Commercial Sex between Men: A Prospective Diary-Based Study
Minichiello, Victor, Marino, Rodrigo, Browne, Jan, Jamieson, Maggie, Peterson, Kirk, Reuter, Brad, Robinson, Kenn, The Journal of Sex Research
A growing body of literature has emerged in the last decade which provides a profile of the male sex worker (MSW) and attempts to explain the factors associated with paid safe-sex encounters between men (Bloor, Barnard, Finlay, & McKeganey, 1993; Bloor, McKeganey, Finlay, & Barnard, 1992; DeGraaf, Vanwesenbeeck, van Zessen, Straver, & Visser, 1994; 1995; Earls & David, 1989; Elifson, Boles, & Sweat, 1993; Estep, Waldorf, & Marotta, 1992; Ford, Wirawan, Fajans, & Thorpe, 1995; Ford, Wirawan, & Fajans, 1993; McKeganey, Barnard, & Bloor, 1990; Morse, Simon, Osdofsky, Balson, & Gaumer, 1991; Pleak & Meyer-Bahlburg, 1990). This literature generally shows that not all MSWs identify themselves as homosexual (Morse et al., 1991; Robinson & Davies, 1991), that MSWs are no less educated than other men of the same age group (Earls & David, 1989), that there exists a growing diversity of sex work according to place of work and type of service provided (Visano, 1991; Waldorf, Murphy, Lauderback, Reinarman, & Marotta, 1990), and that there is a high rate of condom use among sex workers with their clients (Perkins, Prestage, Lovejoy, & Sharp, 1993).
Few of these studies, however, provide a detailed analysis of the specific work context of such sexual encounters. For example, while Pleak and Meyer-Bahlburg (1990) reported that substance abuse in their sample of MSWs was high, we do not know whether MSWs consume alcohol and/or drugs immediately before and during the paid sexual encounter. Obtaining a clearer picture of the context of the events which occur during each specific encounter is important because recent studies show that the commercial sex encounter takes place in a setting of exchange relations which are not static, and where specific situational contextual factors can modify the interaction (Browne & Minichiello, 1995). Interestingly, current studies have relied on methods such as in-depth interviews or questionnaires, which provide at best only a retrospective and average account of events which are not necessarily contextual to all client/sex worker situations (Browne & Minichiello, 1996; DeGraaf et al., 1995; Earls & Davis, 1989; Elifson et al., 1993; Estep et al., 1992; McKeganey, 1994). Another shortcoming of the existing studies is that questionnaires have used different periods of recall, usually asking respondents to report on incidents which have happened over the past month or the year prior to the study. While diaries have been used on various populations to study sexual behaviour (Marino, Minichiello, & Browne, 1999), few researchers have asked sex workers to record the details of each of their paid sexual encounters using this data collection method. Two studies have used diaries to study the female sex industry. Picketing, Dunn, Pepin, and Wilkins (1992) used diaries to obtain information on the travel and sex-work patterns, including number of clients, the sexual acts performed, and use of condoms, of 248 female sex workers in rural areas of Gambia. In another study, Fox et al. (1993) compared the self-reported use of condoms with condom use recorded in diaries from a sample of 134 female sex workers from Honduras.
This paper provides a descriptive profile of the context of the male-to-male commercial sex encounter reported by male sex workers from three Australian cities using a diary over a 2-week period. Specifically, it describes what sex activities were carried out, the when and where context, and other contextual activities surrounding the interaction such as alcohol and drug use, in an attempt to fill a gap in the current knowledge about male-to-male commercial sex.
The data reported in this study were collected using a diary which male sex workers (MSWs) completed after each commercial sexual encounter with a male client over a 2-week period. The diary consisted of a total of 36 questions covering four topic areas. …