David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Month: December 2013

Alice Carbone Interviews David Henry Sterry on Sex, Addiction, & the Healing Powers of Writing & Comedy

Cool interview with cool chick Alice Carbone. To read on her website click here.
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DAVID HENRY STERRY: The Good, The Bad & The Sex

AN INSIGHTFUL AND FUN INTERVIEW ABOUT THE SEX INDUSTRY, SEX ADDICTION AND HEALING THROUGH WRITING AND COMEDY.

Two years ago I received the inspiration for the end of my novel while running by the ocean, in Santa Monica.  Being sick in the head, I desperately needed to run that day yet I hurried back to my car parked Idaho Ave and, like in a trance, I started writing.  It was year 2011 and I owned a very old Blackberry.  I never liked to touch-type on it those words that carried too much of a value, like the future of a woman, whether fictional or not.

I have come to the realization that physical activity has a pleasant creative effect on me.  And this introduction is just the umpteenth example.  After interviewing David Henry Sterry I went on a hike and, all of a sudden I wanted to write.

It’s year 2013.  The Blackberry broke a year ago, or so.  I have an iPhone today.  And I still don’t like the movement of my fingertips typing letters on a synthetic and flat keyboard.  I don’t find joy or excitement in seeing them gathering into important sentences on the yellow page of a virtual notepad.  I avoid the procedure, when I can.  The inspiration, if that is how you rather call the essence of what you are reading, came towards the end of my Hollywood walk nonetheless.  The temperature had reached an unhealthy average of 80 °F for the week before  Christmas; I ignored my body getting sicker by the minute, too.  However, as soon as I walked past the Sunset Ranch, sweaty, grateful for where I lived and for being able to hike at twelve noon, on a weekday, it finally dawned on me: I knew how to start this column and how to end it as well.  The walk became faster until I ran towards the car and wrote what you have just read and will, shortly.  It is a very interesting interview and a raw finale that comes straight from the heart and from the dirty and torn Starbucks napkin that I had not thrown away the night before.

Talking to David Henry Sterry has a very special meaning to me.  He is the very first guest who publicly asked to be here, in conversation with me.  It happened on Twitter, on December 4 at 5:09 PM, Pacific Time.  “I am doing something good.  They start to like this.” – I thought.

“You looked like an interesting person and I just had an instinct about you.”  David tells me, when we chat on Skype and I ask him why he wanted to be on the blog.  We use a webcam because David lives in New Jersey and I have told him that my conversations require the exchange and the look in the eyes.  They are more than a Q&A to me.

David is the author of sixteen books.  He is a teacher, an activist and a brilliant performer, although best known for his bestselling memoir, Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man For Rent.  I didn’t know him very well before he had approached me.  A thorough research always helps yet nothing more than a vis-à-vis contact makes you understand what lies beneath a person.  He laughs and I can sense his humor, the comedy background.  However, I can also feel he has been to hell and has not forgotten about it.  I am in the comfort of my bedroom wearing my pajama yet with red lipstick.  The sun shines and it feels like summer in Southern California.  David sits by the kitchen window that is frosty and white with beautiful snow.  For it is winter, after all.  Our worlds merge for one hour.  He has a story to tell, and it is my pleasure to share it with you; wherever you are reading it from.

A.C. Where are you from?  I know you have British origins.

D.H.S. I was born in New Jersey and moved back here six years ago, from San Francisco.  But I lived all over America.  Alabama, Texas, Upstate New York…

A.C.  Where was home, when you were a kid?

D.H.S.  Anywhere my family was.  But I feel like San Francisco is my home.  I lived there twice, and that’s where I kind of left my heart.  But I have a beautiful house here, with great neighbors.  And it is really a gorgeous place to live.

A.C. Let’s go back to your childhood.  What kind of kid were you?

D.H.S. I was a very helpful child.  Actually a little bit too much, to the extent that teachers would write these reports saying that I didn’t have to be ‘so helpful in class.’  And I am the oldest of four, with a father gone all the time and a mother overworked with us; that is why I helped all the time with my brothers and sisters.

A.C.  Why did your family travel so much?  What did your parents do?

D.H.S. They were immigrants, from Newcastle, in the North of England.  My father grew up where there were only half-houses.  He did not even have a toilet in his house; it was an old world.  He came to America in the late 1950s when there was very little opportunity in England, for a college graduate like him.  In the United Stated he got a job for a company that manufactured explosives, and they kept promoting him by sending him somewhere new.  He almost became a victim of his own success, although I don’t really think the term victim is appropriate.  But it was hard to constantly move around.  On the other hand, he was the American dream; he kept rising up the ladder of this company, and he literally went from being a dishwasher to being a partner in the space of twenty years.

David does not hide a bittersweet laugh, when he ends the story with what he calls the ‘new American dream.’  Because his father is now broke and in therapy after a nervous breakdown and after his wife has run away with a woman; the one she would eventually marry. She has become a lesbian. 

D.H.S. He started having sex with crazy women.  I was sixteen and I was living with him at that time.  He had lost everything.

A.C.  How difficult was it, for you, to write about them, in Chicken?  Because, as writers, we have the duty of being both careful and respectful to the lives of the people we involve.  My novel, for example, is not a memoir but it is very autobiographical.  Many episodes are based on my life and I did not know how to talk about my parents or other people involved, at first.  I felt angry, guilty and hurt, too.  Just because we decide to purge and get clean, it doesn’t mean they decide to have their stories publicly disclosed as well.

D.H.S.  And my parents are English.  Talking about them publicly was so mortifying to them!

A.C.  How did they react?

D.H.S.  So, I got this book deal to publish the memoir.  The publisher was Judith Regan.  I got it only based on a proposal; I had not even written the book yet.  And, of course I had not told my parents.  For I wanted to tell them once I was 100% sure the book was going to be published.  The first thing Regan told me was: “I don’t want one of those fucking books where the writer blames their parents; do you understand me?”  And for as hard as it seemed, it was a great advice for me, because I did blame them.

A.C.  But what I am starting to learn is that we all have shit happening to us, David.  And it’s not what happened to us, but what we have made of it, and what we keep making of it.

D.H.S.  Exactly.  It’s absolutely right.  And, based on what she had said to me I decided to call my parents by name, in the first couple of drafts of the book.  Harper Collins didn’t really help me in the editing process; all they were worried about was not getting sued.  So my agent became my editor and she secretly said: “This is so bad we are gonna have to give the money back!”  Instead, what she did tell me was: “David, they are your parents.  You can’t call them John and Maurine; they are mom and dad.”  That is how removed I was from actually revealing my true self.  For I was raised to never reveal anything.  And part of what got me into so much trouble while I was growing up was not being able to ask for help.  I literally had to learn how to talk to people like an adult, besides recovering from my addictions.  Actually hypnotherapy helped a lot.

A.C.  How old were you when you started writing Chicken?

D.H.S. I was in my late thirties and I was writing dumb screenplays in Hollywood at that time.  I hated my job, although I was making a lot of money.

David is working for Disney in those days.  And those are also the days of his escalating sex and cocaine addiction.

A.C. You mentioned making money in Hollywood.  In your interviews you talk a lot about the feeling of self-worth that you experienced the first time you got paid to have sex, professionally.  I don’t know about being paid to have sex because I was never a sex worker. However, I am very familiar with the feeling of cheap worth before a man, and when only performing the act of sex.  For sex can become a performance that makes you feel worth and powerful, even when you know that you are everything but.  Quoting Hank Williams, you said: “But there was a hole in my bucket.”  Let’s talk about sex, about the self-gratification of your past as a sex technician – as you rather call your former job.  Is that what you felt, at first?  Did you feel powerful, at seventeen years old?  Because we try to fill that hole with anything within sight, until we hit bottom…

D.H.S.  Yes, and soon as there is a hole it doesn’t matter what or how much your try to fill it with, whether it is sex, drugs, money, etc. For it all comes out the bottom.  That’s why the metaphor was so powerful for me.  You know, so many young people that get into the sex business do it for money.  I was completely alone.  Los Angeles is a cold and hard place, despite the fact that there are palm trees and that is 82 degrees, the week before Christmas.  It’s the way we live in LA, the isolation from other humans, the time spent in our car to go from one place to another.  While in New York, for example, you have to interact with people, whether you want it or not, even if just to go on the subway.  And that’s how it is, in most places.

I was seventeen and I felt alone.  I was robbed.  I got assaulted and raped.  I had nothing and nobody.

A.C.  That’s when you met the guy that pimped you.

D.H.S.  Yes, his specialty was finding kids that were alone, cute and vulnerable.  And that was I. This guy ran a fried chicken restaurant, as a front, and he would hire you for a week, to actually fry chicken.  Now, I don’t know if you have ever fried chicken in your life professionally, but it’s fucking horrible.  You get burns on your arms and you smell like chicken.  It’s a miserable fucking job.  Just wearing that little hat is nasty!

A.C.  That’s when he shows you the trick, after the week of frying chicken…

D.H.S.  Correct.  At the end of the week he gives you your paycheck.  And it is so small that you can’t possibly live on it.  It’s all very psychological.  He is one of the most generous, warm, kind and smart persons I have ever met in my whole life.  So, when you look at the check you are horrified; because after all the hard work you did, you cannot even survive.  It’s right then, when you are feeling worthless, with no money and nobody who likes you or cares for you, at the lowest point, that he says to you: “Do you want to start making some real money?” Of course, you say: “Yes.”  And he tells you about these rich friends of his whom you could party with.  I was so naïve that I saw myself at cocktail parties discussing the latest issue of The New Yorker, just because I was cute.  I had this idea in my head of being this young Oscar Wilde…

We both laugh when he is recalling the very beginning of his career in the world of prostitution.  Because he does laugh about it, and because he is very candid in admitting that it was his choice.  David does not have regrets for his past, today.  He closes his eyes and hides a residual of teenage embarrassment nonetheless; his body and his white hair wave, mocking a hypothetical Wilde with a cocktail in his hands.  But there is nothing to be embarrassed about. At seventeen we all believed in everything they told us.  Sometimes we still do, in order not to listen or see the inevitable truth.

D.H.S.  But, of course, he meant servicing adults, sexually.  My first job was kind of a trial and I was very nervous.  As I always say, one of the differences between a female and male sex worker is that there are many things in life that you can fake; an erection is not one of them.

A.C.  True.  But isn’t somewhat safer to be a male sex worker compared to a woman?

D.H.S.  Mostly, it is.  The dynamic of power between men and women is something that a lot of men still don’t understand.  The other day I was talking to this woman in a parking lot, late at night.  She had recently been assaulted she freaked out as soon as a guy walked past her.  I could sense that feeling that screams: “I’m not powerful enough to stand up to this guy who can just pick me up as a rag doll.”  Having been abused by someone much more powerful than I, I can truly relate to that feeling.  However, what happened was that I found a real affinity for the job, because once again I was looking after people.  In a way, that’s what you do when you are a sex worker.

A.C.  Providing a service?  It just came out of my mouth, but I am smiling while saying this.  I must admit it.

D.H.S.  Exactly!  That’s exactly what you do.  You look at the person you have in front of you and you try to understand what they want and need.  That’s what you do when you are a real sex worker and not a thief.  They must tell you: “Wow, that itch I had is now scratched.”  And I found out that I was really good at that.

A.C.  Do you think that your sex work triggered your sex addiction?

D.H.S.  Oh, of course it did.  But as you know, it’s very complicated, understanding why a person becomes addicted to something.  However, on that first job, when I walked into that room, I felt powerful, while in real life I felt powerless, a meaningless piece of shit.  That woman wanted something from me that I could provide her, a very specific set of tasks, with difficulties, that I could nonetheless perform.  And, when it was over I put the money in my pocket and felt big, large.

I know the power he is talking about.  Because I recall feeling it, too, many years ago, the first time I had sex when I was high.  That night, in another life, I thought I had understood how to be a woman that was not Alice.  I hated Alice.  And I never felt more in control, not realizing I would eventually lose it all and despise myself even more.

D.H.S.  In real life I felt small and meaningless.  It was 1974 and that $100 bill was my sense of self-worth.  Then, of course, when you have sex your brain sets off these endorphins and you get a chemical high from it.  So, for me it was both a physical and an emotional empowerment.

A.C. You have been asked before if you have felt exploited.  You were seventeen years old in those days so, of course, there was a part of you that felt exploited.  But I would like to talk to you more in depth about what your definition of exploitation is, in the sex world.  Prudes and bigots think that porn is exploitation, which is a huge mistake.  And they don’t know what they are missing, from time to time.  Actually, my take on sex is that there’s almost nothing wrong about it, as long as it is at your own terms.

D.H.S.  Absolutely, I completely agree with that.

A.C. Now, I do acknowledge the urgency in resolving the terrible issue of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.  But it’s not what we are talking about, today.  In your opinion, where is the thin line between personal choice and exploitation in the sex world you are familiar with?

D.H.S.  I did this interview on NPR a while ago and I was introduced as someone ‘forced into prostitution.’  And that’s the idea that a lot of people have.  I had to tell the host: “Look, no one put a gun to my head and tried to shoot me.”  I could have walked away at any moment.  It was my choice.  I felt enormously exploited frying chicken, to be honest with you.  Because I was forced to work under brutal circumstances and I was paid a piss.  That was exploitation.  The whole Fast Food industry is built on exploitation.

A.C. Well, Walmart is built on exploitation.

D.H.S. Walmart! Oh my God!  Any giant corporation that uses labor like this is in the exploitation business.  If you are at the lowest level of the food chain you are just going to ask yourself: “How am I going to be exploited?  What’s the exploitation that best suits my personality?”  When you are seventeen and in that state, your choices are very limited, with no education, resources or networking.

It’s true that the guy did not explain the business very well, at first.  He didn’t tell me that some of the things that were about to happen to me would remain in my nightmares for the rest of my life.  He didn’t tell me that this would potentially cause me some horrible personality disorders. But, in that job I also had beautiful experiences where I wasn’t exploited at all, and where I was treated with great respect and honored for my skills.

A.C.  Those were the best jobs, what about the worst?

D.H.S.  In the worst I was treated like a piece of shit and asked to do things that no teenager should ever been asked to do.  Ever.

A.C.  Are you saying that no matter where you work, exploitation is everywhere and affects the weak in the same way?

D.H.S.  Yes.  I believe it very strongly.  And the more I live, the more I am convinced of it.  The strong feeds on the weak.  That’s how society has been working forever.  Media like to make it about sex and prostitution, and although there are prostitutes that are forced to do it against their will, there are also many people who are forced to clean toilets or kids that are sold and have to become soldiers and shoot people in the head.

A.C.  Now that we mention prostitution, you wrote the anthology Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing About Each Other.  How did you get the clients to write their stories?  It must have been difficult.  Sex workers seem to me more comfortable with what they do than their clients, who would rarely admit paying for sex.

D.H.S.  That was one of the most shocking things about the project.  And you are absolutely right, it’s easier for somebody to say: “Yes, I sell my body for sex,” than for somebody to admit the purchase of sex.  It sounds so ridiculous to me, especially because in history, being a prostitute has always been considered the worst possible profession.  The insult ‘whore’ always the lowest one.  Just think about the Scarlet Letter.

A.C.  Is something shifting in the sociological perception of prostitution and the sex worker profession in general?

D.H.S.  Something is indeed shifting.  I expected it to be a very easy process, here in America, to have people writing about their experiences in buying sex.  But it was very hard.  All my friends I asked to either laughed at me or were scornful, reminding me with pride that they didn’t have to pay for sex.  And I told them that they should try, at least once!  Like hiring a masseuse, who wouldn’t want to have a massage?  But that’s just my opinion, of course.  I believe that it is exactly the same transaction.

david bunnyAnyhow, I had so many contacts in the sex business that through Facebook and Twitter I was able to find both professionals and clients who agreed on talking.  What opened the gates a lot was the choice of letting them submit their stories with a pen name.

A.C.  Did you notice any difference in the male/female or straight/gay world?

D.H.S.  Interesting question.  I think that in the gay male world they are less ashamed.  They all did it once in a while; it’s part of the culture and they are much more accepting of sex for money.  Sex is such a fluid thing.  And especially older gay men; they had to hide for so long that being gay was a shameful enough thing.  There is nothing they are ashamed of.  What’s interesting on the lesbian community side is that many women who have sex with men for money are, in fact, lesbians.  At first it didn’t make sense to me, it was like a vegetarian working as a butcher.  But then I talked to a dear friend of mine and she explained to me that that it’s how they completely separate personal life with a woman at home, and work with a man client. And there is never the risk of falling in love this way.

A.C.  Have you ever fallen in love with a client?

D.H.S.  Yes.  But I was young and confused.  I even fantasized about moving in with her.  I was seventeen and she was probably forty-five.  I lived in a fantasy world so much back then, you have no idea…

A.C.  Of course I do.  We hate our life and any fantasy is better than reality.

Let’s move away from sex now, because your career has been so diverse.  You were a screenwriter for Disney (and plunging into your darkest days of addiction during those days, too.)  But you are also an actor, author and a comedian, too.  You started by opening for Robin Williams in the 1980s in San Francisco.  I am falling in love with American comedy and the more I study, the more I realize what a powerful weapon humor can be. Who were the comedians you aspired to, when you started?

D.H. S.  My favorite comic is Lenny Bruce who, of course, was a heroin addict.  Very dark sensibility and railing against the hypocrisy of society. Of course, he was arrested and harassed and tormented, ending up dead with a needle in his arm.  That’s my hero.

A.C.  I love Lenny Bruce, too.  He was one of the very first comedians I discovered when I moved here.

D.H.S.  And then I always loved Richard Pryor.  He famously burned himself up trying to smock rock and when he came back performing he did this joke of him on fire, on stage.  He took the darkest parts of his life, turned them into comedy and made people laugh.  In doing so, he illuminated the darkest sides of the human condition.  Pryor grew up in a world made of hate and violence.  And part of his mission was to expose this, through comedy.  There is no higher form of communication to me.  If I laugh, and then I have that moment when I have to think about what fucked up thing I have just laughed at, I know the artist has reached his purpose.  In your head you are debating about the philosophical ideas behind what made you crack, after you just did, hysterically.  Those moments are rare and hard to create.  Jerry Stahl is the same way, especially in his latest novel.

David tells me about his performing tour with Sex Worker Literati and he is astonished at the type of audience it attracts.  “There are a lot of young couple on first dates.  We have some dirty old men, too.  God bless them.  But the audience is very diverse and it’s a lot fun doing it. I notice quite some middle-aged feminist, as well, because we are sending a message of empowerment, after all.  Some gay audience is present, as I always put a couple of gay performers.  They have great stories!”  We briefly discuss the literary business and the side project he has started with his wife, The Book Doctors.  Time runs out nonetheless.  Sometimes I forget I am carrying out an interview and not just having coffee.  I have more questions and I need closure.

A.C.  Is there a moment in your career that you are particularly proud of?  You are primarily an author today, correct?

D.H.S.  Yes, I am.  But something beautiful happened during the show that I performed from Chicken.

Chicken became a very successful one-man show, after the book was published in 2002.

My mom had not read the book, as she didn’t want to.  My whole family reacted very badly when the memoir got published and they completely shut me out.  When I was touring with the show I performed in a college, in Portland, which is where my mother lives.  It was her wife, the same woman she had run off with when I was a kid that told her to go and see the show.  So my mom did.  The night happened to be a big success.  Every time that I am in a college I do a Q&A after the show and that night, I introduced my mom to everyone for the first time.  I can still see her standing up in the audience, proud and bowing.

