Karl Andersson releases fashion line

For immediate release:

Avid magazine collector and publisher Karl Andersson today announced the release of his fashion line Vintage Pride.

Vintage Pride is a collection of vintage gay magazine logotypes printed on t-shirts in various colours.

– I want to celebrate the diversity of early gay liberation by bringing the logotypes of its gay press back to life, Andersson says.

– The rainbow had more colours in the 1970s, he adds.

Vintage Pride is still in the haute couture phase, meaning each t-shirt is custom made and sells for 100 euro. At the moment, the customer can choose from a selection of 12 logotypes – see them all here.

– The logotypes are the soundtrack of a forgotten era, Andersson concludes.

– That’s why I love them.

Discussing a Donald Friend documentary

I haven’t seen Kerry Negara’s documentary A Loving Friend, in which she deals with the Australian artist Donald Friend’s (1915-1989) supposed sex crimes against boys in Bali. However, I found this review and the discussion that follows it interesting. The reviewer Lauren Bliss shows that the film’s sensationalist approach might work against it:

My questioning of his guilt came from watching a film where Friend was painted to be completely evil and the art critics who supported him to be bumbling fools. […] From this, I found it nearly impossible to digest any of the facts presented by Negara as truthful […]

Most interesting though, isn’t the discussion about Friend’s guilt or the film’s aesthetics, but what the film’s script editor John Doggett-Williams writes:

If you have any pride in your work or want to gain some credibility withdraw your original review from publication.

Such demands from the filmmakers make me listen even more to the reviewer. In any case, I would like to see the film.

(The picture is a drawing by Donald Friend of Dolog, a teenager boy he met in 1967. From The Diaries of Donald Friend, Volume 4, page 26.)

The worst Eurovision winner ever?

I had some guests over for the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). We’re not hardcore fans and only one of us (not me) had watched the semi-finals. But I do like the ESC. I like how each song is based on a famous hit, or many, that you try to recognise during the song – and it’s driving you mad until you realise which one it is. Like for example with Ukraine’s Sweet People. It was a kind of catharsis when I realised it’s Eagles’ Hotel California all over again. Watch it and sing along: On a dark desert highway... Seriously, sing along now, as I did for my guests: Cold wind in my hair …

There were many violins on stage this year, a result of last year’s victory for Alexander Rybak (which I predicted already on 1 March, 2009: Alexander Rybak wins Eurovision 2009). But there were also some contestants that tried to make the same song. Ok, if you haven’t heard Rybak’s song Fairytale, winner of ESC 2009, here it is (I love it):

Rybak has copied a bit himself in the production: At 1:35 you will hear Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive. But back to ESC 2010. Albania built their whole song on Fairytale. Listen and sing along: Years ago, when I was younger …

Oh, look, even Armenia’s song, after a short Ruslana/Wild dances intro, begins like Fairytale! Years ago, when I was younger vs Many many years ago, when I was a little child … I could link, but it’s too bad. Instead, watch Azerbaijan, which loans a bit from both Lady Gaga and Rihanna in the chorus:

Even the moderator Peter Urban remarked that Denmark’s song was a Police rip-off, and we all sang along to Every step you take. But there’s also just the same sound of the guitar/electric piano as in Tina Turner’s Simply the best. Watch Denmark here:

We ended up in a club which was very German in the sense that one of the drinks on offer wasn’t called Orgasm nor Sex on the Beach, but simply: SPERMA. I just had to order that one:

– Sperma bitte.

– Bitte?

– Sperma.

– Jawohl.

The Sperma tasted really good. It was a mixture of sweet and salt and i wasn’t really able to pinpoint the ingredients. I brought my Sperma to the dancefloor and someone bumped into me so I got Sperma all over my hands. The Sperma was really sticky, so I went with my friend to the bathroom to wash my hands.

– Diese Sperma klebt wirklich, I said.

– Er hat das Getränk gemeint, my friend said.

