BOY PROSTITUTION IN NEW YORK IN 1968
The following account is from Boys for Sale. A Sociological Study of Boy Prostitution by Dennis Drew & Jonathan Drake, New York, 1969, pp. 153-67.
Though published the next year, it was evidently written in 1968, as it describes boys' present circumstances that year.
CONTEMPORARY NEW YORK
There are several kinds of boy prostitution around large modern cities like New York. First, there are sophisticated, top-secret operations which cater exclusively to a very prominent clientele, (very expensive). Second, there are hasty and risky adventures, usually involving amateurs who hit the scene briefly and then rapidly disappear, usually because of being discovered by the police. Third, there are amateurs who usually, though not always, operate alone, without supervision of an agent or pimp.
We can divide the amateurs into two types: there are rather young schoolboys, often runaways, aged from 7 to about 14 — and there are the big boys, known as “trade”, who start at early adolescence and keep at it until they are full-time adult “pros”. Most of the schoolboys are from slum suburbs of the city and, contrary to the opinions of the police, the public and some scholars, they are not usually seduced by some prowling sex fiend, but by an older brother, cousin or pal. They are neither as innocent as the pretend to be, nor as expert in action as they believe themselves to be. They are, however, so knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with men that they are difficult to “manage”, either by pimps or customers. But, they are not really clever enough — these tyros usually head straight for Times Square or the Port of New York Authority Bus Terminal where they are quickly picked up by the police and sent home. Those who are not, are likely to fall into the hands of “professionals” whose modus operandi we’ll get to right after a few amateur case histories in the pages to follow.
The successful little prostitutes rarely come into the city by themselves but come with older brothers or friends, sometimes even with fathers or uncles. This makes it difficult for the police to deal with them since they are demonstrably chaperoned. Furthermore, where several operate together, they usually provide adequate lookouts to watch for police or plainclothesmen. They usually have assistance from allies, such as news-vendors and street merchants. The latter know who the plainclothesmen are, and can spot them, as well as any suspicious strangers, as soon as they come upon the scene. They also have assistance from older boys, associates or older prostitutes, those who know where “the scene” is.
Whenever police clamp down on one part of town, another new and desirable “cruising area” materializes. Both customers and prostitutes have to have regular connections to know where the action is. There are certain rather permanent places: the corner of Eighth Avenue at 4th St., Third Avenue at 58th St., 72nd and Broadway & Sixth Avenue and 8th St., and, of course, 42nd St (West of 6th Avenue). But, as the police become increasingly aware of activity at these places, the scene develops elsewhere and it changes from week to week. The most consistent area is around 42nd St. — this broad midtown highway of busy people remains an “active” location for boys seeking men and vice versa, almost all of the time and particularly during school vacations.
Many ill-informed men, who are would-be customers, often head directly to Greenwich Village. True, the area is swarming with handsome youngsters of the type that are often available. But, the sophisticated little hustler rarely goes to the Village — he considers it too risky. Many of them, preferring to make their dates through intermediaries, never hustle on the street at all. Those who are really most beautiful and most willing to perform sexually, are often completely dated up for months in advance. To quote a hep 13-year-old Polish beauty from Hoboken: “I see John every Friday, Henry every Saturday morning, Louis every Saturday afternoon, Old Mike every Saturday evening, and one or more of Henry’s friends on Sundays. Sometimes, on Sundays, Henry takes me to Bear Mountain or on a boat trip. Sometimes, I cancel these regular dates so that I can go to Atlantic City or Fire Island with a friend of Henry’s or Mike’s. I make a couple hundred bucks a weekend.”
Young boys who display themselves publicly (and, therefore, with greater risk) are usually willing to be fellated only. In fact, almost none of these younger boys admits to doing anything but submitting to fellatio — at least as far as new acquaintances go. Even older boys who make deals for them are often explicit on this point and, it is true, many of them make a good deal of money by being fellated only. The hustler feels that if he can get away with the deception, so much the better for himself.
It is much easier to lie back and be catered to, than have to work for the money.
However, when a boy has regular dates with a man, and certainly when he goes travelling with him, one can be certain that a wide range of sexual activity is involved. As one regular patron of such boys put it: “they all say they won’t do anything but, when you get one to your room, he just rolls right over and gets a big bang out of being screwed”.
