Hawk Kinkaid is speaking to me between meetings. His answers are quick and precise, and after about fifteen minutes, he tells me he has to go. It’s understandable of course. His current job is not what he’s best known for. Hawk Kinkaid is the name he used when he was working in the sex industry, and it’s the name he uses in his role as the creator of HookOnline.org, a website devoted to harm reduction and fostering dialogue between male sex workers, and Rent U, a teaching program he created as an off-shoot of Hook. I’m speaking to Kinkaid because of an event he’s hosting tonight (2/24) –a fundraiser and book launch party for In the Company of Men: Inside the Lives of Male Prostitutes, a book by Dr. Christian Grov and Dr. Michael D. Smith. Here’s our conversation.
Adam: How did you first get the idea to do Hook Online?
Hawk: I started the project over a decade ago, and the initial reason for starting it was that there were no resources for men in the industry to assist in the learning curve, in other words, the site serves to help keep people from making some of the more common mistakes that people make in the industry. It’s also a way to foster some conversation about the business so that we are helping people to understand it better. A lot of people, especially gay men who are working in the industry will take a kind of laissez faire approach. They think having sex and having sex for money is not very complicated, but there are effects and decisions you have to make when you work in the industry. Many people have made many mistakes in doing that. So what we try and do is give people an opportunity to better understand it when making that decision. We are a harm reduction program. Our goal is not to prevent people from being in the industry, and a lot of the people who work on the project are people who do very well in the business. They pay their taxes, they pay for their healthcare, they make all sorts of practical decisions. But many people don’t. They’re in the industry very temporarily, as a result of a bad situation or emergency or they just see an opportunity for a period of time so they take it on. So what we want to do is get them to think practically and occupationally about the decision they make.
What are some of the most common complications people face in the industry?
On a professional level there are always issues surrounding physical violence, drug and alcohol usage, especially when they’re working and people end up being taken advantage of that way. There’s also implications in their personal lives, in their friends and their support system. As far as social behaviors, as I mentioned, there’s often significant drug and alcohol usage in their free time – which can become an addiction. More…