David has tears in his eyes when recalling the night in Portland.

D.H.S.  She came backstage after the interview and, for the first time she told me that she was sorry for what had happened to me.  Had I only told her, back then, she would have tried to help me.  That night was a moment of truth and reconciliation, a beautiful metaphor for what writing can do.

A.C.  Absolutely.  If it wasn’t for both my novel and this blog, I wouldn’t be alive, and sober, to be honest with you.  It gave me a purpose and it helped me surviving the pain, the shame and the burden of life.  I did not want to live.  Through writing I have found my voice for the very first time.

david white hairD.H.S.  It’s because writing can expose parts of ourselves that we couldn’t expose.  After that night my mother and I became best friends, and it all came about through this book I wrote, speaking my truth, something I was so ashamed of.

A.C.  I am reading Advertisement For Myself and Mailer admits how, after The Naked and the Dead, he was not able to write another novel in such a quick and spontaneous way, for a long time.  An old mentor told me that some books you write, other write you.  This is exactly what we are talking about, some truths just have to come out and, eventually they do.

D.H.S.  That’s what happened for me, with Chicken.

A.C.  Have you learned to ask for help?

D.H.S.  I did learn, although it’s still a difficult thing to do.  But I am much better at it than I have ever been.  And learning how to do this has helped me how to focus on the things that I do well; while those things that I don’t do well I can understand and acknowledge with those who are good at them.  I was having a terrible problem with this book that I am writing, for example.  And, normally, I would have just kept it to myself. Instead, I have asked for advice and gathered many smart ideas from many smart people.

A.C.  Earlier this morning I read something that made me laugh; the downside of isolation is that we are the only ones to give ourselves advice.  Which is quite often a bad idea.

We both laugh.  For we both know what’s the kind of advice we are inclined to give ourselves. On my side, I know that I need the inside job, every day.

D.H.S.  That’s really funny.  I really like that.  So now I am not the only one who is giving myself advice.  Yes!

A.C.  Last one and you are free.  Are you okay with your nature and your past, today?

D.H.S.  I ask this question to myself all the time.  Would I whisper something into my ear at seventeen?  “Don’t go into that door?  Call your mom?”  I wonder if I would be a better person. I would have gone through a lot less agony and pain, but I wouldn’t be the man that I am, I would not have written my memoir and had a beautiful kid.

A.C.  How old is she?

D.H.S.  She is six and she is such a joy!  I wouldn’t be here talking to you, too.  It’s a very difficult thing to answer.  But I feel that everything I went through, lived and survived, I have also learned from it; and I have changed into a different human being.  It would have been easy to just remain a drug addict, a pleasure seeker and a miserable man.  That’s easier and you see that all the time, people crawling into a bottle and dying there.  But I didn’t want that to be my life, because I was on the road of self-destruction.  Had I not changed, I would be dead.  In the change I have become a person that I am proud of, although I still fuck up and make mistakes; we all do.  But now I can ask for help to do better next time.

In the end, I am grateful for all the fantastic things that happened to me and for all the fucked up ones, too.  Look, I deal with a bunch of people that have MFAs from writing programs and they write sentences so beautiful to make your heart break.  But they have no stories to tell. They haven’t had nobody beat the shit out of them, and they haven’t been dragged to bottom of the barrel.  But probably I just gravitate towards survivors, and people who have been through horrible misery and come out the other side better human beings.  If you have looked death in the face you are part of a club.

A.C.  Survivors have a message.  Thank you for sharing yours with me, and my readers.  It was beautiful to have you here.

Just a few hours prior connecting with David I had posted a photo, both on Twitter and Facebook, of my Interview Composition Pad.  I had simply shared that, with this interview I had come to the very last page of it.  The $0.99 notebook had started in August, with George Christie.

What was only supposed to be a tentative weekly publication that precious and humble first guests like Phil Hendrie, Clint Mansell and George Christie helped me start, putting some brave trust in me, has become today a very serious deal.  The interviews are hopefully reflecting the transformation, too.  And 2014 will be full of surprises, because more amazing guests are already lined up.  Fascinating stories and authenticity is what I offer; I hope you have noticed by now, because there is no better way of learning for me.

Thank you for helping me reach a result I never believed possible.  YOU, 15 thousand folks a month, are my gift of 2013.  Thank you for supporting me and for spreading the word.  Every time you share my work you share the effort I put into bringing you the best I can.  Don’t stop.  I won’t either.

I don’t know if you believe in Christmas, if you do, MERRY CHRISTMAS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN I STARRED IN AN INDUSTRIAL FILM & HAD A MELTDOWN OR: I AM FRED SPROCKET

A sad time in my life, when I made my living making industrial films & had a nervous breakdown.

david encyclo salesman_0001

All-American Erotica: Father James Sins with Mary

James  burned. 

With Mary.  With God.  With the Devil.  With blood fever.  Lately Mary came to him every night.  Bathed in golden light.   Sweet Mary, dripping love, dropping down with the wings of an angel as he lay on his small hard bed, Jesus on the cross behind him bleeding for his sinning.  And he would pray to God.  That she would go away.  That she would come to stay.  Flowing crow black hair.  Raving raven eyes.  Skin white clouds.  Breasts secreting the milky blood of Christ.

James sinned.
As she floated down, a sister of mercy, sweet Mary, all over him.  And he would pray to God to deliver him from evil, to help him resist temptation.  But his God would be gone, and he could not resist.  And she would whisper, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned,” as she spread herself with her fingers and hovered over James, rigid as the rock of ages, the blossom of Mary so opening and he would be enveloped by the sheer drunken sin of it all.

James stiffened.
And she would put her breast in his mouth, and he would drink the milky blood of Christ as she slid down, down, down his vein of sin a pounding pillar, the shaft of his Satan.  And he would whisper, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.”  And he would think to himself, O Jesus, save me, O Jesus, kill me. And she was like a cherub, the holy music of her filling him as he was filling her.  Mary blanketed him like in holy snow.

James froze.
And his hot love of God would shoot into her valley of death, the Devil lurking, smirking in the corner.  And James would scream, “O Lord, why have you forsaken me?”And then woke up, soaking from the wetness of his nightmaredream sweaty and sticky salty unholy water boiling on his belly.  And God was watching him, James could feel the shame aimed at his heart, and he would pray for forgiveness.  And afterwards, to calm himself, he would say, It’s only a dream.

James knelt.
And now, here she was.  Mary.  In her flesh.  In his booth.  Inches away.  So close James could smell her flower blooming, perfuming through him, strangleholding his soul. James had to punch himself hard in the thigh.  You are nothing, you are a servant, you are a vessel of the Lord our God.  A vessel of God.  You are nothing but your sacred duty, James told himself.  You are hear to minister.  Hear confession and recommend penance.

James swallowed.
“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned,” drifted from the darkness like a chariot of lightness, singing sweet and low, swinging him around her little finger.  “What is your sin?”  That is always the question, isn’t it? James thought.  You are my sin.  He’d never been anything but certain his whole life.  He was the Whiz Kid Priest.  That’s what all the papers said.  Memorized the Bible by the age of ten.  Already groomed to be a bishop, a cardinal maybe even.  Audience with the Pope on his eighteenth birthday.  Quoting verse and scripture, a greatest hits of the Good Book with the square jawed easy charm of Jack Kennedy back in the Camelot days, a poster boy for everything good about the church, a throwback to a happier time when priests weren’t predatory pedophiles and it didn’t matter if you had sex with Marilyn Monroe in the White House, as long as you didn’t do it on the Front Lawn.  A face for everything good in the church

James sighed.
He loved the ritual of it, the pageantry of it, the hidden symbols and the rock hard unthinking certainty, the blind obedience of it all, from before he could even remember, making everyone around him so happy, his father, on his deathbed, pleading with him, James, the only son, the last hope, to be a priest, his mother so proud, beaming, telling everyone about her boy the Whiz Kid Priest.  The pride of the neighborhood.

James pulsated.
And it had been so easy. Until Mary.  In his booth.  Now.  Smelling like sin itself.  “Father, I have impure thoughts,” confessed Mary with a breathtaking piety.  Impure thoughts.  Just the words raced his pulse, her skin ivory, hair ink black, a black Mass, parting to let him in. James had to punch himself hard in the thigh.  He wanted to run, hide.  And he prayed to God, his God, to give him the strength to resist, to pass this test, this plague of locust, He was inflicting on pious Father James, the Whiz Kid Priest.  And no one was there.

James twitched.

“What are your impure thoughts?” James asked, straining to keep the quiver out of his voice, not really wanting to know the answer, desperately wanting to know the answer.  “Well, Father… I’m too embarrassed to talk about it…” Mary said shyly.  “I’m your priest, Mary, I’m hear to listen and forgive, as a vessel of Christ out Lord and savior.  We all have impure thoughts.”  James said.  If you only knew, he thought.

James breathed.
“Do you ever have impure thoughts Father?” asked Mary, and it shivered him cold and lit a fire in his hell, sending a white-hot shot of juice jumping through him jumping under the hardening under his robe.  O God please make it stop now. I have given You my life, please do this one thing for me.  “Well, yes I do, of course I do.  I’m not just a priest, I’m a…” But the word “man” stuck hard in his throat like a wafer with no wine chaser. “…that is to say, I confess my thoughts and sins and I pray to God to forgive me, and He does.”  James said in his best Father James voice.

James clenched.
He had never confessed his sins of Mary.  As if by not confessing them they weren’t really real. Maybe that’s why God is punishing me, that’s why God is testing me, for my mendacity, for believing I can hide anything from his omnipotence.  Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  “Father, I have wicked, sinful thoughts, and… I touch myself Father, I can’t help it… I… give myself pleasure… I can’t stop, Father, and I don’t know what to do…”  James was trying to control everything, slow it all down, cool it all off.  No more visions.  No more breasts of Mary.  No more holy bloody milk.  No more Cardinal red lips.  Save me for I am lost.  Find me, miserable wretch that I am.  Lord I am blind.  Please, let me see.  Help me cast out Satan.  Make me roar, “Jezebelle, be gone!”

James quaked.
James thought about the way she looked at him when she passed in line after Sunday service.  The way she always managed to corner him somewhere, when she knew no one was around, and stand a little too close, until she was almost brushing up against him, so close that he couldn’t even follow the thread of the meaningless conversation they were having.  So close that he had no choice but to breathe in the ripe juice of Mary.  “I want to do things, Father. O God, I want to do terrible things…”  Deliver me from evil.  Is this evil?  It must be.  It is.  Sin.  The sins of the flesh.  Her flesh.  The flesh of Mary.  “Sometimes,” whispered the sweet breath of Mary, “I want it so bad, I don’t care if I burn in a flame hotter than any human fire for ever and ever.”

James shuddered.
Maybe I shouldn’t be a priest.  Maybe I’m too weak.  Maybe I’m just doing it so everyone will like me.  So I won’t let my dead dad down.  So I’ll be the Whiz Kid Priest.  “Sometime I think God would understand.  God understands love, doesn’t he Father?”  Does He?  Do You?  I don’t know, James thought.  I thought I knew.  God is love.  Isn’t He?  Aren’t You?  I thought I knew.  I was so sure I did.  Everything seemed so clear and simple.  A sin of the flesh is a sin of the flesh is a sin of the flesh.  Father James is not a sinner.  Father James is a vessel of God.  Devout.  A son of the son of God, pure in His celestial mansion on earth.

James dripped.

I want Mary.  More than I want God.  Could that be true?  Or is this Lucifer worming his way my Holy Soul?  Making me want Mary’s sweetness.  To eat her flesh.  To drink her milky blood.  James had to punch himself hard in the thigh.  Her smell was everywhere.  His dream flashed in front of him, the wings of the wet archangel Mary, the parting of her red sea, so rigid and dizzy under his robe.

James rocked.
“I’m touching myself right now, Father,” confessed Mary, “I’m touching myself, and I’m very… it feels very… Father, tell me, what should I do?  Am I going to hell?  I can’t help myself… Help me, please help me Father.” God was everywhere.  God was nowhere.  James felt God pumping hot blood under his robe.  No, it’s Satan, this infernal damp dark underworld where black meets red.  James wanted to die and go to Heaven, never having been tested.  Please God, I’m ready.  Take me now.  Before Mary takes me.  But God did not take James.

James shook.
And he was aware she had left her side of the booth, could faintly hear her walking to him.  Mary was coming.  Or was it a flesh demon sent to suck out his soul.  Run James, run, that little piece of rational brain that was left screamed.  But he couldn’t run.  Didn’t want to run.  Wouldn’t run.  The door slowly opened as the worm turned.  And then there she was Mary. Floating in on the wings of a prayer.  Deliver me now from evil, deliver me through the desert like Moses to the promised land.  But where was the promised land?  It was here in his confessional booth.  It was her, so pure sweet and Mary.  Please, God show me.  Tell me, for I am nothing.  I am your vessel.  Help me now or forever hold your peace. God did not come.  God did not help.  God did not tell James what to do.  Betrayed thrice, thought Father James.  By the Father, by the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

James sank.
He was alone with her.  With this speaking in tongues, this massive tower of Babel so huge and confused under the shroud of his black robe.  And James was filled with her crimsoning bouquet.  Her ivory so flesh, bright burn of the eyes so Mary, the pleading of her thighs, her breasts so full of God’s blood and milk.  Take, eat, this is my body and is meant for you.  “If you want me to go, tell me right now, Father, I’ll go and I’ll never come back.”  Mary blazed into him with God’s light.  Yes, go!  Be gone, whore of Babylon, temptress, she-devil, be gone.  James heard the words in his head.  But they would not come out of his mouth.

James muted.
And Mary did lean down to him, bathed in a golden halo of honeydew perfume.  James heard a heavenly choir soaring and a devil’s organ grinding.  And she did lean down to him, her breasts so full of God, closer, her lips florid, touching him, the first time a woman’s lips had ever touched him.  I’m the Holy Virgin, James thought.  And she is Mary.  I’m the Unholy Virgin, James thought.  And she is sweet Mary.  Her breath is so deep so red so wet.  And her tongue is so full of life and fruit so forbidden touching his lips so light and his holiness jumped under his robe and he was so full and taut and fierce.  O God, I’m burning up.  I’m already burning in hell, James thought, and I will burn in a flame hotter than any human fire for all eternity.  For ever and ever world without end, Amen.  And I don’t care.

James opened.
And Mary slipped her tongue, the hot tight serpent tongue of Eve, deeper into him.  And a hurricane crucified his brain.  And a twister spun through the third eye of the snake under his robe.  O God, it’s so hard, James thought.  And Mary took his face in her hands and her tongue slowly slid into his mouth and he moaned from his soul.  And his hands reached out as if they weren’t his hands at all and grabbed her hips and she gasped under his grasp, sucked on his lips and those hips of Mary were liquid in his hands, undulating, swelling, swiveling into him.  And James could smell her now. So fertile and earthly and heaven sent.  And it made him want to give her everything he had.  The keys to the kingdom of heaven.

James flushed.
And Mary pulled her breasts out of her blouse and she fed them to him and he dove in, baptizing himself in the milk of the flesh of Mary, so bursting in his hungry mouth, the rhythm raw and rocksteady. And there was no God and there was no Devil.  There was only Mary.  And Mary threw her head back in ecstatic rapture her tongue peeked out of her mouth, her eyes half shut in Biblical delight, the delicious quivering in her belly twitching all the way inside her, beating the drums fanning the fire.  “Forgive me Father for I have sinned,” she whispered.  And she took him in her hand scalding her flesh so hard and she disappeared into the black cauldron under his robe. And she kissed the tip of his stiff cross and he jumped and panted – “O God O God O God” – springing from his lips as she ran her tongue and cupped him in her hand gently massaging his world and swallowing him whole, slowly inch by inch into her Mary mouth and she moaned soulful and vibrated and he quaked, intoxicated by the dark depths of Mary.

James gasped.

Mary emerged, her lips swollen and turkey cock red, cheeks blazing cherries, eyes black fire, and she moved in and kissed him, let him sip his own saltiness sex on her lips.  And then he was sitting on the floor and she was hovering over him, floating in the confessional like an angel of life, a devil of death.  And she spread herself with her fingers.  And she grabbed his gaze and would not let go.  And James had never wanted anything so much as he wanted her.  Mary.  And she lowered herself, opening slowly, all over him.  And she sucked on the very tip of the soul of him with her Mary, relishing the anticipation, feeling the frenzy until he could no longer stand it, and thrust uncontrollable and unconscious into this Mary.  As if this was his sacred mission in life.  As if this was his true calling.  To be inside Mary.

James grasped.

And Mary pushed herself down onto Father James and slid her velvet tremor down, jamming, swallowing him whole, body and soul all the way with everything she had, squeezing him to the root, to the core, to the bone, to the moan, her foundation shaking, rocking his steeple, shattering her madness, rattling his stained glass windows, banging on the pearly gates, knock knock knocking on heaven’s door.  And Mary grasped him, so tight and swelling and wet and delirious with him.  And James found himself levitating, lovecrazy, heartcrazy, poemcrazy.  This was bigger than him.  More powerful.  This wanting.  This Mary.

James stopped.

Eye to eye, two windows into two souls.  And there was a new incense filling the booth.  The sweet scent of James and Mary.  And she nailed him to her cross, took his crown of thorns, as she pounded down him, beads of holy water pooling into drops and raining down his face and chest and back, soaking his robe.  And she rocked, insane, out of body, out of mind, in her body, his heart exploding as they climbed the stairway to heaven.  And the animal in her eyes sprang at him, leapt into him, and he was possessed by the passion of her possession.

James loved.

And he grabbed her hips hard now and pressed up against her as she slid sliding wet gripping grabbing and slamming, filling the confessional with their fury frenzy yes, “O God!” she cried in whisper, and “O sweet Jesus!” he whispered with a cry, and “O Mary!” he cried, and “O Father!” and “O Christ!” transported, transcendental, the ethereal house of the Father and the blessed Mary, the throne of God’s bliss, angels and devils dancing on the head of a pin prick, on the tip of their sin, skin drenched as Mary soaked him with her wet divinity, the holy of holies, until he could hold back no more, and his manna was shooting into her, from the balls of his feet through the thicket of his heart and into the river of his brain, and let their be light and together they entered the tender garden of the kingdom of paradise.

James collapsed.
And then she wept.  And he wept.  Drenching each other in joy and sin.  Crying in great gulps of love and shame.  And James held her tight in his arms.  And Mary held him tight in her arms.  And they held onto each other in that confessional like they were the last people on Earth.  The last people in heaven.  The last people in hell.  Then James thanked God.  His God.  For giving him Mary.

MINOR ADJUSTMENTS, THE TRULY LAME-ASS SITCOM THAT MADE ME STOP BEING AN ACTOR

This is the sitcom that drove me out of my show business

"Please love me"

“Please love me”

Rev Jen, America’s Sexiest Elf, on Learning How to Squirt

Hysterical story by East Village legend Rev Jen, the sexiest elf on the planet & author of Live Nude Elf, tells how she learned to squirt.

INTERVIEW WITH ME, MALE PROSTITUTE ON SALLY JESSE RAFAEL

First interview I did for my book Chicken. I was so nervous and scared and ashamed and embarrassed.  But she was very nice to me.  See more and buy book here.

"Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie" Premiere - 2012 Tribeca Film Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW HOLIDAY JINGLE: SANTA WON’T YOU PLEASE SEND ME A HOOKER

FINALLY, WHAT THE WORLD’S BEEN WAITING FOR, A CHRISTMAS SONG ABOUT HOOKERS, FULL OF LOVE, HOPE, AND REAL LIFE HOOKERS.  SORRY, WISH I COULD SING BETTER.  I’M WORKING ON IT. MERRY CHRISTMAS. HO, HO HO!

Modern American Male: A Poem

Given Half a Chance, the Modern American Male Will

a) remain unconscious
b) swim to the surface
c) discuss black holes

The Book Doctors Pitchapalooza Video: Surprise Teen Winner

This is a Video from when we did Pitchapalooza in our hometown, Montclair NJ.  Watch for surprise teenage winner.

All-American Erotica: The New Coach Is Coming over & Gwen Is Wet

You know how you can feel someone staring at you?  That’s what Gwen was feeling.  It was the first day of soccer practice, and there’s someone staring at me, Gwen thought.  Then she turned around and caught him.  And he didn’t look away.  Neither did she.  Deep blue.  I’ve never seen eyes that deep and blue, Gwen thought.  She dove into them and swam around.  He was almost smiling.  Not quite.  And the way he looked at her.  Like he wanted something from her.  Something important.  And when Gwen closed her eyes to go to sleep that night she saw that look.  Hungry.  Blue.

He was the New Coach.  He was about her brother’s age.  22-ish.  He was a serious soccer guy.  Legs thick.  Brown.  Even when he was standing still, the muscles in his thighs looked alive and pumping.  Gwen found herself staring at them.  His legs.  Gwen found herself.  He wore paper thin t-shirts from Brazil, Ireland, Germany, Mozambique, and Mazatlan.  Where he’d been.  Playing soccer.  Kissing beautiful exotic women.  At least that’s what Gwen found herself imagining as she stared at his lips.  Pink.  Always just about to smile.  Gwen had only had one boyfriend, and when he kissed her, he jammed his mouth onto hers hard, and it hurt.  So she broke up with him.  But she found herself staring at New Coach’s lips and imagining putting her lips on them sweet and soft.  Hungry.  He had curly brown hair and a crooked nose from when he broken it.  A scar over one of his blue eyes.  Where did that scar come from?  Gwen wondered.

Gwen stared at her naked body in the mirror in her girly room surrounded by all her girly things, and she couldn’t quite figure it out.  Six months ago she was skinny.  Her dad called her beanpole.  It was like someone had pushed a button and her beanpole had sprouted into a woman’s body.  She couldn’t quite believe her breasts looked.  Two woman’s breasts.  Brown buttons and a round, crazy, curvy, handful.  Gwen kept looking at those breasts, trying to figure them out.  Whose breasts are those?  They looked beautiful to her, like a painting in a museum.  But they didn’t seem like hers.  Someone would be by to claim them any minute.  That strange new fullness between her legs.  What was that all about, Gwen found herself wondering.  Everything felt so full.  And so empty.  Gwen just couldn’t put it all together.  It puzzled her, and it scared her, and it made her very curious.  She felt like she had a new Christmas present, but someone had forgotten to put the batteries in. She kept staring at it all, head slightly tilted, confused, wandering aimlessly in her eyes.

He looked at her like he knew exactly what to do. The first time, before she even knew he was the New Coach.  A couple of times every practice.  That almost smile.  Those hungry blue eyes.  He knew.

And now he was coming over.  He would be there any minute.  Gwen still couldn’t believe she’d gotten up the nerve to ask him.  She hadn’t told any of her friends.  Which was very odd, because Gwen told her friends everything.  She didn’t even tell Tara.  And that made Gwen very nervous.  She had decided to wear her new jeans and her favorite Clyde Frazier t-shirt to show him how much she didn’t care that he was coming over when her parents were gone for the weekend.  Oh, yes, gone for the weekend.  Gone, gone, gone.

Gwen had waited and waited for the right moment to ask him, and finally after practice on Thursday, he had run some extra sprints, and she had run with him, straining to keep up with those thick brown legs, her muscles burning, shirt soaking, panting, burning, blood boiling in her head, wet, legs on fire, his almost translusent thin t-shirt from Italy sticking to the ripples of his skin.  When they were finally done she collapsed and he stood over her, looking down at her, almost smiling, breathing deep and blue, and she could not get her breath back.  Couldn’t catch it.  Her breath.  And those strange new breasts were heaving.  My God, thought Gwen, I have breasts, and they’re heaving.  “How ya doin’, Gwen?” he asked, and the way he said it was like he knew.  Did he know?  How could he know?  How could he not know?  And her whole inviting him over speech that she had rehearsed so meticulously had just flown out of her head like mallards flying south for the winter, and she lost the power of speach.  “Uh… well,” she sputtered like a backfiring engine, “I’m… you know… uh… good… and I was wondering…” Gwen was picking up steam now, getting her land legs under her, “Yeah, I was wondering if you’d like to come over Saturday and watch this soccer video I got for my birthday.  It’s really cool.  It’s the hundred greatest goals of ’98.”  And he had looked at her for the longest time.  Just looked at her.  My God he’s looking at me, Gwen thought.  He’s gonna tell my parents.  Or no, even worse, he’s just gonna laugh at me, I mean why the hell would the New Coach wanna come over to my dorky house.  Oh Jesus, what a moron I am, Gwen found herself thinking.  And then he said, “Sure, how about fivish?”  And then she said, “Yes”.  And her mind was screaming, “Yes, yes, yes, my God, yeeeeeeeeeeees!”

Now he was coming.  She slipped on her favorite Clyde Frazier t-shirt without a bra over her brand new breasts with the nipples that she had no idea what to do with.  And just the thought that he was on his way and she was wearing her favorite Clyde Frazier t-shirt with no bra made them come to attention.  And for some reason, she now reached not for her new jeans, but for the plaid skirt.  Not her jeans.  The plaid skirt.  And she put it on.  And she looked at herself in it.  Looked at her legs.  Tanned.  Freshly shaved.  And she slipped on her thin white underpants.  And then, as if it were perfectly choreographed, just as the white cotton nestled into place, the doorbell rang.

The New Coach was here.

Gwen opened the front door, and sure enough, there he was.  The New Coach.  Almost smiling.  At her.  Hungry.  Blue.  Just like she remembered him.  In a paper-thin faded t-shirt from Monte Carlo with red shorts over his large brown legs.  And then she was inviting him in, and getting him orange juice, and they were talking, and they were sitting on the couch.  Gwen was sure they were talking, because she could hear the words, and she recognized her voice.  Talking.  And then he asked, “So, where are your parents?” and Gwen heard herself saying, “Oh, they’re away for the weekend,” with an air of casual off-handedness that didn’t fool anyone.  The information sat there for a long time, and Gwen thought New Coach was finally going to give her that smile he had been almost smiling since the first time she caught him looking at her.  “Really…” he said, and he stared at her.  And he didn’t smile.  Almost smiled.  But didn’t.  But my God those eyes are blue, Gwen found herself thinking.  Gwen found herself.  Thinking about how blue and hungry those eyes were.

“So, where do you wanna watch the video?” Gwen asked.  “Anywhere,” said the New Coach.  “How about up in my room?” slipped out of her mouth, and once it was out there was no taking it back.  Gwen was doing everything she could not to hyperventilate and grab him and say, “Don’t you know what’s going on here?  Don’t you know I invited you over here?  Why are you just sitting there?!”  But she didn’t.  “Sure,” he almost smiled, “let’s go up to your room and watch the video.”  And something inside Gwen clenched.  She didn’t know what it was, but it stole her breath, and it brought the blood to her big new nipples under her favorite Clyde Frazier t-shirt, and they felt like a pair of electric buzzers ringing the doorbell in her furnace.

He is sitting next to me on her girly bed in her girly room, on this Saturday afternoon, with her parents gone, gone, gone.  Here we are, Gwen thought.  In my room.  On my bed.  The video is on.  Goal after goal crashing into the net.  Hugging.  Screaming.  Kissing.  Crowd going crazy.  And his thick brown leg was so close to hers she could feel the heat coming off it.  And then Gwen suddenly became aware of his hands.  My God, she thought, they’re huge.  His hands are huge.  He has huge hands.  His huge hands are so close to me, Gwen found was thinking.  And the longer Gwen sat there not watching goal after goal being rammed home, with him not touching her with those huge hands of his, the more confused Gwen became.  Why is he just sitting there?  Staring.  Like he was staring the first time she caught him staring.  Before she even knew he was the New Coach.

And the longer Gwen sat there, the more she realized that she was the one who wanted something from him.  She was the one who wanted something.  Really important.  It wasn’t him, it was me, she thought.  I’m the one that’s hungry.  Maybe he’s hungry, too.  Is he hungry?  He’s not watching the goals anymore.

“GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!” came erupting every thirty seconds on the soundtrack.  He’s almost smiling, Gwen thought.  He’s not going to do anything.  He can’t.  It would be creepy if he did.  It’s my move, Gwen, thought.  Oh my God, it’s my move.

“Uh, I’ve… well, the thing is, I’ve been having  some, uh… problems with my lower back, and I was wondering…” The sentence just seemed to perish there.  It just seemed so cheesy and stupid.  “What were you wondering?” he almost smiled.  And now she was sure he knew.  He had to know.  He knew.  But if he knew, why was he making her go through all this.  Asking him.  Oh, God, I am just so bad at this, Gwen thought.  And the longer he sat there not doing anything with  those huge hands and those thick brown legs and those pink lips and those blue eyes, the tighter she got.  Wanting.  Goal after goal.  The crowd going wild.  “Well, uh… I was wondering if you  could… stretch me?” she asked.

“Sure,” he almost smiled.

She was on her back.  On her puffy rug in her girly room.  And he was standing over her.  He’s standing over me, Gwen thought.  He bent down and his legs were so close.  Huge hands were touching her legs, freshly shaved, and he was staring into her so blue, his voice soft and hypnotic and hungry.

“Breathe,” he said.  And she breathed.  “Deep,” he said.  And she breathed deep.  “Let it go, Gwen.  Let it go.”  She didn’t know exactly what he meant by that.  What was she supposed  to let go?  How am I supposed to let it go, Gwen thought, when I don’t even know what it is.

On her back he pulled her right knee up into her chest, then turned her so her right knee went across her body, stretching her torso, pushing her right knee down on the rug by her left hip, his huge hand spreading strong across the outside of her thigh, the other above her right chest.

“Breathe…” he said, “Deep… let it go, Gwen.  Let it go.”  And she breathed.  Deep.  Gwen found herself letting it go.  She found herself. I’m breathing, Gwen thought, and I’m letting it go.  He stretched her, deep into the big muscles in her back all the way into the inside of her, whoosh, a deep spinal relief.  Then he stretched her left leg the other way, and the tight unloosening with every breath.  He grabbed under her calves with those huge hands, and he pushed her knees into her chest, so she rocked on her spine. Totally exposed.  Gently he pushed while she breathed, his weight pushing into her, one huge hard on her lower back just above her white underpants.  Hard.  Pressing.

“Breathe Gwen,” he said.  “Deep.”  And she breathed deep and he pushed against her a little harder.  Pushed.  Against her.  She could feel it really letting go.  Gwen felt warm.  A wet.  She wanted to give him something important.  She wanted to give it to him. And she wanted to take it.

I’m breathing.  Deep.  The breath eased out.  He lifted her lower back up ever so slightly.  She flexed, opening.  Gwen looked and she saw it outlined against his thin red shorts.  Hard.  She breathed and the breath eased out of her.  He moved his enormous thumb so that is was pressing firm gentle and hungry against her white cotton panties, fitting perfectly against her, the tip of his thumb on the tip of her and Gwen felt herself stick to her white underpants, hotly and wetly, she couldn’t help herself, didn’t want to help herself, she pressed into his thumb, and she sighed hard and she shivered and she shook, and her muscles contracted around his thumb, like she was trying to suck on it.

She smelled him.  Smelled sex.  It was filling up the room.  The smell of wanting.

And now she spread her legs apart.  Reached for his skin and felt it through his thin t-shirt.  Moved him a little so now instead of his thumb pressing against her she felt something pressing against her, sliding along her wet with the rhythm of their breath.

“Breathe Gwen,” he said, only this time it was a whisper in her ear, as he leaned onto her, laid his chest on her chest, bodies melting into each other.  Where does he end and where do I begin? Gwen found herself wondering.  And she breathed.  Deep.

His tongue landed on her lips.  It surprised her.  Took her breath.  Sucked on her lip like a hungry calf his breath warm sweet.  She pushed into him.  Wrapping around him.  Hard.  Sliding up and down.

Gwen shivered a shudder she shook.  Deep inside her belly somewhere.  His huge hands slipped under her, pulling her into him, slowly and slowly.  Then she felt his hungry.  How hard and deep it was.  She put her hands on his back, rippling with heated muscles, sweet to the touch.  And she wanted something in her mouth, so Gwen reached out with her mouth and felt his neck on her lips, slightly moist and so hot.  She sucked.  His skin.  In her mouth.  He moaned a shudder he shook.  She pushed against him.  Pushed.

Gwen wanted to be full.  Of him.  Her new body wanted.  She was hungry.  For his hunger.  That thing she saw in his blue eyes the first time she caught him staring at her.  Before she even knew he was the New Coach.  She couldn’t help herself.  Didn’t want to help herself.  She pushed into him with all her strength.

Suddenly her shirt was off and his shirt was off.  And now it was skin on skin.  She thought they might might burst into flames.  Wet now.  With sweat sweet warm.  His breath on her strange new breasts, only they don’t seem quite so strange now, they’re hot wires, wired with heat, right into her wet, in her belly somewhere, deep as he sucked on her, licked her moan to the bone.  That was me, Gwen found herself thinking.  I was moaning.  That was me.  She pushed the outside of her wet against him again, sliding up his hardness, and then slowly back down.  And he pushed against her, squeezing with his hands under her, pulling her slowly up and slowly back down, muscular, undulating with hunger.  Gwen was swept away into that blue.  She wanted to be filled with his blue.

“Are you sure?” he whispered. Gwen was never more sure of anything in her life.  She pushed against him harder, trying to will him inside.  She grabbed his, hard the soft hot rock flesh, pulling him in with a strength she didn’t know she had.  Thinking yes.  He slid off her underpants.  She lifted herself up to help him and clenched and she could feel the wet coming on, and the feel of his hands on her skin sliding down her, over her calf off the end of her big toe. And then suddenly he didn’t have any clothes on.  She didn’t know exactly how he did that, but suddenly he was so incredibly naked.

As she pushed up and sucked down, grabbing at him with her wet, she felt herself climbing waves washing over her, through her, a rope ladder that went from her wet through her belly, shooting through her heart, growling through her throat, springing from her mouth, out her eyes, his blue right at her tip, his hard, hot so big so he looked at Gwen, he’s looking at me, Gwen thought, all that blue hunger.

“Are you sure?” his pink lips asked. Gwen felt the wet welling and breathing, she let it go, the hard of him, his huge hands, her new breasts pressed to his chest, his mouth, his blue she knew the first time she caught him before she knew how much he wanted she wanted, breathing.  Mouth to mouth Gwen pushed with all her might into him with all her might, Gwen pushed into him deep as the deep blue sea and the clear blue skies, swallowed him and grabbed him and pulled him into her and squeezed him as his hard so large and hot filling her she holds him there inside her wet she squeezes shivers shakes, lava flowing through her core to the root to the stem, a melt, giving it to him, taking it from him, letting it go.  She made a sound she never heard before as she pressed him into her, a growlhowlgroanmoan to the pagan a tremble a rock steady, a rolls a thrust.  He’s trying to hold back but he can’t, she doesn’t want him to, I don’t want you to hold back, Gwen thought, I want all of you, and she’s deep, deeper, deepest, riding, and he’s trembling trying to hold back but he can’t, he can’t, he can’t, and she’s sucking him into her, squeezing and riding a love goddess letting it go bathing in his blue swimming in his blue.  He tries to pull back but she grabs him and wraps her legs around his hard his thick brown legs grabbing his skin with him deep deep inside into his blue inside her hungry from the very first time when she first caught him staring before she even knew he was the New Coach wanting something very important from her, the huge of his hands the pink of his lips, the soft of his blue as he explodes shouting screaming into her letting it go, shiver shake shudder into each other into into into each other’s breath.  She understood her new body, her wet hunger.
Gwen smiled into his blue.

 

Finally he smiled.

 

“GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!”

“I Ain’t No Model”: Interview with a Real Life Male Hustler

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This is an interview I did with a gigolo for a book I’m working on entitled, Working Stiffs, about men who’ve worked in the sex business. I first met Hawk at the Sex Workers Art Show in Olympia Washington. He did an absolutely haunting version of the Bruce Springsteen song, I’m On Fire. Turns out he’s a truly astonishing human being. I’m honored to know Hawk.

DAVID: How do you deal with being naked with various clients?

HAWK: It isn’t that hard. I had clients that were big gymbunnies, jocks, younger than me. They didn’t hire me to be pretty, they hired me to play a part, to make them interesting for a period of time.

Hawk Kincaid was born and grew up in the middle of America’s hinter-heart land: Central Illinois. His was a nomadic childhood, and his parents divorced when he was in the second grade.

HAWK:  I won’t be so trite as to say my mom was the purest woman on the planet, she had great qualities and human flaws. She spent a lot of herself trying to get approval from my grandmother, from everyone. I remember her caught up in the frustrations of fulfilling expectations. I have brought much of that in my own life – as if what I do is never enough. I make myself acutely aware of whether I am following a path that I determined for myself instead of by others. I have memories of her as constricted, and that is what I find myself running away from. My brothers disagree with me, but I think she regretted not being able to explore more diverse interests. I don’t want to regret that for myself.

Hawk’s dad had difficulty finding a passion for anything in life. And apparently had a very hard time being alone.

HAWK:  For me, my father’s a solid, caring family provider who embraced everything from theater to philosophy, but never really making them a life’s passion. He took to ‘Dad’ things, like golf, fishing mowing lawns, and watching TV with beers in hand. Eventually he shacked up with my stepmonster, a failed actress gone alcoholic. Wicked-tongued and passionate, she provided him with alternating pieces of trauma and joy. My father and I never talk about these things or in any detail about HOOK, or my personal life. I still don’t chatter well with my father. My family says I spend too much time thinking about the past, the reasons and impacts of our decisions, but I fear the inevitable reproduction of the life I grew up with, and that’s why it’s important to me.

DAVID: Do you feel like you are a beautiful person?

HAWK: I have good energy.

DAVID: Do you feel like you’re attractive?

HAWK: I ain’t a model.

Hawk was a chubby, unattractive redhead. According to him anyway. Often made fun of and quiet, he yielding to television when he could.

HAWK:  I can’t recall many friends growing up because we kept switching neighborhoods and because my family did not encourage that kind of social behavior. One of the biggest forces to change that was a babysitter named Pauline. She was passionate, loudmouthed and in a world where things seemed so sterile, she was an opposition. Not dirty, but touched: the glasses in her kitchen, her aged beads/curtains that separated rooms, her velvet paintings. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are at Pauline’s, lip-synching to Chicago records, hanging bags of Avon samples on doors in rich neighborhoods, the smells and all. It felt more real than my own family, which was so concerned with appropriateness.

