David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Category: sex Page 1 of 7

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

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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.

Inspector Croissant: croissant with eyes, mouth, arms, legs, wearing a hat and walking with suitcase

Josh Funk on the Wonders of SCBWI, iPhone Book Trailers, [REDACTED] & Stinky Stench

We’ve said it before, and will say it again: if you are writing for kids, or reading for kids, or ever were a kid yourself, it behooves you to be a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). That’s where we met Josh Funk. Until recently, he was in charge of the annual conference, so we got to know him in an intimate yet thoroughly professional way. Josh is a bundle of creativity, imagination and good fun. And since his new book The Case of the Stinky Stench is out, we picked his brain about kids and books, and the strange and wonderful intersection of those two things.

Photo of Josh Funk holding a stuffed monkey toy

Josh Funk

The Book Doctors: Welcome back!

Josh Funk: Thank you so much for inviting me back, Arielle and David!

TBD: What books are you currently reading, and why?

JF: If it’s okay with you, I’m gonna answer the ‘why’ first. I recently returned home from a two-week tour celebrating The Case of the Stinky Stench, during which I went to 19 schools, a couple of public libraries, and over a dozen bookstores. Because of that, most of what I’m reading is based on bookseller recommendations – and I couldn’t have made a better decision to go that route. Booksellers know their stuff! So here’s what I’ve got:

Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderly and Marjory Wentworth, illustrated by Ekua Holmes – this one is so good, I often read a few of the poems contained within this book during my events (usually “How to Write a Poem,” “For Our Children’s Children,” and “Spin a Song”).

7 Ate 9 by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Ross MacDonald – to me, this is a perfect picture book. It’s overflowing with cleverness, exactly my kind of humor, gorgeous illustrations, a well-crafted story, and frankly, a solution I didn’t see coming (but I’ll bet some clever kids could figure it out). With six stellar picture books under her belt, Lazar is one of my favorite picture book authors today.

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani – this book makes me chuckle on every page. I bought it for my 8-month old niece, and almost kept it for myself. Absurdist humor at its best. And a counting book (as a software engineer, I do love numbers!).

Timmy Failure #6: The Cat Stole My Pants by Stephan Pastis – this series is fantastic! I’ve read each book aloud with my kids and there are at least 2 or 3 times during each book when I have to stop cause I’m laughing so hard (it was Speedo Steve this time). I can’t wait for the movie!

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small – so this has been one of my favorite books for a long time (one of four books that I credit with making me want to be a writer). But while at Bookbug in Kalamazoo, Michigan, about 5 minutes prior to my event, the proprietor of the store came over to me and whispered, “That’s Sarah Stewart and David Small.” Long-story-short…ish – they’re regulars and it was just a coincidence they showed up. Nevertheless, I shared my love of The Gardener with them, at which point Sarah asked me why I felt so strongly about the book. I gave her my reasons and she responded with a hug. Then they signed a copy for me and posed for a picture. Needless to say I was giddy with excitement during the event.

Some other books I bought based on bookseller recommendation (but haven’t gotten to read yet) are:

  • Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
  • The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Agular
  • Bull by David Elliott
  • Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  • The Highest Mountain of Books in the World by Rocio Bonilla
  • King of the Bench: No Fear by Steve Moore

TBD: If we’re not mistaken, this is your last year running the fabulous New England SCBWI Conference. What have you learned from all this, and are you ready to pass out?

JF: I was co-director of the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Regional Spring Conference in 2016 and 2017 – and yes, my duties are now complete. It’s been an incredible experience working with my co-directors Heather Kelly, Sera Rivers, and Marilyn Salerno.

The NESCBWI Conference is a three-day conference (Fri-Sun) that takes place annually in Springfield, MA in late April / early May. This year we had over 700 attendees for the first time ever (to be fair, last year was 699, this year was 703). Planning duties have included:

  • Selecting and scheduling 100+ hours of breakout workshops led by about 75-100 faculty members (each year we get well over 300 workshop proposals)
  • Arranging 3-4 keynote speakers and another 3-4 keynote panels
  • Organizing bonus activities like our Portfolio Showcase, Illustration Challenge, and evening activities
  • Arranging professional critique opportunities with over two dozen literary agents, editors, and art directors
  • Countless (but necessary) logistical arrangements with online registration databases, convention/hotel/AV staff, travel-related activities, and delegation of duties to over 100 volunteers
  • And probably a lot more that I’ve already forgotten

Everything went swimmingly.

