"I didn't want to make a book that explained everything", says LA photographer Eve Fowler when asked about Hustlers, her '90s photo series on the male prostitutes of West Village, NY and Santa Monica Boulevard in LA out now via Capricious. The book is captionless, only prefaced with a short bespoke tale, Prosper Street from acclaimed LGBT poet, author and playwright Kevin Killian. The story sucks you in and shakes you up from the off with the matter-of-fact narrative of rent boy, Jesse and his musings on the victim stereotype in sex work and his lover/client Frank who comes bearing ominous news from a hospital check-up. "I didn't want to have essays about me or my work in the book. So I asked Kevin to write something fictional because I like his writing and i thought his work made sense in this context. It makes the book more like an artwork and less about me", says Fowler. The lack of verbal prompts as you flick through the nameless faces of these boys jars at first, you feel cheated out of their stories somehow, but by the end it's that same lack of backstory that frees these hustlers from categorisation, in the same way that Jesse rails against it in Prosper Street. A lot of Fowler's previous works have also dealt with the crossroads between sexuality and identity – the titillitatingly titled Gloria Hole springs to mind – and with Hustlers there's a similar sense of other-ness going on, "I think it probably had something to do with coming out of the closet". The starkly shot portraits offer up a unique take on photography's enduring fascination with sex workers, stripping away at the lurid glamour and leaving us with a surprisingly intense portal back to those hustling streets.
Hustlers is available to buy now on Art Book.
Follow Sian Dolding on Twitter here @SianDolding