Hawk went to private high school.

HAWK: Public junior high made me understand why kids kill themselves.

He’s always had a hard-on for religion. Literally.

HAWK: I have terrible memories of getting hard-ons in church, and perhaps this is the source of my persistently negative association with the church, religion and formality. When I get a little sleepy sometimes I accidentally get a hard-on. Jesus notwithstanding, the notion of sex and church has never been linked in my head, but my body was uncontrollable. In church I always devised plans. Used to pinch myself. I never understood it. But the body is like that. My mother’s cancer. My constant battle with flab. The body infrequently does what I want it to.”

Hawk is very self-conscious about his body.

HAWK: I gotta fight getting fatter. I think that feeling unattractive is the propulsive force for a lot of guys in the business. Certainly for myself, the flattery of men responding positively to you affects your mood, your sense of self. BUT that tends to be an addictive path. Looking outside to find that validation is a long self-destructive cycle. I’ve seen a lot of people fall into some bad behaviors to maintain that position. To give priority to strangers over their lovers, friends. Gaining pleasure from giving pleasure, or the act of being appreciated is simply human – but needing that in ever increasing amounts will kill ya.

Hawk first had sex with a female. When he was 17.

HAWK: I remember her as baby powder smelling underwear with roses/flowers on it. Pink. Definitely pink.

He now identified himself as queer. He first did sex work with a man. He was in college, staying with some bigoted ignorant distant family members, who accused him of gangbanging, doing drugs, and screwing girls.

HAWK: Eventually they accused me of trying to kill some family members by doing my laundry (I know, it sounds insane – it was). So, I got a housesitting gig and met a guy who introduced me to doing bodywork. As weird as it sounds, because of the long hours I worked, it was ideal. The work was rough, a bit scary, but it just made sense. I mean, I was working 10 hour days for nothing at the internship, and then trying to work for a record store for 3-4 hours and making 20-30 bucks after taxes. I could turn around 100 in a session doing massage, and with tips upwards of 200. Since I was uncertain about housing and scared about being so many miles from my home and my family, it was the right choice.

Hawk was nervous the first time he had sex for money. “But I shortchanged myself. After meeting other guys in the business… I should definitely have asked for more. Never shortchange yourself. I never felt guilt about the money. Just guilt about the sorrow.

When Hawk first started doing body work, he was paid extra money for doing Extras.

HAWK: The Extras sometimes involved sex, sometimes because I liked the client, sometimes for affirmation – hell, I even dated one of my clients and he is still one of my dearest friends. I think that’s the strange part of the sex industry, that even in my most panicky moments, it was often an attempt to connect to people. The money part has always been hard for me. Not just in sexwork, but even now as a freelance designer, I dread the billing aspect, because I like what I do. Charging for it seems the right thing to do, but it doesn’t always feel right. Sometimes, I think the generosity I have stems from feeling awkward about asking for compensation. Leftover deposits of Midwest Protestantism. That being said, having sex for money was never wrong. It wasn’t a moral issue. It was the feeling that these are vulnerable people, and I am cautious about business operations or personal behaviors that leverage people’s weakness. It is the source of guilt for me. Not the morality of prostitution, but the sense that making people feel better about themselves is a paid-for operation. Sex can be an industry – but self-esteem just feels diluted when you commercialize it. It’s why I don’t trust bartenders or psychologists. They make a living off of your sorrows.

Hawk’s specialty was breaking-and-entering, also known as B&E. This involves surprising a client, tying him up, and fucking him.

HAWK: Bondage was definitely my thing. And spanking/paddling/abuse. I preferred bondage though because I could tie them up and leave for a bit, come back and be mean, hit them, and then leave. Low maintenance. It also gave me control with clients and meant I had little contact if I wanted. Kink was where I made most of my money and now, when my partner brings up some kinky ideas, I always resort to cuddling cause kink is what I did with customers and I think it reminds me too much of that. Cuddling is something I do with people I care about… This might be something to deal with in the future, I think… Not to vilify radical sex in general, but I just think that it has taken me a long time to rethink sex and contact in positive, constructive terms that don’t mean fear. I think people are often afraid of contact and now, it is what drives me. Laughing during sex. Joy during sex. Porn doesn’t cover that for me and there is a cool aesthetic to that kind of aggressive image. That was an image I maintained with clients, but it is not what I want to come home to.

Hawk’s ads as a sex worker featured a rough tough persona.

HAWK: My partner says I’m a lot of false advertising since my ad looks so rough, but my real identity is more cuddly and fuzzy. I am softer than I let on, especially when working, but that was the edge. To be in control maintained my safety, my security, and solidity in that market. It gave me the elements I needed to walk in and out of the industry in tact. It was a fun image but definitely a lot of work.

Hawk often found that his clients were turned on by being controlled.

HAWK: It’s what all people want, for the most part. Freedom from responsibility, from having to make choices. Most men seem to equate sex to a freedom from thought. Sex is a way to avoid loneliness most of the time. To forget about it for a short time. People want a psychiatrist that doesn’t make them self-consciously aware they are seeking treatment. We play doctors, and the more you understand that what they need more than sex is care, you are good to go. With a client, it’s all performance. I don’t think it’s about being turned on. That doesn’t matter. It’s like theater and you treat it like theater. They don’t know and they certainly don’t care. They don’t want you to be real. Real people have problems, dramas, credit card bills, etc. They want you to be simple and they will want you to be a separate part of their lives. They want you, most importantly, to leave quietly.

Being in the sex business has never really inhibited Hawk in his relationships, but he had commitment problems anyway.

HAWK: A few guys shied away from me when they found out what I did, but in the gay world, I think that prostitution is hardly news to anyone. I’ve been honest my whole life about being in the sex business. Oftentimes I think guys have sex to make a connection. The quality of the sex is bad, and I know I used it for that, as well. When we get hooked up in a relationship, suddenly you don’t need to have sex so you don’t. Or the thrill of sex was not knowing the other person well, and when you get someone you know, the thrill is gone. I often associated sex with those two elements: work or loneliness.”

Hawk was unattractive as a kid. According to him anyway.

HAWK: I am unique in that I don’t represent normal images seen in magazines and idealized in the gay world. How many of us do? At times, I think that is where I found success. I never pretended to be pretty, I simply was genuine. I found clients interesting, and that was something they liked. Truth is that I am jealous of pretty men. Beautiful people paid to be beautiful have to spend their energy there, and my success in the business was not on being beautiful outside – it was about the conversations, the conviction, the energy and the other attributes I leveraged. It will never be my job to be beautiful.

There are diehards who want to reminisce about the beautiful badass days of streethustling and the hyper-masculinity it conjures.

HAWK: But they have short memories and are probably lonely or bored with the reality of today (and were just as bored in the reality then, but choose to forget). It was a messy, self-destructive lifestyle that was either littered with rape and drug abuse or self-involved ego issues. I made it in and out of the industry with my body and health in tact. I could lay down my own rules, and I was never in a position of being abused. I have been ripped off (my own damn fault – for a check… yes, a CHECK!), but if that’s the worst mistake I made in years of taking clients, then consider me lucky.

After having been in the life for awhile, Hawk decided to start a website for male sex workers. Thus HOOK was born.

HAWK: HOOK was a project that grew from my frustrations with silence around the male sex industry. The only discussions I could find harbored an approach toward victimization or were the self-destructive biographies that the press loves to promote. There were other stories. Not just mine, but many stories. I consider myself unique in this particular industry because as a sex worker, I went in and out again a few times, maintained being sober the entire existence, and then have spoken publicly in all forums about the issue. The idea of HOOK was to pull together true stories and tips from guys in the business. When I was in the business, one thing I did share with others was the lack of connection. The separation from different sides of my life, and often the inability to really find an ear that understood. Where was I to vent? Especially since a lot of guys took up drugs or alcohol to release those feelings (which often made them worse). I wanted to provide a format that would open up that dialogue and help people avoid some of the common mistakes. The point was to say, ‘Hey, this happened to me, and here’s something you can do to prevent it from happening to you.’ In the same vein, a lot of guys are in the business for immediate cash and lose sight of long-term goals or what to actually do with the cash or how to get more cash while making better decisions. Often the fast cash comes with the worst decisions, like more money for barebacking, ie having unprotected sex. And HOOK serves as a publication by, for, and about guys in the business. We don’t push people into the business on a float of ‘Whore Pride’, and we don’t tell people to get out. What we do is simply tell it like it as best we can. Through guides and tips and materials, we attempt to build something that is fun, comfortable, and most of all, helpful. You can find the history of HOOK.

Hawk’s brothers definitely know that he’s worked in the sex business.

HAWK: I have shown them HOOK and we have talked about it in various ways and circumstances. My father should know by now, as I have never hid it. I can’t tell you if that is because I don’t want to talk about it and I avoid him or because his opinion would mean so little. I imagine it more the latter.

Hawk has worked as a host in a restaurant, a shoe and record salesman, a tour guide, and teaching art to kids. He graduated from Drake University, Des Moines Iowa, Summa Cum Laude, Majoring in Broadcast News, Minoring in Russian Studies and Cultural Studies (College Honors in Cultural Studies). He is currently an activist for sex workers, is the founder of HOOK On-line, the world’s premier website for male sex workers, a graphic designer, photographer, and performance artist, living in The Deep South.

 

The Fly by Ogden Nash LOL Poem

The Fly by Ogden Nash

Goldman Sachs Resort & Casino

18-things-waste-moneyGoldman Sachs is proud to announce a consumer-enriching expansion from the hallowed halls of Wall Street to the glittering neon of Las Vegas.  In addition to continuing our world-class wealth-friendly Private Wealth Management and Personal Banking services; our internationally-recognized client-focused Global Investment Research services; our award-winning, growth-facilitating Debt Financing teams, we are excited to unveil plans for the globally diversified, entertainment-enhanced Goldman Sachs Lounge & Casino, perfect for both the high roller, and the high-net-worth individual, financial institution, corporation and/or government.  Located just off Flamingo Ave. between Treasure Island and Circus Circus, GSL&C will continue our tradition of offering the finest in connectivity-based consumer value.  From Texas Hold ‘em Hedge Fund tables, to Equity Capital Craps games, to Subprime Mortgage Default Roulette wheels, to Junk Bond Bingo, Goldman Sachs plans to bring the visionary, innovative and family-friendly fun it made famous on Wall Street, and transplant it right into the heart of Las Vegas.  We’re also delighted to provide both original and recapitalized entertainment-rich packages, including but not limited to, a Ronald Reagan impersonator, who, backed by the dancing Reaganettes, will star in a multimedia review developed by Sirs Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Webber, with Wayne Newton, called DEREGULATION!  World renowned Cirque du Soleil have developed a special show just for us, entitled, Money CAN Buy You Love, which will feature profitability-saturated costumes that are just that side of revealing, just this side of risqué, and made of real FDIC-backed gold bullion.  And for all you Baby Boomers we’ll have a Pink Floyd tribute band that plays an extended jam version of their mega-hit song, Money, with an infrastructure-rocking, liquidity-inducing light show that’ll have you tripping the light fantastic!  For the AARP crowd, we got a Henny Youngman look-alike with a comedy-maximizing catchphrase that’s sure to gain valuable traction all over America, “Take my money, PLEASE!”  Don’t think we forgot the kids!  While you’re having as much fun as an adult can legally have in the state of Nevada, drop them off at the Elephants, Bulls and Bears room.  Boys can play Matador, goring and killing our very own papier-mâché headed mascot Bully.  Girls can have a teddy bear’s picnic, while they learn how to bag an Elephant, (a large institutional investor), thereby attaining a strategic advantage in manipulating security prices.  We’ll also be featuring a Research Room, “manned” by a bevy of bodacious, brainy beauties, who are fully “equipped” to give you insider tips about which games best suit your skills, value and long-term fiduciary goals.  And don’t worry if you’re a little cash flow-shy, we’ve got our own credit rating agency, headed by Harvard Business School alumnus and former Miss Las Vegas, Penelope “Penny Stock” Bernstein.  Plus we’ll offer a super, synthetic collateralized debt obligation system that lets you get cash fast fast fast.  So be sure when you’re packing your little black dress, to throw in your pink slips to all your vehicles, the deed(s) to your house(s), as well as your bathing suit, so you can take a break from all the madcap fun, and swim in our blood diamond encrusted, $-shaped Olympic size pool  And don’t forget to visit the Bailout Lottery Lounge, where you can buy a ticket that gives you a better than average* chance of winning a nice hunk of that Obama bailout money you’ve been hearing so much about.  You’ll even find a Big Short Blackjack table, where customers can actually bet against themselves, and the dealer.  Because at Goldman Sachs Lounge & Casino, everyone’s a winner!*

*Based on current, former, and future unforeseeable variables, and due to fluctuations including, but not limited to, current market values, anticipated added profitability, or unanticipated market downturn, this claim is completely nonbinding in this or any other universe, in perpetuity

Shawna Kenney On Domination, Love & Farts @ Sex Worker Literati

One of my favorite people, Shawna Kenney, author of I Was a Teenage Dominatrix, tells a hysterical story.

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Opening the Blind Eye — Who Are Child Predators and What Must Be Done to Stop Them

“There is a great looking chicken new to me on the swim team … he looks to be 14. Tall but built pretty well in his chest, and blonde and great smile. I fantasized about his asking me to help him get used to the jacuzzi naked.”

127NFRonaldKlinemugshotThis is from the diary of 61-year-old Judge, Ronald C. Kline.

Do you find this shocking and unbelievable?

I do not. At the age of 17, I became an under-age prostitute: a chicken. One of my clients was a judge. The Judge paid me $500 (and this was 1974 money) to verbally and physically abuse him. As soon as I laid eyes on him I felt mean, hateful, loathing. I imagined him up on the bench looking down at me righteously. At the same time I felt sorry for him, and I wondered: Who pumped their poison into this guy? At that moment I vowed I’d never work again. Afterwards I went and bought a day-old birthday cake and ate until I passed out.

Judge Kline has been charged with six counts of possessing child pornography, (including over 100 images of child pornography and a commercial videotape in his home) and child molestation.

Internet pedophilia is rampant. Children are bought and sold, imported and exported like slaves all over the world.

From the cover of Newsweek, to the front pages of the New York Times, to 48 Hours TV news magazine, there have been countless stories detailing how priests have been abusing children for decades all over America.

I am not shocked. I am not in disbelief. Sadly I’ve seen it too many times. And not in the bad part of town. In the nice neighborhoods where I grew up. We must accept the fact that child sexual exploitation is not something that just happens in the ghetto, or in Mexico, or Bangkok. It’s happening on your block. In your nice neighborhood. On your block.

America has turned a blind eye to the problem of adults in positions of power and privilege sexually victimizing children for too long.

So what is to be done?

Stop treating prostituted kids as criminals. When a youth is arrested for prostitution, the question inevitably asked is, “Did the child agree to the act?” This is the equivalent of asking an assaulted child if they agreed to being beaten. Almost all of these kids have been subjected to terrible trauma, and must be given the psychological, emotional, and physical help they need, as well as the skills required to move on.

Stop passing kids from agency to agency to hospital to foster home, and allow kids to have a say in what happens to them when they’re rescued from sexual exploitation. And make sure they have a safe place to go.

Make more safe houses available for kids that are actually SAFE, where survivors can get medical, psychological to help them re-integrate into society.

Prosecute pimps and johns who abuse kids with vigorous laws and enforcement, and multiple charging (statutory rape, child endangerment, and RICO statute) abusers. 4) Create a Child Protection Czar, who would coordinate and facilitate organizations on a local and national level.

Spread public information for kids, parents and educators on how to talk about this subject: not as sex education, but as violence prevention.

Establish an 800 number that kids can call day or night that will refer them to a local agency where they can get the help they need.

Form a group of survivors who can help set policy, and talk all over the country in schools and churches and community centers.

The laws have to be stiffer, and their enforcement much more vigorous.

Parents must calmly and rationally tell their children that there are a few adults who are sick on the inside, and not on the outside. And this grown-up might not be a stranger. It might be someone you know. And the sickness makes them want to hurt boys and girls. No matter what any adult says, boys and girls don’t have to do anything they’re not comfortable with, and if anyone tries to make them, they need to tell their mom and their dad and their teacher.

We want our heroes and villains in clean discreet categories. We want our heroes to be pillars of society. We want our sexual villains to be fringe freaks, grotesque and easily recognizable. But the fact is that predators are hungry for our children in all walks of life. Sexual predators aren’t all pockmarked men in stained raincoats. Sometimes they’re gardeners, priests, uncles, and yes, even judges.

I hid the fact that I had been a prostitute for many years, and holding all those secrets and all that trauma nearly killed me. I went from the penthouse to the outhouse on a slow painful ride down the razor’s edge. Part of the reason I couldn’t tell anyone was that I grew up in a British household where one’s upper lip was always stiff, and I could not ask for the help I needed. But part of it is a terrible prejudice that exists in our culture against kids who’ve been prostituted. I felt my identity had been spoiled, that I was worthless and undeserving of love and help. I wrote a book about my life as a young chicken, and when my book came out, I “came out” as an ex-prostitute. I immediately felt the effects of having my identity spoiled. Many of my immediate family no longer speak to me. I am no longer invited to family gatherings. One of my best friends told me point blank it was my fault that I was raped. Hate the crime, not the victim.

If I could talk to Ronald C. Kline, this is what I’d like to say: “I was hired as a 17 year old to abuse a judge, and it left deep scars in me which took years and years to heal. Please, I beg you to get some help. Find someone who can assist you to express your desires appropriately. Innocence is the most precious thing in the world. Once it’s gone, you can never get it back.”

David Henry Sterry is the author of Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent 10 Year Anniversary published by Soft Skull

 

Tips for Writers on How to Blog

Blogs, writing, publishing. Mama plus!

Buy a NEW copy of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published & Get FREE 20 minute consultation.

In our recent interview, David Henry Sterry of the Book Doctors shared five of their top tips for aspiring authors. In this next installment, David covers more top tips specifically for us bloggers.

1.  PICK SOMETHING YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT

DHS: First of all, pick a subject matter that you’re absolutely passionate about.

Don’t try to follow trends. We get this all the time, like people ask me “What’s the hot thing in publishing? What should I be writing about? Werewolves, vampires, unicorns, dwarves?”

No: pick something you’re passionate about, something that has meaning for you, something that makes you excited, something you think about and do in your spare time.

2.  PUT SOMETHING UP WITH CREDIBLE REGULARITY

DHS: And then, of course, there’s persistence; to have daily application of the principles involved in success. You’ve got to put something up with credible regularity: if it’s not every day, every couple of days.

You’ve got to keep feeding your blog; it’s like a garden. If you don’t water it, if you don’t weed it, if you don’t plant the right seeds, it’s just going to sit there and be a scrappy patch of weeds.

3.  REACH OUT TO PEOPLE

DHS: You’ve got to have people to read it, so you’re going to have to reach out to people.

You want to find those people in your discipline, in your area of interest, and connect with them in meaningful ways. Do nice things for them.

I like to say that the biggest principle of social media is ‘Good Samaritanism’. I get things every day, and I’m sure you do too: “Vote for me!” “Be my friend!” I’m like, “Why am I going to vote for you? I don’t even know you! Why are you sending me this? Why do you want me to do something for you when I don’t even know you?”

