David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Month: April 2007


Yesterday I had an appointment with my Pilates instructor Jesse Singer, she runs SF Pilates on Market Street, spitting distance from Powell, where the world-famous cable cars originate, in the buzzing heart of the City, throbbing with freezing tourists, dead-eyed wage slaves, S&M slaves and their masters, masters of the universe barons of business, mumbling junkies, designer mothers with designer babies, beggars, borrowers, and thieves, high-end fashion models and lowlife hustlers, pseudo-Christian ranters and street dancing juveniles trying to become the next Michael Jackson, while the cable cars clang clang clang. I live in Marin, 24 minutes from this spot if I drive my Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster. My appointment is at 1 p.m.. If I drove in my car the journey might take an hour, and I knew for a fact that there would be nowhere to park and that didn’t cost a lot of money. Plus I love driving my Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster, and I feel it’s one tiny contribution I can make to this earth, to drive a vehicle that uses so much less fossil fuel, emits so much less toxic shit, takes so much less room to park. I grew up on the cusp of a generation who took those things quite seriously. Making the world a better place, thinking globally and acting locally and respecting the mother of us all: Earth. So it was a total no-brainer. I drove my 75 miles-to-the-gallon Harley to my one o’clock Pilates session with the lovely and talented Jesse Singer at SF Pilates.

Sadly, I was unaware that the City of San Francisco had declared war on her own citizens in such a sick, militaristic, police state way. I did not fully understand the City of San Francisco was now in the business of shaking down the very people who make it what it is. But her before I get to that, another reason I hate San Francisco is that as soon as you approach the Golden Gate Bridge, as breathtaking as it is, the temperature drops at least 15°. And when you’re on a motorcycle, that really sucks. Plus, people are so self obsessed that they pool are round in these enormous vehicles and don’t seem to be aware that there are other people driving on the roads with them. Many people in San Francisco seem to be under the mistaken impression that they’re shit doesn’t stink. And this certainly is evidenced by the way they we cruise willy-nilly in their vehicles, committing blatant acts of turn signal neglect and stop sign abuse. As I was slaloming along Lombard Ave., I found some space in the right lane, trying to beat the ridiculous traffic light pattern that makes it virtually impossible to go from one end of Lombard to the other without being stopped a half a dozen times by red lights, and I was making good time. Without any warning, a soccer mommish SUV with a very put together MILF yammering away on her Blackberry, decided to turn right from the middle lane. Thank God I have developed a system for handling these kind of situations on a motorcycle. I always operate under the basic assumption that everyone who is driving anywhere near me is trying to kill me. It’s kind of like I’m in my own action movie, I’m a hunted renegade and some evil government villains rife with greed and corruption are trying to have me assassinated. It’s a fun way to do something constructive about the very real danger inherent in driving a motorcycle. So I had already sized up the soccer mom and her SUV, already imagining her swerving into me, taking a shot at me with her state-of-the-art semiautomatic weapon, complete with its own silencer. So I am completely prepared for her unconscious attempt to kill me, and I jam on my brakes in plenty of time not to die.

So I make my way down to Market and Powell in plenty of time. I cruise around the neighborhood. I don’t want to park in the seedy groin of the Tenderloin, where crackheads, psychopaths, and other maniac lunatics who would love nothing more than to steal my Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster linger and loiter. So after cruising around the neighborhood, I park up on the sidewalk very unobtrusively, parallel to the street, next to a parking meter. I was very very careful not to block the sidewalk in any way. The same way I’ve been parking in San Francisco for years. I was always under the assumption that we had an understanding, the City of San Francisco and me. Yes, there is a parking epidemic, that’s obvious, we both acknowledged that, so we work together. If I can find a place to park my motorcycle where I’m not getting in anyone’s way, where I’m being respectful to others, I am allowed to park there. Because honestly, if everyone drove a motorcycle, or a moped, or scooter, around the Bay Area, it would be so much better for everyone in the smallest and the biggest of ways. So I locked up my Harley, and I went and had a fabulous Pilates session with Jess him e Singer of SF Pilates.

Try to imagine if you can the shock and horror I felt when I returned to my innocent with Harley, looking sad and abused and violated, with a parking ticket issued by the City of San Francisco sticking out of her. Imagine my rage when I discovered the City of San Francisco, who I thought was my friend and ally and partner, was extorting me for $100. $100. $100. To park, minding my own business, not hurting another soul. So that’s what it’s come to. A city full of millionaires run by fascist bastards extorting their own people, sucking their citizens dry run.

And that’s why I hate San Francisco.

If you go too far, you’re lost: a golfer’s nightmare


I had a dream last night where I was playing golf with Jack Nicklaus and two other professionals, one looked like view is from India or Pakistan or Fuji and the other was just your average old garden-variety professional golfer. A big gallery was watching us. We had all missed the green, and were looking at difficult approaches to saving our pars. The first golfer hit a fabulous flop shot, way up high in the air, it landed softly very close to the hole, and the appreciative gallery applauded. The ball rolled toward the hole, looked like it might go in, but at the last second it slid off to the right and almost came to complete stop. But it didn’t. It kept trickling, wouldn’t stop, just kept rolling along. It rolled slowly down a previously unseen slope, picking up speed as it went. It bombed toward a small creek running along the edge of the green, with a bridge over it. I thought to myself, That ball is going in the water, damn that sucks, he hit such a beautiful shot. But instead of rolling into the water, the ball was funneled towards a hidden hole, where it disappeared, like in a miniature golf putt putt course. The gallery groaned and sighed in dismay. The ball disappeared under the creek, you could hear it clunking down the tunnel, and you could feel the tension in the crowd as they waited to see where the ball was going to end up. Finally it spit out of the ground on the other side of the creek. It flew into the air, and landed next to a muddy, swampy bog where some very hungry looking alligators were lurking, lounging, ready for a midafternoon snack. In the background I could hear commentator saying what bad luck that was, what a great shot he hit, and how almost no one survives Alligator Alley, as the locals have dubbed it. Wait a minute, I thought, how did I miss those alligators? Were there always alligators there? Does the PGA know about this? Lanky lizards, that doesn’t seem right! I was standing on the other side of the green from the alligators, with Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear, the greatest golfer in the world has ever known. He is studying his upcoming chip shot. It’s a big green, and the hole is in the middle, so there’s plenty of room to run a pitch right up to the hole, leaving the ball below it for a tidy up and down, thus saving par. The only difficulty is that you have to get the ball up over a small blooming cactus garden that sits between Jack and the green. Cactus garden? How had I not seen all those beautiful blooming cactuses? Radioactive reds, outrageous oranges, blinding blues. So I said to Jack, You just going to pitch and run that up to the hole, eh? After all, he’s executed shots like this a million times before. Hey, you don’t get to be the Golden Bear for nothing. But Jack shakes his head, worried, purses his thin lips, exposing his white teeth. No, it’s a lot trickier than it looks, he said. If you go too far, you’re lost. Wow, I thought to myself, Jack is a deep guy. If you go too far, you’re lost. Jack Nicklaus is a really profound man. Who knew? Jack studies his shot, talks to his caddie, the gallery is restless in anticipation, the TV commentator is whispering about how everything rides on that in this shot, how hard the shot is, but if anyone can do it, Jack can. Jack addresses the ball, performs a few waggles, then strikes it. The white ball travels in a majestic arc over the Technicolor cactus blooms and lands exactly where it should on the green green. It’s rolling straight toward the hole, tracking like it’s metal and the pin is a magnet. The commentator excitedly whispers how this may go in the hole, and the crowd is going berserk, ready to erupt explosively when the ball goes in. Closer and closer it rolls. You just know in your heart that ball is going in, there’s no way it can’t, this is the Golden Bear after all. And yes, the ball actually hits the pin. It can bounces straight up into the air, and it seems to take forever as it plummets down down down, and now the crowd is holding its breath, you could hear a pin drop as the pin quivers in the hole. And the ball disappears like a rabbit down the hole. He did it! the commentator shouts, Jack did it again! The gallery screams and shouts and whoops and hollers. As do I. What a champion, what clutch performer, that’s why he’s the greatest that ever lived. And then suddenly the ball pops back up out of the hole. It hit the bottom of the cup too hard, it was going too fast, and the golf gods spat it back. The crowd groans and moans as for the ball skitters away from the hole, picking up speed as it rolls away, off the green and coming to rest in a sand trap. Jack stoically shakes his head, like he somehow knew this was going to happen. But wait a second, the ball is disappearing, the trap is actually quicksand! And the commentator whispers excitedly that Jack is going to have to go in after it, and there’s a very good chance he will come out alive. Well, the commentator comments, it’ll be a fitting end to a heroic golfing career. Quicksand? Since when has there been quicksand on the PGA Tour? I’m gonna have to talk to my union a rep about this, there’s got to be something in the bylaws about alligators and quicksand! Now it’s my turn to hit my shot. I know exactly what I want to do with the ball, I have my 64° wedge, but I can see the shot so clearly that I need to make. I want to click the ball with some backspin, to make it check up just below the hole. But all I can think about is those alligators and that quicksand, and now on the left side of the green I notice that there are land mines. Landmines? What the hell are land mines doing in the middle of a golf course? Now I see myself blown to bits, my blood and guts shooting into the sky and landing all over the green. I am paralyzed with utter fear. There is no shot I can hit that will not result in all horrifying painful death. If you go too far, you’re lost. And then I wake up hyperventilating in a cold sweat. Good morning to me.

