David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Category: sex Page 1 of 7

Book Doctors Holiday Book Package

Are you, a relative, or a loved one dreaming of a White Christmas, a Kool Kwanza, a Happy Hanukkah or a Festivus Miracle that involves getting a book successfully published? Luckily for you, the Book Doctors have put together a stocking stuffer for the naughty and the nice.

The Book Doctors Holiday Gift Packages come in three sizes depending on your budget and how much you like the person you’re buying it for.

Elf Special: A signed copy of our book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, and a pitch critique webinar: $20.

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The Book Doctors Interview Mark “Cod” Kulansky at Kauai Writers Conference

The Book Doctors interview master writer, epic researcher, novelist, best selling author and world-class talker Mark Kurlansky, who reveals the secrets to happiness, longevity and how to write a smash bestseller about a fish, and a condiment you find on every table in the world.

The Book Doctors: How to Find a Writing Community

The Book Doctors talk about how important it is to build a writing community, and how to build one. And they do it from the Kauai Writers Conference!

The Book Doctors: Tips 4 Pitching to Get Published

The Book Doctors at Book Con breaking down presentation tipsas they explain how to pitch your book to get published.

Susan Bolotin Editor-in-Chief of Workman, with The Book Doctors talking About How to Get Successfully Published

Great insider information about how to get successfuly published and be a professional writer from Susan Bolotin, Grand Poobah of one of the greatest publishers in the world, Workman Publishing.

Patricia Spears Jones & the Book Doctors on Poetry, Publishing, & Finding Your People

The incredible poet Patricia Spears, Jones talks about being a poet, writing poetry, being a publisher, finding your community of writers, getting your poetry out into the world, and building your career as a poet

The Book Doctors & National Novel Writing Month’s Grant Faulkner on Writing & Publishing Success

Grant Faulkner, Dir. of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, talks to The Doctors about overcoming discouragement from others, crashing your own gate, writing a terrible first draft, editing it so it gets better and better, and becoming part of a community of writers who support and nourish each other.

David Henry Sterry Was a Professional White Asshole on The Fresh Prince with Will Smith

I was a preofessional white asshole on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will Smith was awesome. Here’s the clip.

Brad Parks Interview with the Book Doctors

The Book Doctors interview amazing author Brad Parks. He has so many useful & fascinating things to say about how to become successfully published writer.

Olive, 11, Is Our Child Mentor: Here’s the Video

Do you have social mediaphobia? Scared opf Twitter? Terrified of Facebook? Shiver at the thought of Instagram? Get yourself a tween mentor. They know how to do everything on social media because their brains are hardwired that way. And, the work for Kit Kat bars.here’s a video we made to show you how.

The Art of the Query: for Submission Purposes Only

The Book Doctors break down exactly what you and make an awesome query letter, and how to customize your query for submission purposes only

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The Book Doctors offer a free webinar, where they will give you some of the keys necessary to unlocking the door to the publishing kingdom. How to get a book deal. How to find an agent. Whether to publish traditionally or with a hybrid publisher? Is self-publishing the right path to take? Ask questions! This is your shot. Are you going to take it?

The Book Doctors How-to-Get-Published Writing Advice Compilation

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I Was a Birhtday Present for an 82 Year Old

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A dad explains how to play it cool in front of your big crush

I Was A Sex Manic, or Problematic Hypersexualist, Storytelling at Risk

Annie Sprinkle on How to Have Cooler and Hotter Orgasms

Dr. Annie Sprinkle is a national treasure, with a brain and a heart as large and bountiful as other famous bosoms. In these troubled times, we need her more than ever. And as Rome burns, we turn to the goddess to help us discover, or rediscover, one of the most important elements to leading a happy life: Orgasm. Since her new book, The Explorer’s Guide to Planet Orgasm, is all about expanding, redefining, and celebrating that most primal of human forces, I thought I’d pick her brain, and other body parts, about the power and beauty of the orgasm.

Read this interview on the HuffPost.

Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens standing in front of a van

Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens

David Henry Sterry: What was the inspiration for Planet Orgasm?

Annie Sprinkle: Ever since I was in the womb, I have always had a fascination with orgasm. I was born to do this book. Orgasm has been an important part of my adult life, in all kinds of ways. It’s good medicine for me. My orgasms lubricate me through life. Over the years I had written several articles about orgasm, and about twelve years ago, I made a film called Annie Sprinkle’s Amazing World of Orgasm, which was my homage to the Big O. I interviewed twenty-four orgasm experts of all kinds, and I learned a lot from that.

So, when Janet Hardy, the author of the wonderful best selling book, The Ethical Slut, called me and asked me if I wanted to do a new book for her publishing company, Greenery Press, I thought about it for a few days, and thought about what I’d want to do. I kept coming back to the idea of doing a book about orgasm. It’s such a rich, juicy topic.

All my work for the past fifteen years has been with my partner and collaborator Beth Stephens, so I wanted to do the book with her. Janet said “OK, great.” Beth is an artist and professor and my orgasm muse. So we worked on the book together, which was fun. Beth added some good stuff. She’s so creative and very sexual. A double Scorpio. Enough said.

Then I came across a young artist’s paintings on the internet and thought they were really interesting and well done. So I wrote to tell her. YuDori turned out to be a 22-year-old Korean art student that was going to School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, my alma matter. When I asked her if she was interested in collaborating on a book together she got excited. It’s her first book. Everyone loves her illustrations. We didn’t want to make a usual, stereotypical sex education book, but a special book that was also a work of art. Her work is very special. She will go far.

DHS: It feels like in these dangerous times, orgasm is more important than ever. How can we use orgasm to relieve fear and anxiety, and also to inspire us to take action?

AS: Orgasm releases unwanted stress and tension. It brings us back into our bodies when we’ve been watching TV or on the computer. Orgasm helps us feel our feelings. It helps us sleep better after watching the world news. Oy vey. Orgasm puts a bounce in our step. Orgasm connects us to something bigger than ourselves, on a good day. Orgasm is a natural anti-depressant; it’s uplifting. It gets you going when you are down.

However, not all orgasms are healing, inspiring and amazing. Our book also discusses some of the scary aspects of orgasm: orgasms during rape, which is more common than you’d think; orgasm when used as a way of hurting someone else; orgasm that can fuck up your life. That’s what is so fascinating. Orgasm can be dangerous and can cause some physical problems. We include it all, and more.

DHS: Why do you think it’s so difficult for many people in America to have orgasms, or even talk about orgasms for that matter? When did the orgasm get such a bad rap?

AS: Good question. Not all cultures historically felt that way. But in our recent history there is this common belief that if we talk about our orgasms it will take away some of the mystery. I’ve been talking about my orgasms for decades, and the mystery is still there, more than ever. So that’s a fallacy.

However, you can compare orgasm to watching a sunset with your lover. You can enjoy a sunset in silence. Or you can talk about it. If the talking takes away from the experience, then you’re not really throwing yourself into the mystery of the sunset, but distracting each other from the sunset. But if you talk in a way that takes you deeper into the experience, marvel at it together, create some poetic words, talk about the mystery or what you love about the experience… then you enhance the experience.

In general people think orgasm is something we should know automatically how to do, and do well. But we can be taught a lot more about our orgasms. Just like we can be taught how to be more mindful watching a sunset, for example. Learn to focus on circular breathing, imagine opening your heart and becoming the sunset.