Now, if someone emails me and says “Hello, I just wrote a review upon Amazon – which anyone can do – of your book The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, I’m going to do something nice for that person. I will put a link to their blog all over my Facebook and my Twitter and, you know, I’ll do something nice for them if they have made themselves a friend of me.

When I’m going after somebody, I put a link to their stuff up on my various platforms. I put a review up. I put a comment up on their blog; it doesn’t take much time to do that. But when I’ve done three or four of those things, then I feel comfortable about asking them to help me in some way.

So I think that’s a really important principle to embrace: to collect your tribe of people. That’s what’s absolutely crucial. You’re writing about something in new and interesting ways, that you’re passionate about, and then to have a group of people who are interested in the same thing.

 

 

 

Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, A Beautiful Poem

Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy

911: The Power of Small Town Independent Book Stores

DowntownSisters911 said the sign as we edged into the central Oregon town of Sisters.  We weren’t sure if that was the population, or a cry for help.  It was Saturday afternoon, and we were booked into Paulina Springs Book Company as part of our Putting Your Passion Into Print Tour.  In fact we had put together this event to sell our books Satchel Sez: the World, Wit and Wisdom of Satchel Paige, and Pride & Promiscuity: the Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen, because our publishers, Simon & Schuster, and Random House, had told us it would be very difficult to do a successful event in a bookstore revolving around Satchel Paige or Jane Austen, both of whom are dead, and most likely will remain so.  But Kate Cerino at Paulina Springs seemed to think differently, and had insisted on doing an event about Satchel Paige, instead of Passion Into Print.  So there we were.

We walked into the store at 4:40 for our 5:00 event, and apart from Kate, none of the 911 Sisterites were there.  Our expectations, which had been extremely low to begin with, plummeted as we spied the 30 empty seats sadly facing one lone chair, which was staring off into space self-consciously.

As we strolled around Sisters, we noticed that all the shops were closed, and no one was around.  It was like a Twilight Zone episode.  We began to wonder if there really were 911 people in Sisters, or if we were going to be abducted by author-starved aliens who would make us write books day and night for the rest of eternity.

Well, imagine our surprise at 5:00 when we returned to find Paulina Springs Bookstore packed with 35 of its 911 occupants.  3% of the population.  If this was LA there would’ve been 300,000 people there.  Our jaws hit the floor.  Those melancholy chairs were now full and happy, brimming with Sisters bottoms, all waiting for us to say something intelligent, insightful and witty about Satchel Paige.

I scanned the crowd, and it suddenly hit me: there were only two people under the age of sixty in the audience.  Talk about your target audience.  Afterwards, the crowd asked great questions, and many of them shared their own Satchel Paige stories.  It was America at its best, oral history flying all around us, right there in Paulina Springs Book Company, Sisters, Oregon, population 911.  Turns out almost everyone there had seen Satchel pitch, which is not as strange as it might seem, since he barnstormed North America from Moosejaw to Miami.  One woman told a story about when she was a little girl and her father took her to Comiskey Park in 1948 so she could see Satchel pitch against the Cleveland Indians.  As she told us, her eyes glowed like gold as she lit up the room.

Towards the end of the event the Oldest-Man-in-the-Room raised his hand.  In a voice weathered with age but still going gangbusters, he said, “I was the batboy on Satchel Paige’s team.  My uncle was his manager.  I used to ride in his car with him.  He was fast.  He would have made a great race car driver, Ol’ Satch.”  He stole the whole show in about twenty seconds.

After the event, the Oldest-Man-In-the-Room approached me.  He had several hundred thousand miles on him, but his smile was wide, his mind was tack-sharp, and he had incredible posture.  Made me stop slouching just looking at him.  He thanked me for writing the book.  Then he told me that he had one of Satchel’s old gloves.  I said I would love to buy it from him.  He said, “No, sir, I want you to have it.  Give me your address and I’ll mail it to you.”  I insisted on paying for it, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  He gave me his pen, and I wrote down my address for him.  He carefully folded the paper and put it in his pocket.  Then he stuck out his hand and I took it in mine.  It was old and thin, but the grip was strong, with a little pump at the end.  I hope I’m shaking hands as well as that when I’m 80.  After we said our heartfelt farewells, I was distracted by someone asking me to sign a book, and this led to another signature, then another.  As I signed the books, I was so happy when the buyers asked me to make the inscriptions out to their grand-sons and grand-daughters.  Then it hit me: this is why I wanted to write the book in the first place, so the next generation would know about Satchel and his 6 Rules for Staying Young.  As I signed, I felt a tug on my sleeve.  It was the Oldest-Main-in-the-Room.  I smiled to myself.  I figured he probably forgot something.  “Sonny, you got my pen.”  I cracked up, handed him the pen, and smiled as I watched him walk away slow but steady, overjoyed at 44 to be called Sonny.

We thanked Kate, she thanked us, then we all patted each other on the back for quite some time.  We promised her we’d be back when my memoir Chicken comes out in February, and she said she was looking forward to it.

Everyone in the store bought a book.  It was the most successful event on our whole 13-stores-in-15-day tour.

As we packed up to leave Sisters, population 911, Arielle turned to David and said, “You never know.”

 

D & A: Why did you buck conventional wisdom and bring an event revolving around Satchel Sez: The Wit, Wisdom, and World of Satchel Paige into Paulina Springs Bookstore, when most publishers say in-store events about baseball players don’t work when the ballplayer is dead?

K: Someone in the store heard David being interviewed by Scott Simon on National Public Radio, and thought it would make a good event.

D & A: Why did you think an event about a Negro Leagues legend would work in your store when there are so few African-Americans in your town?

K: I don’t really think about it like that.  We try to only bring in great events, so when people come to see an event here, they know it’s going to be interesting.  Like all independent bookstores that have managed to survive, we have very loyal customers, and they support us.

D & A: So, you don’t make automatic assumptions of which books will draw crowds, and which won’t?

K: No, not really.  We just try to bring in high-quality authors we think will put on really good events.

D & A: Your store has such a nice feel in it, it seems very intimate.

K: I think that’s important.  A lot of people are intimidated by writers.  A woman came to an event here and she said she’d always wanted to go to one of these events, but she felt intimidated.  We have a very casual feeling here, and I think that makes a big difference.

D & A: And you had books I’d never seen before.

K: We’re able to hand-select the books we sell.  I think almost every book in this store has been read by someone on the staff, or was recommended to us by a customer.  One of our customers lives most of the time in Berkeley, and she comes into our store to buy books.  I asked her why and she said, “You guys always have seem to have great books I can’t find anywhere else.”  And she’s from Berkeley, where there are so many bookstores!

D & A: Your event was the most successful on David and Arielle’s 13 stores-in15-days Northwest Tour.  Why do think the event such a success, in a town with 911 people?

K: Well, that’s a little deceiving.  There are actually about 10,000 people who live in and around Sisters.  But I think Paulina Springs Book Company is in many ways an intellectual center here in Sisters, and, in fact, for the larger Central Oregon community.  The store’s owners, Dianne Campbell and Dick Sandvik, have worked very hard over the past nine years to develop strong audiences for our in-store events.  People really pay attention to who we bring in.  Like a lot of small towns all over America, many well-educated, interesting people live here.  People have chosen to move here because it’s such a great place to live.  We really work hard to get the word out on our events, and we benefit a lot from word of mouth in the community.

D & A: Do you think that publishers sometimes underestimate small-town bookstores’ ability to sell books and stage successful events?

K: Most definitely!  We have a very hard time getting publishers to send their authors here.  We’ve been very persistent, especially at making direct contact with writers.  Authors like Sandra Dallas, Barry Lopez, Ivan Doig, and Craig Lesley came to Paulina Springs despite reservations of their publicists – and had great receptions and wonderful experiences.  We think it’s time publicists and publishers took note that their authors might make a bigger splash here, rather than being part of the background noise in the big city.  I was cleaning the files the other day and I found a note from Pete Fromm addressing this very point.  “…the entire way to Boise, where the Barnes & noble experience was pretty much a bust.  Meeting you guys, the dinner and the reading at your store turned out to be one of the high points of the entire trip.  Thanks for pestering the publisher to get me there.”

D & A: That was our experience, too, Kate.  Thank you so much for talking to me, and thanks for making us feel so welcome.

K: Thank you.

FREE! Beautiful Hand Signed Book Plate for Chicken

Send proof of purchase of purchase of NEW copy of Chicken & I will send you a personalized signed book plate. Sterry bookplate

In a cool envelope with stuff crazy stickers. Find Chicken at your local independent bookstore: Indiebound or on Amazon.

chicken 10 year anniversary cover“Ten years ago, this debut memoir from Sterry burst upon the literary scene with an energy and inventiveness that captured his little-known subject matter—teenage life in Los Angeles as a rent boy working for a benevolent pimp named Sunny whose “rich, generous, horny friends,” Sterry explains, “pay good money to party with a boy like me.” Now back in print, Sterry’s memoir still crackles with its unsparingly honest approach: “I catch myself in the mirror, seventeen-year-old hardbody belly, pitprop legs, zero body fat, and huge hands. I’m seduced by the glitter of my own flesh.” Scenes from Sterry’s early dysfunctional family life not only add pathos to this tale of fall and resurrection but assure readers that he never sees himself as better than his clients, such as Dot, the wealthy 82-year-old, whose only desire is to experience cunnilingus for the first time—a desire that Sterry readily fulfills. “Even though I have no home and no family except for a bunch of prostitutes and a pimp, even though I have no future… at least I’m good at this.” (Oct.) – Publisher’s Weekly”

“I walk all the way up Hollywood Boulevard to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre: past tourists snapping shots; wannabe starlets sparkling by in miniskirts with head shots in their hands and moondust in their eyes; rowdy cowboys drinking with drunken Indians; black businessmen bustling by briskly in crisp suits; ladies who do not lunch with nylons rolled up below the knee pushing shopping carts full of everything they own; Mustangs rubbing up against muscular Mercedes and Hell’s Angels hogs. It’s a sick twisted Wonderland, and I’m Alice.”

This is the chronicle of a young man walking the razor-sharp line between painful innocence and the allure of the abyss. David Sterry was a wide-eyed son of 1970s suburbia, but within a week of enrolling at Immaculate Heart College, he was lured into the dark underbelly of the Hollywood flesh trade. Chicken has become a coming-of-age classic, and has been translated into ten languages. This ten-year anniversary edition has shocking new material.

“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, The 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.” – Vanessa Feltz, BBC

“Insightful and funny… captures Hollywood beautifully” – Larry Mantle, Air Talk, NPR

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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).

Me & Chippendales: Cokeheaded Porn Starlets, a Vulvic Volcano & Jesus in a G-string

My  opening night at Chippendales: Construction guy lipsynchs Is It Me You’re Looking for? he makes BBW sister swoon. Video book excerpt from Master of Ceremonies: a True Story of Love, Murder, Roller Skates & Chippendales

 

Master ceremonies coverBuy the Book

Press Release!

Cherry Bleeds Interview!

Great Review of Unzipped by The Independent

60 SECONDS: David Henry Sterry

Revealing the Chippendales

David’s UK Online Times Article

Refresh Lite Review of Unzipped!

Sunday Times With David Henry Sterry

Scotland on Sunday, Full Frontal by David Henry Sterry

1985, smackdab in the cash-happy coke-crazy 80s.  That’s when I was hired to be the MC at Chippendales, it was the hottest show in the city that never sleeps: movie stars, fashion Titans, movers and shakers shaking their booties and grooving and cruising. And I was right in the center of it, in tuxedo top hats and rollerskates, where every night was ladies night, it was always raining men, and girls just wanted to have fun.  When I was hired to be the MC at Chippendales, it was the hottest show in the city that never sleeps: movie stars, fashion Titans, movers and shakers shaking their booties and grooving and cruising. And I was right in the center of it, in tuxedo top hats and rollerskates. This book is about a culture of excess and madness spinning out of control, where greed was good, Wall Street was swimming with $, and bankrupt farmers were committing suicide. Where President Reagan’s designer clad Stepford first wife was giving grateful drug addicts everywhere the key to sobriety: Just Say No, even as her husband, flush with the rush of reelection, was funding drug thugs.

It’s about a man, Nick de Noia, who was the visionary genius behind Chippendales, a man who wanted to change the world, to fulfill the promise of Women’s Lib, to make a fun, safe sexy place where women could fondle, ogle and sexualized hot man flesh for the first time in history. And he wanted to get rich doing it. He was a tyrant who ruled with a combination of cruel abuse and buttery flattering charm. He was my boss, and this book is about what it’s like to work for a man who gets assassinated. It’s about performing in front of 600 flesh craving, money waving, booze fueled ladies, with the estrogen bouncing off the walls. It’s about working with beautiful half-nude dudes, and never getting laid. But, in the end, it’s about failing at fame and succeeding at love.

To read excerpts from the book and an interview go to: https://davidhenrysterry.com/category/books/

To read piece in London Times Sunday Magazine go to:

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article2347891.ece

 

UNZIPPED: A TRUE STORY OF

SEX, DRUGS, ROLLERSKATES

& MURDER (Canongate/Grove Atlantic)

Manhattan, mid-80s: Madonna is wearing her bullet-bra, and Wall Street is cash-happy, while at Chippendales – the world’s most famous male strip club – it’s raining men, and girls just wanna have fun. David Henry Sterry was at the centre of the madness as the roller-skating emcee, fanning the flames of lady lust while Rome burned.

Ultimately, though, all great parties must come to an end, and the gangland-style assassination of his boss, the man responsible for the phenomenal success of the beefcake boys, marked the beginning of the end for the party-all-the-time 80s in New York City.
With unflinching, brutal honesty, Sterry records the seedy glamour, dirty little secrets and hilarious backstage madness of a world spinning out of control. Unzipped is the eye-popping story of the ugliest man at Chippendales, and his search for happiness in a sea of G-strings, desperate housewives behaving badly and 25 of the most beautiful men in the world.

 

In Manhattan of mid-80s: Madonna debuts her bullet-bra at Danceteria, a 50-foot Brooke Shields jeans ad adorns Times Square, Wall Street is cash-happy, while at Chippendales – the world renowned male strip club – it’s raining men, and girls just wanna have fun in the club that’s infamous for late-night well-fuelled parties that just don’t stop. Acclaimed memoirist David Henry Sterry, author of “Chicken”, was literally at the centre of the madness as the roller-skating emcee of the nightly beefcake parade.

“Unzipped” is the action-packed, compelling true story of a fledgling actor whose first big break results in a two-year stint as the emcee at the world’s most famous and hedonistic strip club. Ultimately, though, all great parties must come to an end, and the gangland style assassination of his boss, the man responsible for the phenomenal success of the beefcake boys, marked the beginning of the end of the party-all-the-time 80s in New York City. Seedy glamour, dirty little secrets, hilarious backstage madness and unflinching, brutal honesty make David Sterry’s “Unzipped” an entertaining and moving memoir.


 

INTERVIEW! David Henry Sterry sat down for this interview just before the release of his new book, Unzipped: A True Story of Sex, Drugs, Rollerskates & Murder (Canongate, 2007)
Q: What was it like to work at Chippendales male strip club in New York City in the craziness of the mid-80s, when it was the hottest show in the city that never sleeps?

A: It was absolutely mad, like being in the middle of a Fellini movie. The mid-80s were insane, big hair, tiny skirts, cash-happy and coke-crazy, back when girls just wanted to have fun and it was raining men. 600 flesh-craving money-waving women packed into this tiny club, going berserk, I swear I was high on estrogen every night. To me, watching the women was more fun than anything at Chippendales. They came from all over the world, in every shape and size, bimbo in limos and booming grannies, supermodels and super virgins, hen parties gone wild and desperate housewives behaving badly. Most of these women were so sweet, honestly, I fell in love every night. But some of these ladies, they were absolutely savage. Night after night I would watch them, drunk out of their minds, digging their nails deep into these men, often drawing blood. I remember so clearly on my first night at Chippendales as I came into the tiny stinky dressing room after the show, there was Prince Charming, (that was the name of the character he played in the show), standing in front of a full-length mirror, an enormous $1,000 mountain of wrinkled and sweaty cash in front of him, and as I scanned my eyes down his huge, nude, oiled up perfect body, I saw these teeth marks in his exquisite ass cheek. They were deep and red and angry. Some lady had really sunk in her choppers into him. Seriously, you could have identified her dead body from those teeth marks. I remember thinking, America, what a country! In some ways it was the best job I’ve ever had: four nights a week, two hours a night, making big bank, celebrities like Brooke Shields and Calvin Klein in the audience, it was so much fun. But it was also one of the most frustrating jobs I’ve ever had. You see, I was the master of ceremonies, the MC, the compere, I wore a tuxedo, top hat, and rollerskates. And being a great MC at Chippendales was kind of like being the greatest downhill skier in the SaharaDesert. You may be amazing, you may be the best, but nobody gives a shit. One of the threads of this book is what it was like to be the ugliest man at Chippendales, starving for sex in the middle of hundreds of women every night, and never getting laid.

Q. Were you working at the club when the world-famous Chippendales murder occurred?

A: Yes, in fact the man who was murdered was my boss, the visionary genius behind Chippendales, Nick de Noia. This book is also about what it’s like to work for a charming tyrant, kind of like The Devil Wears a G-String Nick moved with the muscular grace of Gene Kelly, he had salty, peppery, perfectly-coiffed hair, sparkly eyes, and a 20-gigawatt bright-white mile-wide smile beaming in the middle of it all. Nick de Noia wanted to change the world, liberate women so they could ogle, fondle and sexualize hot male flesh. And, of course, he wanted to get rich doing it. He ruled with a combination of cruel brutish abuse, and charming buttery flattery. He designed a life in which he surrounded himself with ridiculously handsome dudes who liked to make $ taking their clothes off, and needed him to love them. And yet he presented aggressively hetero, had been married and divorced to and from supermodel movie star Jennifer O’Neil, star of the hit movie Summer of 42. Nick saw himself as equal parts Julius Cesar, PT Barnum, the Marquis de Sade, and Bob Fosse. And Chippendales was his legacy to the world. After he was shot, the police came and interrogated everyone at the club. When they asked me if I knew anyone who might want to kill Nick de Noia, I said, “Do you want the short list, or the long list?” I mean, I myself had muttered several times under my breath that I’d like to kill Nick de Noia. But I’ve often thought, what does it take to go from casually contemplating killing someone, to actually hiring a hitman to blow their brains all over a wall?

Q: What exactly was your job at Chippendales?

A: It was my job to skate around in the middle of the Pit, as we called it, and recite a 200 page script. As I said, I was the ugliest man at Chippendales, and I was the only one who talked in the show. Coincidence? I think not. I would introduce the men, and I was responsible for cueing all the light and sound change, as well as for the removal of every article of clothing by the Unknown Flasher, the Barbarian, the Construction Guy, the Hot New Guy and Prince Charming. It was my job to yell out “jokes” like, “You’re going to love our next guy, in his spare time he’s a professional bowler, and believe you me ladies, he’s got a pair of 16 pound balls.” And I was responsible for teaching the women most important thing in the Chippendales show. When I would yell, “Whatttayaaaa wann’ ’em to dooooo?” they would yell, “TAKE IT AWWWFF!” And then a stripper would take off an article of clothing. Let me tell you something, on a Saturday night, when the place was packed to the tits, the sound of all those women screaming was, pound for pound, the loudest, most female noise I’ve ever heard in my life.