SEX SELLS! An interview with America’s most famous male stripper

This is an interview I did for a book I’m putting together called Working Stiffs.

DHS: I think it’s amazing that through the war, and this ridiculous economy, you’ve managed to keep a male stripper show going.

SCOTT: Hey, sex sells.

The most interesting thing about Scott Layne is not that he’s one of America’s most successful male exotic entertainers. Or that he’s been taking his clothes off for women all over the world for twenty years. Or that he became a male stripping star at Chippendale’s Male Strip Club in New York City in the cash-happy mid-eighties. Or that for the last ten years he’s owned and operated his own male strip club, The Hollywood Men. Or that he was Playgirl’s Man of the Year in 1998. No, the most interesting thing about Scott Layne is what an average Joe he is.

Scott Lane Wisman was born a Midwestern boy who had pretty much everything he wanted. He was a happy child, apart from feeling like he was a homely nerd. But who doesn’t feel like that? Scott’s dad was a plant manager for Chrysler. Hard worker. Political. Smart. Master craftsman. “I always wanted the respect of my father and I felt like I never got it. One time I said, ‘Dad I know we’ve had our differences, but I just wanted you to respect me.’ And he said, ‘So did I.’ Like he couldn’t say he respected me, cuz he didn’t. I went straight into therapy after that.”

In high school Scott began his larvae-into-butterfly transformation from homely nerd to exotic male dancer man. He began dancing in the family rec room to “Saturday Night Fever”, deconstructed the numbers, move by move. He had no way of knowing it at the time, but in his own innocent Midwestern way, he was already training for a career entertaining people by stripping naked and getting them all sexed up.

Scott graduated from high school with a perfect 4.0 GPA and decided to go to the elite Air Force Academy in Colorado. He was picked out of ten of thousands of applicants. I mean, come on, how American is that? “I hated the Air Force. Hated it. So I punched. That’s what they call it. Like ejecting from a plane. I hated people telling me what to do.” As Scott was punching out of the Air Force Academy, his parents were divorcing. His dad was furious that he dropped out of the Academy, and Scott developed a nervous tick in his eye, a blinking he couldn’t control. “My blinking, it’s kind of like self-punishment, cause I feel like my dad was always so disappointed in me.” Making his withholding dad proud is a big part of what drives Scott so hard to succeed, drives him to need the love and attention of adoring crowds screaming for him, dancing and posing nearly-naked for them, working hard to make them sexually excited.

At 19, Scott moved to Motown with his mom. Enrolled in modeling school. Big waste of time and money. Changed his name, first to Julian Scott – after Richard Gere’s character in “American Gigolo” – then Lane Scott, then finally Scott Layne. He started going on modeling auditions. Go-sees they’re called. (You go. They see.) It was there that destiny called, in the form of a little black man who invited Scott to a strip club to try his hand at male exotic dancing. Turns out the clientele were all black. In fact he was the only white person there except for the owner. Scott didn’t care. He wanted to dance. He auditioned to “Head” by Prince. He was hired on the spot. He was the only white dancer on the bill. He made a fortune. The money was neither black nor white. It was all green. “The first time I danced I was so nervous, so excited, I had these huge butterflies in my stomach. Same thing I feel now when I dance. Hey, if you don’t have butterflies, it’s probably not worth doing. When I make a move, and they scream, it’s electrifying. It still is. I feel appreciated. That’s what I always wanted.”

After he’d been dancing for awhile, Scott went up to Canada to do a little “pickle shake”. But it’s Full Monte nudity there. As opposed to most of America, where you must keep your johnson fully packaged, no matter how small that g-string packaging may be. However, Canada and its penis-exposed stripping was not for Scott. “You had to wrap a rubber band around your dick so it doesn’t look like Mr. Shrimpy, but then it would start to turn blue, and that’s no good, nobody takes you seriously if you’ve got a blue dick, so the whole thing was kind of a nightmare.”

Scott decided he was ready for the Big Time, so he moved to the Big Apple, New York City, to be a star. He thought this would happen through his modeling/acting career. He was wrong. His arrival in Manhattan happened to happily coincide with the opening of Chippendale’s Male Strip Club. In the mid-eighties, Chippendale’s was the Mecca of male stripping, and it quickly became the hottest show in the city that never sleeps, packing 600 screaming women into the club every night, a sea of dollar bills waving as estrogen bounced off the walls. Scott was hired by a man who would change his life: Nick de Noia, the Emmy award winning choreographer/creative genius behind the Chippendale’s phenomenon. Nick was a former dancer, and a consummate showman. Scott wanted to be a star. It was a match made in stripper heaven. But Nick already had stars, having brought them from LA, where the club was launched. So Scott had to be content as a host. But he was always looking for his shot.