Did a New York City subway power outage cause the charter bus carrying most of the agents and editors to arrive with only minutes to spare before critiques began? Of course it did!

Did it matter that the hotel overbooked conference attendees by 14 rooms? Absolutely not!

What have I learned? Two things:

  1. Relax, it will always work out.
  2. I never want to become an event planner.

I probably would have passed out for a month … but due to the unpredictable schedules of publishing, my aforementioned book tour for The Case of the Stinky Stench started just six days later!

TBD: Tell us about The Case of the Stinky Stench. Everyone wants to know, why is the stench so stinky?

JF: Have you ever opened the fridge and smelled something funny? Have you followed that up by taking out every item until you’ve found the stinky culprit, only to find that it wasn’t the obvious ‘spoiled cheese’ or ‘rancid meat’ – but it was the last thing you’d have suspected? Who knew an innocent zucchini would turn that color? Or so that’s what happens when you put mushrooms next to mustard! (That’ll teach me to organize my fridge alphabetically.)

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast was a race for the last drop of syrup. In this sequel, I wanted to keep the setting and characters, but change up the genre. Maybe if there’s a third one it’ll be an action-spy-thriller (wink-wink).

Cover of the Case of the Stinky Stench by Josh Funk; Characters are food with eyes arms and legs

Sterling Children’s Books

In The Case of the Stinky Stench, Inspector Croissant (Sir French Toast’s nephew) joins the team and they travel through the fridge chasing suspect after suspect. Is it Baron von Waffle in his evil lair (Onion Ring Cave)? Could it be a fetid fish in Corn Chowder Lake – or is the fish a literal red herring? I won’t ‘spoil’ the ending for you (but I’ll give you a hint – it is spoiled food).

TBD: How did you manage to make Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast such a great success?

JF: Thanks for the kind words about Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, but I really can’t take credit for most of the success that it’s had.

First off, it has incredible illustrations (thanks, Brendan Kearney) and the Sterling Art Department put together a fantastic cover design. When the art started making its way around the Sterling offices, it got the Marketing and Publicity teams excited enough to create a big promotional push – they even made tote bags to give out at BookExpo! All that helped the Sterling Sales Reps get the book into stores big and small across the country.

And let’s face it, I had absolutely no control over everything in the previous paragraph.

But I did what I could. I created a book trailer:

                                            

Yes, that’s me singing (I created the whole trailer on my iPhone using the GarageBand app and iMovie).

I spend a lot of time on Twitter @joshfunkbooks sharing writing tips, educators’ blogs, other people’s good news, and generally putting out positive vibes in the kidlit world.

I attended many other author events in the years leading up to Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast’s publication. Not only did I learn a lot about what makes great events, but I met lots of authors, educators, and booksellers in the process.

I’ve tried to give back to the writing community. I co-directed the NESCBWI 2016 and 2017 Regional Conferences. I’m on the board of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA (if you’re in New England and you haven’t been – you MUST visit). I even created a 12-Step Guide to Writing Picture Books on my website – it’s basically a high level brain dump of everything I’ve learned about writing since I started.

But I think more than anything, what’s made Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast a success is the readers. Enthusiastic booksellers across the country who handsell it daily, like those at The Novel Neighbor in St. Louis and Octavia Books in New Orleans. Teachers and librarians who exuberantly share it with their students. And folks like you, The Book Doctors, who invite me to chat about it here.

TBD: How did studying computer science help (or hinder) you as a writer?

JF: I’d like you to imagine (because it’s true) that I’ve been sitting at my computer thinking about this for a very, very long time. I typed a few paragraphs, and then deleted them (because they don’t really answer the question OR have a point). I thought some more, typed some more, and deleted some more. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ultimately, the answer to your question is as follows:

I don’t think it’s helped or hindered me as a writer. I’ve been a software engineer for almost two decades. And I enjoy the day job. It’s possible that I’d had a lot of creativity bottled up over that time which is finally spilling out at a rate faster than one might expect.