But back to the ESC 2010. What a terrible song to win. Maybe the worst ever! And definitely the most unexpected. I forced my German friend to sing it once we had left my apartment – he couldn’t. None of us could remember the melody of it. The sound was modern though. This is Satellite:

The girl is pretty cute but her lack of star quality and feeling is in your face. Which might as well be the reason why she won – it’s been a trend a long time now to celebrate the mediocrity of the common man, think Youtube stars, talent shows, etc. By the way, Mika made the same song some years ago but with the fierce idea to add a melody to it:

The fact that I love Lollipop might very well be the reason why I hate Satellite.

Is that all for tonight? No it’s not! Cause first I have to reveal the winner in my own living room. There was only one contestant that we all gave the highest points to. And that was: Iceland!

Okay, we’re over 30. And we’re from northern Europe. Still, this is what ESC should be like. This is Shirley Clamp, Alexander Bard, Sash!, Kate Ryan, Fredrik Kempe … This is Eurovision!

Swedish media: DN, AB, Expr, Nyheter24. (SvD har ännu inte rapporterat om vinnaren men rapporterar däremot om “platsbrist för sexåringar” – är det junior-ESC som åsyftas månntro?) Såväl Andres Lokko som Jan Gradvall dissar festivalen som fenomen. Jag håller väl överlag med. Men varje anledning att fira är en bra anledning!

Make Love Not Porn

When porn is discussed, people are either for it or against it – neither side has anything interesting to say really.

That’s why I like Cindy Gallop (despite the polemical name of her website Makelovenotporn.com). Like me, she watches hardcore porn herself on a regular basis, but she wants to problematize what the new availability of porn does to children and youth.

I think that’s highly relevant. The exposure to hardcore porn must have some impact on the youth. Not necessarily a negative one – the new generation might become less tense about sex issues. But also not necessarily a positive one. Bottom line is: We simply don’t know. And we should, since porn is a huge part of many young people’s lives.

Interview with Pierre Joubert

Pierre Joubert, photographed in the 1980s by Mark Silver

This is a double post with Milkboys, where more Pierre Joubert illustrations can be found.

Pierre Joubert was a French illustrator who created the aesthetics of adventure. He was born in 1910 and died in 2002. This interview was made in 1987 by Mark Silver (who also took the photo above) and published, for the first time, in February 2010:

For the most part, the work you’ve been doing has been illustrations for books. What type of books and what type of magazines is it you’ve been working on?

– No magazines, just books.

No Boy Scout magazines then?

– Oh yes that’s right. But I was very young. That’s all over now.

What publishing houses did you work with?

– A number of different publishers: Epi, Hachette … But I’m done with that now. Now I’m doing book covers, about one a year.

So you only make book covers nowadays.

– Yes, I find it more interesting than illustrations. I like this work a lot. Since 1982 I’ve only been doing covers.

The Signe de Piste edition of Le Livre de la Jungle (The Jungle Book) with a cover illustration by Pierre Joubert.

What are you working on at the moment?

– Right now I’m illustrating a book series from Hachette. They are using many different illustrators.

You’ve done lots of work for Hachette?

– Yes. This series covers the entire history of the human race, you have the Vikings, the Chinese, Latin America, prehistoric times …

What techniques do you use? Do you have any favourites?

– Oh I use gouache.

Just gouache? Even from the beginning?

– When I started out I used water-colour, but it is difficult to print. But I sometimes still use it.

Do you always work in colour?

– If they want colour I use colour, if they want black and white I use black and white. Whatever the publishers require.

And what techniques do you use when you work in black and white?

– Gouache.

One of Pierre Joubert’s black and white gouache illustrations, this featuring the boy Yug.

You started out as an illustrator for Boy Scout magazines, can you tell us something about that?

– In my book Souvenirs en Vrac you find everything I’ve done. This here is my first illustration, from 1924. I was 14 years old. I was a Boy Scout and I went to illustrator school and so I illustrated the Scouts de France.