The number of boys involved in prostitution in any large metropolitan area is much larger than is commonly believed. There are suburban junior high schools where as high as 50% of the 8th grade boys have “hustled”, at least occasionally, and, in some Brooklyn schools, the percentage is even higher.
In Manhattan, oddly enough, the percentage is lower (except for Puerto-Rican neighborhoods). The Manhattan boy is much more likely to be warned about boy-seeking men while he is still very young. He will, therefore, be less inclined to prostitute himself unless he gets desperate for money.
New Jersey boys, on the other hand, are often engaged in collective prostitution to raise money for a joint project. They say: Our gang wants to buy a car and each boy has to raise $150,” or, “Our group wants to go to Florida on vacation.” A younger boy, if he wants to belong to the gang, has to prostitute himself for his share, or drop out. Prostitution is often the only way the younger gang can get the money it needs because members are too young to find legal employment.
In our investigations, we found a large number of boys in New York who were “occasional” prostitutes — selling their bodies for money to buy presents for Christmas, birthdays, and even for Mother’s Day. The youngest ones regularly plying the trade were often saving large sums of money to prepare to run away from home. Often, they were boys whose home life was desperately unhappy — alcoholic parents, mean fathers, widowed mothers and just plain miserable situations. It is not at all difficult to understand why such a boy, once involved in prostitution, finds it difficult to return to his former life. For one thing, his environment is often as drab, colorless and tasteless as the food, if and when any is cooked and served at home. With his clients, he is given genuine affection and embraces, as well as almost unlimited sexual freedom. He is sometimes treated to elaborate meals, although even substantial “plain” food would seem luxurious compared to his regular diet. If a boy is willing to diversify his talents, he can easily become introduced to a life which would never have been his, otherwise. He can enjoy luxury apartments, drives out into the country in late model cars, boat trips, nights at the theatre and all kinds of new experiences.
Editors’ note: Many of the ex-boy-prostitutes to whom we talked, feel eternally grateful for the “lift in life” that they received by engaging in high-level boy prostitution with influential customers. They were enabled to see horizons that they had only dreamed of before, opened up for them, and they realized what life can offer to those with education. For this reason, helped by the proceeds of selling their slim young bodies to eager men, they made the necessary effort to stay in school, and, having a goal in life, went out for the better jobs that they now knew about, often helped in this by their men-friends of the past.
Case one: Denny, at age 8, was persuaded to perform fellatio on an older schoolmate in exchange for a Boy Scout knife that the older boy had stolen. The older lad told others about Denny’s willingness and they lost no time in forcing Denny to fellate them. Being somewhat sissified, Denny found resistance difficult and he soon came to enjoy the situation. Before long, he was seducing adults too. Teachers and store managers began to receive his services in exchange for various favors. His brazenness finally brought him to the attention of the authorities and when he was eleven, he was sentenced to a juvenile institution. There, following a common pattern, he formed friendships with a group of boys from his general milieu. These new pals taught him the value of discretion. Here, he was also initiated into anal intercourse. He came out of the institution a learned, sophisticated prostitute — before he was 12 years old! The older members of his gang immediately put him in touch with a professional in New York. Within a few weeks, he was “booked solid” with regulars. Members of his family caught on and were preparing to have him turned over to the juvenile authorities once more. So, at the age of 12, he ran away, under the protection of a gangster who used him as a model in pornographic movies. Through these means, he developed a “jet-set” following and now travels overseas with various wealthy groups. In 1968 he was 14 years old.
Case two: Al, too young for a social security card, went to work for a greenhouse operator when he was twelve. His father had died when he was a baby so Al was starved for masculine attention and affection. He was easily seduced by the older man, who introduced him to anal intercourse, which at that time, he greatly enjoyed. He says, however, that he has never enjoyed it as much since and he thinks that this is because he must have really loved that man to have enjoyed satisfying him in that manner. The greenhouse operator wanted to adopt the boy, and Al’s mother, in poor financial straits, was willing. But, the authorities became suspicious when Al blurted out that he “loved” his potential stepfather and the boy was then placed in an institution. He was 13. At this institution, he was assigned, oddly enough, to work with the gardener. The gardener lost no time in submitting the boy to anal intercourse, a now familiar path to Al. Following this, he was passed from one staff member to another until, in anger, Al ran away. He made his way to New York where he quickly learned about hustling. He frequented all-night cafes until older and wiser friends warned him of the risk of going home with one or two men every night at 8 or 10 dollars apiece.