So maybe the answer is that at first studying computer science hindered me as a writer, but now it’s helping? I guess it’s a wash. (Ha! Lather, rinse, repeat!)

TBD: How did you come up with all the cool extra stuff for kids: activity kits, character cards, etc.?

JF: Once again, the activity kits were all thanks to my publishers and illustrators. For Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and The Case of the Stinky Stench, Sterling’s Marketing and Publicity (and probably Art and Design) teams put them together. They’re incredible! Coloring pages, word searches, mazes, crosswords, and a whole bunch of other stuff – all free to download and print from my website on my ‘Stuff for Kids’ page!

The Case of the Stinky Stench Activity Kit; similar to book cover, but with activity kit written on the bottom

The Case of the Stinky Stench Activity Kit

Regarding the Dear Dragon and Pirasaurs! coloring pages, they were created by illustrators Rodolfo Montalvo and Michael Slack, respectively. I certainly hope that keeps going with my future books!

As far as the character cards, I was just about to order some bookmarks back in the summer of 2015 when I saw the option of ordering Collector’s Cards. At this point I realized two things:

  1. I write picture books, which rarely require bookmarks.
  2. Collector’s cards can easily be used as bookmarks.

So I began designing collector’s cards. And I had a lot of fun with that! For Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, I made one for each of the main characters. I made six different ones for Pirasaurs! (thanks to Michael Slack for his help designing those), and I made three more for The Case of the Stinky Stench.

Inspector Croissant: croissant with eyes, mouth, arms, legs, wearing a hat and walking with suitcase

Inspector Croissant collector’s card

Back of Inspector Croissant card; has information written about the character

Inspector Croissant collector’s card reverse

I even made an online quiz to determine Which Pirasaur Are You?! – I’m Bronto Beard, in case you were wondering.

Bearded Brontosaurus wearing pirate clothes

Bronto Beard collector card

TBD: What are you working on next?

JF: It’s interesting that you ask! I just spent a few hours revising [REDACTED] based on my editor’s comments. As you know, I’m very interested in the topic of [REDACTED]. And I’m excited to dive into [REDACTED], that’s gonna be fun to work on. I’ve seen some of [REDACTED]’s illustrations and they’re perfect.

In the near term, I’ve got a book called It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk coming out this fall (9.19.17), illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. It’s not just a fractured-fairy-tale – it’s a META-fractured-fairy-tale – one where Jack doesn’t want to do what the reader tells him to do. Trade his cow for five beans? That’s a terrible idea! Climb the beanstalk? But there’s probably a giant up there! This one will make for a hilarious reader’s theater – and it’s my first picture book that isn’t in rhyme. If you don’t follow Edwardian Taylor on Instagram, you’re missing out. He is an incredible character designer.

Cover of It's Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk; boy with climbing gear swinging off of a beanstalk

Two Lions

Then, in 2018 I’ve got at least two more books coming out. In the spring, it’s Albie Newton (about a genius’s attempt to make friends on his first day of school – and his classmate’s ability to accept his ‘quirks’). This one is illustrated by Ester Garay – and everything I’ve seen so far is beyond adorable!

Then, Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude is the first picture book in Macmillan’s partnership with the New York Public Library – and I got to write the story of the two lion statues (Patience and Fortitude) that guard the steps on 5th Avenue. When Patience goes missing, Fortitude must search the entire library to find him! I’d already been a fan of Stevie Lewis’ art, and when they told me she had signed on to illustrate, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

And yes, both Albie Newton and Lost in the Library are in rhyme.

TBD: How did you come up with your very entertaining live show? What have you observed that writers who present well do in common?

JF: Attending all of those author events before I released a book certainly paid off! I ‘spied’ on so many different author presentations! I learned what worked well with different ages and audience attention spans. And I definitely learned a thing or twelve from amazing performances by the likes of Ame Dyckman, Kate Messner, Tara Lazar, Bob Shea, Anna Staniszewski, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, and many others kidlit stars.

But it really comes down to one thing: know your audience. I’m reading to kids ages 0-10(ish) and their caregivers. I’ve got to be entertaining and enthusiastic for those two groups.