“I’ve always had the ability to know when someone was watching me without letting them know that I know they’re watching. So one night I knew Nick was watching me, but he didn’t know that I knew he was watching. And this Little Old Lady offered me a dollar for a kiss. I knew Nick was watching, and I told her she could have a kiss and keep her dollar, save it for one of the dancers. After that Nick changed his mind about me. So one night when the Perfect Man’s flight was late, he said I could do the Waiter number, where a host is dragged out onto the floor, supposedly against his will, and they ‘force’ him to dance. It’s a great number, and it requires a lot of acting. Luckily, it went really well, and the ladies loved it. Then Nick started working with me, he taught me drama and flair and showmanship, how to work a crowd. He really took me under his wing, he became like my father. He taught me that women want an obtainable fantasy, they want a masculine sensuality, they don’t want graphic sexuality. I’m trying to redefine the art of stripping, make it old-fashioned but contemporary. Nick called me the Gypsy Rose Lee of male stripping, and I’m very proud of that. I’m old school, I care about the performance, I care about the little old ladies. And I got that from Nick. I remember exactly where I was when I heard he was killed. I was in Wichita, Kansas about to do a show with my new troupe Seduction 87. I dedicated the show to him, and it was the best show I ever did. I pay homage to Nick whenever I do a show. I still miss him to this day.”

One night Calvin Klein came to see the show. Calvin knew Nick. Everybody knew Nick. After the show CK said he wanted to talk to Scott in the private office upstairs. When Scott went up, everyone was blowing lines of coke. Scott didn’t want to mix business with pleasure so he declined Klein’s lines. Then everyone left the room and suddenly Scott was alone with Calvin Klein, who at the time was slightly more famous than God. Calvin asked Scott to take his clothes off. Scott told Calvin he’d love to work for Mr. Klein, but since he’d just seen the show, he already knew what Scott looked like without his clothes on. Mr. Klein then offered Scott $400 to get naked. He told Calvin to fuck off and stormed out of the room. At the top of the stairs Scott looked down and all the other dancers were glaring up at him like he’d let Calvin Klein do him for money. This rumor spread like wild fire through the club, and resulted in rancorous animosity toward Scott. “Hell, I shoulda taken the money, any of those guys would’ve. But it was against my sense of morality, so I didn’t. And people still talked all this shit behind my back, that I took money from Calvin Klein, that I let him give me a blow job, which was total bullshit. Hey, fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. But I’m not a whore, never have been. During the show, I’m not selling a kiss. They’re tipping me cuz they appreciate my dancing. I kiss them cuz I appreciate them. If you’re not appreciating me, keep your fucking money. I hate it when they say, ‘Here’s a dollar, work for it.’ Women have indirectly asked me to have sex for money. They don’t come right out and say it, but it’s obvious that’s what they’re saying. For me, it’s wrong, but for other people, it’s not. I don’t judge people by what they do as long as they’re not hurting anyone. Hey, whatever pulls yer trigger. It just bothers me when people try to impose their views on me.”

Scott got tired of New York, Chippendale’s, and working for someone else. So he left, and ended up dancing in Wichita, Kansas, making 10 grand for two nights. There he got into an altercation with a fellow stripper. “The whole scene was kind of pathetic, these guys, the other dancers, they were having Blow Job contests. Me, I would take the chick out to lunch. Sure I wanted to fuck ‘em, but I wanted something more. This guy Bob, what a prick he was, he was such an asshole to me, so I told him his whole family was a bunch of monkeys, and he beat the shit out of him, really fucked me up. So I thought, time to move to LA.”

Scott wanted to open his very own exotic male dance club in LA. So he started The Hollywood Men. Even though it’s mad hard work running the show and dancing, these two jobs perfectly personify the two sides of Scott’s personality. When he dances, he gets to play, the sex Muse flows through him, and he becomes that kid in the rec room again. But running the business feeds the serious side of his personality, the one that follows in his father’s footsteps. “I complain that I have to do everything myself, but I’m a perfectionist, and I want it done right. I build the sets, I choreograph, I do the payroll, EDD, acquisitions, corporate pay roll, filing. It’s really important to me that the show is done right. I hate when dancers don’t pay attention to older women, and to women who aren’t traditionally hot. I always bring an older lady out and do a number to her. It turns younger women on, they think, ‘Oh, he’s sweet, he has no ego, he just made her night.’ Plus the older lady feels good, you can see it, and that’s contagious. And honestly, it makes me feel good to know I’ve made an older woman happy, I feel like I’ve done something good in the world. Some ladies like hot bodies, some like performance and personality. I’m not always dancing my best, but I always give it everything I’ve got, that’s the least I can do. For me, it’s all about sharp moves, quick moves, that are sensual and sexy without being graphic. After twenty years, I still love it, I still love making those moves, and feeling that shiver when they scream.”

Scott’s parents know he’s a stripper. His mother has always been very supportive of his chosen career. When she came to see him at Chippendale’s, Scott brought her up on stage, and she had a blast. But everyone has their own line in the sand, and she was totally opposed to his appearance in Playgirl. She thought it was wrong. Scott and his father have a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy when it comes to Scott’s being an exotic dancer. His dad has never seen Scott dance, but he and Scott discuss the business end of everything. His dad had no problem with Scott posing nearly nude in Playgirl. He saw it as a business decision, a great marketing tool for the club. When it comes to sex and money, everybody has a different moment when they say when.

“With Playgirl, there was an issue about the total nudity thing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, and I wasn’t sure it was good for the club. My mom certainly didn’t want me to do it. So I did a shoot in a waterfall. I tied off and everything, so it was full, you know, but you couldn’t quite really see everything. When they got the shots back, they said they wanted me. Later that year they named me Man of the Year. I’m the oldest Man of the Year in history and I’m proud of that. Nudity doesn’t make me self-conscious, I can be outside the club having a smoke, and just be in my shorts and people are all dressed up going into clubs, doesn’t bother me. But if I blink and I can’t control it, I’m very self-conscious, and I feel like everybody’s watching me. I feel like I’m imperfect. If I feel less than perfect I feel terrible.”

Scott Layne is from a nice Midwestern family that loves him. He’s a business owner, a homeowner, a son and a dad. He also just happens to have built a career out of stripping nearly naked and dancing nearly nude. “I’ve got a great life. My mom is the best woman in the world. I love dancing. I’m my own boss. My house was paid for with dollar bills, I love my son.’