As we all know, many people believe sex is bad and dirty. A lot of people have a lot of guilt and shame about sex and their orgasms. Sexual energy is something they want to get rid of, expel, not utilize, build and wallow in. In Planet Orgasm we talk about orgasmic states, extended orgasm… all kinds of orgasms…. nocturnal orgasms, crygasms, breath and energy orgasms, Barbara Carrellas’s gender-free orgasms, Deb Herbenick’s coregasms, and many other kinds.

I had some amazing teachers, who taught me about orgasm, and I’m so grateful to them. I had to seek them out. You won’t see classes on how to have better orgasm at the university, although I have taught some college workshops, come to think of it.

DHS: As a man, I was taught that the whole purpose of sex was for me to have an orgasm, which meant I wanted to get to that ejaculation and shoot the seed, baby…. But you have reclaimed and redefined what the word orgasm means. How do you see this in a larger historical cultural context?

AS: We are all for quickies. Or just shooting the seed, baby. That feels really good! Sometimes that’s what’s desired. But it’s not always the be-all and end-all. There are choices. Often taking more time will generate more powerful orgasms. But there are no absolutes.

Learning orgasm is like learning tennis. To get good at it you need some good instructors, information, techniques, and encouragement to practice. We are orgasm trainers.

Yes, the usual “models of orgasm” define orgasm in terms of blood flow, heart rate, contractions… That thinking is so incredibly limited. So we go out of that box, big time. That’s like saying life is about blood flow, heart rate, and sneezes.

Cover to The Explorer's Guide to Planet Orgasm by Annie Sprinkle; sexy astronauts in front of a planet under title

Greenery Press

DHS: What do you want people to take away from your book?

AS: That orgasm is a much more interesting, complex, versatile and useful experience than they ever knew. We also offer seven golden keys to having bigger, better, more badass orgasms. Each key comes with a one-minute experiment so you can experience the effects of each key in a really clear and simple way. For example, you can build a lot of excitement with the mind and use your mind to move that sexual excitement to different parts of your body and have orgasms in different parts of your body.

For the advanced orgasmanaut, we suggest that sex is something much more than bodies coming together. Sex is a frame of mind. Sex is happening all around us all the time, when we look for it.

DHS: What are some simple things we can do to be more in touch with our orgasm?

AS: I’m a big believer in sex education. Read, take classes, look at YouTube videos, and talk with people who are more knowledgeable than you. Orgasm is actually a really big topic. There is a lot of new research being done, which is fascinating. We include some of that in our book.

Modern humans have multiple orgasmic tools and vehicles, ranging from Internet porn to a wide variety of really great sex toys; yet many have little to no experience achieving orgasm. Or big orgasm. More than 10% of women report never having an orgasm, and 8% of men and 33% of women are occasionally unable to reach orgasm. To date, there are no studies about orgasm for trans people.

DHS: How were you educated on sex and sexuality when you were a kid?

AS: Like most people, I first heard about sex on the elementary school playground. I was completely horrified that a penis went in a vagina. Ick. Gross.

At about 11, my parents had some sex ed books on the bookshelf that they expected us to find when we were the age where we’d be interested. They had the Kinsey Reports, The Joy of Sex, The Sensuous Woman, The Sensuous Man, and a few others. So of course I found those books. They were my favorite books, next to E.E. Cummings experimental poetry and the World Book Encyclopedias.

Also, I was raised Unitarian Universalist, so we got some sex education at church, amazingly. We watched a film of a baby being born in church, which left quite an impression.

Also, my parents’ best friends were Vern and Bonnie Bullough, two famous sexologists who wrote sixty-five or so books about sex. We would hang out at their house sometimes, and they had hundreds of books about sex.

My family didn’t really talk about sex. It was hidden. But it wasn’t a big secret either, or a bad thing.

DHS: How did Planet Orgasm become a book?

AS: Beth and I did the text. Then we sent sample illustrations to YuDori to try and explain what we had in mind. Then she sent back the drawings. Then we sent it all to Janet Hardy who did the layout. She sent it to the printer. So I guess we did it the old-fashioned way.

DHS: Who should read Planet Orgasm?

AS: We tried to make Planet Orgasm a book for every body. That was a fun challenge. I think we succeeded pretty well.

DHS: What advice do you have for writers, sex educators, and anyone who’d like to have an orgasm after they read this?

AS: Do it your way. Forget what you know, open your mind, open your legs, breathe a lot more, move more, follow your own muse. Secondly, get yourself a copy of Planet Orgasm. There’s probably a lot more to orgasm than you think.

Annie Sprinkle has passionately researched and explored sexuality for over forty years, sharing her experiences through films, books, articles, and photography. She was the first porn star to earn a Ph.D. and has taught hundreds of sex workshops. Sprinkle has collaborated with Beth Stephens for fifteen years. They are internationally acclaimed artists who create sexually oriented visual art, theater, and performance. They are movers and shakers in the new ecosex movement. She can be found at anniesprinkle.org.

David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, activist, and book doctor. His new book Chicken Self:-Portrait of a Man for Rent, 10 Year Anniversary Edition, has been translated into 10 languages. He’s also written Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money and Sex, which appeared on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. He is a finalist for the Henry Miller Award. He co-authored The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published with his wife, and co-founded of The Book Doctors, who have toured the country from Cape Cod to Rural Alaska, Hollywood to Brooklyn, Wichita to Washington helping countless writers get published. He has appeared on, acted with, written for, been employed as, worked and/or presented at: Will Smith, a marriage counselor, Disney screenwriter, Stanford University, National Public Radio, Milton Berle, Huffington Post, a sodajerk, Michael Caine, the Taco Bell chihuahua, Penthouse, the London Times, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a human guinea pig and Zippy the Chimp. He can be found at davidhenrysterry.com.

Tyler Knight laying on a bed grabbing a bedpost

Tyler Knight, xxx-Black Porn God, on Writing Memoir, Sex, and Dangerous Writing

When David first met Tyler Knight, he was blown away by the combination of insight, intelligence, articulation, and smoldering black man porn star sexuality. They’ve been friends ever since. And now that his memoir is coming out, we thought we’d pick his brain on what’s harder, getting into porn or publishing.

Read the interview on the HuffPost.

Tyler Knight laying on a bed grabbing a bedpost

Tyler Knight

The Book Doctors: Why in God’s name would you do something as crazy as writing a memoir?

Tyler Knight: I had no choice. There was a story in me and it was bursting to get out whether I wanted it to or not. The irony is when I was a kid with little life experience, I wanted to write but I had nothing to say. Later, as a middle-aged man, I didn’t want to commit to writing a memoir, but the story inside me had other ideas. I read Jerry Stahl’s Permanent Midnight, Dave Eggers’ A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius, and Mary Karr’s Liar’s Club. Those books showed me that to write a memoir that was worth reading required deep introspection… Picking at scabs and old scars, and then write the truth about myself no matter how ugly… And I wasn’t sure I’d the mettle to do that, let alone share it with the world. I knew it’d be a Sisyphean task of writing draft after draft of a manuscript for many years in a vacuum with no promise that the book would ever see the light of day. I expected my manuscript would be rejected by scores of literary agents. Maybe I’d find an agent crazy enough to schlep a literary memoir, from a pornographer no less, from publishing house to house until he found an editor who loved it. And that’s precisely what happened. But I also knew that I’d have no inner peace if I didn’t do it.

