The life of a male prostitute—a jinan—in the Floating World of the Beautiful Way in ancient China in the waning years of the Chu dynasty, 200 BC, was a sensual but cruel, often foreshortened, bitter-sweet existence. The Beautiful Way weaves a complex, romantic, and all too often tragic tale of the interwoven lives of six jinan of one male brothel—the Cut Sleeve Nanleshijia. Laid against their linked stories are those of the managers and servants who guided these beautiful young men through their training, their initiation—in which they became bitten peaches—and beyond to burn as bright stars, and, in too many cases, sputter too early to ash.
While providing an intricate network of stories of adventure, sexual exploits, and entwining relationships, The Beautiful Way strives to capture the essence of the deliciously euphemistic Oriental world of men making love to other men in China’s ancient past and covering two kingdoms. The stories of these six jinan and of the men who served, coveted, and mastered them are interwoven tales that go beyond the random act of sexual release between men. They offer more complex and context-richer studies by gathering age-old themes, exotic settings, and all-so-human characters up into the Floating World of the Orient in which men give themselves to other men—some more freely than others—for something in return, whether it is for money, position, power, survival, honor, service, devotion—or, not all that rarely, really, in unconditional love.
Warnings: graphic gay sex, control, domination, bondage, rough sex, fetish sex, violence in historical context.