A Master’s Rant: Why Professional Golfers Suck

Why professional golfers are whiny little bitches


I am a golfer. There I said it. I’m not ashamed. Okay, maybe a little, but not much. So naturally I spent the last four days watching the greatest golfers in the world compete in the Masters, one of golf’s most prestigious events. I was shocked and horrified, horrified and shocked as I watched one pampered, Pansy-assed, Candy-faced golfer after another whine, moan, and bitch about how bad they had it. “Oh, it’s so terrible, we hit the ball and we don’t know where it’s going, we never know where it’s going to end up. We can’t work under these conditions, golf isn’t the supposed be like this, it’s too hard, we don’t like it, we’re not having any fun out there.” Let me tell you something motherfucker, golf is not supposed to be easy. You’re supposed to suffer when you play golf. Golf is supposed to make you miserable and put you through the ringer, just like life. You think you had tough working conditions this weekend? My grandfather was a coal miner. When he went to work in the morning it was still dark, and he worked his ass off all day, and when he dragged himself up out of the mines, after his shift was over, it was dark again. This man went for days weeks without seeing the sun, toiling away in a coal mine while black lung disease was trying to do a hostile takeover of his respiratory system. That man had a hard job. That man had every reason to whine about how tough it was. But did he? No. Professional golfers whine. You want a hard job? Try being Pat Tillman. Now that guy had a hard job. I’d say having to worry about chili dipping a sand wedge doesn’t really hold a candle to having your head blown off by your own guys. If you don’t believe me go ask Sergeant Tillman about how tough it is to be a professional golfer. Oh that’s right, you can’t, he’s dead. I thought this Masters was one of the most entertaining spectacles I’ve ever seen him. It gave me such immense pleasure to watch all these superstars who live in the lap of luxury snivel and crawl their way around Augusta. But if you ask me, it wasn’t hard enough. I want them to make Augusta, and every other golf course the PGA plays on, a hundred times harder. I want to see these wankers go all Tin Cup, and hit one ball after another into the water, splash splash splash. I want to see them breaking their clubs on trees and or in frustration. I want to see them four and five putt those monstrous greens. I want them to feel like I do on a golf course. I never know where the balls going. I never know where it’s going to end up. I want them to finish at least 15 strokes over par every single round. Just like I do. If it was up to me the winning score at next year’s Masters would be 100 over par. Let’s see how Tiger and Phil and Ernie hold up when they have to play around like I do. That would make me very happy. Well, that’s my two cents worth, and with inflation I owe you one.