Q.: What were some of the craziest things you saw while working at Chippendales? 
A: Oh my God, where to start?! There was the Dick Pull. The men used to do it before the show, in the dressing room, which was ridiculously small and had mirrors for walls, so everything was right in-your-face. When performing the Date Pull, the penis is taken in the hand and stretched repeatedly, like it’s modeling clay. When it’s all worked up, the penis is laid flat against the thigh, and the black, skintight Velcro pants are snapped over it, then quickly zippered shut, cutting off circulation to the member, thus creating the illusion of a perpetual hammerheaded trouser snake erection. Speaking of craziness, one time I walked into the dressing room bathroom at midnight, a couple of hours after the show was over, and busted in on a pair of twins performing fellatio on the Snowman, the second hottest guy at Chippendales, who had a shockingly sculpted body and an incredible 70s porn star mustache. Then there was the time the Barbarian, in a fit of steroid-fueled rage, hurled a huge metal trashbin across the dressing room, barely missing Pretty Peter’s pretty head. Speaking of steroids, in another bathroom, one time I caught one of the hot guys with his pants around his ankles, being injected with steroids by another of the hot guys, the small metal prick of the needle piercing Hot Guy #1’s exquisite bum. It was one of the most homoerotic things I’ve ever seen. And these were two guys who mercilessly teased other men about being gay, always doing these lisping caricatures of gay men. It was so much fun to catch them in the act. They were best friends, and often dressed alike, as if they were a couple. But of course they acted like tough, heterosexual he-men. I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing and said, “Why don’t you just do each other and get it over with?” Oh, they were so angry, they called me horrible names and chased me with murderous rage in their eyes. But luckily I was on my rollerskates and I got away unscathed. Then there was the time I saw a woman offer Large Mark, one of the huge Terminator-type guys, $500 to snort a line of cocaine off his genitalia. I told him he should have done it, $250 an inch is nothing to sneeze at. And personally, I would have paid good money just to watch her chop it up.

Q.: Is it true that most of the Chippendales guys were gay?

A: I’d say about 60% of the Men of Chippendales seemed like if there was money to be made, or they were horny enough, they’d fuck pretty much anything that moved. In fact, it didn’t even have to move, they’d fuck it. About 25% seemed completely gay. And maybe 15% seemed no-questions-asked breeders. But these figures are based on my own survey, which, frankly, did have some methodological problems.

Q.: Your first memoir, Chicken, was an international bestseller, has been translated into many languages, and is being made into a Hollywood film: what were the repercussions of revealing that you were a teenage gigolo servicing Hollywood women, and was it more difficult to write than Unzipped?

A: I didn’t even really think about what the consequences of writing Chicken would be. I just knew I had to write it and get it out of my system. I know it sounds melodramatic to say this, but it really saved my life, helped transform me from an angry raging addict into a semi-normal human being. But of course there was much fallout. My people come from Newcastle, they are Geordies, and my father has never forgiven me for writing this book, he hasn’t spoken to me in many years. Lots of people who I thought were my friends said nasty ugly to me. Many people in the press attacked me personally, especially in the UK. I guess I was unprepared for the vitriol that would come my way from the media. At first I took it personally, but the more I thought about it the more I came to believe it’s got a lot more to do with the post-Victorian terror that the English seem to have about sex, that marvelous combination of titillation and repulsion that appears to be at the very core of British life. And I have taken to heart the words of one of my favorite writers, an Englishman, Oscar Wilde, who famously said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” I guess in the end I’m just happy that people paid attention at all. That being said, for every negative thing that’s happened to me as a result of revealing my sordid past, there have been a hundred wonderful, incredible, amazing things. I remember when I was doing my one-man show version of Chicken at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, after I finished a performance one night, a tiny little Scottish granny came up to me grinning like a schoolgirl coquette and asked me in a thick brogue, “Can I have a wee kiss?” I bent down and she gave me a sweet peck on the cheek. Then she giggled and said, “Now I can say I’ve kissed a gigolo.” I’ve gotten e-mails from people all over the world thanking me for writing Chicken, telling me how much they enjoyed the book, and that they don’t feel like such a freak anymore. And whenever I do my show, afterwards there are always a couple of teenage girls hanging about, shuffling their feet and averting their eyes. Shyly they approach me, and reveal their own terrible stories of sexual abuse at the hands of a relative, a friend, even a priest. It’s obvious that many of them have never told anyone their story, and oftentimes it comes flooding out of them like a geyser, the words pouring out in torrents, and when they’re done they look so happy and relieved, like the weight of the world has been lifted from them. I had no idea that there was this epidemic of sexual abuse going on in our society, it’s horrifying actually. I read about a study in which scientists had people write down the worst things that ever happened to them. They found that when people did this, their immune systems were boosted. When I first read it that seemed unbelievable to me, and yet I can attest that for myself this has been true. Since writing Chicken, I haven’t been sick a day in my life, my immune system is like the locks on Fort Knox. I’ve also had the opportunity to lead writing workshops sponsored by the United States Department of Justice in which I helped teenage girls write about how they’d been used as sex slaves by pimps, beaten with coat hangers and burned with cigarettes, raped by the police, absolutely shocking stuff. It was amazing to watch how they went from being reluctant to wildly enthusiastic about writing their stories. At the end of a conference, four or five of these girls got up and read their stories in front of a packed audience full of politicians, social workers and friends. It was one of the greatest moments in my life to watch the joy that came over their faces when they received standing ovations. These girls often see themselves as only having a value in regards to their bodies, their sex. For them to get so much love and affection for their talent, for their bravery, and for their writing was utterly transforming for all of us. Writing Chicken has also opened up a whole new world for me in that I have spoken and presented at colleges, high schools and universities all over the world, from the University of Amsterdam, to the University of New Orleans, to the Gold Coast of Australia. It was very difficult to write Chicken, for several reasons. One, I had to never written a book before. I’ve been a professional screenwriter, but I always wrote movies that had nothing to do with my own experiences. To reveal the worst, most horrendous, horrific things that ever happened to me, to say publicly that I was a prostitute, one of the worst things you can be in our society, was difficult, it was very painful to relive those events, but in the end it was tremendously cathartic. I used to have nightmares in which I would relive when I was raped, and I used to be obsessed with revenge fantasies where I would kill the man who attacked me in disgusting bloody ways. But as soon as I started portraying him on stage in the one-man show of the book, those revenge fantasies stopped, as did the nightmares. But I recall very distinctly as I was writing the book, many times tears would start flowing down my face, my guts would knot, and my chest tighten. Writing Unzipped was not like that. While there were certainly many frustrations during that time in my life, it was also so much fun to live through it. The glitz, glamour, the drugs. And of course I also met the woman who would become my first wife at Chippendales, she was the costume mistress, an extraordinarily beautiful, sexy, smart woman, who chose me over all those studs. To this day I can hardly believe it. In fact one of the most difficult things about writing Unzipped was trying to protect the anonymity of the men who I worked with. Everyone is so terrified of being sued these days, so I had to be very careful. Plus, I didn’t think it was fair to reveal things about them that they would not want revealed to the world. Many of them are married now and have children. They didn’t choose to write a book, I did. So it was a tremendous challenge to present all the facts, and to show the truth of what happened in that crazy, ridiculous world, while still respecting the privacy of these men. But I worked very very hard at doing that. And of course I did change the names and some of the physical characteristics of the men. But I had a wonderful time writing this book, I enjoyed it so much. I feel like I was very lucky to be right in the center of this moment in history, like I was Nero fiddling as Rome burned.

Q.: What are your next project’s?

A: Well, I have just written the twelve draft of the screenplay for Chicken, it’s being made into a movie by the producers who did the Peter Sellers movie with Geoffrey Rush. It’s pretty amazing to have gone from living it; to not talking about it for 20 years; to writing a book about it; to making a one-man show out of it and portraying all the characters: from the man who raped me, to my pimps, to the women who paid me to have sex with them; to now finally writing the screenplay and thinking about who’s going to play me in the movies. It looks like Jamie Bell, of Billy Elliot fame, is a prime candidate to play me as a 17-year-old rent boy. Naturally he’s a lot more handsome than I ever was. Also I have just finished putting together an anthology of writings by people who have worked in the sex industry, from college professors to homeless crack addicts, from goddess diva Annie Sprinkles to a 16-year-old girl who was sold into prostitution at the age of nine by her dad. I’m very proud of this book, I don’t think there’s ever been anything quite like it, and it comes out of my desire to humanize prostitutes, to show the real people behind the image that society glamorizes and reviles, to take away the stigma from people who have sex for money. At the same time I’ve written two books for 12-year-old girls, under a false name naturally. One is about how to throw a great pajama party, and the other a personality quiz book to help girls figure out exactly who they are and who they want to be, to encourage individuality and self expression in girls. And I just found an amazing illustrator for a graphic novel I’ve written. I’m also finishing up the second book in a series of young adult novels, again written under a pen name. And I’m just embarking on the third book in the trilogy I’m making out of my life. It’s about my time in show business and as a sex addict. Besides being the master of ceremonies at Chippendales, I made my living as a standup comedian, acted in a thousand TV and radio commercials, in dozens and dozens of plays, TV shows and movies, including The Fresh Prints of Bel Air, with Will Smith, worked with everyone from Michael Caine to Zippy the Chimp. I also had a three picture deal with Disney, and made a living as a screenplay writer in Hollywood. All the while I was running rampant sexually, having affairs with glamorous actresses and lovely college girls, going on sex binges with prostitutes that would last for weeks at a time. I tried to figure it out one time, I estimate I probably had sex with 1000 women. The amazing thing is that it was a lot less fun than you’d think it would be. But perhaps the most important project in my life is the new baby that’s on the way. It’s my first, it’s due September fifth, and I’m over the moon. I just could not be more excited about being a father. I’ve wanted to be a dad for a long time, but I knew I wasn’t ready, I couldn’t put someone else’s interests in front of my own, I was too twisted up inside. But now, with the help of my lovely and talented wife, I finally feel able to do that. Although I do worry sometimes what I’m going to say to my child when he asks me, “Should I be a gigolo like you when I grow up?” I haven’t quite figured out the answer to that question.


david chippendales promox3000w

Excerpt from Master of Ceremonies: a True Story of Love, Murder, Rollerskates and Chippendales (Grove Atlantic, Canongate), slightly tweaked.

Master of Ceremonies

1985. Smack dab in the middle of the cash-happy coke-crazy 80’s, a decade dedicated, if not to love, then certainly to sex and madness, when Girls Just Wanted to Have Fun and it was Raining Men, and we all sat around watching Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, and Dallas and Dynasty, hey, greed’s good man, haven’t you heard? Let’s go watch Rambo blow away some gooks at the movies while we drink New Coke, and Michael Jackson’s hair catches on fire. Reagan, flush with the rush of re-election funds drug thugs while his designer-clad Stepford Wife First Lady gives grateful addicts everywhere the key to sobriety: Just Say No! In the midst of this flood of money, in San Diego a guy walks into a McDonald’s and guns down twenty citizens sucking down Happy Meals; while in Iowa a bankrupt farmer kills his wife, his neighbor and his banker. His wife and his neighbor I can understand. But his banker?

1985. That’s when I get hired to be the Master of Ceremonies at the greatest male stripping empire the world has ever known: Chippendales. You know, the too huge, half-nude dudes, in the tux cuffs’n’collars and skin-thin black Spandex with the bulging crotches, mountain peak pecs, 6-pack man wrack abs, and cheekbones for miles. When I first started working with these guys, every night when I walked into the club, I could actually feel my testicles shrivel.

Nick de Noia. He’s my boss, the visionary genius who transformed a dank dinky little male exotic revue into the Kingdom called Chippendales. He moves with the muscular grace of Gene Kelly, he’s got salty, peppery, perfectly-coiffed hair, eyes sparkling and shining, and a 20-gigawatt bright-white mile-wide smile beaming in the middle of it all. When I meet him, I really want him to like me. That’s the kind of guy he is. But I get the feeling he really hates me. That’s the kind of guy I am. Nick de Noia wants to change the world, liberate women so they can ogle, fondle and sexualize hot male flesh, to display their lust, and be celebrated for it. And, of course, he wants to get rich doing it. He rules through cruel brutish abuse, mixed with charming buttery flattery. He’s designed a life in which he’s surrounded with ridiculously handsome dudes who like to make $ taking their clothes off, and need him to love them. He presents aggressively hetero, has been married and divorced to and from supermodel movie star Jennifer O’Neil. Nick has sees himself as equal parts Julius Cesar, PT Barnum, the Marquis de Sade, and Bob Fosse. And this show is his legacy to the world.

My uniform is a tuxedo, cumberbund, tophat and roller skates. I’m the only one in the show who talks. It’s my job to skate around in circles in the Pit in front of 600 flesh-craving, money-waving, booze-fueled woman, as rampant blasts of estrogen slam off the walls. I have to teach them the most important thing in the show. When I yell, “Whattayaaa-wann’emmmmm-to do?” they yell, “TAKE IT AWFF!!!” “Whattttayaaa-wann’emmmmm-to do?” “TAKE IT AWFF!!!”

On my Opening Night the teeny tiny Dressing Room mirrored walls are cramjampacked with the man-skin of a dozen primping, preening, iron-pumping, oiled-up, slicked-down, tanning-bed-browned, blow-dried, hair-product-stiffened Men of Chippendales. It’s like being inside a thermo-nuclear Man device ready to blow.

In the corner stands a lanky Man with sandy hair wearing nothing but tux-cuffs’n’collar, and black spandex pants, unzipped. He pulls on his unsheathed penis like it’s modeling clay and he’s making it longer, one stroke at a time, until it’s at full extension. Then he meticulously lays his most prized possession on the inside on his thigh and snaps the spandex over it fast, yanking his pants shut, then quickly slithering his zipper over black Velcro-covered hip. Into a mirror he admires his throbbing Johnson knob, nodding his cocky head, like: Wow! I do look hot.

He’s just done the Dick Pull. The principle is simple: if you snap the spandex over your penis fast enough, you can cut off circulation to your member. In a correctly performed Dick Pull, the blood remains trapped in the penis, creating a permanently erect hammerheaded trousersnake.

The Man catches me checking him out. So he cocks his fud and busts a gust of loud foul gas that explodes out of him like a sick goose honking on a foggy morn. Then he scrunches up his face and squawks in a cartoon voice:

“Hey Ma, I fahted!”

Everybody cracks up. Well, not everybody. Only those not lost in the Mirrors of Narcissus.

I hee-haw and guffaw long after everyone else has stopped. I’m slightly embarrassed, but that vanishes when I realize no one is paying the slightest bit of attention to me. It’s a feeling I will become increasingly familiar with.

I hang up my green Cossack jacket and my black drawstring pants in my locker. Now I’m naked but for one red sock and one blue sock. I turn around. Caught in the mirror with all those beautiful nubile nudes is a puffy white MarshmallowMan.

I chuckle.

Marshmallow Man chuckles. I’m embarrassed for the guy. If only he could see how grotesque his pallid fatness is next to the Love Gods of Chippendales.

I stop smiling, and shake my head.

He stops smiling, and shakes his head.

Wait a minute-

OHHHHHH NOOOOOOO!

I AM THE MARSHMALLOW MAN!

Mortified, I grab my tux and hightail my fat ass into the Costume Room, disappearing like a chubby cottontail into the bush.

After I’m dressed and ready, I claw my way through the flesh-packed Dressing Room: duck a dumbbell, dodge a cock, and slither through all that oily hard tanned skin to my locker. As I pull on my roller skates, I’m interrupted by angry voices pounding out of the Upstairs Office, where all the $ lives. Can’t make out the words, but I can sure feel the rancorous anger.

Mister Nick de Noia busts outta the Upstairs Office door like a salt and pepper tsunami, and slams it so hard the wall shakes. He jams down the shitty rickety spiral staircase, and we hold our collective breath like a cranky psychokiller’s got a loaded Uzi in the room. Nick bumrushes pissed-off down the stairs, shoots through the Dressing Room, and yanks open the door. Music floods in. With another slam he’s gone, and the music mutes.

The Edwards Brothers, Nick’s NY $ partners, appear on the landing of the Upstairs Office, in their dark hair and suits. There’s a heaviness that hangs around the Edwards Brothers. The Old Gray Man, their silent partner, joins them on the landing, looking like a vulture that hasn’t eaten in a while. He’s 70 going on dead, with sickly thin translucent skin, a wicked comb-over covering his bald skull, and a big hook nose. A coke-laced Teen Queen in a little bitty miniskirt hangs from his withered arm in an I’m-hot-and-blowing-a-guy-old-enough-to-be-my-grandfather-for-coke kinda way.

I heave a sigh and roll out to start my first show. On Opening Night, when I roll into the Pit, there are bevies of bachelorettes, and blowsy bluebloods, coeds gone wild and booming grannies, models and supermodels, virgins and supervirgins. Shapes and colors swirl in shooting pools and points of light around the club, like a Monet painting of panting women during a lightning storm. The sheer volume of the vulvic volcano eruption that rumbles out of them is staggering. To this day, it’s still the most carnage-charged powderkegged atmosphere I’ve ever been in. A random picture pops out of the crowd: A wrinkled, pearled, high-collared Grandma with blue hair sits with her granddaughter, who’s got a mohawk that’s a remarkably similar shade of blue.

During the Construction Guy number, the mucho macho Construction Guy tenderly, lovingly, longingly lipsynchs the haunting Lionel Ritchie classic, “Hello?” to the red rose he holds. A Big Beautiful Sista wails like she’s just seen Jesus in a G-string. He parades her to the middle of the Pit, gets down on one knee and lipsynchs right into her eyes, “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” while she screams and pants and Lawd Almighty’s. Naturally this ignites the moist center of the crowd, which flares and rages again. It’s great theater: a thick beauty getting to be all sexilicious in public, safely and sweetly, with no danger or shame. She really does seem to be releasing centuries of pent-up sexual repression and aggression. She really does seem to be having the time of her life. As do her friends. Looks like they’ll be telling this story for a very long time. And I think, Nick really did it: unleashed centuries of pent-u lust.

During my one break in the show, as I trundle and harrumph across the carpet on skates that won’t roll, a large mule-toothed blonde-bleached babe blocks my path. She has her hooks into Large Mark. He’s uber-pumped and ultra-cut, head neck and chest all swolled up, with a washboard man-rack belly. He’s a huge Terminator-type bodybuilder, complete with mammoth sweptback jacked-up hair. On Large Mark’s vast tanned back lives a constellation of angry little zits, an Orion’s Belt in pimples. Gotta be ‘roids: this dude is juicing big-time. Perhaps this would explain his black manic menstrual-like mood, and the muted but palpable diamond-hard rage beaming out of him. I shudder at the thought of his poor wee testes shriveling like grapes being dried into raisins. Bleach Blonde blocks Large Mark’s way, places her hand provocatively on his arm, glares hard into his eyes, and spouts, loud and proud, so everyone within earshot can hear: “I’ll pay ya 500 bucks to snort a line of coke off your dick.” This is officially my Welcome to Chippendales moment. Large Mark pulls out of her grip, curls a lip, and with a massive blast of snarling testosterone growls: “Hey, get the fuck awffa me!” Large Mark gives Bleach Blonde the big-time brush, and bumrushes away, leaving her standing in a cloud of his foul fumes. Immediately I have two thoughts: 1) Large Mark shoulda let her do it – $250 an inch is nothing to sneeze at; and 2) I’d pay good money just to watch her chop it up.

