. That also allows him to show his skills at figuring out your desires and fashioning himself into the man who will satisfy them. The cruise of death is just an opening gambit, a kind of best guess as to what you need; experience tells him that most men, especially successful and powerful men, want to be dominated and used.

The briefs. PUMP!’s Water Briefs come in red/navy, blue/green, coral, and black (they’re handsome indeed, though outrageously costly); their features include UPF 50+ protection (no sunburned crotches!), a drawstring (for cinching or relaxing), and white piping accentuating the cup (to draw attention to your package). The latter two features are visible in this front view of the red/navy number:

(#2) Alas, no photo seems to be available of this view with a face, much less the face of the model who plays JD (that model does, however, get a sulky-surly photo in which he’s reclining in a Water Brief)

And you can dance to it. The song for the occasion:

Street Hustling Boy

Well, what can a hot boy do
When he’s down and unemployed?
Then he’s got no other choice
But to get work as a street hustling boy

Ah yes, the strains of Richards/Jagger, “Street Fighting Man”, drastically altered for my purposes. The original, quite different in tone and message from mine:

Street Fighting Man

Well, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock ‘n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man

(The music, on the other hand, just commands you to riot, or to explode into sex. You can watch a live performance of the song, at Madison Square Garden in 2003, here; notice the wonderful Charlie Watts — who died just a week ago today — in the midst of the uproar, composedly underpinning the whole business with his drumming.)

(Background from Wikipedia:

“Street Fighting Man” is a song by English rock band the Rolling Stones featured on their 1968 album Beggars Banquet. Called the band’s “most political song”)

Rent boys. There’s a Page on male prostitution on this blog, with a lot about stud hustlers as fictional figures, many of them glamorous and arousing — JD’s milieu. But from here on out it’s all actual rent boys, who lead challenging lives, coping with them with hugely varying degrees of grace and control.

From my 11/8/12 posting “Toga toga toga”, a section on

101 Rent Boys [Uncut] [produced/directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato] … a 2000 documentary film that explores the West Hollywood hustler scene [along Santa Monica Blvd.]

(#3) [AZ in 2012:] The film is, by turns, thought-provoking, funny, bleak, moving, and disturbing.

Then, two examples of the art of street photography, taking street hustlers as their subjects:

(#4) Tough street boy (photographer not identified); my title: “But It Pays the Bills”

This remarkable picture shows up in a number of Pinterest albums, where it is of course not sourced, and Google Images has been of no help.

(#5) NYC street boy photographed by William Gale Gedney (photo from Gedney’s 1955-89 repository at Duke Univ.): braving it out, but oh so vulnerable

Two sparks thrown off by these photos: from #5, on the photographer Gedney; from #4, on the idiom of which pay the bills is the central part.

Gedney. From Wikipedia:

William Gale Gedney (October 29, 1932 – June 23, 1989) was an American documentary and street photographer. It wasn’t until after his death that his work gained momentum and is now widely recognized. He is best known for his series on rural Kentucky, and series on India, San Francisco and New York shot in the 1960s and 1970s.

In his lifetime, he did get a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1968, which the curator described as a study of “people living precariously, under difficulty”. In general, his work shows keen observation and great sympathy with his subjects.

However, he was inclined to be a loner and an outsider, staying to himself and not fitting easily into the social worlds around him (consequently failing to advance himself in the academic and artistic worlds of his day); instead he single-mindedly devoted himself to his work. Pretty much the picture of a neuroatypical person.

Wikipedia fails to mention that he was (secretly) gay (and apparently pretty promiscuous, as so many of us were at the time), or that he died at 56 from complications of AIDS; he was one of the lost generation of gay men, my generation (except that Jacques and I inexplicably survived).

One collection of his photos, A Time of Youth: San Francisco 1966–1967, was finally published by Duke University Press in 2021.

Paying the bills. The title “But It Pays the Bills” is the second clause, C2, of a two-clause coordination, in which the first clause, C1, describes the job that pays the bills. C1 describes the drawbacks of the job — the minuses of working, in this case, as a stud hustler: it’s illegal, highly stigmatized, physically and emotionally demanding, sometimes dangerous, sometimes distasteful. C2, introduced by concessive but, announces the major plus: you get paid for it.

(C1 can be omitted if its content can be inferred from context. Suppose I am at work, collecting elephant dung at the zoo, when you come along, observe the scene, and raise a critical eyebrow at me. To which I can respond, “But it pays the bills”.)

As you can see from this brief discussion, the VP pay the bills might be the crucial part, but the idiom is clearly much more complex than that. Somehow, nobody seems to mention the but, though it’s in everybody’s examples, as in Wiktionary:

pay the bills: (idiomatic, of a job) To provide enough income to sustain one’s lifestyle. Being a dentist isn’t so glamorous, but it pays the bills.

Two further examples, getting more and more antipathetic to the writer’s job:

(invented example set from usingenglish.com (for learners)) I don’t much enjoy my job as a coal miner/pole dancer/bear wrestler/etc., but it pays the bills.

(#6) A t-shirt from Zazzle

And then another musical interlude, in Erykah Badu’s “Otherside of the Game” (1997) (often listed as “Other Side of the Game”) — see its Wikipedia entry. With the first line “Work ain’t honest but it pays the bills”, meaning ‘the work [as a drug dealer] isn’t honest, but it pays the bills’. (You can watch the YouTube video here.)

Finally, saved for last, a Thought Catalog piece, “I Sell Sex For Money On Craigslist And I Want To Stop, But It Pays The Bills” by [male author] Anonymous on 9/25/13. Yes, a stud hustler — but a modern electronic one, not an old-fashioned street hustling boy.

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