Cover of Burn My Shadow by Tyler Knight; two people standing side by side

Burn My Shadow by Tyler Knight

TBD: David’s family didn’t speak to him for about five years after his memoir, Chicken, came out. Has there been any fallout, blowback, or madness as a result of you writing about your life in public?

TK: Well, I haven’t spoken with my father or anyone on my father’s side of the family since the ‘90s anyway, so there was no effect there. My mother’s side of the family… I can’t be certain if they know what I do for a living or not. It’s odd and telling when at Thanksgiving, people at the table never ask me how work is going. Sometimes the absence of conversation says more than the words that are said…

TBD: We are big fans of Rare Bird; they put out great books. Tell us about your process of getting this book published.

TK: My agent, Peter McGuigan, who co-heads Foundry Literary, was extremely hands-on with the editing process. I’d send him drafts, and he’d ink them up and send them back. Peter was my de facto MFA professor. Once we got to a point where the work was salable, he stopped shaping it… He knew it was important that whichever editor acquired the manuscript felt that they had room to put their own stamp on it. The feedback from some of the big houses was a lot of, “Right, he is a talented writer, but we need to make it more commercial.” That would have been more than just putting a stamp on the work. Peter showed it to Tyson at Rare Bird. We met in his office for a half hour meeting that stretched into almost three hours. We talked what I was trying to say, and he had ideas on how to clarify my vision. He got me. We came from the same planet. Books can take years to come out, so the relationship between editor and author is like a marriage. Both parties have to decide that they can work together for years to bring the book into the world.

TBD: While you’re at it, tell us about some of the joys and difficulties of writing a book about yourself and your crazy life.

TK: I come from a school of literary minimalism called Dangerous Writing. Its most prominent practitioners would be Chuck Palahniuk and Amy Hempel. It’s called Dangerous Writing because it forces you to explore what scares you… What about yourself would be mortifying if anyone else knew about it… And you go deep into those crevasses and linger until the feelings are exhausted, then move onto the next. It asks nothing less than absolute commitment to honesty from the author. It’s the perfect cypher for a memoir. Exacting my pound of flesh was the most alive I’ve ever felt in my life.

I have no interest whatsoever in foisting upon the public some bullshit celebrity “I’m-just-like-you!” zeitgeist memoir that risks nothing, asks nothing of its readers, and leaves them just as clueless as to who the author is as a human fucking being when they started reading. I declare the airport memoir dead.

TBD: You have such an incredible way with words, you really make us feel like we’re right in the middle of your life, with all the sights, sounds, and yes, smells that accompany this life. How did you manage to do that?

TK: Thanks, David. That’s a technique of Dangerous Writing: Going to the Body. You sprinkle details about sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch all through the story that, by themselves may not seem like much, but the cumulative impact by the end of the story is nothing less than visceral. My Bukkake story was the first time after many attempts where I finally got it right.

TBD: David gets writing from all over the world that revolves around sex. Most of it is really bad. What approach did you take to writing about sex?

TK: Yeah, most sex writing sucks because their authors love their metaphors and adverbs, and fail to grasp the concept of less is more. My approach was to show, don’t tell. Again, that’s both Going to the Body, and another technique called Recording Angel… You show the reader details without judgement (no labeling anything as good, bad, sexy, whatever), and let her unpack the details and reassemble them in her mind as she reads. Trust the reader to come to her own conclusion… To take ownership in the creation of the scene and story as she reads it. Far more powerful that way.

TBD: What made you decide to use a quote from Moby Dick in a book about your life as a porn stud?

TK: Moby Dick is my favorite novel, and the Knights and Squires section spoke to me… The conflict of good and evil wrestling for possession of a working man’s soul… Dignity in whatever your station in life may be… Faith and moral courage…

TBD: Which was harder, breaking into the adult film industry, or the publishing industry?

TK: Publishing, by far, is more difficult. So, you’re a good writer. Who cares? You still must do the work. Even then, your work may be rejected based on your query letter (basically a sales letter to agents about your book which doesn’t contain a single sentence of your actual book) by a 22-year-old intern who screened and deleted it before anyone in the position to say “yes” to you ever reads it. It happened to me. It happens to everyone. At least with porn, if you are not hideous and you can do the job, they’ll find a place for you. Don’t get me wrong, porn is by no means easy to get into, and it’s far from a meritocracy, but you will get judged on your ability to perform from the get go, sink or swim, rather than a being judged on some letter you wrote describing how good you’d be if you just had a chance.

TBD: What, if any, are your plans for writing?

TK: This is it. Burn My Shadow isn’t a vanity project for me. I’ve pushed my chips all-in with writing books… I can’t imagine a life without writing. I have a novel in its third draft which has nothing to do with pornography.

TBD: We hate to ask you this, but what advice do you have for writers?

TK: Lookit, I broke every rule and piece of advice that writers should follow, from not sticking to a disciplined writing schedule, to writing a memoir entirely in first-person, present tense. The world already has every example of how a book should be written. What the world doesn’t have is your take on things. Tell your story however you damn well please. The more specific it is to you and your truths, the broader its appeal to the world. Just write, man.

Tyler Knight, author of Burn My Shadow: A Selective Memory of an X-Rated Life, is an adult film star who has starred in over 500 films. In 2009 he won the Good For Her Feminist Porn Award, as Heartthrob of the Year, and was a Playgirl Spokesmodel. In 2010 he was nominated for the Urban X Award for Performer of the Year. He has also been nominated for eighteen AVN awards and has won three. Tyler lives in Los Angeles.

Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry are co-founders of The Book Doctors, a company that has helped countless authors get their books published. They are co-authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How To Write It, Sell It, and Market It… Successfully (Workman, 2015). They are also book editors, and between them they have authored 25 books, and appeared on National Public Radio, the London Times, and the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

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Attack of the Donkeys

When donkeys attack!!!

Jon Pressick on Best Sex Writing of 2015: Consent, BDSM, Porn, Race, Sex Work & Being Canadian

I met Jon Pressick a few years ago when I wrote a book about sex. That’s what happens when you write a book about sex. You get to meet Jon Pressick. He has talked about sex to some of the coolest sex people in America, and lived to tell the tales. He has put together a book about … wait for it … sex.  The Best Sex Writing of the Year: On Consent, BDSM, Porn, Race, Sex Work and More.  Quite a mouthful, eh?  So I thought I’d pick his brain about one of our favorite subjects. Sex.
BestSexWritingVol1_cov3pressick(1)
To read on Huff Po press here.

David Henry Sterry: When did you first become interested in sex?

Jon Pressick: I was a truly early bloomer. Blooming all over the place and making a mess everywhere. Middle school? Earlier? I really don’t remember, but I do know that sex has preoccupied my mind for a long, long time. It is great to take those thoughts beyond my own enjoyment.

DHS: I understand you’re Canadian, how is Canadian sex different than American sex? Are Canadians educated differently about sex than Americans?

