Photo Book: Hustlers
BY Christopher Harrity
June 14 2014 5:26 AM ET
In the late '90s, the sight of young men staring into slowly passing cars and fondling themsleves on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles was beginning to dwindle and degrade in number and quality. Soon, only the most wretched and at-risk men and women were hitting the street corners in Los Angeles. The Internet changed that cultural phenomenon seemingly for good.
The street hustler, long a figure of gay American myth and mystery, was first exposed to the literary light in 1963 with the publication of John Rechy's semiautobigraphical novel City of Night. Since then a multitude of other male artists in other mediums have focused on the male sex worker: Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, John Schlesinger, Bruce LaBruce, and Rick Castro included.
Seasoned photographer Eve Fowler is notable for casting the lesbian gaze on this specific boys' club at its eclipse. Does she tell us something new?
Hustlers collects a photographic series taken by Los Angeles–based artist Fowler (born 1964) on the streets of the West Village in New York and Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles between 1993 and 1998. Drawing on her background in both journalism and photography, Fowler explores queerness and social "otherness." Here her untitled, intimate images lay bare the ambiguities of identity, class, sexuality, and gender — all of which combine to lend the figure of the hustler a sem-dangerous allure and the ambiguous attractions of the social outlaw. Stark and unencumbered by typical compositional elements or dramatic lighting, Fowler’s subjects demand direct consideration, forcing the viewer to confront in a single face both masculine vulnerability and intrepidity. Accompanying this collection is an essay by Kevin Killian, an award-winning American poet, author, and playwright well known for his contributions to LGBT literature.
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