From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
He worked as a physician in Chicago, rather unconventionally. Although he completed medical school and was a licensed doctor, he chose to work with hobos, prostitutes, the poor, and other outcasts of capitalist society. Notably, he performed abortions, which were illegal at the time.
Reitman was a flamboyant, eccentric character. Goldman conveys a sense of this when describes first meeting Reitman in her autobiography, Living My Life:
- He arrived in the afternoon, an exotic, picturesque figure with a large black cowboy hat, flowing silk tie, and huge cane. "So this is the little lady, Emma Goldman," he greeted me; "I have always wanted to know you." His voice was deep, soft, and ingratiating. I replied that I also wanted to meet the curiosity who believed enough in free speech to help Emma Goldman. My visitor was a tall man with a finely shaped head, covered with a mass of black curly hair, which evidently had not been washed for some time. His eyes were brown, large, and dreamy. His lips, disclosing beautiful teeth when he smiled, were full and passionate. He looked a handsome brute. His hands, narrow and white, exerted a peculiar fascination. His finger-nails, like his hair, seemed to be on strike against soap and brush. I could not take my eyes off his hands. A strange charm seemed to emanate from them, caressing and stirring...
Books written by Ben Reitman
- Pimpery (1931)