Need to Know: Philip-Lorca diCorcia's Hustlers

Need to Know: Philip-Lorca diCorcia's Hustlers

Gerald Hughes (a.k.a. Savage Fantasy); about 25 years old; Southern California; $50

Nowadays hustler chic seems passé—after stories of men and women who turned tricks in some form or fashion ended up on red carpets, and other high-profile folks transformed seedy sex tapes into global fame and fortune—but at the time photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia first made and exhibited his portraits of male hustlers in contrived situations in the early '90s, it sent shockwaves through the art establishment. 

The now 62-year-old diCorcia, who is straight, will have a major exhibit of the photographs, titled Hustlers, at David Zwirner gallery in Chelsea (Sept. 12-Nov. 2) that includes 40 photographs from the series as well as 15 works newly produced and shown for the first timeThere will also be an exhibit of his East of Eden series on view.

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Marilyn; 28 years old; Las Vegas, Nevada; $30

The photos were originally exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art under the title Strangers. The fact that diCorcia paid the subjects he contracted in Santa Monica, Calif., from the $45,000 that was awarded to him by the National Endowment for the Arts was also contentious. He has said he enjoyed knowing that he was using part of it to pay prostitutes, and he included the sum in the title of each photograph. “The guys commodified themselves, and commodities have prices,” diCorcia said in a recent interview with the New York Times.

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Eddie Anderson; 21 years old; Houston, Texas; $20

As diCorcia notes, “these were men who portrayed themselves as a product in a city that sells fantasy, violence, and sex. As if they were one more thing to be consumed… Photography is an exchange. The original title for the project was Trade: as in the street word for prostitutes, as the exchange of services for money, as the role reversal which voyeurs indulge and photography provides, as the desire to be anybody but you.”

For more information about the exhibit visit

Tags: Art & Books

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