I was excited when I agreed to be the token breeder whiteman on the Sex Worker Art Show (SWAS) tour that bumped, ground and belted its way all across the USA.  Ten well-met ex-sex worker women, one fine transgendered fellow and me, a forty-six year old ex-gigolo-ho-rentboy.  I will now tell the true story of how my book got banned by the prostitutes, and how I became a better man for it.
It starts at the beginning, on the West Coast fish-netted leg of the SWAS, a traveling menagerie of musicians, artists, spoken worders, exotic dancers, and madcap activists, all of whom have worked in the sex industry.  As I fly up to Portland, I’m excitedly optimistic and trepidatiously terrified.  But I believe that despite our differences, there will be room for their whore stories, and my whore stories; that we will represent this under-represented population who’ve been reviled and glorified, jailed and inhaled, raped and worshiped, put on a pedestal and spat upon for centuries; that we will celebrate the humor and the beauty, the anger and the tragedy, the pure power of the artist-whore who makes people squeal and feel and laugh and cry, and screams that the emperor has no clothes on.  Personally this is the next step in my attempt to unite my above-ground suburban whiteman half and my underground-raped-ho’-drug-addict half; so I can become my whole truth-telling, sweet-hearted, spreading, evolution-friendly, being-of-service self in every moment.  As opposed to the apologizing, desperately-attempting-to-make-every-single-person-like-me self which I manifest so often in public.
Opening night I arrive at the club a mass of jangling nerves, the world-weary-weight of whiteman’s burden yoking and choking me, terrified that in this sex worker world a 46 year-old Caucasian breeder will be booed, heckled  and hated, will never in a million years be able to rock the house.  It’s January cold in rain-as-usual Portland.  I stalk skittish through the skeevy club, like a freaked animal trying to pretend everything’s normal, but knowing he’s going to be eaten alive.
Luckily my need-to-please is so powerful that it provides me with an immediate opportunity to be useful.  There is much roadie work to be done: guitars, amps and costume boxes need to be humped out of the van, down the stairs, hump hump hump.  I like it.  Gives my mind and my muscles something to focus on that isn’t my own miserable failure and the irrational fear that everyone’s gonna HATE ME.
After there’s nothing left to hump, I settle into the basement dressing room like a dog in a room full of cats.  There’s flesh everywhere: overflowing, undernourished, hard, soft, rippling, cut, hanging, shaved heads and coochies, beaucoups of tattoos.  Everyone’s preparing, as if for a religious celebration or battle, laying out costumes/uniforms and artifacts/weapons.   Sweat pants magically morph into seamed stocking.  Chunky boots into stiletto heels.  Wooly scarves into feather boas.  T-shirts into slit-happy minis and tit-lifting corsets.
A quick sample of backstage banter:
“Are you gonna do your puke number tonight?  Oh, okay, cool, but try to keep it on the tarp.”
“One time I was doin’ phone work, and this guy says, ‘Yer a twelve foot giant, and yer sitting on my head.’  Thank God for the mute button, cuz I’m laughing my ass off.  Then I get myself together, you know, and I’m like, (Deep Butch voice) ‘Yeah, baby, I’m huge, I wear size 24 shoes.’  That drove him wild.  He was my regular after that, and he always wanted me to describe how big my shoes were.”
“One trick likes me to feed him dog shit.  He loves it.  Every week he brings me these baggies full of dog shit.  And he’s a really clean guy, you know, he practically squeaks when he walks.  He’s really sweet, you know, really quiet.  But the funny thing is, I keep picturing him going out in his neighborhood with his little plastic bag and following dogs around waiting for his dooky snack.
“Why can’t people be naked on the outside?”
“I love it when people say, ‘I’m not hungry’, like that has anything to do with eating.”
“I got tired of the being the ho with the umbrella.”
A sex worker artist is scrambling to get her computer working, crazed mumbling, she flicks her lit cigarette near my feet and snarls, “Put that out!” dark blackness ripping out of her.  A direct order.  My Achilles heel, I can’t stand somebody ordering me around.  Rankles my dander, raises my hackles.  But she’s clearly in distress, so I put the cigarette out with a friendly smile.
Back upstairs the club is suddenly alive.  Freaks in fishnets and preppies in plaid, trannies with hot fannies and shy guys in ties, vinylized virgins and rubberized radicals, lots of leather and plenty of pleather, piercings in tongues, lobes, noses, nipples, lips, and places you didn’t even know there were places, middle-aged men in diapers, lone wolves and vampy vipers, divas and dykes, piss queens and fisting mavens, CLEAVAGE, CLEAVAGE, CLEAVAGE, dandies with candy, women dressed as men, men dressed as women, women dressed as men dressed as women, and some who have clearly not made up their mind.
A bunch of grrrrrrrls crrrrrrrrowd around a drinking table: ultrawhite spiked mohawk, one you’d swear’s a beautiful boy in a greasemonkey shirt, and a shaved babe you just know could punch yer lights right out.  Lots of piercings.  Running up and down ears.  Lips.  Eyebrows.  Noses.  I visualize them all naked.  Pierced belly buttons, labias, nipples and clits.  What a drag to have to go through the metal detector at the airport.  That’s my first thought.  But boy o boy they’re having fun, laughing and carrying on.  I’m slightly surprised at the number of extraordinarily hetero couples.  Going to see sex workers doing art is apparently a valid breeder date these days.  Go figure.  Some tough leather men.  Dandies flapping, flitting and drinking in kooky outfits.  Flocks of goths in vampire colors.  Women.  Young.   Middle-aged.  Old.  Women.  I’m agog with a child’s wonder as I wander happily in this estrogen-happy land.
I approach a woman in her early thirties: beige pants and a sweater, very Portland.  I asked her why she’s there.  “When I was little I found out there were strippers, and when I asked my mom what a stripper was, she hemmed and hawed and she didn’t really answer me, so I knew whatever it was, it was forbidden, it was bad, and of course that just made it more appealing, and I really wanted to do it.  Then I discovered there were prostitutes, and I really wanted to do that.   I still do, I guess, I mean I’d like to just try it to see what it’s like.  I’m a baker.  I have my own company.  I bake cakes, cookies, pies, muffins, everything.”
Annie Oakley, emcee and inventor of the Sex Worker Art Show, introduces the first performer to the packed-tight crowd and they roar in approval. When Ducky DooLittle sashe¥s on stage like four feet and ten inches of N’Awlins bordello lampshade, beaming sexy and sweet: “Hi Portland.  I’ve had a lot of good sex in Portland!”  The crowd crawls into the palm of her hand, and purrs there, as Ducky kicks us off with a bang.
I can’t focus, I’m all caged pacing.  Each performer’s a blur of words: trick-hating, dope-shooting, hilarious harrowing narratives, rap and rhyme, my time getting closer and closer until it’s me, it’s suddenly my turn, she’s introducing me, and I’m up onstage, in the place where I can really be whatever I want to be.  When I make fun of stupidwhitemen like myself, they laugh loud as one, and the transcendent wave sweeps through me, as they now crawl into my palm and purr.  When I do the part about me getting raped, there’s that brutal stark silence as they all soak it in.  And there it is, that’s why I’m here: to speak for all of them, the raped boys and the raped girls.  I guide the audience back in, and before I even know it, my twelve minutes are up, and damn man, my slambang ending works like gangbangbusters, and I’m off to a thunderous ovation.  I did it.  The 46 year old whiteman rocked the house.  Afterwards I’m accosted, as I almost always am, by women who’ve been ripped open and torn apart.  They buy my book at the merch table where all the other books are.  I sign my books.  I listen to their stories.  I feel their relief as they confess, toxins fuming out of them like invisible radiation.  Hugs are exchanged.  And I understand why I’m here: to speak the unspeakable, and to hear the unheard.
In Eugene sex worker’s/artist Violet Rae brings two young women up from the audience and teaches them how to strip.  The squat&thrust, the turnaround bendover peekaboo, the pussypat and the shimmyshimmy shake.  After some initial timidity, the two amateurs let loose their goose and get funky with their chicken, flaunting their raise-the-roof sexsexsexiness, bringing down the house.  After the show I run into one them: she’s early twentyish, backwards baseball cap over tight blond hair, two large rings in her lip that make her look like she’s a large fish that’s been caught a few times but always manages to wriggle away.  Statuesque cheeks and blazing eyes, she’s fabulous farmboy hot.  Her grrrrrrrrrlfriends buzz around her like she’s a rockstar.  Which, for tonight, she is.  I ask her if she had fun.  “HELL YEAH!”   I ask her if she was nervous.  “Oh yeah, definitely, I was mad nervous, but Violet Rae, she was like, so totally great… she made me feel like I could totally do it, so I was like, ‘I can either stand here and be a dork, or I can just go for it.’  So I’m like, ‘What the hell, might as well go for it.’  And when the crowd started goin’ apeshit, I’m like, ‘Wow, this shit rocks.’  So then I really started going for it, you know, and I’m just like… wow!”  Funny how much more articulate she was with her body than she is with her words.  I tell her she was really great.  She takes it in.  Looks right at me: “So were you, man.”  She opens, moves in for the hug.  And I give it to her, a hug of tremendous breadth and depth, a hug that takes its time and doesn’t need to hurry.  If you’ve never been hugged by a 22 year-old dyke who really means it, you have no idea what you’re missing. And there it is again: this is why I’m here.
Four shows in, I’ve humped luggage, dozed fitful in vans, woken at dawn, busted and rebusted my ass to get it right every night.  They’re crazy cheering audiences, they so want to interact, to fly their freak flag by embracing us.  In our 2-van posse driving from Portland to San Francisco, we have a great midnight dinner at some divey lizardy truckstop, we walk in like rockstars, all heads turning, we’re got our own little tribe, and it’s dead powerful.  It’s someone’s birthday and Annie Oakley has a cake and we all have this great chocolate bomb of a slice.  And then suddenly it’s 4 AM and we still have a huge chunk of road to go to get to the Golden Gate, and everybody’s dog-tired.  So I volunteer to drive, and while everyone else sleeps like cranky babies, me and the amazing shotgun-riding Ducky DooLittle tell each other our stories in whispers all through the long humming road night.  As the sun also rises and we pull into the Bay Area, I feel at one with my sex worker sisters and brother, in that van, in the trenches, with this traveling-circus family, being my true self.
After the first four shows I take a break from the tour because of prior engagements.  Fast forward to fifteen days later, I’m rejoining the SWAS in New York City, at the Knitting Factory.  I immediately resume dragging bags and luggage humping.  Hump hump hump.  Before the show starts Annie Oakley pulls me aside and says, “We have to talk.”  It’s one of those classic moments, when you go stone cold, cuz you know someone’s about to break up with you, or fire you, or tell you somebody in your family just died.  Well, Annie explains softly and sweetly, it seems Certain Unspecified Performers have complained that my book is racist.  She says that the Unspecified Performers claim I speak disparagingly about female genitalia.  She is sympathetic on this point, as she herself speaks disparagingly about female genitalia in her part of the show.  Reeling, I rock back, my mouth freeze-dries and my palms clam.  Do not apologize!  My brain screams, anytime anyone defends themselves against something like this, they immediately start to sound like a huge lame-ass.  Annie Oakley informs me that I am to censor my performance.  DO NOT DEFEND YOURSELF!  But my need-to-please, my irrational fear that EVERYONE HATES ME, and my stiff British upperlip betray me and I pathetically mumble, “Wow, I’m really sorry.”