Could you show us your first illustrations?

– This is the first one I made.

So this one is from 1924?

– Oh, no it’s from 1927. That’s when it was printed. It’s the first illustration I made. I was a Boy Scout from the age of 14, but I didn’t start working for the Scouts de France immediately, I was just a young boy, but when I was 17 they asked me to do an illustration. And this is the very first. After that I made the cover. And later on more illustrations.

Pierre Joubert: Descente de la rivière (Down the River), 1950. Rotogravure.

These are very sophisticated, you were certainly gifted. The bulk of your work is illustrations, but have you also made comics?

– No.

We researched your career and at the library they said you had made a comic book with Albert Michel?

– No, never.

Did you ever consider doing that?

– No, I had other things to do. Nobody ever asked me to do it, and since I was always busy with my illustrations I never had to consider doing other things. Many illustrators also made comic books and it takes a lot of time to make them.

In those days, were you familiar with comics at all?

– Yes of course, I like reading them, I always did. But I never made any myself.

Your children, did they walk in their father’s footsteps?

– No, no. They do all sorts of things. Louis is an engineer. And my daughter is in Calcutta working with handicapped children. Michel is an architect. He designs boats, catamarans. Doing charter for Americans. My other daughter married a farmer and she does all sorts of things. And yet another daughter, Londine, lives in Provence. My son Bruno used to live in Canada but now he’s back in France. He worked as a carpenter, he was a trapper … all sorts of things. He met a Canadian woman and now he’s a carpenter in France.

What do your children think of your work?

– Oh, they like it a lot. But Louis, he makes a lot more money than I ever did. As opposed to my daughter here … she’s very poor. She does humanitarian work.

Do you have the originals for the illustrations that are out of print?

– No, not anymore. There are two that I have kept. But they were always reprinted anyways!

But for the reprints …?

– Right, that is a bit complicated because the first publishing house, Alain Littaye, went bankrupt. And everything they had in stock was held by the court. And they never paid me. They never paid the printers … There was a court case and someone bought their assets. It was a long legal process – two years, almost three, before it got settled.

Cover of Pierre Joubert’s Chefs-d’Oeuvre, volume 2, published by Alain Littaye.

Did you ever have any trouble selling your work? I know many illustrators were struggling during the second world war.

– No, because in those days I was employed by the Scout movement in France.

And the Scouts were never banned or persecuted by the Nazi regime?

– No no, that was only in the occupied parts in the north. There was no Scout movement there since the Nazis outlawed them. But in the south of France we were free, so I worked for a Scout magazine in the south then.

Do you have any copies of the magazine from that time?

– Yes. These are from the war. They were printed in St Etienne and Lyon.

During the war, did you do a lot of book illustrations as well?

– No, I only did this.

And before the war, in the 30s?

– I did the series Signe de Piste. When I graduated from school I went to work as an illustrator for a printing house, I didn’t go independent at once. I started working on this in 1936.

How long was this series published for?

– Oh, it’s still being published to this day.

By the same publishing house?

– No no, it has been published by many different companies over the years.

A pencil illustration by Pierre Joubert.

You have been illustrating youth novels all your life. That always was your passion I take it?

– That’s difficult to say … I mean … it was more by chance actually. I started working for a printing house where I did a bit of everything. But I felt this urge to be free; I didn’t want to get up at the same time every morning and go to work at the same place every day. When I was 22 years old I left the printing house and started working for the Boy Scout magazine. I had made some illustrations for them pro bono, but as the French Scout movement grew they could afford to hire an editor and an illustrator, so I was offered to work full time with the Scout magazine. So the reason I started doing drawings for the youth was simply because this opportunity arose. So I worked for the Scout magazine and around this a series of youth novels, Signe de Piste, came out and I was approached to do the illustrations for it.

So it was by accident that you came to devote your life to illustrating youth novels?

– Yes, it was simply what my clients wanted me to deliver. Several times I have tried to find other things to do, but I always seem to end up getting the same kind of work. But I have occasionally worked on books for adults through my career.

