My Hustler

Well, this is a period piece that may make you a little sad that time moves on. First off, the details. It’s an Andy Warhol film which covers what it’s like to hire somebody from a “Dial a Hustler” service. Basically the first half of the film consists of a client, Ed, at his Fire Island beach digs discussing with his ladyfriend Genevieve a huslter he’s hired, who is busy sunning himself on the beach. Ed and Genevieve bitch at each other for a while and eventually Genevieve declares that despite not paying for him, she will “have” the hustler herself. They are rich, and rather artfully decadent.

The second half of the film involves the hustler (Paul) discussing how to make money at the game with an older hustler (Joe). They dance around what they are doing; their macho delicacy prevents them from being frank (as opposed to Ed and Gen who quite openly speculate on how “big” Paul might be and what he might do. Eventually, they trade trade secrets on how to score the most bread.

I really enjoyed the film. I mean there’s no sex, or really any action whatsoever. Just Warhol’s typical talking about sex and action. The two actors who played the hustlers (Paul America and Joseph Campbell) really act off each other – it’s a shame that they didn’t make more films with them. (Paul America was killed by a car; Joe Campbell is the Sugar Plum Fairy referred to in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” – he died of complications from AIDS) What I enjoyed about it was the frank exploration of the act of hiring a hustler. It seemed as if Ed and Gen found discussing this at least as much fun as the act itself. Certainly they otherwise seem impotent in their motionless bitchiness. The notion, though, of the two men, carefully and gently discussing selling their bodies to effete rich older men, was nothing I’ve ever seen in a movie. Most treatments of prostitutes portray them as drugged out tragic sad people; these were two men who knew what they were doing, and considered it nothing more than a job; one for which the older workers might give the younger ones a few tips for success.

So which is true? We’re used to one idea, but could at least sometimes it be like the other.


Note: The film was released as part of a two-reel set along with “I a Man.”

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