DAMN ME!  This is not who I want to be.
Annie Oakley then informs me that my book will be banned from sale on her merch table, where everyone else sells their books.  She tells me she hasn’t actually read the book (which been out two years) but she suspects that the charges of racism are probably true.
Sledgehammer to the knees buckles me.  Lightheaded now, shortbreathed, the tears start to rise up from the well.  And here I utterly fail.  To be my genuine self.  I stop the tears.  The upper lip stiffens, and the flow of sadness is arrested.  Why didn’t I show her my pain, the real me under the smiling and the apologizing?  Why did I revert to being a stupid whiteman?  Annie Oakley encourages me quite sweetly to continue on the tour if I want, but I will almost certainly be the object of angry confrontations, and/or cold shoulders.  Now I err once again.  I do the one thing my brain has been screaming at me not to do.  I defend myself.  And even as I’m shoveling it out, this is what it sounds like to me: “Blah blah blah, yada yada yada, blah blah blah, yada yada yada.”  My voice has ratcheted up into that whiteman-in-anxiety whine, and even I have to admit that I sound like a guilty guy trying to weasel his way out of something ugly, until I actually utter that ultimate racist-defends-himself line: “Seriously, some of my best friends are black people.”  Annie Oakley explains that I probably wrote something racist and didn’t even know it.  Not that I necessarily did, because again she hasn’t read my book.  But since she doesn’t know for sure one way or the other, and she really doesn’t want to marginalize oppressed people, my book will be banned from her merch table until further notice, and I will censor myself.  Annie Oakley, like almost everyone on the tour, is white.
I smile sickly and I apologize, apologize and smile sickly, pretend like everything’s normal, like I did when I was a boy ho on a date that went horribly wrong and I wanted give the money back and get the hell out of there, but I couldn’t, so I disassociated and left my body, just bit the bullet and took one for the team while I kept that hunky dory expression plastermasked on my face.  Through what looks like a pathetically insincere smile, Annie Oakley tells me she feels really bad about all this, but her hands are tied.
As she strolls away, my repression turns me into an angry sleuth, and I sniff around pissed, trying to figure out which ho accused me of being a racist.  Could it be Scarlot Harlot, the kind-hearted activist?  No, I’ve know her for years, and I humped her bags everywhere we went, she loves me.  Could it be Erochica, the brilliant Japanese 2003 World Burlesque Champion?  No, she stayed at my house, she was so happy to see me, big squeal of glee, big hug.  Could it be the transgendered hiphopper?  Possibly, he’s one of the only non-whites on the tour.  Dubious though, he seems so way laid back, so live-and-let-live, so mindin’-my-own-beezwax, so like somebody who’d talk to your face about this kind of thing first. Could it be the shortstoryist who writes about her days as a street tweaker, petty thief, and hardcore ho?  No way, she too stayed at my house in SF, I hung out with her husband and played with her beautiful mixed-race grandchild.  Suddenly I feel all sick and twisted.
Sadly one of the aftermaths of getting violently raped is that I often imagine there is danger and trouble all around me, even when none really exists.  Suddenly here now I feel like the ultimate odd man out.  In a self-loathing daze of crazed confused alienation I wander around making eye-contact with each and every one of my fellow performers.  Every single one of them smiles in my eyes like everything’s normal.  They’re all so nice.  It hits me then that it’s not just the unproven accusation of racism; it’s the making-ugly-accusations-behind-your-back-while-smiling-to-your-face-backstabbingness of the whole thing.  It’s really creepy.  We’re not exchanging ideas, being brothers and sisters.  That’s what I’m here for.  But they don’t seem to want a discussion.  They seem to have tarred me in abstentia.  It’s all gone so terribly wrong and become so very disturbing.  I am disturbed.  And here I fail again.  I withdraw into my withdrawal, watching myself go slow through the motions, smiling and chitting and chatting as the pink elephant of racism waves its mammoth member around the room.  Not who I want to be.  Not at all.
Now the Rants began in my brain.  Don’t they understand that censorship and book banning are tools of totalitarian religious fanatic fascism?  That’s what rabid fundamentalist do to books they haven’t read and condemn out of ignorance.  It’s what happens when people knee-jerk at words without trying to understand.  Idiots and nincompoops banned Huck Finn for exactly the same reason these supposedly enlightened people are banning my book.  Now I’m listening to the show through new furious ears.  Ears that have been boxed and bloodied by the long arms of unsubstantiated racist rumors.  A female performer comes out and says, “I hate men but I love c*ck.”  And it hits me like a ton of dildos.  She hates this whole group of people for no other reason than the accident of being born one sex and not another.  This is a group of which I am a member.  I imagine myself coming out and saying, “I hate women, but I love pussy.”  Or, “I hate black people, but I love black pussy.”  They’d hand me my roasted balls before they ran me out on a rail.  It’s hate-spewing prejudice in a hate-filled world.  She is not only permitted to say this, she is encouraged.  And the things is, I want her to have the freedom to say it.  I want to hear it.  But why is there room for her voice, but not for mine?
And then suddenly it’s me up next.  I’ve been doing this stuff for 25 years, and Annie Oakley gives me the worst introduction I’ve ever had in a quarter of a century.  After the show my friends will ask me, “Why does that emcee hate you?”  I’ll say, “What do you mean?  She doesn’t hate me.”  “Well, it was like a cold wind whipped in when she introduced you.  She called your book a novel when it’s memoir, she said you looked all nervous, and then she mumbled your name.  And she said such nice things about so many other people, and nothing nice at all about you.  It was weird.”  I don’t even notice at the time.  I’m overjoyed to be back onstage, a place where I can control everything, including myself.  And I’m extry-sharp tonight.  It’s packed again, and I have a blast, leaving with a broad roar, blasts of cheers and whistles and whoops and hollers and there in that moment I am happy once more.
As usual, I’m approached by the curious and the damaged.  People want to buy my book.  Like a smuggler I take them into a dark corner to sell them my banned black market book.  They tell me their stories.  I listen.  It’s so good to swim in that river of confession and redemption again.  I sign the books clandestinely, wondering in my sick agitation what would happen if I got caught selling my banned book.  Usually I would help hump all the stuff up all the stairs.  But tonight I don’t feel it.  I leave with some straight friends from the straight world.  Used to be I wasn’t straight enough for the straight world, nor ho enough for the ho world.  Now that I’ve come out as a raped hoing boy, I’ve lost and/or cut out many of my alleged friends from the straight world.  But those who’ve remained accept me as I am, and those are the good ones.  O how they make me laugh as I recount the idiocy of Annie Oakley and the Sex Worker Art Show.  They reflect on what a terrible thing it when an oppressed group takes on the worst characteristics of the group oppressing them.  Yet, they sigh, it seems somehow inevitable.
That night after I go back to the little room where I’m staying, I feel like I’m losing my mind.  Finally I lay my raging head down upon my bed, beyond tired, hotwired and brainfevered but determined to go on with the tour.  To unite my selves.  Who am I kidding, I can’t sleep.  So I call the CEO of my company.  She tells me I would be an insane person to continue on with the tour.  To be attacked and/or cold-shouldered would gut me.  As soon as she says that I start crying.  I cry on and off for the next week, all those stopped tears pouring out with interest.  Plus, says my CEO, I can’t in good conscience support an organization that bans books without reading them.  She reminds me that I am violently opposed to oppression, suppression and censorshipping of all kinds.  I argue with my CEO that it’s probably only a couple of people, that to run away would be chicken.  My CEO laughs: the name of my book is Chicken, which is American slang for a teenager who engages in indiscriminate sexual activities for money.  My CEO says that with my personality I’d have to be not only insane but a masochist moron to continue with a group who obtusely accuses me of the type of blind hatred I’ve been trying to eradicate for decades, and the thought of me lurking around like some haunted hated freak is too much for her to bear.
Again I lay me down to sleep, pillowed head on bed.  Should I stay or should I go?  I just cannot get comfortable.  I toss.  I turn.  Toss. Turn.  Toss.  Turn.  Toss.  Turn.  Suddenly the sky’s lighting and OH GOD NO!  It’s morning.  I scrunch into the far corner of the bed and somehow find a position of comfort.  Suddenly I’m in my Victorian Painted Lady dream house, with the turret, the long sweeping staircase, the four poster bed with see-through canopy.  This is the place I am most at home in the whole world, the place I’ve been looking for ever since I was a raped hoing boy.  People upstairs tiptoe and whisper.  I know with dream certainty that certain unidentified sex workers are upstairs, and they are here to kill me.  Pulse pounding heart thudding thumping breath noosed tight chest constricting as the sex worker women creep down the stairs.  To kill me.  I run hide in the kitchen, and crouching in a broom closet I can see through a hole peeping like a wee boy.  They stalk, predator for my blood as I shiver in the closet.  I can’t die here, not in this house.  Clunky boots and stiletto heels tromp and spike silently stalking me.  Holding breath, I’m smelling cleaning fluids and broom shit.  They pass, I bolt to the next room, it’s an exhausting deadly hide&seek, cat&mouse: I will not die tonight I keep telling myself.
Sweating awake I shake my hot horrified head, gut in knots, balls aquiver.  It’s clear I cannot continue with the tour.  Here in this unfamiliar room in New York City I am suddenly more alone than I’ve ever been.  I crave a sex worker I can have sex with, dive into and forget my sorrows with, soothe my ache, and ease back into my drug addict ho world.  This is part of my illness.  This is what I did for years after I retired from the sex business.  Peeling back the next layer of the onion, I realize that’s not what I really want.  It’s like an itching rash.  You scratch it and it feels good at first.  But you have to keep scratching, which just makes it itch worse, and before you know it, you’ve scratched so hard you’ve got an itchy bloody mess on your hands.  What I really want is to drink from the cup of human kindness, and bask in the arms of someone who really loves me.  But I’m away from home, and don’t know where to turn.  So I call up a friend.  She advises me to get some really good food first.  Then write all this down.  And when I write it all down, the itch disappears.  Go figure.
In the end I am grateful that I had the opportunity to confront the worst part of myself.  Grateful to take the next step towards uniting my selves.  Yes, my book was banned by the prostitutes.  And yes, I am a better man for it.

