Photographs by Sylvia Plachy
Text by James Ridgeway
Sociology/ Photography / Sex Studies
7.25 x 9.25 inches
112 black-and-white photographs
“…eminently satisfying…a lurid glimpse into the lives of the strippers, adult film stars, dominatrixes, and prostitutes who make up the sex industry.”
—The New York Times Book Review
The sex industry, declares Village Voice Washington correspondent Ridgeway, is an agent of social control, a safety valve for a repressed, confused patriarchal culture that transforms the hunger for sex and power into a commercial product laden with worn-out male fantasies of a prefeminist world.
This survey of the sex business combines Ridgeway’s essay incorporating strenuously nonjudgmental interviews with prostitutes, porn-video makers, actors, strippers, topless dancers, a dominatrix and other sex workers in the New York metropolitan area with arty, often explicit photographs by Village Voice staff photographer Sylvia Plachy. Some interviewees speak of sex work as a socially valuable or personally empowering profession; for others, it’s a way to get by.
Ridgeway looks askance at an impersonal industry where contact with another human body is increasingly replaced by electronically enhanced onanism, but he is equally critical of the “sex police,” by which he means law enforcement agencies, often in league with conservative family-values groups and antiporn activists. With its jazzy layout and garish photos, this volume comes across as a celebration of an arena it purports to analyze.