Straight Male Sex Workers
Who They Are
The sex industry is too often mistakenly viewed as an exclusively female workforce servicing male clients. However, around 20% ¹ of the workforce is male, with nearly all of them offering male to male services. A tiny percentage of male workers see only women – an old fashioned term for these men is ‘gigolo’.
How They Work
Most straight male workers either work privately or for an escort agency.
Why Would a Woman Pay a Man for Sex?
Straight male escorts charge an hourly rate, usually for a full sexual service. Although their hourly rates are higher on average than those charged by gay men, demand for their services is low. For example, some male escorts might only see 3 – 5 clients a year (a busy gay male sex worker might see 3 – 5 clients over a weekend). That said, a tiny number of straight male escorts earn very high incomes.
Photographs of straight male escorts in their advertising usually show them partially or fully dressed. This is in contrast to the photographs of gay male sex workers. While it’s common for gay male sex workers to show full frontal nudity in their ads, it’s almost unheard of for straight male escorts to do this.
Despite achieving a disproportionate level of attention in popular culture, straight male escorts represent perhaps less than 5% of all male sex workers. Even this estimate should be viewed with caution, as a 2013 thesis² on Melbourne male sex workers found that,
‘There is no definitive data to determine how many heterosexual (Internet-based) male sex workers are operating in comparison to those who identify as gay.’
The same thesis found that there was an ‘extremely low incidence’ of full time straight male escorts, they were ‘not as common’ as gay male sex workers, and they ‘appear to be a rare commodity’ playing a ‘small’ role in the sex industry.
The thesis notes that when it comes to straight male escorts, ‘supply may outstrip demand, and that most gigolos find it difficult to support themselves with the income earned from sex work’. The thesis posits that this is due to low levels of demand from women for commercial sexual services provided by men.
- Selvey, L., Hallett, J., Lobo, R., McCausland, K., Bates, J., & Donovan, B. (2017). Western Australian Law and Sex Worker Health (LASH) Study. A Summary Report to the Western Australian Department of Health. Perth: School of Public Health, Curtin University, page 16, Table 4
The above study found that in Western Australia in 2017, 19.2% of sex workers were assigned male at birth.
Benoit C, Jansson M, Smith M, Flagg J. “Well, It Should Be Changed for One, Because It’s Our Bodies”: Sex Workers’ Views on Canada’s Punitive Approach towards Sex Work. Social Sciences 2017, 6, 52. [Exhibit # 6]
The above study found that in five metropolitan areas of Canada in 2016 24% of the sex workers surveyed were male or transgender.
2. Mclean A, An Evolving Trade: Male Sex Work and the Internet (2013), RMIT University, section 3.4
© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2022
Last updated: 30 December 2022