Tell me, what is a “she-male?”

In this amusing note sent to the famous (but since closed) Gotham Book Mart in 2001, author John Updike thanks the manager, Andreas Brown, for his recently received copy of Field and Vision, but more importantly poses a couple of light-hearted questions relating to the packaging in which his order was wrapped.

Transcript follows. Image supplied very kindly by Marc Alan Di Martino.


Feb. 26, 2001

Dear Andreas:

Thank you for the copy of Field of Vision. And for the wrapping from the Village Voice, the escort section. It showed me how out-of-date my vocabulary is becoming. Tell me, what is a “she-male” (they looked female to me, mostly) and what does “Outcalls Only” mean?

Or you don’t have to tell me and let me guess.


(Signed ‘John’)

John Updike