In the 1970s, pimps and prostitutes haunted Times Square along with crime-filled subways and drug dealers. These shocking photographs taken by Stephen Shames reveal the abuse and depravity of 1970s New York when male prostitutes and hustlers roamed the streets openly.
According to the book titled Runaway Kids and Prostitution, the young boys who fell into a world of drink, drugs and sex work were known as “chickens” and the perverse older men who exploited were called “chicken hawks”.
The majority of the young lads who ended up leading this depressing life were runaways or kids that had been thrown out of their homes. Others called them street hustlers, and many may have supported families through prostitution.
Crack dens would double as “sex-for-drugs” centers where boys would exchange sex for crack cocaine. Buildings were left vacant becoming home to squatters as they fell into disrepair. But Times Square changed as companies like Starbucks and Disney moved in and it became the high rise center of the metropolis we know today.
Adult male hustler kisses a 16-year-old child prostitute in Times Square.
Child prostitutes talk with chicken hawks, men who buy sex with boy prostitutes, in Times Square.
Three boy prostitutes pose for the camera while waiting for customers.
A12-year-old hustler on 7th Avenue near 42nd Street.
Two teenage hustlers walk by an x-rated video store in Times Square that offered nude girls for 25 cents.