Travis & Freddy’s Adventure in Vegas

3241917Buy the book.

Travis & Freddy’s Adventure in Vegas

Travis is a maniac with a million-dollar smile. Freddy is a brainiac with a million-dollar brain. In Travis & Freddy’s Adventures in Vegas (Dutton Children’s Books; Hardcover; On Sale April 2006; 176 pgs; $15.99; Ages 10 and up), these two buddies—one the coolest kid and the other the biggest nerd at Walla Walla Junior High—set out to save Travis’s dad from disaster by winning big in Las Vegas, armed only with Travis’s charm and Freddy’s latest invention: a pair of glasses wirelessly connected to a laptop programmed with his homemade guaranteed-to-win-at-blackjack software..

Safely ensconced in the Elvis Suite in their Las Vegas hotel, room service flowing freely, everything looks good until they meet Johnny Large, the meanest— and shortest—gangster in Vegas. Once Johnny Large is on the scene, it’s going to take a lot of luck (and some help from Sam, their sassy new lady cabdriver friend) to get out of Vegas alive!

This fun-loving adventure tale is sure to make even the most reluctant reader devour its pages and is being embraced by booksellers all over the country. Travis & Freddy’s Adventures in Vegas is the first book in this series.

Henry Johnson will use his years as a professional clown, comic and actor, to put on an event which tickles funnybones, rocks houses and entertains Big Time.

Rave Reviews for Chicken


Chicken was published by HarperCollins (ReganBooks) in 2002, then Canongate in the UK in 2003, and de Kern in Holland in 2004. It came out in German (Rowohlt, 2005), Spanish (Grupo Planeta, 2005), Croatian (Celeber, 2005). It is coming out in Italian (Adelphi, 2007), and Russia (Red Fish, 2007).

“Sterry writes with comic brio… [he] honed a vibrant outrageous writing style and turned out this studiously wild souvenir of a checkered past.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

“This is a stunning book. Sterry’s prose fizzes like a firework. Every page crackles… A very easy, exciting book to read – as laconic as Dashiell Hammett, as viscerally hallucinogenic as Hunter S Thompson. Sex, violence, drugs, love, hate, and great writing all within a single wrapper. What more could you possibly ask for? -Maurince Newman, Irish Times

“A beautiful book… a real work of literature… wonderfully written.” – Vanessa Feltz, BBC

“Insightful and funny… great stories… captures Hollywood beautifully…” – Larry Mantle, Air Talk, National Public Radio

“Priceless material.” -Details Magazine

“Humorous and charming… Outrageous and entertaining…” – Michael Williams, BBC 1

“A breezy read, pleasingly free of self-pity… very funny.” -The Observer

“Jawdropping… A carefully crafted piece of work…” -Benedicte Page, Book News, UK

“A 1-night read. Should be mandatory reading for parents and kids.” -Bert Lee, Talk of the Town

“Few rites-of-passage tales can match up to this one.” -The Weekend Scotsman

“In een eigenzinnige stijl en met een superb.” -Dutch Journal

“Hilarious.” -The Guardian (London)

“Alternately sexy and terrifying, hysterical and weird, David Henry Sterry’s Chicken is a hot walk on the wild side of Hollywood’s fleshy underbelly. With lush prose and a flawless ear for the rhythms of the street, Sterry lays out a life lived on the edge in a coming-of-age classic that’s colorful, riveting, and strangely beautiful. David Henry Sterry is the real thing.” –Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

“The overall effect is jarringly surreal, like an X-rated Boogie Nights narrated by a teenage Alice in Wonderland. Sterry’s anecdotes… expose Hollywood at its seamiest, a desperate city of smut and glitz. I read the book from cover to cover in one night, finally arriving at the black and white photo of the softly smiling former chicken turned memoirist.” -Places Magazine

“Farcical… sad… perceptive… Reality porn for the sophisticated reader.” – The Sunday Herald

“Compulsively readable, visceral, and very funny. The author, a winningly honest companion, has taken us right into his head, moment-by-moment: rarely has the mentality of sex been so scrupulously observed and reproduced on paper. Granted, he had some amazingly bizarre experiences to draw upon; but as V. S. Pritchett observed, in memoirs you get no pints for living, the art is all that counts-and David Henry Sterry clearly possesses the storyteller’s art.” – Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body – Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body

“Snappy and acutely observational writing… It’s a book filled with wit, some moments of slapstick, and of some severe poignancy… a flair for descriptive language… The human ability to be kind ultimately reveals itself, in a book which is dark, yet always upbeat and irreverent. A really good, and enlightening, read.” – Ian Beetlestone, Leeds Guide

“Brutally illuminating and remarkably compassionate… a walk on the wild side which is alternatively exhilirating and horrifying, outrageous and tragic… Essential reading.” – Big Issue

“Visceral, frank and compulsive reading.’ –City Life, Manchester

“Sparkling prose… a triumph of the will.” -Buzz Magazine

“Pick of the Week.” -Independent

“Generous and refreshing… colorful and entertaining.” -The List, Edinburgh

“Unflinching and perceptive …often very funny.” -Independent on Sunday

“Farcical… sad… perceptive… A rollercoaster… Reality porn for the sophisticated reader.”-Vicky Allan, The Sunday Herald

“Buy it, read it.” -Ladsmag

“Fresh and fascinating… highly amusing, deeply shocking, … and rather sweet.” -What’s On

“Impossible to put down, even, no, especially when, the sky is falling…Vulnerable, tough, innocent and wise… A fast-paced jazzy writing style… a great read.” -Hallmemoirs

“Full of truth, horror, and riotous humor.” -The Latest Books

“His memoir is a super-readable roller coaster — the story of a young man who sees more of the sexual world in one year than most people ever do.” – Dr. Carol Queen, Spectator Magazine

“Terrifically readable… Sterry’s an adventurer who happens to feel and think deeply. He’s written a thoroughly absorbing story sensitively and with great compassion… A page-turner… This is a strange story told easily and well.” – Eileen Berdon, Erotica.com

“An intriguing and compelling read… Lively, honest prose which cleverly combines the past with the present.” -Carol Anne Davis, Tangled Web UK

“Love to see this book turned into a movie, Julianne Moore might like to play Sterry’s mum…” – by Iain Sharp The Sunday Star-Times, Auckland, New Zealand).