JP: I’ve never had sex with an American! I don’t think so, at least. Does it involve guns and apple pie, because you know where all about maple syrup and canoes in our sexy time. And of course, it is so polite as to be awkward, at times.  We’re at a crucial time, in sex education where I live (outside Toronto). Our province has just mandated a progressive sex education curriculum that will come into effect next fall. We sex happy folk are rejoicing (even though the curriculum could use more work) while the right-leaning and religious folk are up in arms. On the other hand, I read with morbid fascination Alice Dreger’s livetweeting of her kid’s abstinence-based sex ed class…wow. The more I read and hear about American sex ed, in classrooms, communities and home, I think we Canucks are on a better track. We’re not chugging with great speed, but we’re not derailed either.

DHS: You talk about sex on the radio, is that different than talking about sex in the flesh? What are some of the highlights of your radio sex career?

JP: You know that thing about having a face for radio…? Well, it isn’t that bad, but I am, deep-down, fairly introverted. I can speak freely, openly and happily with my familiars and perfect strangers about sex…but it is even easier on the radio. Sex City has such an open concept with very few limitations so I’ve talked to Bigfoot softcore filmmakers, Dr. Carol Queen and everything in between. Some of my highlights are my infamous armpit fetish model interview and having Candida Royalle tell me I have a sexy voice.

DHS: I see that you are both a pundit and a mogul? How do you get to be those things, and do they conflict?

JP: Well, one is a misnomer, for sure. I’ve been around long enough, tickling keyboards and flapping my lips about all things sex that people actually ask my opinion. I’m still flabberghasted (and entirely Canadian) about that. But, I can usually be relied upon to give good words. Now, the mogul part I’m still working on. Am I wealthy in knowledge, experience and fantastic connections? Absolutely. Do I get excited about sales on sex toys? Of course, because I can’t afford them otherwise.

DHS: I understand you’re also a general gadabout. Is that different than being a specific gadabout? And how does one get started as a gadabout?

JP: I tried being a more specific gadabout. I wrote primarily for the queer community (publications and web) for a number of years. But I found that limiting and had to expand the bounds of my gadaboutry. It was only natural to spread my legs to sex. Since then, I’ve done the radio, performed burlesque, spoken at conferences, participated in sex work, taught workshops and now edited books–all while writing for whomever will take it. I flit around as much as I can. If someone would like to emulate this and embark on the gadabout life, I suggest you get yourself as scattered as possible–but invest in a dayplanner.

DHS: What was it like wrangling all these people who write about sex?

JP: I would offer the cliche that it was like herding cats…but it really wasn’t. Many of the pieces included in Best Sex Writing of the Year came to me (ahhh, willing submission). Others I sought. In almost all cases, the response has been one of joyous, enthusiastic consent. Now, as in all relationships, sometimes we lose focus, sometimes reminders on the fridge are needed. Sometimes we don’t always pick up our socks when we should. But I’ve spent years and years coordinating writers–the majority of whom I wasn’t paying with anything but my heartfelt thanks, good connection and experience. Now, with a budget behind me, I’m in a much better state to work with and help and coddle and cajole writers. Even though I really didn’t have to that much. But I was ready to!

DHS:If there were a position open in the government for czar of sex, and you were given this appointment, what would you do?

JP: In my role as Grand Poobah of Pleasure, I’d be writing cheques all over the place for groups such as Planned Parenthood. I’d get them in schools and make sex ed classes fun, shame-free learning environments. I’d decriminalize sex work. I address sexual assault by retraining police, reclassifying it as a crime to further protect victims while at the same time punishing and establishing rehabilitation programs for offenders. I’d strip any influence sex negative idealogues have out of the governance of sex and promote sex as a positive, pleasurable aspect of our lives.

DHS: What are some of the takeaways of the best sex writing of the year?

JP: This book is diverse–and that is the key to our evolving societal sexual conversation. All of the voices need to be heard. The young, the old, the people with disabilities, the sex workers, the pundits and gadabouts. There are so many stories, and many of those stories have another side to them. While sex is the common theme…the complexity of our experiences ensures a unique experience in each contribution.

DHS: What did you learn as a writer by editing the best sex writing of the year? And what did you learn about sex?

JP: What I learned was one in the same here. The opportunity to read works and speak with writers of this calibre has created a desire to up my game. Since I completed this work, I think I’ve been a better writer. I’ve seen the work of masters and I’ve seen where I needed to improve–and keep working at it. Writing about sex is unique work. It isn’t easy to create, capture and maintain the nuance of these pieces. And sex is the same way. I read work that challenged me to think about my own sex life. I’m a 40+ year old man and have a type of life experience. Now I’ve seen more…now I want more even more.

DHS: What advice do you have for writers? What advice do you have for people who want to have sex?

JP: Start a blog. Have a public space you write in and contribute to it often. Let people know they can read it. Encourage feedback. Fight for your words when people critique you…but at the same time take time to learn and admit as much when you fail. Write without shame, but don’t shame others. Work hard at finding your voice, your technique and your power. You have it, find it. Oh and sex? All of the above, though be careful with the blog part.

Jon Pressick (<a href=”http://sexinwords.ca/” target=”_hplink”>SexinWords.ca</a>) is a Toronto-based writer, editor, blogger, radio personality and gadabout specializing in topics related to sex and sexuality for more than fifteen years. Currently, Jon contributes to <a href=”http://www.kinkly.com/” target=”_hplink”>Kinkly.com</a> and has been published on/in New York Magazine, Xtra, Quill & Quire and in the books Secrets of the Sex Masters and Best Sex Writing 2013. He primarily publishes to his blog, Sex in Words, sharing and contributing analysis of sex-related news stories, feature interviews and erotic fiction.  As one of the hosts and producer of Toronto’s sex radio institution Sex City, Jon has interviewed some of the sex community’s biggest names, including Cindy Gallop, Candida Royalle, Sunny Megatron, Susie Bright, Tristan Taormino, Kate McCombs, Reid Mihalko, Carol Queen, Dr. Charlie Glickman and many others (including many of the contributors to this collection!). When he pulls himself away from the keyboard, Jon occasionally performs burlesque, DJs, speaks at sexuality conferences, acts as a juror for the Feminist Porn Awards, curates an erotica library and offers prostate pleasure and erotica workshops. Throughout the years, Jon’s efforts have earned him TNT’s Sex Journalist of the Year Award and recognition as one of Broken Pencil’s “50 People and Places We Love”.

<em>David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, activist, editor and book doctor.  His anthology was featured on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.  His first memoir, <a href=”http://bit.ly/1ancjuE” target=”_hplink”>Chicken</a>, was an international bestseller and has been translated into 10 languages.  He co-authored The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published with his current wife, and co-founded <a href=”http://www.thebookdoctors.com” target=”_hplink”>The Book Doctors</a>, who have toured the country from Cape Cod to Rural Alaska, Hollywood to Brooklyn, Wichita to Washington helping writers.  He is a finalist for the Henry Miller Award.  He has appeared on National Public Radio, in the London Times, Playboy, the Washington Post and the Wall St. Journal.  He loves any sport with balls, and his girls.  <a href=”https://davidhenrysterry.com/” target=”_hplink”>Davidhenrysterry</a></em>