After the show, in the tiny mirror-walled Dressing Room, the Perfect Man stands totally nude in front of his huge Money Mountain, and it’s not just 1s and 5, there’s 50s and hundreds in there, on a good night the Perfect Man can make $1000 cash money, for thirty minutes work. My eyes wander down to his perfect ass, and I notice a sexy scar is crawling across one perfect cheek, and I’m thinking that is one sexy scar, damn! But on the other perfect cheek there are teeth marks: uppers and lowers, deep red and angry. Man, some chick really locks her jaws into his perfect ass. You could identify her dead body with those teeth marks. The scar. The bite mark. The mound of $. The risk and reward of LUST. America, wot a country!

On April 7, 1987 a man disguised as a messenger walks into my boss Nick de Noia’s office on 364 W. 40th Street and shoots him in the head, killing him dead. The cops interrogated all of us. When they asked me if I knew anybody who might wanted to have killed him, I said, “Do you want the short list or the long list?” I mean hell, I myself muttered that I’d like to kill Nick. But what does it take for someone to go from casually contemplating the murder of another human, to actually hiring a hitman to blow their brains all over a wall?

I used to wonder what made Nick de Noia so cruel and abusive. Until one time I dog-sat for Nick while he was in Japan, or Alaska, or Guam, expanding his male stripper kingdom. As far as I’m concerned, one of the great pleasures of apartment-sitting is getting to rummage through all the skeletons lurking and skulking in the dark corners of people’s closets. So me and Johnny, the Costume Mistress, and now my best friend, we’re are on a scavenger hunt to discover the dirt behind the man that is Nick de Noia. Sure enough, at the back of a closet, buried under a pile of innocuous tax returns, is a stack of magazines and videos. Get a load of the titles: Big Black Boys Uncut, Dark Meat & Dark Chocolate, Mandongo, Top Cock, and Big Black Boner III (I and II, sadly missing). I find myself wondering: Could you follow the story of Big Black Boner III if we haven’t seen the first two?

I recently went back to 61st and 1st, on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan, where the club used to be, to get a look at the old place. Turns out Chippendales has been replaced by a Bed, Bath & Beyond.


Excerpt from Master of Ceremonies: a True Story of Love, Murder, Rollerskates and Chippendales (Grove Atlantic, Canongate), slightly tweaked.

The Case of the Missing G-String

Slick Rick is wet from his champagne shower, naked but for one small shiny green g-string, dripping and radiating, his sleek muscle-pumped body engorged and pulsing, standing on a platform above the Pit, looking down at 600 flesh-craving money waving Ladies.

Ho hum. Another night at Chippendales, at the greatest male stripping empire the world has ever known. It’s 1985, and I am the Master of Ceremonies at the hottest show in NY, NY. Frankly, I’m fading. My happy I-love-everyone coke high I had an hour ago has long gone bye-bye, replaced by a chemical lockjaw poisoned discomfort sinking ill-defined lowness that has my face frowning for no apparent reason. I just have to get through Slick Rick’s Kiss & Tip, get the Perfect Man on and off, whip through the Grand Finale, and then I’m done for the night.

Because I’m a bit preoccupied waiting for Slick Rick to begin his Kiss & Tip, I don’t see exactly what happens next. But here are the facts as I’ve been able to reconstruct them.

When Slick Rick pulls on his g-string and threatens to take it all off, silently asking the Ladies with his face and body if they’d like to see his penis, like he does every night, the thin elastic that attaches the triangle of bright green fabric breaks, and the fabric droops forward.

Have you ever heard 600 women gasp as one? I hope you have the pleasure of that experience, because all that Lady lungpower drawing all that startled breath in at the same time is breathtaking.

Why the gasp? Because Slick Rick’s dick pops out. By the time I see it, the penis is already exposed, swinging, big and fleshy, about half-hard. I believe there is an illusion of erection, created by the Tie-Off, which, as I understand it, was first pioneered in male stripperdom in the wilds of Canada, where men are allowed Full Monty nudity. But it has certainly been used in various contexts for centuries. It’s a simple but dangerous technique. A thin leather or elastic strip is strapped around the base of the testicle/penal unit, when the unit is engorged with blood. When you tie-off, the blood is trapped in the unit. This creates the impression of erection, even when there is no sexual excitation. The danger comes when you tie-off too tight for too long. The penis begins to turn a frighteningly deep purple. Perhaps this is the origin of the expression blue balls. There’s a male stripper urban legend that one dim Canadian stripper woke up the morning after an alcoholic blackout to find his blackened cock popped off and laying like an andouille sausage on the floor.

I happen to know that Slick Rick was familiar with, and used, the Canadian Tie-off. I cannot say for sure that he Tied-Off that night, but from the look of his engorgement swinging around in front of all those shocked Ladies, I’d almost bet my left nut on it.

Slick Rick’s penis seems overjoyed to be released from its incarceration in that tiny g-string prison, looks like it’s ready to be adored and loved by the fawning female fans.

Holy shit, Nick’s gonna pitch a fit! That’s my first thought. Nick de Noia is our boss, the visionary genius who transformed a dank dinky shitty little male exotic revue into the Kingdom called Chippendales. Nick de Noia wants to change the world, liberate women so they can ogle, fondle and sexualize hot male flesh, to display their lust, and be celebrated for it. And, of course, he wants to get rich doing it. Nick sees himself as equal parts Julius Cesar, PT Barnum, the Marquis de Sade, and Bob Fosse. And this show is his legacy to the world. He rules through cruel brutish abuse, mixed with charming buttery flattery, and loves nothing more than to publicly humiliate ridiculously handsome men. I imagine he’s going to rip Slick Rick several new assholes. Hope I get to watch.

It’s been drummed into us that any public display of one silly millimeter of penis could result in Chippendales losing its cabaret license. Which would mean closing the show, killing the cash cow, slaying the golden-egg laying goose, and the unemployment of us all.

Bug-eyed jaw-dropped silence is followed by a piercing eruption of gleeful female screams. I still believe that pound-for-pound this is the loudest sound I’ve ever heard.

Slick Rick looks down at his unsheathed penis. Then back up in shocked surprise. But the whole thing feels planned, canned and reeks of pre-meditation. I have no evidence of this, it’s just the feeling I get: like Slick Rick rehearsed the moment. And he’s always so obsessively meticulous in his preparation. Plus he doesn’t cover up right away. He milks the hell out of his cock-flop: Wow, I can’t believe my penis popped out!

Finally, after what seems like about a month of Slick Rick’s naked flailing phallus flapping in the breeze, he hops off the platform, and disappears for a coupla seconds, then re-emerges wearing a new bright green g-string, and dives into his very lucrative Kiss & Tip.

Wait a minute. If Slick Rick didn’t plan this whole fiasco beforehand, why was there a stashed g-string all ready for him to slither into?

“It’s Hide the Salami night here at Chippendales!” I scream my ad lib into the absurdly expensive mic, and that gets a nice rise outta those who are paying attention.

And the show goes on.

Slick Rick makes a bloody fortune during his Kiss & Tip. Hundreds of green shoots sprout up and wave in the wind. Slick Rick harvests the cash crop with kisses. A beautiful bride-to-be shoves bills into his G-string like it’s a bank and she’s making direct deposits. Then he buzzes like a sweet bee straight to Big Alice’s honey. She’s the regular’s regular, big and thick and in the Pit more nights than not. She buries her face in his new G-string, nose-deep in dick. With a huge Comedia d’elle Arte-sized surprise-face Slick Rick plays the whole room as the roar deafens.

Classic de Noia: the bawdy, lip-to-lip with the silly, it ends up being naughty instead of graphic, teasing instead of sleazy. Nick in a nutshell.

Slick Rick rubs up against Big Alice like a housebroken 3-balled cat, and the place goes ballistic. It’s like I’m in the cockpit of a rocket fueled by pure Lady love.

When Big Alice shake’n’bake shimmies, a dollar peeking out of her cleavage takes on a life of its own. She plants Slick Rick’s face like a flag in the continent of her décolletage. When he moves his head away from Big Alice’s heavy cleavage he has the Magic Dollar clamped in his teeth. It’s actually attached to another dollar with tape you can’t see. And that dollar’s attached to another dollar. Which is attached to another dollar. As he pulls on the line of dollar bills they snake magically out of Big Alice’s cleavage. It’s the old endless-handkerchief gag, only with money and breasts, instead of kerchief and pocket. Looks like a moving Escher painting.

The Ladies give Slick Rick much love as he takes Big Alice back to her seat on the Pit bench, kisses her hand like an old-fashioned chivalrous gentleman in a G-string.

This is the philosophy of Nick de Noia. Don’t bring the thin beautiful babe out into the Pit. Bring on the large Lady live wire, the Big Alice. Celebrate the sexiness of the fat and the homely and the old and the lonely.

As Slick Rick bows and trots off, his two beautiful ass cheeks disappears into the Dressing Room. He makes over $1,000 in cash that night for twenty minutes work.

By the time I finish slogging through the rest of the show I’m irritated, annoyed, exhausted, disillusioned, dehydrated, and I’ve fallen out of love with life. But I’m very curious about the fallout from Slick Rick’s missing G-string incident.

When I enter the Dressing Room Sloppy Sam, the stage manager, and the man ultimately responsible for the bolts and nuts of the show, is already grilling Slick Rick. Much to the amusement of the uber-huge Large Mark and longleanlanky Larry Glitter, who seem hungry for the blood of Slick Rick, the man they love to hate.

Slick Rick defends himself vehemently. A bit too vehemently: methinks the Lady doth protest too much.

“No, I swear to God, the thing just came apart. I guess it was loose. I don’t know, man, but I just did what I do every night, and all of a sudden, the thing just came apart.”

Sloppy Sam shakes his disgusted head:

“Look, all it takes is one chick to complain. Or one cop to be here under cover, or whatever, and they yank the fucking cabaret license, and they shut us down, and-”

“I know, man, but it’s not my fault, the thing just came apart, it just came apart-”

The way Slick Rick keeps repeating the phrase ‘the thing just came apart’ seems highly suspicious to me. But again that is strictly subjective speculation.

“I don’t give a fuck.” Sloppy Sam is seriously hot under the tux collar. “It was your dick that popped the fuck out, and if it happens again, you’re gonna get suspended for sure, and fired, if I have anything to say about it. You understand?”

“That’s not fair, man. It wasn’t my fault,” Slick Rick’s all palms-up-shrugging, bunny-eyed innocence.

“I don’t give a fuck. Don’t let it happen again. You understand?” Sloppy Sam demands.

“The thing just came apart, man-” Slick insists.

“Do. You. Understand?” Sloppy Sam looks like he’s ready to rearrange Slick Rick’s pretty face.

“Yeah, sorry, sure-” Slick Rick starts to say something else, then thinks better of it. The effort brings a twitch to his lip, then his eye, as he cracks several knuckles.

Sloppy Sam storms off into the Costume Room to confront Johnny, the Costume Mistress. She’s a 20ish wildchild Latina Marilyn Monroe, and my best friend at Chippendales. I exchange a glance with Arnolpho d’Alencar Araripe Pimenta de Mello, a Brazilian back-up dancer, and my second best friend at Chippendales. Arnolpho does a little Brazilian headshake eyeroll, silently indicating that he’s not buying a word of Slick Rick’s story.

Large Mark, all pumped up like a ‘roiding blowfish, strides right into Slick Rick’s face, invading his personal space.

Slick Rick tries to hold his ground, but a twitch in his right eye betrays him.

“If I find out you did dis shit on poipose, I’m gonna kick yer ass awll de way up Foist Avenue, you unnuhstand?”

“Hey man, I didn’t-” Slick Rick gets shut down quick.

“Shut de fuck up!” Large Mark growls.

Slick Rick shuts the fuck up.

“If dis shit evvuvh happens again, dat’s it!”

Large Mark makes a massive fist and swings it at Slick Rick’s jaw. Slick flinches back into the locker behind him with a bang. Large stops the fist an inch before it smashes into Slick Rick’s face.

“Hey, what the hell!” Slick Rick protests.

But Large Mark is already gone. Larry Glitter follows smugly shooting a sneer at Slick Rick as he trails like the tail of a comet.

Danger momentarily averted, the Men go back to the task at hand: sorting and counting their mountains of $, while I retreat to the Costume Room, to see if Johnny needs the Cavalry.

“No fucking way, man!” Johnny’s utterly adamant, shaking her krazy kurls. “I checked that g-string tonight, I swear to God. And before he went on, I saw Slick Rick fucking with the seam. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now it totally makes sense.” She doesn’t look like she’s fibbing. But maybe Johnny’s just an excellent fibber. Still, she doesn’t have that shakiness that guilty people so often display. That Slick Rick just displayed. She has more of the I’m-being-framed-and-I’m-not-going-down-without-a fight vibe about her.

Sloppy Sam purses his lips, shakes his deeply troubled head, then says:

“Where’s the g-string?”

“He says it’s gone,” Johnny nods her head slow, like she’s not buying a word of it, that in fact Slick Rick losing the g-string is more proof of her innocence and his guilt.

“What do you mean it’s gone?” Sloppy Sam’s making sure he has all the facts straight for the Nick De Noia Inquisition he knows is on its way.

“As soon as I heard what happened, I tried to get my hands on that g-string, to see if he really did fuck with it, like I saw him fucking with it. And all of a sudden, it’s gone. He can’t find it. Yeah, right,” Johnny’s face can barely contain her disgust.

Sloppy Sam mulls, gives a little tsk, then exclaims:

“Aw fuck!”

Johnny shakes her disgusted curls, picks up some funky fur leggings and angrily dumps them in the fur legging box, then stops and proclaims::

“Unfuckin’believable… un… fuckin’… believable…”

Suddenly Arnolpho flits dramatically into the room:

“Ohhhhhh, you should hhhave seen Miss Thing!”

He launches into a spot-on Slick Rick impression:

“It wasn’t my fault! I don’t know what happened, really I don’t. The thing just came apart, and next thing I know, my cock just popped right out!”

Arnolpho becomes Slick Rick standing there with his dick accidentally-on-purpose out, making a big-eyed face while miming an exposed penis so well you can almost see it.

O, how we laugh, Johnny and I, really let loose.

“Ohhhhhhh bay-bee,” Arnolpho touches Johnny on her chest while placing his other hand over his own heart. “You shoulda seen hhher, what a performance! Miss Slick better hope she never has to testify on hhher own behalf cuz hhhoney, it’s gonna be, ‘Guilty! Guilty! Guilty’!”

“Oh my God!!” Johnny gasps through her laughs.

Luckily for him, Slick Rick was never put on trial for exposing himself, and as far as I know, he completely got away with it.

Nick de Noia, on the other hand, was not so lucky.

On April 7, 1987 a man disguised as a messenger walks into my boss Nick de Noia’s office on 364 W. 40th Street and shoots him in the head, killing him dead. The cops interrogated all of us. When they asked me if I knew anybody who might wanted to have killed him, I said, “Do you want the short list or the long list?” I mean hell, I myself muttered that I’d like to kill Nick. But what does it take for someone to go from casually contemplating the murder of another human, to actually hiring a hitman to blow their brains all over a wall? Turns out: money. Seems Nick’s money partner, Steven Banarghee, was so convinced that Nick fucked him over, that he had Nick assassinated. Banerghee went to prison, where he hung himself.

The Case of the Missing G-string, on the other hand, remains unsolved.

 

 

 

 

 

with

Jerry Stahl With the Skinny on Fatty, Republican Sun Gods, and Happy Mutant Babies

To read on Huff Po click here.

interview-jerry-stahlI first met Jerry Stahl at the Los Angeles Book Fair, back when it was held at UCLA in Westwood, the second happiest place on earth.  It was blazing hot, and Jerry was sitting in a booth trying to promote his book, squirming like a bug under a microscope as all the happy peppy people passed by.  He looked like something out of a Kafka novel written by William Burroughs, a writer about to be transformed into a junky cockroach.  Which is basically how I felt, having been in a booth trying to promote my own book next to Hollywood legend Janet Leigh, who was signing her new memoir, and had a line of adoring fans snaking around the block.  While I sat there sweating like an amateur smuggler being interrogated at customs while a hundred bags of junk clogs his colon.  Jerry is one of those rare writers who goes between Hollywood screenplays and novels.  He writes dark subversive stories and he somehow continues to get away with it.  I should, for the sake of full disclosure, admit that he is one of my favorite writers.  Steeped in the grand tradition of Noir which has spawned such writers like Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy and Dennis Lehane, he also brings a wicked black LOL comedy to the table.  Which is a very hard thing to do.  <em>Happy Baby Mutant Pills</em> is his new book, a scathing, rollicking indictment of the pharmaceutical/chemical industry told from the perspective of a dope fiend hack who writes the horrifying disclaimers which come with almost all modern drugs.  So I thought I’d check in with Mr. Stahl and pick his brain about Big Pharma, killing someone with a paperclip in the bathroom of the downtown LA Bus Depot, and the sick sordid business of publishing.

David Henry Sterry: What made you decide to write something about the wretched pharmaceutical industry?  And why did you choose to attack the subject from the POV of the guy who tells us that being bitten by a werewolf may lead to “mild euphoria, feelings of newfound power, sudden appearance of full-body pelt and canine incisors during a full moon.  Some patients report disturbing ‘incidents,’ followed by memory loss and occasional incarceration.  See your doctor if you experience rapid ‘bulking up,’ four-legged gait, urge to urinate outdoors or kill and eat people”?

blog-stahl-080813Jerry Stahl: The question would be “why not?” Sometimes a voice just feels right for the time. During a period of world-class insomnia, I found myself zoning on Morning Joe at four in the morning. But as soon the commercials came on — inevitably remedies for torments of the depleted testosterone, excess fat or frequent urination variety — I found myself riveted. Beneath the blatant comedy fodder of a product supposed to boost your manhood that can actually shrink your testicles, there’s a deeper unspoken and ultimately soul-crushing message: sure we might give you bleeding eyeballs, rectal ooze and suicidal thoughts — but guess what? Apparently your life is so hellish that busloads of people just like you have decided the only way to survive it is to take our pills — no matter how grotesquely unpleasant the side effects. If you want to understand America, follow the pharmaceuticals. Ironically, the reason I had insomnia is that I was on a toxic cocktail of drugs as part of a pharma-company trial to try and cure the Hepatitis C I’d had for decades, from being a junky. The non-FDA-approved medication wiped out my virus in a week. But the pills were so toxic, the doctors told me I couldn’t so much as touch my pregnant wife’s skin after I’d touched one. We either had to separate or have sex in bee-keeper suits. Think about that. One wrong move and the baby could’ve looked like a jellyfish with Tony Robbins teeth. Of course the pharmaceutical industry is appalling, but they also saved my life. It’s a moral dilemma. What if you have appendicitis and Joseph Mengele takes out your appendix? Do you shoot him once you’re up and around? The eternal question.

