Official Review: The Hidden Playground by Peter Wood

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CatInTheHat
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Official Review: The Hidden Playground by Peter Wood

Post by CatInTheHat » 30 Jun 2019, 09:13

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Hidden Playground" by Peter Wood.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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As you open Peter Wood’s The Hidden Playground, you know immediately that despite being a work of nonfiction, it is likely to involve sexual content. Wood opens up with an introduction of his background and why he became a “hobbyist,” which means a person who uses an escort’s services for the purpose of having sex. He discusses his various encounters with women with great detail. He also shares information on some of the social constructs: laws (both international and in various states), history of the profession, cultural attitudes, and why people become hobbyists or “providers” (a term used for the escorts). Wood exposes his readers to a world that most are unfamiliar with, as it is so different from their own lives.

My favorite portions of the book were those that discussed the various social constructs of the “hidden playground.” As my degree is in sociology, I always find these types of things fascinating. In the discussion on demographics, I was surprised to learn that over 50% of hobbyists are married men. The chapter on history had me on the edge when I discovered that in the Middle Ages, a well-known Catholic priest encouraged prostitution as “it helped prevent what was considered to be the greater evils of rape, sodomy, and masturbation”; read the book to find out who this was!

Wood shared many of the women’s stories and background information. It was interesting to see such a diverse group of women. Many are college educated and find being an escort as more lucrative than jobs in their fields. There were quite a few single moms in the mix, as well. Sometimes he bartered with these women; for example, he helped one escort with her chemistry assignments. The biggest surprise were the ones whose husbands knew what they did and approved.

The Hidden Playground is explicit. Wood describes in detail many of the sexual encounters he had with escorts. I don’t mean that he says he had sex with “Mary” or did oral with “Suzy.” He actually describes HOW the oral is performed. Over and over again. The repetitiveness got to me more than the descriptions. If he felt descriptions were necessary, he could have used just a few examples to get his point across. He also repeats many of his stories, sometimes with almost the same phrasing, in different parts of the book.

At times, I found Wood slightly delusional in how he perceived the various women’s feelings and desires. Occasionally, he said that maybe they were acting. Maybe? I was surprised that there was minimal acknowledgment of human trafficking, and that he didn’t seem to consider that some of these women might not be performing these services by their own free will. Many of the women Wood paid were from foreign countries, where it is common for Americans to lure the women into this life that they can’t get out of due to their commitments to the “agency” or “the john.”

There are two appendixes plus a detailed listing of the Endnotes. The first appendix lists the various terms and abbreviations used in the “hidden playground.” The second appendix addresses the health and safety concerns facing both hobbyists and providers.

I rate The Hidden Playground 2 out of 4 stars. The repetitiveness was overt and, at times, tedious. The discussion of the various social constructs makes the book worthy of more than one star. The book will appeal to those who enjoy learning a bit about people’s hidden lives or who are fascinated by the unimaginable. Do not pick this book up if you do not like to read details of explicit sex.

The real question that I’ll leave you with is, “How does Wood’s story end?” I will tell you that it shocked and surprised me, bringing a few unexpected emotions.

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Post by Shadiid » 02 Jul 2019, 05:07

Oh my ...this book would depress me..but ,the manner in which this review is written lures readers .

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Post by Michelle Fred » 02 Jul 2019, 05:14

This book seems so fascinating, It tackles a subject I will like to explore. It's a pity the descriptions are overly repetitive I find overly descriptive books a chore to read. Thanks for your review.

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Post by dorebri2020 » 02 Jul 2019, 07:28

There are not nearly enough books that explore the genuine side of prostitution. More often than not, it is made a fetish and shown to an extreme point. However, I do not generally like the idea of extreme sexual descriptions. Great review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 02 Jul 2019, 08:21

I'm all for a shocking ending; however, not when the author provides gratuitous details of his sexual encounters over and over again. It does make me wonder how many of the "escorts" were victims of human trafficking, and that's such a sad thought that I don't even want to explore any possibilities of this book. Thanks for the information, though.
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Post by Cecilia_L » 02 Jul 2019, 14:03

While I fall into the category of not wanting to read about others' sexual exploits, I found your review interesting. Overt repetition is always a bummer.

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Post by Wyland » 03 Jul 2019, 04:20

Good to know such a situation exists and is perpetrated by people in normal relationships. Thanks for the review.

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Post by CatInTheHat » 03 Jul 2019, 05:50

kandscreeley wrote:
02 Jul 2019, 08:21
I'm all for a shocking ending; however, not when the author provides gratuitous details of his sexual encounters over and over again. It does make me wonder how many of the "escorts" were victims of human trafficking, and that's such a sad thought that I don't even want to explore any possibilities of this book. Thanks for the information, though.
I was pretty shocked. I was expecting more generalizations. I too wondered how many were actual trafficked women & he just didn't get it. Especially with the large number of women from Hungary & other parts of Eastern Europe.
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Post by cpru68 » 03 Jul 2019, 10:03

I would probably never read this book, but your review was EYE OPENING! As I read it, I kept thinking of how shallow a life this really is. There is no lasting joy, really. And at the end of it all...will he be a man who just recalls his various encounters with faces and names? I have my background in psychology and this book screams: get some help! Wow!
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Post by Wambui-nj » 03 Jul 2019, 13:20

Well, this might not be my cup of tea, but your review is interesting. I'm tempted to read though, because I want to know the priest who encouraged prostitution :roll:

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Post by Dee_218 » 04 Jul 2019, 12:03

This book is truly not for the light hearted and close minded. I personally would be interested in the psychological and social constructs but would struggle with the rest of the plot. Thank you for a great review

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Post by LinaMueller » 05 Jul 2019, 08:53

I'm no puritan but I don't believe in sex for the sake of sex. I hate this kind of book. They are generally superficial and boring. I can't understand how many erotic books are bestsellers (however badly written). Nevertheless, your review is great, CatInTheHat. Thanks for sharing.
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Post by danielleamy » 07 Jul 2019, 05:05

There should be more awareness and truth surrounding this topic. However, the fact that the author glosses over the fact many of these women are victims is disheartening. In light of that, I don't think I'll be reading this one. Thanks for the review!
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