Not all crowds are the same. Some jokes work better in one situation vs another. But I always try to have fun – and I hope that’s what lasts in the minds of the readers.

TBD: Why is Twitter your social media platform of choice?

JF: Twitter is a great way to interact with readers. I’ve become e-friends with many educators, booksellers, writers, illustrators, and booklovers of all sorts on Twitter. And in many cases I’ve ended up getting to hang out with these folks in real life because of Twitter. I schedule most of my classroom Skype visits with teachers and librarians in Twitter chats. Sometimes teachers tweet me questions on their students’ behalf.

I’ve even attended several conferences that stemmed from Twitter relationships. This summer, I’ll be attending my third nErDcampMI, a national literacy conference for educators started by the founders of the Nerdy Book Club. The Nerdy Book Club is blog with daily guest posts (mostly by educators and authors), but it is also an unofficial ‘club’ that is open to anyone who loves books (especially those written for children). These nErDcamps are popping up everywhere (New England, Long Island, Kansas, New Jersey, Pacific Northwest, soon in North Carolina) – and they’re an amazing place to for educators to connect with each other and with book creators.

Just like most of the kidlit world, the kidlit Twitter environment is incredibly welcoming and supportive.

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

JF: Most of my advice is in the Resources for Writers section of my website, comprised of my Guide to Writing Picture Books.

Outside of that, my best piece of advice is to keep writing new things – especially when writing picture books. This is for a couple reasons:

  1. The first story you write is unlikely to be the one that sells. Get it critiqued. Revise it. It’ll be a great learning experience. But don’t revise it to death. Take what you learn from writing that first story and write another.
  2. A literary agent will want at least 3-4 picture book manuscripts they think they can sell right now before they’ll sign you – which means you probably need 6-8 that YOU think are complete.

The more you write, the better writer you’ll become. Just like I tell students during school visits – it’s like playing sports and instruments – the more you practice, the better you get. The stories I’m writing today are better than the ones I wrote two years ago, which are better than the ones I wrote two years before that (at least I think so).

So keep writing!

Thanks again for having me! I wish you a wonderful summer of reading!

Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as picture books – such as Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and its sequel The Case of the Stinky Stench along with Pirasaurs!, Dear Dragon, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, Albie Newton, Lost in the Library, and more coming soon!

Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and was the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.

Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes picture book manuscripts.

Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.

Find more information about Josh at www.joshfunkbooks.com and on twitter @joshfunkbooks.

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.

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.

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER TO RECEIVE MORE INTERVIEWS AND TIPS ON HOW TO GET PUBLISHED.

Rainbow, Baba Ram Wammalamma dingdong & the Garden of Earthly Delights

delightc-362x400SPORTING MY NUT-HUGGING ELEPHANT BELLS, I arrived in Laurel Canyon, an enchanted eucalyptus oasis in the middle of this Hollywood smogfarm metropolis. As I entered the log cabin house set behind a wildflower jasmine jungle, a solid block of patchouli incense musk nearly knocked me over. With driftwood tie-dye batik beanbags windchimes macrame´ hanging plants and Mexican day-of-the-dead skeleton art everywhere, it looked like Woodstock exploded in Rainbow’s house, as this boomed out:

“Driving that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones, you better watch your speed”

Rainbow had long straight grey hair, feather earrings and a floor length tie-dye dress with a dopey hippie happy face on it. No make-up. No shoes.

Namaste.  Enter.  Would you like some ginseng tea?” wafted out of Rainbow.

The customer’s always right. When in Rome, drink ginseng tea. While she fetched me tea I survey lots of pots of pot plants. Rainbow returned with my tea in a psychedelic homemade mug with a drawing of some dopey hippie happy face on it. The tea smelled too earthy and dank for drinking, but I brought the Mother Earth medicine scent up to my lips and sipped.

It was good. And good for me.

“Do you dig the dead?”

Rainbow looked at me like she expected something. I was confused.  Was this some weird necrophilia deal Mr. Hartley, my employment counselor/father confessor/fairy godmother/pimp, forgot to tell me about? I made a mental note: Find out what’s the going rate for having sex with dead people. But perhaps more importantly, do I feel comfortable shopping a dead person?

