The other day I posted a piece about the Brisbane Supreme Court and a 12-year-old who had posed as an 18-year-old. Another aspect of the age debate is the appearance of youth. At the recent Erotic Awards 2011, the 20-year-old sex worker, Josh Brandon won the ‘sex worker male’ category. I’d exchanged a few tweets with him before the awards and he seems a really nice guy. What I write next, should not in any way be seen as a criticism of him.

On the right of this post, I’ve posted a photograph of Brandon, taken from his escort website. Lower down this post, you can see a photo of Brandon clutching his golden penis from the Erotic Awards. When you look at the first photo, what do you think?
Well, Brandon prompts you on his site

, writing: ‘I have a slim 25″ waist, tight little butt & shoulder length blonde hair; my looks are very young, younger than 19, 18 and probably even 17’.

He is making a sales pitch of not only his youth, but his underage look. He could, it seems to me, pass as a convincing 14 year old based on these photos. He’s also, he states,a highly successful sex worker, and one for whom sex work has empowered, he writes:

‘With me you will meet an escort who enjoys his job and the freedom it gives me to travel and to meet lots of interesting people and the comfortable lifestyle I live are reasons I love this work. You will be in company of a boy who appreciates and respects his clients with professionalism. I like people, I like to travel and meet people from different cultures and backgrounds and I appreciate my clients who respect that a profession is what this is.’

His quoted rates, support his high-demand status:
GREAT BRITAIN

In call Out call

1 Hour – £160 £200

2 Hours – £280 £320
3 Hours – £400 £440

Overnight – £800 £900
Weekend – £1500 £1500
One Week – £3000

USA
One Week – $5000
Weekend – $2500

Europe

One Week – €3500
Weekend – €1750
Overnight – €1150

Our legal culture penalises those who have sex with someone underage but also prosecutes those who have possession of child pornography – including pseudo-images. We are however, comfortable (at least legally) with images that look like child pornography but which are not (assuming it can be proven). For Josh Brandon, who trades upon his youthful appearance, we have someone who is quite possibly satisfying the sexual desire of those men who wish to have sex with someone underage. In doing so, is he -as the argument about child pornography goes – ‘fuelling’ desire, unwittingly increasing the chance of someone going out and committing an offence.

I’m not a psychology expert so I don’t know. Is he alternatively, satisfying a sexual desire and thus reducing the chance of possible offences, and also enabling men who were unlikely to offend, to reach a state of sexual pleasure and satisfaction they would not otherwise legal be able to obtain?
More generally, queer culture celebrates the youthful twink in pornography and as sex workers. We like cute hairless ‘boys’, so long as they are legal. Yet, as much as this forms an acceptable part of the gay lifestyle, it also harks back to a time when NAMBLA could appear at gay pride events, and when gay men were seen as universally paedophiles. In seeking legal acceptance, homosexuality has carefully re-positioned itself away from controversial issues around ‘youth’. The one notable exception, Peter Tatchell, who has advocated an age of consent of 14 is on the margins of the gay establishment, and a firm outsider from wider policy formation.
This isn’t just a ‘queer’ or ‘gay’ issue. Just look at the vast quantities of ‘school girl’ porn available for straight men, where adult women dress as school-girls and lick seductively on a predictably red, lollipop. Think of the various student nights in which people dress in school uniforms but couple it with a strongly sexualised image.
So, are we comfortable with gay men performing the fantasy of paedophilia (which they may or may not do with Josh), whilst also extending the child pornography ban to ‘pseudo-images’, and cartoons?
At this point, let’s turn to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
Section65(6) states:
Where an image shows a person the image is to be treated as an image of a child if—

(a)the impression conveyed by the image is that the person shown is a child, or

(b)the predominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child despite the fact that some of the physical characteristics shown are not those of a child.

(7)References to an image of a person include references to an image of an imaginary person.

(8)References to an image of a child include references to an image of an imaginary child.

So, here fantasy is attacked as far as the ‘image’ is concerned. It needn’t be real or realistic. A cartoon of a 10 year old with a 20 inch penis is child pornography, as is a photograph of a real 10 year old being abused by a real person. That legislative approach seems wrong to me, but what of fantasy acts? If the law is as pre-occupied with fantasy as it is reality, what of the Josh Brandon sex workers and his fellow twinky performers? Something to ponder.
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