Could you show us some of that work?

– I have something here that I did for the Marine Museum, for example. This is for all ages. I also wrote the text for this book.

Do you have any other interests?

– I’m very interested in heraldry. And history.

Do you feel like you have the possibility to choose what topics to work with?

– Nowadays I do, but that wasn’t always the case.

When did that change?

– Well, everyone knows that I am very specialised. I could never illustrate a book about aeroplanes or cars for instance. These days I can choose my work very freely, and people know that I do what I love so they won’t even ask me to do anything that doesn’t tickle my fancy. So in this case I did have an interest in marine life so I took on the task gladly.

From looking at your drawings it is quite clear that you love people, many of your illustrations have young men in them. You seem to have a very good knowledge of human anatomy. Is that something that interests you?

– Yes, certainly. That’s absolutely necessary if you want to draw people. And illustrators who are good at drawing people are very hard to come by. So I am in high demand these days …

One of Pierre Joubert’s illustrations for The Jungle Book.

This is a cover for Signe de Piste, right?

– Yes that’s right. I’ve been working on that series for so many years and I am quite bored of it to be honest. But since the publishers are my friends I have promised to do one cover a year for it. This one is about the son of Alexander the Great.

And the story, is it based on real events or is it fictional?

– I don’t know. I haven’t read the text.

You haven’t read the text?!

– No.

So you don’t read the text before you start drawing?

– Well, when I illustrate a whole book I have to read the text beforehand obviously, but here I just had to make one single drawing for the cover and in that case it’s not necessary to read the entire book. The author simply asked me to do a 14 year old lad in armour, on a black horse, at night … so that’s what I made. I have illustrated 58 books in this series through the years.

I have bought this silkscreen of one your illustrations …

– Oh, that one is not very good!

It’s no good?

– Do you like it?

Eh… well … it’s the only silkscreen by you that I have come across.

– It’s very expensive, and the quality of the print is quite bad!

So did you choose the picture yourself?

– No, someone asked me if they could take one of my drawings and blow it up on a big silkscreen print, and I said “yes.” And since the original was so small he had to redraw the whole picture. And as you can see he changed a whole lot from the original …

More Pierre Joubert illustrations in D10 and at Milkboys.

Swedish baths separate men and boys

From now on, Gothenburg’s biggest bath Lundbybadet will have four locker rooms: One for men, one for women, one for boys and one for girls.

– We have chosen to separate boys and men, girls and women since we have had several incidents with pedophiles. They photographed and filmed in the locker rooms, says Maria Björklund, director of the city’s baths, to DN.se.

There seems to be no crimes however, and no sexual harassment, according to Maria Björklund:

– I can only recall one incident where an older person touched a pupil, but that was several years ago.

So it seems that the idea to “separate men and boys” (the word “separate” makes me think of two dogs …) is more a result of the general vibe in society than of actual problems.

A second article explains that 700 crimes per year are committed at Stockholm’s biggest bath Eriksdalsbadet, but most of them are thefts, and the sexual harassment is of a certain type:

– Boys harass girls by touching them, a police officer explains.

I find the idea with separate locker rooms for young and old people a tragic development, but a very logical one. As I pointed out to my friend N, who brought these articles to my attention, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before. Be sure the idea will spread.

Egentligen skulle jag vilja

Jag googlade frasen “egentligen skulle jag vilja”. Svaret blev några spridda drömmar:

Jag tycker att det är bra att fråga sig då och då vad man skulle vilja – egentligen.

Just quit Facebook!