DHS: I was trained as a writer in the Disney system, where everything is plotted out beforehand to the point of strangulation.  Which explains, in part, why Disney movies suck so hard, and why the nickname for the company inside those hallowed halls is Moushwitz.  Do you spend a lot of time outlining and working on plot before you start writing?

JS: Wow. I’d heard Walt Disney was anti-semitic, but I didn’t know he ran a camp. Anyway, outlines give me hives. Somewhere Mailer said writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see about 20 feet up the road with your headlights, and once you cover that twenty feet, you can see the next twenty. You don’t know what you’re going to do next until you find out what you just did. For me voice is more important than plot. If I fall in love with a voice, I’ll follow it anywhere. In Nicholson Baker’s new novel, the narrator is riveting on the subject of lawn sprinklers. Burroughs can spend ten pages talking about his big toe, and I’m in. Mary Gaitskill, Raymond Chandler, Flannery O’Connor, Rick Moody — I’m not sure I could tell you the plots of any of their work, but I could probably recite entire sentences, because the voices got in my head. Screenplay-wise, outlines are a necessary contrivance. The people giving you money want to know how you’re going to get from A to whatever comes after A. In real life, plot is something you don’t see until its over and you look back, trying to figure out what the fuck happened.

DHS: You write with such gruesome, grotesque Grand Guignol style, are you ever tempted to try to tame the beast and write something that won’t offend, upset and turn off a huge chunk of the fly-by states?  And do you ever get pressure from your publishers to do so?

JS: One man’s Grand Guignol is another mans’ weekend with the family. My favorite DeLillo line, from <em>White Noise</em>, is “the special grotesquerie of sane men leading normal lives.” Who gets to be arbiter of offensive vs. non-offensive? The inventory manager at Walmart? It’s a lame construct. (Not to mention, the Walton family keeps hundreds of thousands of employees in gnawing poverty, while they themselves live like Republican Sun Gods.) Fuck that. You want upsetting: how about, everybody you ever know and love is going to die, many in less-than-felicitous fashion, and there’s not a fucking thing you can do about it? It’s right there in the Bible. Beyond that, while they may not be reading me, I would guess there’s just as much gruesome in so-called flyover states as there is anywhere else. Don’t the Cheneys live in Wyoming? For the record, don’t think I never write about sunshine buttercups. For a while I’ve had a column in The Rumpus, OG DAD, about being a late-life second-time-around father. I’m a font of adorable tot anecdotes. Plus which, trust me, you haven’t gone near Grand Guignol until you’ve been front and center when your baby’s tearing out of the birth canal and your wife is screaming obscenities that would make Linda Blair blush and there’s enough gore on the sheets to make In Cold Blood look like Ellen. When my first child was born I was on heroin, and when my second was born, I remembered why I needed the shit. It looked like an axe murder. The most beautiful moments in life are not the most genteel, except in romance novels. To me, the scariest artist on the planet was Thomas Kinkade. As for my publishers, I’m lucky. They realize by now that I’m not Mitch Albom.

DHS: You’ve written a real memoir, Permanent Midnight, and a fake memoir, I, Fatty.  Is there a difference as you approach this material, as you were writing these similar, but clearly different kinds of books?

JS: It’s funny, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who at one point was going to play Arbuckle, told me when we met that he read I, Fatty as another memoir — except in this one I’m disguised as a fat silent movie star. Which rang so true it made me squirm. Sometimes the author is the last to know. At readings, there are always people who tell me they found Permanent Midnight brutal and I, Fatty almost, you know, sweet. To me it’s the other way around. I recently had to re-read <em>Permanent</em> — out loud, for the book-on-tape. What surprised me is how, reading it now, PM has a kind of naiveté that I couldn’t see when I wrote it… But then I look at Fatty’s story, which — on the surface — couldn’t be more different than mine. Here’s an abused and abandoned fat boy who grows up to be a wildly successful and visionary baby-man movie star. The first actor to make a million dollars. Loved by the world until the world decides he’s a virgin-raping pig and publicly shames him into prison and penury. Hands down, I Fatty strikes me as a much more brutal book. Maybe Hoffman was right. Because I was emotionally naked behind the fat-suit — like Anton Scalia under his robes on Casual Court Fridays — I was able to show all the pain, without all the fireworks, in a way I didn’t have the chops, or the heart, to do in Permanent Midnight. Picasso said “Art is the lie that reveals the truth.” To me it’s the other way around.

DHS: <em>Happy Baby Mutant Pills</em> is written in the first-person, and it feels, in form anyway, like a memoir.  What advice do you have for writers who want to take material from their own life and turn it into fiction?

JS: I’m a sucker for an unreliable narrator. And there’s an immediacy to first person that I love. Advice-wise, I would only say that, in my life, there are moments that have felt more like fiction than reality. Or maybe it’s just that I had to dissociate to survive. (I think it was Robert Stone who said writing a novel is like sanctioned schizophrenia — or maybe it was Cher.) In any event, those are the moments that inspire. On some level, the real subject of any first-person fiction is how the narrator sees the world. Whatever happens after “Call me Ishmael,” Melville lets Ishmael hold the camera.

DHS: What was your inspiration for the paperclip in this temple murder scene, which is somehow a hysterically funny and disturbingly graphic attack on all the senses, particularly the olfactory?

JS: I should probably say that, as I was writing the novel, I found myself idly performing a lobotomy with my Number 4 pencil. (I actually typed “slobotomy,” which is a better word.) But why lie?  I can’t remember where that came from. I just remember why it came. My theory has always been, when you don’t know what to write, write something you’ve never read before. As for the olfactory issue, let’s just say, death doesn’t smell good. If you’ve been there, I don’t have to explain. If you haven’t, God bless, are you in for a big surprise.

DHS: They say you should write what you know.  Clearly you know a lot about ingesting, injecting, being addicted to and getting clean from heroin.  But did you do a lot of research into the pharmaceutical industry?  Because it seems like you have a keen insider’s insight into that giant soul sucking industry.

DHS: I love to research. I always over do it, until I’m crushed under stacks of shit I absolutely have to get in the book — but which, if I included even half of, would choke the thing to death in five minute. What gets in is half random, half obsessive. For example, with a baby on the way I was obsessed with breast milk, which it turns out now includes everything from toilet cleaner to lithium. And that’s the healthy alternative. I have no insider’s insight, just an outsider’s obsession. Every time I see the olestra ad, with the famous “anal leakage” side effect, I think, some guy had to get up in the morning, drag his ass to the subway, get to the office and sit down with his Dilbert mug and his shitty MacDonalds apple turnover and actually write that. To some extent, this novel is my way of saying “Hats off!”

DHS: Who are some of your favorite writers, and why?

JS: It’s a changing roster. The last ten books I read and loved were Sam Lipsyte’s The Fun Parts; Michelle Tea’s Valencia; Lit by Mary Karr, Me and the Devil by Nick Tosches; Gun Machine by Warren Ellis, The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus; Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, by Joe Sacco & Chris Hedges; I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan and — a couple of yearly re-reads — The Demon by Hubert Selby Junior and Denis Johnson’s Jesus Son. You couldn’t think of more disparate writers. But what unites them — for me — is that they all say things no one else is saying, in ways no one else is saying them. That’s what I crave in writing — and any other genre: artists who say the unsayable, or try to.

DHS: You move back and forth between writing for the screen and writing books.  How is your approach different in these two mediums?

JS: For me, scripts are harder because they require more social skills. You can hide out in your pad and bang out a 800-page novel and never have to speak to a soul you don’t want to speak to. With movies — and I say this with love — when you’re not writing you’re talking to people all the fucking time. Sometimes they’re talking while you’re writing. That’s the nature of the beast. You can’t have a character blow his nose in his tie without justifying it. Which isn’t necessarily bad, just a different process. The best thing about movies & television- when it’s not the worst thing — is collaborating.  I’ve been on a good run — I worked a couple years with Philip Kaufman on Hemingway & Gellhorn, which was like being paid to go to film school. Larry Charles and I have been writing together, working, among other things, on turning Pain Killers into a cable series, Manny & Mengele. LC’s got so many great show biz stories, I keep bugging him to do his memoir, because I’d kill to read the fucking thing. A couple weeks ago I did an episode of Maron, which meant hanging in a room with Marc Maron and a bunch of comedians. Fucking heaven.

DHS: Why did you choose to reveal to the American public that you were a heroin addict?  What with the repercussions?

JS: The repercussions? I can’t say I thought about them. I was so desperate, I didn’t think about the pros and cons of ‘revealing’ anything. I was trying to survive. What can I say? I got a book deal and I didn’t look back. Once the check cleared, I got the money to stop living in the electricity-free, no plumbing basement of a crackhouse and actually get my own apartment. I got to stop going to the bathroom in restaurants. I bought a bed. The little things. People think just cause you give up dope, your life works out. In fact, once you give up dope, it just means you have to deal with all the shit in it without any buffer. On the natch. Which is harder, in some ways, than being on dope. The negatives? Inadvertently hurting some people I cared about by how I handled them in the book. I could have done a better job. And wish I had. But I’ve tried to make amends — and pay back all the money I borrowed or stole. That book, and every thing that happened after, was a miracle, but the bigger miracle was getting off dope in the first place. Getting clean doesn’t mean you’re Mr. Happy Guy the rest of your life. It just means you stop being Mr. Junky Asshole. As for the public, I don’t think we spend a lot of time thinking about each other.

DHS: Cocaine was my drug of choice, and I swear whenever I see someone snorting up a big fat juicy line, my nostrils start twitching and all I want is to perform the sacramental ritual: the chopping, the smoothing into lines, the rolling up of the $20 bill, and the Great Suck.  I’m just curious, when you see someone on TV or in the movie shooting up, do you get a knee-jerk nostalgia for banging dope?

JS: Occasionally I see some skeek nodding and drooling at a bus stop, and I get a little jealous. You know that fucker isn’t sweating the mortgage. He’s living the dream. Usually when somebody shoots up on TV, they’re doing it wrong — jabbing the rig in and slamming the plunger down without getting a register, which takes me right out of the scene. One of my first jobs in the movie business was needle wrangler on Permanent Midnight. Not to brag. I had to show Ben Stiller how to draw blood back in the syringe. It’s been downhill from there.

DHS: Who would you rather party with, Fatty Arbuckle or Ernest Hemingway?  Why?

JS: Budd Schulberg told me that whenever he met Hemingway, Hemingway wanted to box. But if you were a better fighter than him — which Schulberg  was — Hemingway would get pissed off and sulk. So I’m gonna go with Roscoe. I don’t know about party, but I would have loved to hang with Arbuckle after Hollywood chewed him up and spit him out. After he’d been smeared by Hearst and jailed and — despite being found innocent three times — universally shunned. He couldn’t buy a gig, and just being seen with him made you socially suspect. But he made a comeback — not because he needed redemption — but because he wanted to make movies. Imagine the kind of heart that takes.

I don’t trust anybody who hasn’t been to hell. And Arbuckle survived an inferno, public and private, I can’t even begin to contemplate. I don’t necessarily want to meet those who achieve “greatness.” But I am in awe of people who survive the unsurvivable.

DHS: I hate to ask you this, but what advice do you have for writers?

JS: Don’t do it if you don’t have to. But if you have to, have no expectations. And don’t listen to any advice anybody has about writing. Just get your ass in the chair. The best thing anyone ever said to me on the subject was Bruce Jay Friedman, who wrote two of the funniest books in the English language, Stern and A Mother’s Kisses. He said, “When you write a sentence that makes you squirm, keep going.” I’ve been pretty much squirming ever since.

Jerry Stahl’s memoir, Permanent Midnight, was made into a movie starring Ben Stiller and Maria Bello, and his novels include Pain Killers, Perv — A Love Story, Bad Sex On Speed, Plainclothes Naked,  I, Fatty (optioned by by Johnny Depp)  and his latest, Happy Mutant Baby Pills (optioned by Ben Stiller.)  Among other places, his much-translated fiction and journalism have appeared in Esquire, Playboy, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Believer and Details, where he was Culture Columnist for three years — and his blog, “OG Dad,” appears irregularly on The Rumpus. He has written extensively in film and television, including, most recently, the HBO film, “Hemingway & Gellhorn” & the odd episode of the IFC series, “Maron.” (He also appears in this tiny movie directed by Larry Charles, with whom he is collaborating on a cable series, Manny & Mengele.)   Anthony Bourdain said, “Jerry Stahl should either get the Pulitzer Prize or be shot down in the street like a dog.”

David Henry Sterry is the author of 15 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, and activist. His new book, Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, 10 Year Anniversary Edition, has been translated into 10 languages. His anthology, Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys was featured on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. The follow-up, Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks</a>, just came out. He has appeared on, acted with, written for, worked and/or presented at: Will Smith, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Stanford University, National Public Radio, Penthouse, Michael Caine, the London Times, Playboy and Zippy the Chimp. His new illustrated novel is Mort Morte.  He is also co-founder of The Book Doctors, who have helped dozens and dozens of amateur writers become professionally published authors. They edit books and develop manuscripts, help writers develop a platform, and connect them with agents and publishers. Their book is The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.

Top 10 Tips for Making a Great Pitch (with Bonus NPR Interview)

The essential guide cover_ Your pitch is one of the most powerful and underrated arrows in your quiver as you attempt to scale the walls of Publishing Castle.  Here are just a few helpful tips.

1. A great pitch is like a poem.  Every word counts.
2. Make us fall in love with your hero.  Whether you’re writing a novel or memoir, you have to make us root for your flawed but lovable hero.
3. Make us hate your villain.  Show us someone unique and dastardly whom we can’t wait to hiss at.
4. Just because your kids love to hear your story at bedtime doesn’t mean you’re automatically qualified to get a publishing deal. So make sure not to include this information in your pitch.
5. If you have any particular expertise that relates to your novel, tell us. Establishing your credentials will help us trust you.
6. Your pitch is your audition to show us what a brilliant writer you are, it has to be the very best of your writing.
7.Don’t make your pitch a book report.  Make it sing and soar and amaze.
8. A pitch is like a movie trailer.  You start with an incredibly exciting/funny/sexy/romantic/etc. close-up with intense specificity, then you pull back to show the big picture and tell us the themes and broad strokes that build to a climax.
9. Leave us with a cliffhanger.  The ideal reaction to a pitch is, “Oh my God, what happens next?”
10. Show us what’s unique, exciting, valuable, awesome, unexpected, about your project, and why it’s comfortable, familiar and proven.

Here’s a link to interview I did about pitching for NPR.

We’re offering free 20-minute consultations (worth $100) to anyone who buys a NEW copy of The Essential Guide To Getting Your Book Published.  Just email sterryhead@gmail.com and we’ll set up your consultation.

Why I Took My Daughter to Feed the Hungry on Thanksgiving

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“I’m starving,” Olive announced one day last week is. She’s my daughter. She’s six.

“You’re not starving,” I said, “you’re hungry.”

Epiphany. Laugh-of-luxury child has no idea what it means to starve. To not eat. To be poor.

Yes, she understands there are Poor People. But it’s an intellectual construct. Like knowing there are Emus or Mexican Jumping Beans.

I don’t want Olive to be one of those pampered, entitled suburban white kids who thinks of Poor People as the Other, to be denigrated, looked down upon, ignored, pitied from afar, used for cheap labor and/or cannon fodder. I was raised in lap-of-luxury suburbia, but I was taught that Poor People are just like you and me. Only they don’t have money. Or opportunity. Or a bubble of affluence surrounding them. I was raised to believe that it’s our obligation to give back. To help. To take care of those less fortunate than ourselves. I want my daughter to understand that the corporate-fueled greed which has corrupted this country is EVIL. I want her to understand that people are more important than profit. I want her to understand that it’s important to help people who are less fortunate than ourselves.
I know what it’s like to be poor. When I was 17 I was cast out, and lived in poverty for a decade. Food stamps. Dank basement apartments that cost $25 a month. Trying to choose between buying three slices of pizza or a used paperback. Figuring out how to become an expert shoplifter. Turns out I liked stealing more than I liked being hungry. But I was lucky, I’m white, I was educated, and I was loved and taken care of as a kid, told I could be whoever I wanted to be whatever if I worked hard and did the right thing. And I did. So by the time I was 30, I had returned to a lap-of-luxury life. And I want Olive to have an idea that is like to be poor, without her actually having to be poor herself. I know that’s not entirely possible, but I want to do all I can to help her understand.

So we decided on this Thanksgiving to volunteer to feed hungry people. We took Olive to Roosevelt Elementary School in Union City, New Jersey. We prepared her by telling her there might be some homeless people there, and they might dress and possibly smell different than us. But they were just like us. Only they didn’t have money. Or much chance of getting money. Or a fancy house or a fancy car or a fancy TV or fancy food. Olive has dreams of someday becoming a waitress. (Or an artist. Or an Olympic gymnast. Or an architect. Or a ballet dancer. Or a writer.) So the idea of getting to be a waitress for poor people on Thanksgiving was exciting to her in a way that only a six-year-old can get excited.

The volunteers at Roosevelt Elementary School were a rainbow coalition of all ages, races and sizes. There was festive bunting with “Happy Thanksgiving” festooned across it. Kids had made Thanksgiving art placemats that were totally cool. There was tons of food.

The vibe was festive, happy, thankful and giving.

IMG_20131128_112518_653Then the Mayor walked in. I was not expecting to meet the mayor of Union City on Thanksgiving. But there he was. In the flesh. He looked like one of the volunteers. His name is Brian P. Stack. He was born and raised in Union City. This was his brainchild. He started doing this on Thanksgiving when he was 14 years old. He handed out chickens back then, because he couldn’t afford turkeys. During the week of Thanksgiving he handed out 18,000 turkeys. Well, not personally. But his people. I asked him why he did this.

“I just know there’s so much need here, and I want to help.”

Politician has become a dirty word. They’re rich people who make dirty deals behind closed doors. They espouse goodness, while they lurk around public bathrooms looking for illicit hookups; they smoke crack like it’s going out of business; they cheat on their wives, their kids, and the people who voted them into office while they line their pockets with filthy lucre that’s meant to help those less fortunate than themselves. I didn’t expect on this Thanksgiving to meet a politician who gave me faith that America is not totally corrupt. There are still public servants who are, you know … public servants. Who serve the public. Instead of the other way around. Brian P. Stack seems to be in the business of making the word Politician mean something good again.

Then people started showing up to eat. Young, old, and in between. I was in charge of salad. Olive was in charge of rolls and cranberry sauce. She really got her waitress on, welcoming people, asking with a chipper smile, “Would you like a roll? Would you like some cranberry sauce?” She was the youngest one serving food by 25 years. She made people smile.
And they kept coming. At least 300 hungry mouths were fed by the time we finished. And lots of them took containers of food to go. They ate, they talked, they hung out, they ate. Some by themselves, some with their boy/girlfriend. Some with their family and kids.

After about an hour we took a break and Olive had a roll, some cranberry sauce and a giant helping of salad. There we were, eating with all the Poor People. After she finished eating, Olive looked around and said to me, “Dad, the poor people look the same as us.”

Point made.

I asked Olive if she was having fun serving rolls and cranberry sauce.

“Yeah,” she said, “it’s super fun.”

She was right. It was super fun. It was pure joy. With no hangover.

I looked up and all of a sudden we were almost done. Apparently time moves quickly when you’re helping people.

As we were leaving, Olive looked at me with a big six-year-old smile and said, “I want to do this again next year!”

And so we shall. So we shall.

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