This paper provides a critical review of the literature relating to male sex work and outlines approaches to theorizing about and researching male sex work. The adequacy of these models to explain the male sex work industry is discussed. The literature reveals that earlier studies conceptualized male sex work as deviance and focused on the individual sex worker and his reasons for engaging in sex work. Although the research agenda has recently moved away from the individual sex worker towards the sex work industry, the focus of the investigation continues to be from a deviance rather than a work perspective. A number of aspects of male sex work have received little attention in the literature. These include the interpersonal dialogues and power relations that constitute the commercial sexual negotiation, the role of political and economic forces, and expressions of male sexuality within the practice of commercial sex. The paper suggests future research directions and argues that researchers need to draw on the strengths of the male sex work community in order to promote safe sex practices in commercial researchers need to draw on the strengths of the male sex work community in order to promote safe sex practices in commercial sexual settings.