I just quit Facebook. And here is why:

  • First of all, I’ve never loved Facebook and never used it for posting funny status updates, links or photos. There’s a reason for that. I had learnt the hard way how eager companies are to use the paragraph about “immoral” content in their terms of service. I didn’t expect the American company Facebook to differ in this respect. I expected them to delete my account as soon as I posted something immoral, and since I expected their judgement of what’s moral and not to be arbitrary, I preferred not to post anything at all. That way, I could just lean back and say “told you so” when people were upset that Facebook censored pictures of breastfeeding mothers.
  • Despite this, I had obviously used Facebook a lot as a means of communication. (There is no export function, so I copied and pasted all relevant messages into e-mails, took about an hour.) Despite I didn’t hold Facebook’s ethics very high, I was still surprised to hear how Facebook censors text messages between its users. This is unacceptable to me and shows that this service should not be used as an alternative to e-mail and other forms of communication.
  • Like Rasmus Fleischer, I didn’t care that much about the integrity aspect (as a reason for my leaving Facebook). After all, before Facebook existed there was something called a homepage. That web 1.0 phenomenon was also pretty open to the whole internet. Just like this blog.
  • All those old friends. So what are you doing nowadays? Living in Berlin writing novels, wow! Well, as for me I’m married and four weeks ago little Emil entered our world… Wow.
  • All those new friends. We should have a beer some day! But we never did. Seriously, the phone call is not that bad as a means of communication, and in a telecom-wise developing country like Germany where an sms still costs 40 cents (to foreign cell phones), there’s a lot of phone calls. I like it.

Those were my reasons. Need more? Read Top ten reasons you should quit Facebook.

PS: You can still follow me on Twitter. I like Twitter.

Preview of the sculpture map

It’s very beta, but it’s here:

http://sculpturemap.karlandersson.se/

An introduction will be added, as well as contact info and more users who can post their own photos of sculptures.

I will also change the rating plugin, since Polldaddy takes 200 dollar per year if more than 100 ratings per month are made. Hello? 29 dollars feels like a sort of standard for services like theirs.

But this is a start at least. Do have a look and see if you like it!

A short history of dancing boys

I just watched the Frontline documentary The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan on PBS, after Josh and The Boy Scouts had written about it. It’s an amazing account from the “bacha bazi” scene in northern Afghanistan, where adolescent boys dance in front of men, and have sex with “the highest bidder” afterwards. Pretending to make a film about the same practice in the West, the reporter Najibullah Quraishi managed to film these dances, and make surprisingly honest interviews with both men and boys. For example, one former commander says:

– I had a boy partner when I was an unmarried commander. I had a boy, because every other commander had one. There’s competition among the commanders, and without one, I couldn’t compete with the others.

Do you have sex with them?

– If they’re willing to have sex, then I would. If they’re not, I won’t.

The boys want to have sex?

– Yes, a lot of them.

You wouldn’t think twice?

– I wouldn’t. If they want to have sex, no problem. Many boys want sex.

The film centers around Dastager, a businessman who claims to have “had” between two and three thousand boys – as dancers, he seems to mean, since he says no when asked if he had sex with them. The reporter is allowed to follow him when he gets a new prospect: Shafiq, an 11-year-old boy from a poor family. During a year, the boy will live with Dastager and learn to sing and dance. In return for this exchange, Shafiqs family gets money.

Shafiq obviously has no clue as for what is going on. When interviewed by the reporter, he says what Dastager wants him to say. You can even hear Dastager whispering the right answers in the background. We are also taken to the boy’s father for an interview, but it seems Dastager has set the reporter up with another person who just pretends to be the father of Shafiq. After some months, Shafiq’s mood changes, according to the reporter, who concludes that Dastager probably has made sexual approaches towards the boy. Thus he decides that he and the producer will try to save Shafiq.

This quest is both sweet and naïve. As viewers, we get the impression that Dastager has abducted Shafiq, training him to become a dancer against the will of his parents. But the fact remains that Shafiq’s family has “sold” him to Dastager, a result of the extreme poverty in Afghanistan. And as it will turn out, the “fake father” was actually Shafiq’s uncle. It seems the family agreed upon the deal, so the question is what exactly Shafiq would be saved from, and what he would be saved to. We will see that later.

