Cultural Studies PhD candidate Austin Gallas recently published an article in the Journal of the History of Sexuality. Titled "The Price of the Ride in New York City: Sex, Taxis, and Entrepreneurial Resilience in the Dry Season of 1919," the article comes out of Austin's doctoral research into undercover surveillance, police reform, and sexual commerce in turn-of-the-century New York City.
Read the full abstract below:
"This paper considers the shifting roles played by the taxi driver and the taxicab within New York City’s commercial sexual economy in the months before and after the onset of wartime prohibition in July 1919. An examination of undercover investigation reports produced by the Committee of Fourteen (COF, 1905–1932), an influential anti-vice organization operating in New York City, illustrates that taxicabs were regularly used as spaces for sex, while cabbies facilitated and profited from the commercial sex trade in numerous ways as procurers, intermediaries, and possessors of market knowledge. As the COF’s investigation reports reveal, sex workers and commercial intermediaries responded to heightened policing, the loss of commercial spaces previously used to conduct business, and other practical and commercial challenges with impressive entrepreneurial resilience. Sex workers continued to operate despite repressive wartime conditions by cultivating small-scale commercial networks, devising means to evade detection and circumvent legal barriers, and utilizing emergent technologies like the automobile and the telephone in innovative ways."
Please reach out to Austin for further questions and comments!
April 15, 2022