Al then went to work for a negro pimp who kept a string of boys in an apartment. All of the boys were white. They remained in the apartment until the pimp called them to assign them a customer. Attractive, experienced Al was taken to luxury hotels by wealthy clients. When the pimp got frightened and left town, Al remained. Since then, he has continued quite successfully on his own. He has so many contacts that he never needs to walk the street.
Case three: Dino, age 13, came into Manhattan with some pals from Brooklyn. He had no carfare to go home but intended to sneak onto the subway at the end of the day. The rest of the boys sneaked through the gate but Dino was caught and had to run for it. He was afraid to go back and didn’t know how to get home from another subway entrance. He walked up Broadway to a discotheque called “The Cheetah”. A man saw him there and asked him if he wanted to go in. Dino agreed but said that he didn’t have any money. The man smiled, suggested a short walk, and took him into a restaurant where he propositioned the boy. At first, Dino was frightened, but when the man gained his confidence, he admitted that he was experienced and that his uncle had been “screwing” him since he was 10. The man took him home where he made love to him. Then he told him that he was a pimp for boys and that he was able to use a kid like Dino. Since then, Dino comes to Manhattan nearly every Saturday and Sunday. He meets his pimp, who makes dates for him in exchange for half the fee, and then goes on about his business. He finds that his customers are generally nice, well-educated professional men and Dino enjoys both their company and the intercourse.
Case four: Sammie, a 13-year-old Spanish boy, has been sexually intimate with his older brother since the age of 9. Now, he often comes to the Times Square arcades with his brother. Whenever they meet an “interested” man, often a tourist, the older brother insists on going along, saying that they are willing to be fellated, one after the other, for $10. The older brother, nearly 15 but looking younger, insists on going along to “protect” his kid brother. In fact, after they have reached their destination, and if the locale seems “safe”, big brother will offer to perform “exhibitions” with Sammie in exchange for more money. He offers anal intercourse and fellatio, either with his brother, as part of the show, or as a three-way deal with the customer. Knowing himself to be unattractive, the older brother keeps Sammie under tight control. Fearing his inability to “make it” by himself, he is careful to feature Sammie, thereby avoiding a loss of income. Their parents seem to be ignorant of their activity — although an uncle in the family almost killed his son when he discovered him involved in similar circumstances at the age of 13.
Case five: Ollie, now in the jobs corps at 16, was, for nearly two years, chief of a dozen Hoboken boys aged 11 to 14. Inventing all sorts of excuses for their parents, they came to New York every Saturday and Sunday afternoon to hustle. They averaged two customers apiece between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Keeping careful watch to protect each other, Ollie generally stood near the Astor Hotel and the other boys stationed themselves at strategic spots to keep their buddies posted. Most of their customers cruised by in cars and picked up the boys, one at a time, for an hour or so. Theoretically, the boys were available only to be fellated. However, as regular dates turned into familiar relationships, the youngsters were willing to experiment with mutual fellatio and anal intercourse.
After Ollie went into the job corps, the gang broke up. A few of the boys now have regular lovers and a few work as lone wolves, managing to maintain some of their former contacts. Two or three of them are beginning to recruit younger boys to organize a new gang. A boy named Ringo is the new chief.
Case six: Ringo, 15, joined Ollie’s gang at 11. On his first date, he submitted to anal intercourse and hated it. He preferred being fellated. All week at school, he could hardly wait for Saturday. Week nights, he was so aroused in anticipation that he forced his 10-year-old brother to fellate him. Unlike Ringo, little brother was receptive to anal intercourse. Ringo ran into plenty of men willing to fellate him for he had a very beautiful body. Soon, however, he began to take his younger brother with him because so many men begged for anal relations. The two boys got a good price for “three-way” sex until the younger boy was arrested in Hoboken - caught in the act while practicing a bit of unauthorized lovemaking on the side without Ringo’s knowledge.
When the younger brother was sent to juvenile detention, Ringo dropped out of the gang for a while but he missed the sexual release so much that he began to hustle in places in New Jersey and New York on his own. He has succeeded in making enough contacts so that now he is beginning to provide younger boys for his clients. He is doing his best to fill Ollie’s shoes.