The bacha bazi scene is undoubtedly fraught with problems. We are for example told about a 15-year-old boy who was murdered because he tried to escape from his “master”. Obviously, some dancing boys face the same tragic fate as so many Afghan women.

And still, the tradition of bacha bazi is extremely fascinating, since similar phenomena are extremely common in history. One need hardly mention Ancient Greece: The early Dorian coming-of-age rites and the latter Classical obsession with young male beauty. In Athens, a boy could play the part of eromenos (the beloved) as long as he was beardless. After that, he would “switch sides” and become the erastes (the lover) of a younger eromenos. This pattern seems to be prevalent in the bacha bazi scene too. 15-year-old Imam, who has danced for several years, explains:

– I’m 15 now, so for another two or three years I’ll continue singing and dancing. After three years, I might be able to remain friends with these people, but I’ll probably be too old for them, and they might not like me anymore.

After he turns 18, Imam said, he plans to become the master of his own stable of dancing boys.

– I’ll probably keep between 20 and 30, if I can afford to.

– A boy should be 12 or 13, and of good character. A very polite boy. He should have no other interests except bacha bazi. I would like to keep them for myself, and they should be useful for me and my friends.

An even better comparison is that of Rome. Where the Classical Greeks worshipped the boy, and therefore only dared to penetrate him between his thighs (intercrural sex) while he was standing (thus not being degraded to a woman by lying under the man), the Romans enjoyed anal sex with boys. This was possible because they used slaves as their sexual partners, since free-born Romans was considered stuprum (taboo). A man could have one or more slave boys in his “stable”, to have sex with on the side of his wife, who had nothing to say about this arrangement – just like in Afghanistan, it seems, and other patriarchal cultures. The former commander again:

– I would keep a boy if my wife agreed. If she didn’t mind, I would keep one boy.

Is it usual for a wife to give permission?

– In Afghanistan, husbands don’t listen to their wives. But I’m a cultured person. I discuss it with my wife first.

The Romans didn’t listen to their wives either, but the topic was discussed and there are many examples of wives being jealous of the boys. Craig A. Williams describes in Roman Homosexuality (Oxford University Press, 1999) how the poet Martial deals with it:

In one of his poems, Martial addresses his “wife” who has found him anally penetrating a boy. To her nagging observation that she can provide him with the same kind of pleasure the poet responds with a catalog of mythological exempla illustrating the point that anal intercourse is more pleasurable with boys than it is with women, and he concludes with a harsh dismissal: “So stop giving masculine names to your affairs, and think of it this way, wife: you have two cunts.” (p. 27)

This discussion even made it into the mythology, where Jupiter is supposed to have preferred the anus of the boy Ganymede to the one of his wife Juno (according to Martial), which Virgil claimed was one of the reasons why Juno never ceased to hate the Trojans (since Ganymede was a Trojan).

The story of Jupiter and Ganymede seems to be as relevant to the bacha bazi tradition in Afghanistan as it was to the Romans. Williams writes (my italics):

Ganymede, a foreigner abducted by a potentate in order to be his slave, corresponded perfectly to real role among Romans. (p. 59)

Hishikawa Moronobu: Male couple on a futon. Early 1680s.

There is an even more evident, and more recent historical parallel to bacha bazi, namely the kabuki theatre in pre-Meiji Japan in the 17th century, where boy actors sang and danced in front of a male audience. Afterwards, the actors were sexually available, just like the dancing boys of Afghanistan. The kabuki scene was extremely popular. Ihara Saikaku wrote a book of short stories in 1687, which was nothing less than a tribute to this form of theatre with its immensely beautiful boy actors. The author, or rather, his character, brags in the same way as Dastager, but also has an understanding of the problems:

… in my 27 years as a devotee of male love I have loved all sorts of boys, and when I wrote down their names from memory the list came to 1,000. Of all these, it was with only a very few that I shared a sense of honor and masculine pride; the others were working boys who gave themselves to me against their will. When you consider their suffering in aggregate, it must have been considerable. (8:3, p. 293)

The book is called The Great Mirror of Male Love in English and was translated by Paul Gordon Schalow (Stanford University Press, 1990), along with a very informative introduction.

