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"Lady of the Evening" © "Salem Alley" ©

Both of these drawings were used on the front of note cards sold by the International Sex Worker Foundation for Art. As part of a "Multi-Talented Creative Beings" project, the Foundation sought to illustrate "Contrary to the popular stereotype of the illiterate hooker with no other job skills, many sex workers are multi-talented individuals who use their work in the sex industry to subsidize their artistic and literary endeavors."

In the case of John Rechy's contributions to the project, he explains the drawings in an Interview with Winston Leyland that appeared in Gay Sunshine Interviews - Volume I in 1978. "When I was a little kid I wanted to be a painter and I drew beautifully. I had forgotten that my mother did not throw away some drawings that I had made when I was about twelve years old. I drew this woman, obviously a prostitute, but the opposite of butch, standing under a streetlight. And I called the street "Salem," which is the exact opposite of Selma."

Selma is a street south of Hollywood Boulevard where, along a certain stretch, male hustlers would congregate. Many years after creating this drawing, John Rechy would frequent this area. Another irony, noted by the interviewer Winston Leyland, is that the letters of Salem and Selma can also be rearranged to spell males.

These drawings are also featured in the interactive CD Mysteries and Desires.

Artwork courtesy of John Rechy

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