Best Sex Reading Thurs April 30 Bluetocking NYC 7pm

This Thursday April 30th at 7pm, the sexiest minds of our generation will gather at Bluestockings bookstore for a thought-provoking and passionate evening discussing sex. Reading their essays from the new anthology Best Sex Writing of the Year 2015—edited by sex-journalism-superstar Jon Pressick—are such revolutionary names as Vice Columnist Stoya, Mollena Williams, Cory Silverberg, Lux Alptraum, and David Henry Sterry. Hailed as a conversation-igniting megaforce and a must-read book of the year, Pressick’s collection of expertly curated articles traverses everything from celibacy to the death of a partner to life as a sex worker. “This book is as diverse and the writing as unique as editor, Jon Pressick, is as a person, and will take you though the wonderful and often confusing world that makes up what we call human sexuality. … Just be warned that this is a book that will likely make you throw everything you think you know about sex and chuck it out the window. It’s thought provoking and in some cases an emotional read and I can’t recommend this book highly enough.” —Clitical Jenne “This book highlights not only the diversity of sexual issues prevalent in the public discourse but likewise the importance of all things sexual to human culture.” —Library Journal “A must-read, regardless of which sex you like.”? —The Advocate For all media requests, including author interviews, cover images, review copies and digital ARCs, please contact Sarah Abrams. 510-845-8000 ext. 201 sabrams@cleispress.com

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Spermatazoa & Me: My Terribly English Father Explains Sex Terribly to Me

My dad describes, as only a tightly wound Englishman can, how to have sex.

 

My Daughter Is A Slacker & I’m Sick & Tired of It

My daughter is a slacker. She lays around doing nothing while I work my ass off, so she can have cable, pink Uggs & American Girl dolls.  I’m sick and tired of it, so I decided to lay down the law and teach her a lesson about hard work, sweat & sacrifice.  Everything that makes America great!

 

I ON YOUTH: YOUNG PEOPLE TALK ABOUT UGLY BABIES, BRITTANY, LINDSAY & TOM CRUISE HAVING GAY SEX

Being young is the coolest thing there is. First installment from show about what today’s youth is thinking about.

David Henry Sterry’s “Chicken” Hypnotic, Rollicking Story: Don’t Peek Until You’ve Got a Clear Schedule

“I picked up CHICKEN on a Sunday morning. The plan was to browse and come back later if it was interesting. I was still reading at lunch. I was done by dinner. Sterry’s prose has a hypnotic, jazzy spontaneity. He makes everything feel immediate, writing disturbing episodes with lots of honesty and no sentimentality. His ear for vernacular and impish sense of humor keeps the story rollicking along. Pick it up—but don’t peek until you’ve got a clear schedule.” – David Busis

Find Chicken at your local independent bookstore:  Indiebound Amazon

“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.”

chicken 10 year 10-10-13This 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).

I Is with You: Leroy Satchel Paige Mini-Documentary


My mini-documentary of my childhood hero, a great American legend who was a combination Mark Twain/Richard Prior & Michael Jordan: Leroy Satchel Paige, born July 7, 1901, then again in 1903, 1904, and finally in 1909. 

1953SatchelPaigeCard

When I was seven I fell under the spell of Leroy Satchel Paige. I don’t remember who he was playing for, or who he was pitching against, I only remember Satchel – ridiculously old, impossibly leanlanky, and sooooooo slooooooow as he jangles in from the bullpen with the bases loaded and two out.

As the crowd whips itself into a frothy frenzy, I’m hypnotized by this magical man, this cross between Ichabod Crane and Rip Van Winkle.  Those long, loping, can’t start the game without me strides are comical, but they’re also majestic: King and Jester, Warrior and Clown, an ageless wonder of the world.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?

Well, by the time the Ol’ Satch actually reaches the mound and warms up, the whole stadium erupting all around him, the poor dumbfounded flummox of batter looks like a balloon with the air all leaked out of it.

Sure enough, Satch goes into his syncopated, whirly bird, interpretive dance, scatty jazzy be-bop of a wind-up, swinging out that long lean leg and easy as you please, his arm whipshotting a teeny tiny pea homeward, the whippersnapper batter freezes like a duck on a winter pond.

“STEEEEEE-RIKE!!!” screams the ump, as strike one caresses the paint on the outside of home plate lightly like a long lost lover.

Let the ball flow our of your hand like water. 

“WAAAAAAAAHHHH!” the crowd wails.

“STEEEEEE-RIKE!!!” screams the ump as strike two strokes the inside of home.

“OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” goes the crowd.

Just take the ball and throw it, home plate don’t move.

Same wind-up, same whipshotting right arm, only this time the ball floats slow, slower, slowest, the snailiest change of pace I’ve ever seen: Uncle Tommy.

Uncle Tommy’s slow, but he gets there.

The hapless whippersnapper waves feeble before the ball even gets there, his Louisville Slugger transformed into an overcooked 33 ounce piece of linguini.

“WOO-HOOOOOO!” the crowd screams in full-throated roar, raining down thunderbolts of joy on Ol’ Satch as he saunters off with a doff of his cap.

We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing.

Black and white, sons of Klansmen, and ancestors of slaves, all raised their voices as one with me, and I understood in a way I could not express at the time that Satchel had made us all color blind.  And happy.   From that minute on, he was my hero.

As I got older I discovered Satchel’s humor.

Age is a question of mind over matter, if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.

And his brilliance: Nolan Ryan holds the record for no-hitters with an extraordinary 7.  Satch threw 55. Cy Young: 511 wins, Satchel, 1,934.  Shut out the Red Sox for three innings.  When he was 60.  Or somewhere thereabouts.  I memorized Satch’s 6 rules for staying young.

Avoid eating fried meats, they angry up the blood.

If your stomach disputes you, pacify it with cool thoughts.

Keep the juices flowing by jangling gently  as you move.

Go very light on the vices such as carrying on in society, the social ramble ain’t restful.

Avoid the running at all times.

And of course, don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.

Baseball has turned me from a 2nd class citizen into a 2nd class immortal. 

When I got to college and studied Socrates, I laughed when I read in his writing: “The wise man knows he knows nothing”, because it sounded exactly like Satch’s,

I don’t know anything.

And as I got older, I understood his humanity.

I is with you.

When I found out he was the highest paid athlete in America in 1945, I started to think about what it must have been like to be the Tiger Woods of your day, but not get to compete in any PGA events because you’re black.  To have to watch from the sidelines as the best white players get riches and glory, while you’re denied your rightful place on the center stage of America.  But they didn’t have Air Satchels back then.  The NO COLORED ALLOWED sign was still hanging over the door.

I marvel at this man I idolized as a boy, and how he triumphed with such grace, humor, and dignity over decades of bigotry and intolerance.

Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.

But nothing will ever match that tingly feeling of the six year-old boy moonstruck by that great artist of the diamond.

Satchel, I is with you.

David Henry Sterry Is In Best Sex Writing 2015

Cumming end of March.

On Amazon

Twitter: @BestSexWriters

Facebook

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LOL Video: Joizy Goils in Dumb Dawtah, Dead Dawg, & No Cawfee

T’ree Joizy Goils tawk about how dey gotta dumb dawtah, a dead dawg, & no cawfee

I Was Paid to Have Sex with an 82 Year Old Granny

Beautiful funny poignant empowering story of when I was a 17 year old manchild idiot sex worker given as a birthday present to an 82 year old. From Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, my Memoir.