So much for the amateurs — the truly professionally operated “high class” prostitution in the New York City area is probably one of the cleverest pieces of illegal activity in the world. It is marked by a double protection. For one, it is practically impossible to get a boy, even the first time, until a client submits proof of interest (for example, showing a photograph of himself having intercourse with a young boy), and is personally recommended by a regular customer. The other half of the protection is provided by similar guarantees made by those who operate the “call-boy” service. This prevents blackmail risk, at least as far as the operators are concerned. There has never been any gangster involvement in this operation — at least not to the detriment of the clients.
Customers include some of the most prominent socialites, artists, businessmen and professional men in the city. If a membership were kept, it would read almost like Who’s Who. Many of the members first discovered their taste for sexual intercourse with boys while attending exclusively male prep schools and top colleges. Interestingly enough, a few of them were once boy prostitutes themselves.
One reason for the inability of the police to penetrate the organization is the care with which the boys are recruited, trained and protected. Some are runaways, but many of the boys are literally purchased from parents and institutions. Substantial fees are paid to parole officers of juvenile institutions and to orphanages to get permanent access to especially lovely boys. The boys are given new names, complete with fabricated school records, new birth certificates, baptismal certificates as well as new legal guardians. They often attend the best day schools where none of their classmates are aware of their intriguing double life.
Other boys in the ring are foreigners — from Italy, Greece, North Africa and Germany. They often arrive with parents seeking better employment in America. Some of them have been legally adopted overseas by bogus “parents”, employed in advance to find the right boys and to adopt them for the purpose.
How does this service operate? In one instance, a prominent New Yorker recently had a well known European house guest who “couldn’t do without boys.”
The host, knowing his guest’s taste, made considerable effort to achieve contacts in advance of his arrival. He arranged introductions to homosexuals, to Mafia contacts, and even employed a couple of young homosexuals to seek out possible contacts for him. When his guest arrived, the host explained that he had been completely unsuccessful and that, apparently, boys were no longer available in New York. The guest smiled, went to the telephone, and called another friend who had visited him in Europe. The contact arrived within two hours to take the European to a large Fifth Avenue men’s shop where three handsome young boys, aged 11, 13 and 14, were trying on new clothes. All were well-groomed — boys the sort that could be taken anywhere, as one’s nephew or the friend of an acquaintance, without arousing comment. The man made his choice for the next several weeks. He picked the 13-year-old who turned out to be “amazingly intellectual and enchanting in bed.” The price of the boy, usually $100 for a day, was reduced to S20 for the lengthier period. The boy was withdrawn from school for the six weeks he served as full-time companion to a very important man.
Some regular customers do not want to live with a boy for a long period of time, preferring, instead, short trips with them. They go to a resort, or on a fishing or yachting expedition — even for something as simple as a day’s auto ride. Most of these customers are married men with families, some with sons as old as their temporary “paramours.” To these men, the young boys are merely an occasional exotic experience — a diversion. For others, boy-love is a primary consuming passion — their sham marriages are usually made to appease families and business acquaintances.
In the early part of this century, such operations were often international, and boys were sent from country to country. This is increasingly difficult today — it is usually the men who travel from country to country, exchanging credentials to try boys who belong to similar syndicates in other localities.
Because of the secrecy enveloping the entire operation, it has been impossible for us to ascertain just how many boys might be involved at any one particular time. It would seem safe to guess, however, that about 300 different boys are employed in the greater New York City area at any one time. About 500 new boys are being recruited each year. Some of those recruited go elsewhere in this country or in Canada and some are adopted as permanent companions and never quite get into multi-faceted prostitution.
What few customers realize is that, occasionally, a boy needs to be “eliminated” for one reason or another — presumably when the safety of all is in jeopardy. When a boy is eliminated, he is said to have been “sent to Havana”, Havana probably being the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere along the East Coast. The phrase “sent to Havana”, however, goes back to the days when some boys were literally exported to brothels in Havana. For various reasons it seems that American boys did not usually last very long there.
Most of the recruits for this operation are “trained” by experienced boy prostitutes before they enter a career in this operation. A new 11-year-old is locked in a bedroom with an experienced 13- or 14-year- old. The room is furnished with a bed and a movie projector with several rolls of explicit film. At the end of a few sessions in the room, the new boy has seen, done and experienced just about everything he needs to know. What he hasn’t learned by this time, is soon picked up when he starts practicing his role as a “pro”.
Comments of general interest will be collected at Letters To The Editor (some editing may be involved)
Trace 15 January 2021
Surprising yet exciting to read.