In another story, the men talk about the boys in the same businesslike way as Dastager and his friends:

“That is the most handsome boy to pass all day. It must be Uemura Tatsuya.” They were correct, of course.

“People know quality when they see it,” a man from Mogami commented, sounding like a merchant selling wares. (8:4, p. 302)

Mostly though, the boys in Saikaku’s description of the kabuki theatre are worshipped by their admirers, who cut off their fingers to display their love for the boys. The boy is the master – not the other way around. This is obviously not the case in Afghanistan. Even though there are similarities to the kabuki tradition, the Afghan bacha bazi suffers from mainly two things:

  1. Bacha bazi is illegal. First, the Talibans forbid boys to dance in women’s clothes. Then the current, “Western” government did the same. Hence, bacha bazi is more or less an underground scene, with all the lack of control and regulations that come with that. The kabuki scene, in contrast, was recognised in society, and thus had developed its own culture, meaning the scene was not ruled by certain rich businessmen like in Afghanistan.
  2. Bacha bazi is driven by poverty. To dance at a kabuki theatre was a choice, to boys who were extraordinarily beautiful. Poverty leaves no choice, and that’s why the bacha bazi ends up like kabuki’s distorted mirror.

In fact, bacha bazi reminds more of the sex trade with teenage boys in Prague in the 1990s. Let’s get back to the documentary. The reporter manages to get a short one-to-one chat with one 14-year-old Afghan boy:

Aren’t you happy with your life?

– I’m afraid of those who will beat or kill me. I’m afraid of being abducted. My life is completely ruined.

So you’re afraid of them too?

– Yes.

In the bakery, do people ask you to go with them?

– Yes.

What do they say?

– They say, “Come and be with me.” My life is completely ruined, since so many people say, “Come with me.”

And if you don’t go, then it’s dangerous?

– If I don’t go, it’s dangerous.

This story could as well have featured in Wiktor Grodecki’s 1994 documentary Not Angels But Angels, where some Czech rent boys said approximately the same things, or at least with the same kind of despair. (Whereas others had Imam’s carefree attitude.) Both societies were poor and chaotic after sudden social change – a hotbed for exploitation.

It seems the fascination with the teenage boy is universal. In one form or the other, it is prevalent in all cultures in all ages. In some, there have been more developed ways of relating to the boy – there is culture. And as long as there is a culture, it doesn’t matter much exactly what forms this fascination takes – it’s all okay, since it’s, well, normal. It’s the lack of culture that paves the way for greedy individuals who exploit old traditions which in themselves are pretty harmless.

So what happened to Shafiq? As mentioned, the reporter team decided to help him. It wasn’t easy, since Dastager had the local police on his side. But with the help from the “cultured” former commander, they managed to find him and “abduct him back” from Dastager.

The father didn’t seem overjoyed to get his son back. He had now lost his income and was under constant threat from Dastager and his allies. The reporter team solved this by relocating Shafiq’s family to a village far away from their previous home, and give them some money as well to make it easier to start up in the new village and to let Shafiq go to school.

The last interview with Shafiq is supposed to make us happy:

How do you feel about being back with your parents?

– I feel good.

Have you started school or any courses yet?

– Yes. I’m doing an English course.

An English course?

– Yes.

What do you want to become in the future?

– My wish is to study in school. I want to become a doctor in the future. I want to be able to help other boys to improve their futures.

Sweet, right? But to me, his replies were as spontaneous as those he gave when Dastager whispered the right answers to him. He’s still the good boy who says what we want him to say, only with optimistic piano music in the background this time instead of the scary Dastager soundtrack. As Westerners, we want him to say that he has plans, that he loves school and that he wants to become a doctor. Good boy! But everything seems to matter more to the reporter, and to us viewers, than to the actual family.