“I believe Jerry Garcia is the physical embodiment of the Godhead, don’t you?”

Jerry Garcia!  The Grateful Dead. That’s who belonged to that dopey hippie happy face.  Jerry Garcia! I saw me digging a grave and putting a gratefully dead Jerry Garcia in it.

“Oh yeah, Jerry Garcia is a total Godhead. Yeah, I definitely dig the Dead…”

I trotted out my best hippieboy smile. Actually, I couldn’t’ve cared less about the Dead. Or the dead. Rule #5: the customer is always right. I was there to get paid. I looked around for my envelope. No envelope. I didn’t like that. I was looking for a low-maintenance score, get in, get out, badda bing badda boom. Relax, cowboy, you’re gonna get paid, go with the flow, flowing, in the flow. Hey, someone wants to pay me to say Jerry Garcia is the physical embodiment of the Godhead, that’s Easy Money.

“Give me your hand,” Rainbow said.

I gave her the hand. She took it.

“You have big hands,” she said.

In my line of work that was a compliment.

“Thank you,” I said.

She looked at me funny, like it wasn’t a compliment at all, just a statement of fact. But she didn’t really seem to care, she looked into my palm like it held the key to the sweet mysteries of life.

GET THE MONEY UP FRONT

GET THE MONEY UP FRONT

GET THE MONEY UP FRONT

 Only the newest greenhorn in Greenhornville doesn’t get the money up front. This is what separates the rank amateur from the hard working professional. You’re not here to have a good time, Charley, you’re here to get paid.

But Rainbow had produced nothing, and I could tell she’d be just the sort who’d get all bent if a guy mentioned something as crass as cash.

So I sat and stewed as Rainbow gazed into the crystal ball of my palm.

After she stared at my palm for what seemed like a month, Rainbow was starting to seem demented. I was convinced she was a Charlie Manson groupie with a garotte she was going to use to sacrifice me and the goat I was sure was in the backyard.

I was starting to have serious doubts about Rainbow.  About this whole line of work. I had enough money. I could excuse myself like I’m going to the bathroom and walk out and just drive. But again the question: Where would I go? Who would I go to? I had nowhere. I had no one.

“You’re a very old soul…” Rainbow concluded.

You said a mouthful there, sister.

“…and you‘ve lived many lives…you were an explorer and sailed all over the world… and you were a sultan with many women. You were a mighty warrior in battle, and you were a slave on a plantation…”

Rainbow looked into me like she had periscopes that went through my eyes.

That was when I noticed her for the first time. In all the confusion I hadn’t really seen her. She had deep eyes, steel-colored with flecks of cobalt. A big Scandihoovian Bergman madly-suffering but eternally hopeful face. I half expected Death to walk out of her bedroom and challenge me to a game of chess for my soul.

“You’re here to learn a lesson, and I’m here to teach you…” Said Rainbow.

Okay, it’s a hot-for-hippy-teacher thing. I breathed easy.

“Do you know what tantric sex is?” Rainbow asked.

I could dish some semicoherent gobbledygook about ancient mystic Asian sex, but she wanted me to be the blissfully ignorant manmoonchild, so naturally I turned myself into whatever she wanted me to be. That was my job.

“No, I don’t…”

Rainbow handed me a smile, and led me through a translucent tie-dye cloth door into a bed with a room around it. It was the biggest bed I’d ever seen. Overhead, high in the tall pointed ceiling was a skylight, where incense curled up thick from fat Buddha bellies; candles tossed soft little drops of light everywhere; elephantheaded Indian gods with massive genitalia copulated with lionheaded goddesses; statue women stared with dozens of breasts; a halfman halfbull was inside a godhead with a doghead; Japanese paintings of Jade-looking beautybabies intercoursed in every position imaginable, one leg up over an ear, the other wrapped around a head; Old French postcards of cherubinesque honeys were Frenched and doggied; a guy went down (or would that be up?) on himself; and a shrine of rosebudvaginas and phalluspeni smiled.  Pillows and cushions plump velvety; blankets, fur, and fat cloth made me feel like a cat, and I wanted to roll around getting my belly stroked while nubile handmaidens fed me catnip.

