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Working Sex: An Odyssey into Our Cultural Underworld Hardcover – September, 1996

2.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This book grew out of a 1990 New York magazine cover story Macy wrote in which she posed as a woman who wanted to become an escort. Because the experience made her reexamine her ideas about people involved in sex work, she decided to report on others in the business, from exotic dancers to a professional dominatrix. Perhaps because these topics have since seeped into the press, Macy's subject is less outrageous than she professes. Moreover, her narrative style?detailing not only her reactions to the people she meets but even her negotiations with editors?sometimes gets gratingly self-involved. Yet for some readers, this might be a handy introduction to an unfamiliar world. Macy attends a masturbation workshop taught by author Betty Dodson and concludes that Dodson teaches an important message about caring for yourself. She meets Candida Royalle, who creates adult films aimed at women and couples, and glimpses another shift in attitudes toward women's sexuality. Her accounts of her visits to a transsexual club and to a domination session lead to a hardly comprehensive, anticlimactic final chapter on escorts, male and female, in New York City. Macy notes, reasonably enough, that "we have a sex industry because we need and want one." However, the difference between Dodson and a dominatrix is deep enough to demand more analysis.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Macy got the inspiration for this book while working on a New York magazine story for which she posed as an "escort" to find out what was involved in the escort business. In it, she revisits escorting and explores the related fields of pornography, stripping, teaching (mostly women) the ins and outs of masturbation, domination-and-submission for hire, and transsexualism. For a book about the sex industry, it doesn't have much actual sex in its pages. Mostly, Macy interviews those engaged in each niche industry examined. Occasionally, she resorts to subterfuge to get a truer inside picture of various activities, but throughout, she keeps professional distance. She writes efficiently without becoming shallow and manages to probe her subject matter without bogging down in moralism. In short, she's an excellent reporter, and this is an excellent report. Of particular interest to porn enthusiasts will be Macy's encounter with former hard-core star--nay, immortal--Amber Lynn, member (with sister Ginger) of the first family of American smut theater. Hot stuff. Mike Tribby

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub; 1st edition (September 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786702494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786702497
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,319,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a hard core, easy come sex book, this isn't it. If you want to read a story that has some intelligence, some heart, some fun and will make you think, then give this book a try.
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Format: Hardcover
This book contains notes, observations, and anecdotes that Macy collected in her research pushing the limits of accepted sexual behavior in America. Topics include escort services, masturbation, pornographic film stars, strippers, dominatrixes, and transsexualism. The book includes a short section of black-and-white plates, mostly professionally-produced PR photographs of people interviewed in the text. End material includes a short list of sources and suggested readings and an index.

Reading the book jacket, I expected the book to be about the sex industry. I figured that Macy would describe the lives of prostitutes, how they got started, the risks they take, and their attitudes toward their work, as well as the customers. I'm just guessing, but I would think that a demographic division of the sex industry might show prostitutes comprising the majority, with strippers and others as smaller sub-groups. But Macy doesn't go near any admitted prostitutes. Instead, she confines her exploration into prostitution to the relatively safe areas of escort services and the sideline work of strippers. She does this because her main method of research is to enter the world of the sex industry as an undercover reporter. She doesn't want to actually engage in any sex work herself, so she has to satisfy herself with the information she can glean from being interviewed to work at an escort service, or from interviewing interviewers from the escort services. To get material about strippers and transsexuals (a topic that isn't exactly relevant for a book on the sex industry), she befriends stars or neighbors, attending many strip clubs and even a support group meeting for transsexuals.

Macy pushes the limits of acceptability in more ways than one.
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By A Customer on November 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This was a much smarter than average look at a world that is getting a bit overexposed. Well written and always interesting. I recommend.
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