Shit Review of David Henry Sterry Read by David Henry Sterry

I mean really shit

Madison Young on Beautiful Porn, Revealing All, Fearing Nothing & Daddy

I first met Madison Young when we performed together on the same bill at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco.  I was immediately struck by the wonderful mass of contradictions.  Smart but humble. Cute but fierce.  Physical but articulate.  Frankly, everything you’d want in a porn star.  I’ve been following her career ever since.  I was so happy when she took her revolutionary ideas of sexuality and began directing, creating filmed sex that’s the next step in the evolution of erotic filmmaking.  She has a new memoir out called Daddy.  So I thought I’d sit down and pick her brain about sex, movies, writing, and yes, Daddy.

pat2 authorphotoDavid Henry Sterry: What made you decide to become a professional pornographer?  Were you worried about how your family, and the world might judge you?

Madison Young: I first entered into the world of erotic filmmaking as a performer and model in 2002 and then started directing films in 2005.  As an artist and activist,  the highly political medium of documenting sexual desire on film in an authentic way that captured and portrayed the way that I experienced my own sexuality, was a huge incentive for me to explore and participate in the world of pornography.

I also needed a reliable steady income to support my life as an artist as well as supplement my non-profit arts organization, Femina Potens.  Working with in erotic film allowed me the freedom to pursue my work as a performance artist, give back to the community through the curation of hundreds of queer, feminist, edgy visual and performance art events and express my sexual self in a performative and film making capacity. Simultaneously I was making a political statement and creating change with in the adult film world by focusing on the advocating of authentic expression of self with an emphasis on pleasure and connection.

It’s amazing how powerful the documentation of authentic self can be.  It has the ability to create space for others to recognize unexamined parts of their own psyche, their own self, their own desire.  It grants them permission to explore uncharted parts of themselves.  It grants courage for others to embrace and celebrate who they are.  I try to embrace those qualities through out all the work that I do.

I wasn’t especially worried about how the world or my family would judge me, but I realized there would be judgments. One of my mottos is “Reveal All Fear Nothing”  I knew if my work and my life were going to be about living life out loud, in the open, and encouraging people to express and celebrate who they are  – then I would need to first learn how to do that myself.

If I was going to celebrate and create space for the authentic expression of self I wasn’t going to do so behind closeted doors.  I first really examined the work I was doing, why I was doing it, and the social importance of the work I was doing with in the industry.  I had to gain a certain understanding of myself before I could communicate the intricacies of my complicated and frequently misrepresented and misunderstood work.

After well over a decade working with in the realm of sexuality and dozens of open conversations, my family is supportive and understanding of the work I do.  They understand that I’m an artist and educator and that I work with in the realm of sexuality and pornography. They weren’t always super supportive. They had concerns around safety and I understand that.  I started introducing my mother to co-workers and producers of the erotic events and sex toy shops that I was teaching at.  Companies like Good Vibrations.  Those visits gave my mother a better understanding of how both myself and my work were being presented and the part of the world of sexuality that I was working with in.

When my work started to gain notice with in the university and academic circuit it set my mother and father at ease.  I think they thought , “If Yale supports the work that my daughter is doing and is presenting her work well it must not be that bad”.

Largely the greatest judgements I have received are from anonymous folks commenting online when I’m interviewed.   These tend to be people who are largely unfamiliar with my work and have heavily judgmental opinions about sex and sex work.  It’s understandable and comes with the territory.

Our society heavily shames our sexual desire and simultaneously attempts to capitalize on our sexual fears and anxieties, encouraging body negativity.  My work directly works to obliterate the sexual shame that is so inherent in our society by documenting the expression of authentic sexual expression, intimacy, love of our selves and others.

DHS: What made you decide to become a professional memoirist? Were you worried about how your family, and the world might judge you?

MY: Writing was maybe one of the first places that my thoughts and feelings had a place to go and be fully authentic in their expression of self.  I remember my first journal as a seven year old child.  I would fill the journals up with my most intimate thoughts and feelings, feelings that I didn’t feel safe expressing anywhere else.  I remember writing my first queer experiences of self down in my journal.  Writing and creation of art and performance have always been a safe container for the exploration, processing, challenging and discovery of self, for me.

I had been working on different variations of “Daddy” for a few years. In the summer of 2012, I met with my publisher Tyson Cornell at Rare Bird. I had handed him the memoir I had been working on and then we had this really great conversation about the book. Through that conversation I discovered the much more challenging and compelling story that needed to be told — a story of a girl finding a place of belonging, needing to believe in something outside of herself, and then watching as everything she thought she knew and that she thought she believed in started to crumble before her eyes. That is when we discover our real strength, our power, our courage, our inner hero, our inner “Daddy.”

Of course that was the most difficult story to tell.  The imperfect story.  The story that was still very tender and raw and difficult to express. I was most definitely worried that the world would judge me.  It was a very vulnerable work.  Parts of my life that I hadn’t really discussed publicly before.  Parts of my life that weren’t accompanied by well articulated sound bites.  And at the same time, I knew that was where the real art existed, where the compelling story was.  It’s terrifying to embrace your humanness.  But at the same time liberating.  I keep going back to my own words of “Reveal all Fear Nothing”.

DHS: You are also an activist, how does that play into your role as an artist?

MY: I feel like they are essentially the same – artist and activist.  All artists are essentially activists.  We catalyst societal and personal change through  the creation of visual and performative work.  Art pushes and inspires.  Art changes ourselves and the world.  It creates space to question everything that we think we know.

DHS: How did you learn to be a filmmaker?  How did you learn to be a writer?

MY: I learned how to write by writing and how to make films by picking up a camera and making films.  I haven’t been formally trained in any of the arts that I practice.  I studied theater at performing art school and then went on to college as a theater major.  I think my experience in theater has helped me to be a better filmmaker and writer.

One of the most significant lessons that I remember learning in theater class was when I asked the teacher, “How do you act?” and my teacher said “You just do it.  You just are.  You allow yourself to be”

I think that knowledge has given me courage to tackle any medium that has drawn me in as an artist.  I articulate and dream and visualize the manifesting of my film or a chapter in my book and I try not to let my cerebral bits get in the way.

If I have a film narrative that has been calling to me I lie down and close my eyes and focus in on the character in my visualization.  I allow my character to move and dance and fuck and evolve.  I follow them on their adventure, learn who they are and try to retain a mindfulness of the cinematic shots in which I’m viewing the actions as they are appearing in my mind.

I do the same with my writing.  For the memoir- I would envision the scene in which I would be writing about.  I’d view it like a film and listen but this time I allow a voice over narration in my head to slip in and tell the story.

As a kid I spent a lot of time in my head slipping away into those stories.  It was a way that I escaped dealing with bullies and being social with my classmates who all seemed to  despise me for being different.  Overall escaping into the worlds in my head allowed me a great power to visualize and manifest the worlds that I was dreaming up.  It prepared me for being an artist.

DHS: I found when I was in the sex business that the lines tended to blur sometimes in a way that was not entirely comfortable. Does having sex professionally affect how you have sex personally?

MY: I don’t think that it does.  It’s sometimes easier having sex professionally as there is this specific negotiated container for sex and passion and sexual exploration and to exist in.  There is a charge and energy on set that is supportive of you exploring your edges.

In my personal life there are greater negotiations of space for sexual expression, sometimes our sex is closer, smaller, more intimate – largely because of energy levels of working all day and parenting all day and attempting to not wake up our sleeping toddler.

