From Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality
Prostitution is the exchange of sexual services for money or other rewards. The word derives from the Latin prostituere, meaning to offer for sale. Most people think only of women as prostitutes, but male prostitution also exists. Prostitution was known in antiquity, sometimes as part of temple worship rites. Over two thousand years ago, in ancient Greece, there were prostitutes known as hetaerae. Prostitution is mentioned in the Bible and has existed in Western culture ever since. Prostitutes have at times been limited to working in brothels—houses or apartments inhabited by prostitutes and located in quasi-legal “red light districts” (these are areas, tolerated by the authorities in many countries, in which prostitution and other illicit sexual activities take place). In the United States, prostitution is illegal except in a few counties in Nevada.
Some of the types of people involved in the world of prostitution include the “panderer,” who recruits women for prostitution; the “pimp,” who sometimes protects but more often lives off the earnings of the prostitutes; and “madams,” who manage the brothels.
 Female Prostitution
There is a hierarchy of female prostitution, with the “call girl”—who is contacted by a client seeking her company and sex—considered to be the most elite and best paid, while “streetwalkers,” who solicit their contacts on the streets or in bars, are often the most likely to be arrested. Streetwalkers are frequently in the grip of a drug or alcohol dependency and are often abused by pimps. Compared to streetwalkers, call girls are rarely arrested or subjected to abuse from pimps, but some have met violence and even death at the hands of their customers.
Call girls often work as individual entrepreneurs, making their own contacts with clients through social connections. Clients usually reach call girls by phone when they want their services and establish on the telephone where and when the sex is to take place—it may be at a hotel or at either of their homes. They are sometimes middle class and college-educated women. Many call girls work as part of an organization headed by a madam, who collects a large percentage of their sexual fees in return for providing initial contacts with affluent customers. Some of the most famous madams of recent time (and the titles of their memoirs) have been: Xaviera Hollander (The Happy Hooker), Sydney Biddle Barrows (The Mayflower Madam), and most recently Heidi Fleiss, charged with procuring for a Hollywood clientele.
Between call girls and streetwalkers are the women who work in brothels and “massage parlors.” These massage parlors are not operated by legitimate and licensed therapeutic professionals, but rather are staffed by untrained and scantily clad young women, who provide a cursory rubdown and often masturbation or oral sex.
The reasons for women going into “the life” vary considerably and by social class. Many women involved in prostitution report experiencing abuse during childhood. Streetwalkers and massage parlor workers usually come from the lowest socioeconomic classes and are women who feel they have no reasonable alternative for making enough money, particularly when they have drug dependencies. Some women in brothels, and particularly independent and educated call girls, believe this is a way to make a great deal of money in a short period of time (see also Brothel).
 Male Prostitution
Male prostitutes fall into two main categories depending upon whether their customer is heterosexual or homosexual. These do not necessarily reflect the sexual preferences or orientation of the male prostitute but only the nature of the sexual act he is paid to perform. The heterosexual male prostitute, historically known by the French term “gigolo,” has to some extent been glorified in literature and movies as a suave, handsome, Continental type, who escorts rich and unattractive widows. Although some are connected with escort services in the larger cities—usually advertised in the Yellow Pages—most heterosexual male prostitutes meet their clientele more informally in resorts, spas, vacation areas, and other locations, where they may prey on lonely older women. Those who work for escort services may or may not have sex with their female clients; there are escort services that are strictly legitimate and will not permit their employees to engage in prostitution.
It appears, however, that many more male prostitutes engage in homosexual activities than in heterosexual ones. Their advertisements appear in specialized magazines and newspapers that cater to the sexual underground in the United States. Many of these male homosexual prostitutes—often referred to as “hustlers”—do not consider themselves homosexuals because even though they may enjoy the sexual contacts, they limit the activity to being fellated rather than performing fellatio on a customer or engaging in anal intercourse. Male homosexual prostitutes tend to be young, usually between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, but they are not as young as another category of male prostitute—“chickens,” or young boys or teenagers preferred by older men—“chickenhawks.” While the number of teen and preteen boy prostitutes is unknown, authorities believe that there may be tens of thousands in the United States.