“Chicken expands our understanding of who does sex work and what it involves; of how family dislocation, dysfunction and desertion affect children and adolescents; and of the complex interplay between social norms, sexual practices, “deviant” behavior, and identity. Academics might use Chicken profitably to help students explore non-fiction and memoir writing, or substantively in courses on gender, sexuality, adolescence, deviance, the sexual revolution, the 1970s, southern California, and related topics. As a floodlit slice of life or an object lesson about attempts to counterbalance (dare I say “straddle”?) propriety and impropriety, Chicken is highly recommended. The writing style in Chicken is brash and engaging. Reminiscent of “gonzo journalism” and Lewis Carroll, Sterry’s style includes vivid descriptions, trenchant metaphors, creative compound words, and a taste for alliteration. Yet the book is more than just flashy, over-the-top recounting of colorful anecdotes. Rather, Sterry’s writing style serves his substance well, clearly evoking the milieu of 1970s sexual-revolution-era Hollywood. At the same time, the book is visceral and brutally honest about Sterry’s emotional and physical ordeals during his year as a sex worker. He expresses both sympathy and anger for his clients; in regard to his own behavior, he is subtly introspective, smoothly moving between an account of his feelings at the time and a retrospective evaluation of his actions and motives. While his account does not appear to temper the meanness, sadness or vapidity of many of his customers, he does not shrink from reporting his own failings, either. For example, his recounting of his displaced rage on the basketball court is unflinching and heartbreaking.” Dr. Ann Lucas –Sexuality & Culture, an Interdisciplinary Quarterly


#1 Play in Great Britain. -The Independent

“Poignant…a rare pleasure… moving and original… revealingly honest… Sterry is a sharp comic, using his limber body and versatile voice to create memorably portraits of the hungry, lonely, wealthy women who employ his services…Sterry needs no other prop than a wooden bench to get full mileage out of the ludicrousness of sex… But what gives it depth is the hard, sad reality beneath its Rabelaisian humor… Richly entertaining and thought-provoking… Speaks cleverly and provocatively to anyone who’s ever been or had a child.”
—Robert Hurwitt, Head Theater Critic to The San Francisco Chronicle

“Full of energy… fast, provacative, and highly engaging… Simply unmissable…” – The Hearld

“Irresistible… very enjoyable… radiates honesty… funny, physical, and fast…” -The Scotsman

“What a rare pleasure it is to see a writer perform his own work… dream-like profundity…Sterry’s portrayal of his 17-year-old self is immediately honest and believable… juxtaposed with his masterful control of poetic dialogue balances the show.” — SF Examiner

“Sterry summons up in glorious technicolour an amazing array of characters… Extraordinary… engrossing and touching… a great story… It’s a must!” —Daily Mail

“Graced with insight and empathy—Sterry finds a literary rhythm as fluid and alluring as the strut of his ‘nuthugging elephantbells’… a sense of humor as bright and ridiculous as a ‘blood-engorged wangdangdoodle- hammer’.” —S F Weekly

“Disturbing, heartrending, and so funny it makes you choke… intoxicating energy and magnetic storytelling charisma… the poignancy and honesty hits you hard.” – Brighton Argus

“A tour-de force.”—SF Bay Times
“Sextacular.” – Beth Lisick, SF Gate
“Frank, funny and surreal.” –The Stage
“Pick of the week… Hysterical.” – The Guardian
“Hard-hitting and universal.” -Time Out San Francisco
“Sterry is a man you should know” -Year-End Best Of SF Weekly

“Sterry tells a sad and harrowing story with humor, energy, and a sharp eye for the sort of characters an ‘industrial sex technician’ might meet in the weird aftermath of the ‘60s.” —Michael Scott Moore, The San Francisco Weekly

“Hugely compelling to watch… real skill… The story is told in deft snippets… the language is poetic, and a 1970’s soundtrack gets the audience in the mood… [a] triumphant story… it’s clear that this is a comedy hiding in a tragedy.” -The Independent



http://hamzajennings.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/george-bush.jpgIn a shocking, unexpected and unprecedented move, President Bush announced his resignation today.  He told to a group of stunned White House reporters that Jesus had spoken to him, and told him that the war was very very wrong, that he should no longer represented the interests of a few greedy, money-grubbing industrialists (he mentioned Karl Rove and Dick Cheney by name here) while lying to the American public about weapons of mass destruction and trying to fight terrorism,; that no more innocent blood should be shed in the pursuit of oil; that this barbaric attack would only make the rest of the world hate us even more, and that he should bring all our young men and young women home.  He also produced documents which proved that Vice President Dick Cheney had used his influence to get contracts for all his buddies at Halliburton, and that it was his intention to make sure that Mr. Cheney got, “A good, old-fashioned country butt-whuppin’.”  Mr. Cheney was subsequently arrested as he was hastily packing bags full of money, a one-way ticket to Barbados in his pocket.  Ex-President Bush went on to say that he was very excited about Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female president of the United States, and hope that she would bring her San Francisco values to the White House, transforming a culture of ignorance, elitism, bigotry and intolerance into one of openness, tolerance, and freedom of the press, where everyone, no matter how small their interest group, or how much money they have, or what race, color or creed they are, gets an equal voice in this great country of ours.  He then announced that he was divorcing his lovely wife, because he had fallen madly in love with Tom Cruise, and they had decided to get married, as soon as Tom’s divorce with Katie became official.  After President Pelosi was quickly sworn in, she announced that the war was over, and that all troops would be coming home.  In addition there would be a complete overhaul of America’s educational system, with the money we save from stopping the war being allocated to hiring more teachers, and paying the ones we have a decent wage.  They would also be an immediate end to the system now in place in which standardized test scores correlate to money received by school systems.  The idea, President Pelosi explained, would be that teachers actually get to teach, rather than preparing their students endlessly for rote examinations, full of facts they would never use again.  She then went on to say that her administration would put every resource available into stopping global warming, and making sure all endangered species were given a chance to recover and thrive.  She said she planned to work on immediately legalizing drugs and prostitution, and putting a reasonable tax on them, using the money to go after adults who prey on children in every nook and cranny of America.  President Pelosi concluded this historic press conference by announced that this was the dawning of a new age in the glorious history of the United States, when reason and enlightenment would replace prejudice and darkness, where the Earth would be cherished and the American ideals of liberty and justice for all would prevail once more.  She was greeted with thunderous applause, as Tom Cruise and ex-President Bush shared a deep French kiss in the corner.

Happy April Fooles Day!

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