A Convenient Exchange (2007) Vol 1 Art 3

Welby Ings

Abstract

These monologues tell the same story, in the same language form across a hundred years of development.

This paper considers the phenomenon of men’s public toilets in New Zealand, with specific reference to the culture of cruising for sex that operates within them.
Based on interviews and oral history recordings of over 150 men whose use of New Zealand bogs for same sex encounters has spanned 85 years, the paper discusses a network of relationships that have developed between changes in legislation, architecture and language.

Central to this research is a desire to offer an effective way of telling the stories of a marginalised population; stories that emanate not so much from ‘empowered’ sources like police records, heath studies, news media and town planners, but from the community itself; a community that has until now often been [under] studied and [mis]represented by these authorities.

A Convenient Exchange suggests that men who use public toilets for same sex encounters exist as a dissipated, yet communicating body. The paper demonstrates, by tracing changes in language, how the experiences of these men have intersected with a range of cultures, including those of prostitutes, prisoners, and the online cruising community.

Through this intersection, bog cruisers have developed an extraordinarily process of criminalised ritual that has continued to operate and adapt just under the surface of the New Zealand urban landscape.

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