I prefer larger energy exchanges (although intimacy can be nice).  We do get out of the house and create space for some of our larger than life kinky and sexual fantasies to fly high though.  Mostly that happens at dungeon spaces or hotels or rental cars.  I really want to try out the San Francisco Hook Up Truck.  I’m hoping to try that this weekend with Daddy for his birthday.

DHS: Do people make assumptions about you because you make movies that have explicit sex in them?

MY: I’m sure they do but I don’t usually get to hear what those assumptions are.  I’m very open with the people I meet about my work.  I’m very grateful to live in the bay area where I feel there is greater acceptance of sex work than in many areas of the country.  I feel like I’m also very accessible.  When folks have questions or want to talk about the politics and inner workings of pornography and it’s social and culture impact/significance – I’m nearly always open and available to delve into that conversation. Those conversations to debunk negative and harmful stereo-types that are propagated through the media.

DHS: What kind of pornography turns you on?  What kind of pornography turns you off?

MY: I love beautiful porn.  Erotic films that capture the beauty of the body, the beauty of sexual desire. The erotic films and porn I enjoy often have an artistic edge to them. I love a lot of the old Vivid Alt films by Eon McKai, Dana Dearmond and Kimberly Kane. I tend to like films with heavy kink elements to them, queer sex, connected, hot sweaty, expressions of lust and desire.

Its a huge turn off if I’m watching a porn and I feel like the performers are not actually having an incredible time or are absent or disconnected – that’s just a huge turn off.

The porn that I shoot and direct is a big turn on for me.  It’s like looking through a photo album of pleasure induced moments with on and off screen partners.  All these years I’ve been documenting my own sexual evolution, and that really turns me on.

DHS: The word feminist has become so loaded in our culture? How do you define it in your life and in your work?

MY: Feminism with in the context of my life focuses on empowerment and choice.  Choice of gender expression, choice to love, choice to express and articulate my sexual desires.  Feminism informs my submission, my politics, my work, my writing, my film making, the way I make art, the way I parent.  It involves a degree of consciousness of the intersections of systematic oppression, how to operate with in or outside of those systems, self awareness of how our individual actions contribute to  larger existing power struggles.

Feminism with in my parenting looks like empowering my child with knowledge of self – asking my child what their preferred gender expression or preferred name is rather than assuming roles based on the sex they were assigned at birth.  I empower my child with knowledge about their body – names for their body parts: vulva, anus, uterus.  My child knows how to negotiate space for themselves, how to ask for consent to hug or kiss another person and knows that others must ask for their consent to gift affection toward them.  Teaching agency over one’s body is a key factor in how feminism plays into my parenting.

I also emphasize through a mantra with my toddler ” Be gentle to yourself, Be gentle to others, Be Gentle to the world around you.”  Very simple yet very radical.

Many of these same simple feminist concepts I carry with me into my own work.  Both expressing consent and agency over my own body and facilitating space for others to communicate the type of affection they wish to exchange with one another, facilitating that negotiation and then documenting it.  Facilitating space and celebration of gender expression.  Advocating for my own self care on set, advocating for other’s self care.  Being gentle with myself, with others and with the world around me.

We don’t talk about things in our house using words like good and bad.  I’m trying to do away with this binary way of thinking.  Life is much more complex than that.  We talk about how anyone is capable of being gentle or not gentle. A police officer might have a job of being gentle but I’ve seen some cops being down right not gentle at protests for nothing more than occupying space in this world. The radical gentle.  Radical love.  Love.  Loving gentle actions.  So simple yet so radical.

DHS: Was it difficult taking the seemingly random events of life and crafting a random out of them into a book?  Was it difficult revealing yourself on the page?

MY: Yes it was definitely a challenge.  I had to simultaneously create enough space from my life to view myself as a character in a narrative and craft a very specific story from very specific scenes in my life while delving into really personal emotionally intimate and challenging moments.  It was a challenge and I’m so happy that I had such a great team at Rare Bird that I was working with to really focus the story.  There are so many very significant people and elements of my life that just didn’t make it into the book because it wasn’t absolutely essential in the telling of this story.  I try to frame the story by letting the reader know they are only reading one slice of my life.  This memoir could have been told a dozen different ways.  Maybe some of those stories will come to fruition in future books.  It was really hard editing and approving edits for the memoir though.  Seeing people or parts of your life not make it to the final cut, that was hard.  There’s just such an emotional investment there.  But then I’d take a step back from it and see the art that we were sculpting, the essential elements of the story, carving out everything that isn’t that story.  Regarding revealing myself, some chapters were definitely more difficult than others.  I wanted to just revel in the chapters that were filled with love and lust.  The chapters dealing with topics like sobriety, depression and infidelity – those were difficult chapters.  But it felt really healthy and cathartic making my way through the tough stuff.

DHS: What advice do you have for beginning writers? Beginning adult filmmakers?

MY: For beginning adult filmmakers I’m facilitating the first ever  3 day-  30 hour Erotic Film School(www.EroticFilmSchool.com)  in which students will have the opportunity to create a film in a collaborative, hands on experience working with industry professionals as we tackle everything from pre production: shot lists and model negotiations to post production: editing and submitting films for erotic film festivals.  For anyone interested in erotic film making I highly recommend applying at www.EroticFilmSchool.com . Also I’m currently working on my next book, the DIY Porn Handbook:Documenting Our Own Sexual Revolution.

For film makers and writers I encourage really developing a practice.  Don’t wait for some magical time or degree to pick up a pen or a camera.  Borrow a camera, shoot on your iPhone, start viewing the world through a lens and see what you see.  What do you gravitate toward?  Where do you find beauty?  Get to know yourself as an artist through your practice.  Volunteer or intern for a working artist, filmmaker or writer.  Study them and the way that they work.  I’m always staffing volunteers and interns to assist me with my projects at http://IAmTeamMadison.wordpress.com .  Be fearless in your pursuit of your passion, your truth.

Madison Young is a sex positive Tasmanian devil. This sexpert grew up in the suburban landscape of Southern Ohio before moving to San Francisco, California in 2000. Since then this mid-western gal has dedicated her days to facilitating safe space to dialogue on the topic of fringe identities and cultures as well as documenting healthy expression of sexuality. Young’s breadth of work in the realm of sexuality spans from documenting our sexual culture in her feminist erotic films to serving as the Artistic Director of the forward thinking non-profit arts organization, Femina Potens Art Gallery.  She can be found on Twitter @madisonyoung.

David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, including Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chicken Hawks: Professionals and Clients Writing about Each Other and Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money and Sex, which was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. His new book is Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent (10-Year Anniversary Edition). He can be found on Twitter @sterryhead.

