"Living like a king": Conspicuous consumption, virtual communities, and the social construction of paid sexual encounters by U.S. sex tourists

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Paid sex encounters are not simply about having sex, they are cultural acts informed by a complex sexual subjectivity at a particular historical moment and location. Sex tourism, as a practice of conspicuous consumption, enables the cultivation, and experience, of a particular form of subjectivity that relies upon (and exploits) historical differences in power and privilege. In this article, I discuss three interrelated discursive themes: sexual desire for Latinas as the sexual "Other," a comparative lack of desire for U.S. women, and the use of consumer products (e.g., Viagra) and the cultivation of sexual techniques, as a way to create, experience, and maintain a positive sexual self. By participating in a virtual community dedicated to their interest in sex tourism, customers are able to create a complex, gendered subjectivity that is continually reimagined and reinscribed, as well as construct a set of shared meanings related to paid encounters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-230
Number of pages21
JournalMen and Masculinities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010



  • consumption
  • emotional labor
  • Internet
  • masculinity
  • Mexico
  • sex tourism
  • sexual self
  • subjectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • History

Cite this