 

 

From Corporate Cubicle to Courtesan: Six Questions for Veronica Monet

In this original, excerpted interview, David Henry Sterry interviews Veronica Monet about her journey from corporate America to being a high profile courtesan to becoming an author, couples therapist and radio host. Her essay “No Girls Allowed at the Mustang Ranch” appears in the anthology “Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks.” It’s a riveting story about a woman who wants to go to the Mustang Ranch as a customer, and does so for her birthday with her husband.

sunglasses-bwVeronica Monet is the author of Sex Secrets of Escorts (Alpha Books 2005) and a Couples Consultant specializing in Anger Management and Sacred Sexuality. Monet has been a vocal and highly visible spokesperson for the sex worker rights movement since 1991 having appeared on every major network as well as CNN, FOX, CNBC, WE, A&E and international television programs.  Veronica has been profiled in The New York Times and has lectured at a variety of academic venues including Kent State, Stanford and Yale Universities. Veronica Monet combines over 14 years of “hands-on” experience as a courtesan with many years of formal education. As a Certified Sexologist (ACS), Certified Sex Educator (SFSI), Certified Anger Management Specialist (CAM), Trained Volunteer for the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) and an Ordained Minister (ULC) her subject matter marries the body and the soul on many levels – reuniting sex and spirit in down-to–earth terms and providing compassion, intuition, integrity and safety. Veronica Monet coaches men, women and couples over the telephone, via Skype and in-person at her northern California office. Veronica hosts a radio program The Shame Free Zone – her online radio program at http://www.sextalkradionetwork.com

Ho's cover

Ho’s cover

David Henry Sterry: How did you get into the sex business?

Veronica Monet: It was 1989 and I had just resigned from a secretarial position at a major computer corporation. Since graduating from college in 1982, I had held a variety of jobs in corporate settings including one as an office manager and another as department manager. I resigned from my last straight job because my supervisor was a sexist who wrote me up for stupid things like “not smiling enough.”  At the time I was dating a male stripper whose live-in girlfriend was also an exotic dancer. I considered becoming a dancer in one of the San Francisco clubs. Then I met this beautiful woman who worked as a prostitute and I quickly realized that she enjoyed her life and her work a lot more than the exotic dancer seemed to. The prostitute also made a lot more money than the girl who danced for a living. After I began dating the beautiful prostitute, I asked her to teach me the business so I could enter the profession too.  Funny thing was that despite my college diploma and seven years in corporate jobs, I had a lot to learn about being a successful escort. Turns out it is not a job for dummies, contrary to popular opinion.

 

DHS: What are some things you’ve learned working in the sex industry?

VM: I learned that when you take his clothes off and provide him with one of the most emotionally moving orgasms of his life, a man will show you that he is not all that different from most women. Men, too, want to be held while they cum and will cry during an internal (prostate) orgasm. There is softness and a desire to be nurtured which I never saw in men until I became a prostitute. I literally went from hating men and the oppression they represented to me at that time, to loving men and feeling regret that we live in a world culture which demands that men sublimate their feminine side in preference of appearing in control.

 

DHS:  Do you tell friends and relatives that you were/are a sex worker?  Not, why not?  If so, what has their reaction been?

VM: People sometimes assume that sex workers lie about their profession because they feel ashamed of it. This is not true for most sex workers. Instead they hide what they do from anyone who might hurt them because of it. For instance, a prostitute can be evicted just for being a prostitute. Sex workers can lose custody of their children. Sex workers almost always lose their day jobs if their employers find out they are doing any type of sex work, whether it is legal or not.

I chose to be out as a sex worker from early on when I decided to become politically active on behalf of sex worker rights. Appearing on a multitude of national and international television shows including many programs on CNN and FOX News as a sex worker, there was no way to keep my status as an escort a secret. And I certainly paid a price for that honesty. I was evicted and audited and arrested and spent two years in family court, all due to being an out prostitute. People I thought were my friends rejected me. My family was ashamed and embarrassed by my choice of professions.

Many of the women I knew in the trade were unable to sustain a relationship with a man because men are simply too jealous and possessive to tolerate their woman being a prostitute. Fortunately for me, I was married to my soul mate for 14 of the 15 years I worked as an escort. He was loving and supportive of me and although we are divorced today due to other circumstances, I will always be grateful that he loved me while I worked in the sex industry. I know how rare it is to find a man who possesses enough confidence and self-esteem to be the partner of a prostitute. I was extremely fortunate to have my husband’s emotional support and loyalty throughout my career as a sex worker.

 

DHS: What are some other jobs you had?

VM: I have worked the graveyard shift in a cannery, as a change-person in a casino, as a waitress for a family restaurant, as a personal secretary, as an administrative assistant, as an office manager, as a department manager, and as a marketing representative for a radio station. I received many awards and I was promoted several times. Although some might term my seven years in corporate jobs successful, I was never happy with the 9 to 5 grind and I hated commuter traffic. When I discovered that I could be self-employed as a sex worker, I felt freed from the claustrophobic nature of cubicles and released from the insult of taking orders from people enamored with their own transitory power. As an escort, men far more powerful than the ones who had previously employed me as their secretary, catered to my interests, needs and desires while paying me handsomely for the privilege of my company.

DHS: Would you recommend the sex business as a way to make money?

The “sex business” is a broad term encompassing a vast array of services, some legal and others illegal. I don’t “recommend” any profession as I think that is an individual choice, which should be based upon personal attributes, goals and desires. When I am asked about escorting as a profession, I do my best to inform others of the positive and negative aspects of the profession. For instance, as long as prostitution remains illegal, prostitutes and escorts remain a target for crimes such as assault, rape and murder. Fear of arrest plays a huge role in the lives of prostitutes as well. And then there is the matter of scape goating, stereotyping and outright rejection from those very support people most of us rely upon to create stability and security in our lives.

If an individual has an independent and self-supporting nature; if they feel they can shrug off the judgments and projections of people they care about; then prostitution can be a very rewarding profession. But money should be only a secondary goal.  Yes, escorts can make amazing amounts of money in a short time and the temptation is to envision escorting or any other branch of the sex industry as a “get rich quick scheme” but if you go into it with that goal, you will quickly find yourself on a dismal and destructive path.  Like all professions, the best reason to get into the sex industry is because you enjoy helping other people. If you bring your love, compassion, empathy and nurturing to the sex professions, then you will not only make a lot of money, you will create a lot of happiness for your clients and yourself.

 

DHS:  What are some of your best and worst experiences being a sex worker?

VM: My worst experience being a sex worker was being arrested. It was a humiliating and disgusting effort to “teach me a lesson” for shooting my mouth off as a sex worker rights activist. I fought back and in the end I prevailed as I was neither convicted of anything nor did I go to trial. But still, the handcuffs and the sexual leering from the police officers at the station were insulting and degrading. The irony of course is that law enforcement is fond of saying they want to “save” prostitutes from a “degrading” lifestyle.

There are so many happy memories of my escorting days. It is difficult to say which are the best. My first trip to New York City often stands out for me. It was my first foray into the life of a courtesan, which is distinct from that of an escort. The courtesans of old had only a few patrons and became quite wealthy by associating with the wealthiest and the most powerful men of their day. Likewise, as I moved from being a high-priced escort to a true courtesan, I stopped charging by the hour and began obtaining a fee for several days of companionship, which may nor may not include sex.

As the sex worker who was showing up on shows like Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect and in publications like The New York Times, it was not difficult for me to command an impressive fee for that day, while demanding the best in accommodations and travel arrangements. Gaining access to wealthy socialites and billionaires was fascinating for me as well as extremely educational. Born to working class parents and literally growing up in a trailer, this side of life was completely foreign to me. Learning what true wealth looks and acts like as well as absorbing the particular pains and challenges that wealthy men experience also expanded my compassion for others—regardless of how much money or stuff they might possess. I think that window into the world of exorbitant wealth and what our society terms “success” was very instructive for my own spiritual path. It gave me the freedom to walk away from money whenever I feel like it. I know the allure of money is mostly transitory and illusory. It is what lives in our hearts that determines the level of happiness each of us will attain.

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