A sculpture of a vagina started talking to me: “Hi, David, welcome to the party, come on in.”

And in the center of it all a big picture of a dark man with long black curly hair and brown magnets for eyes that kept staring at me no matter where I went in the room, it was freaky. He was hard and soft at the same time.  I’d never seen the guy, but he looked familiar, like he was the kind of guy who could set you straight if you were floundering around. And I was so very full of flounder at the moment.  I made a mental note to find a wise, kind, benevolent guru teacher as soon as I left Rainbow’s. I’m still looking.

“That’s Baba Ram Wammmalammadingdong,” said Rainbow.

I was sure she didn’t really say that, but that’s what it sounded like to my 17 year-old man child idiot ears, all Dr. Seussy.

“He’s the master of sensual enlightenment.”

That’s what I wanna be when I grow up: master of sensual enlightenment.

“Sexual transcendance can only happen when you are connected to the life force that flows through all living things,” breathed Rainbow. “You have to open, I mean really open, all of your… shock absorbers.”

Years later I would realize it was my chakras and not my shock absorbers that needed opening, but at the time I couldn’t care less.  I’d open my shock absorbers, my athletic supporters my cookie jar, whatever she wanted. I just needed to get paid, and I needed to get paid IMMEDIATELY. I was seeking enlightenment through cold hard cash.

“Why don’t we start by meditating?”

Rainbow settled into a big comfy-womfy cushy cushion crosslegged, and motioned for me to do the same.

I balked. I’m naturally curious by nature, I was very interested in the whole third-eye transcendent sex thing, and picking up some exotic kinky eastern sex tips would’ve been grand, but I had to get my money UP FRONT.

I sighed quiet. I knew for a fact it will not help us achieve harmony with the life force that flows through all living things if I told Rainbow she needed to pay me IMMEDIATELY.

I was dreadfully dithered.

But just when things were looking their most dodgy, the gods smiled upon me, and Rainbow, God love her, new what I needed and could not ask for.

“Oh, shit, you need some bread, don’t you?” she said.

I could’ve cried. I saw this as a clearcut sign that I was being taken care of by something bigger than myself.

Rainbow got out of crosslegged, rummaged through an old macrame´ bag, and returned with four skanky twenties, a nasty ten, a funky five, four filthy ones and a bunch of loose change, then handed me the whole kitandkaboodle.

I was starting to dig this crazy chick. I could see her scrimping and saving to give herself a treat. Me. I was the treat for my trick. I vowed then and there to be a pot of gold for this Rainbow.

“Opening the gate that leads to the garden of earthly delights can only be achieved through a woman’s pleasure.”

Rainbow paused to make sure I got it.

“Opening the gate that leads to the garden of earthly delights can only be achieved through a woman’s pleasure.”

She looked at me intensely, so I understood how important this was.

So I thought about it hard.  It was comforting to have someone telling me what to think about. I didn’t have to make any decisions, and that moment, decisions were just disasters waiting to happen.

Garden of earthly delights. A woman’s pleasure. A woman’s orgasm.  Tumblers click in my head, a lock snapped open, and I saw the light. A woman’s pleasure was the key to sexual ecstasy. Now that I had my money, I was keenly interested in this whole thing.

“A man can have multiple orgasms… most people don’t know that, but it’s true. And I can show you how to do it.” Rainbow said with absolute conviction.

Multiple orgasms? Hell, I had one and it nearly kills me. But I was crazy curious to see if I could incorporate some clitoris into my penis.

“There’s a line where your orgasm is, it’s kinda like a waterfall. See, it’s like you’re in a beautiful warm river, and the current is pulling you along, and you’re headed towards the waterfall, you’re getting closer and closer… until you’re hanging right there on the edge of the waterfall, but you’re not letting yourself go over.  You just get inside your own orgasm, and you can stay there as long as you want, as long as you don’t release. Do you know what release  means?”

Yeah, I think I got the idea.

“No, what do you mean?” I asked.

“Your release is your ejaculation. So you can orgasm without ejaculating,” Rainbow said carefully.

And the weird thing was, I knew exactly what she meant. River, waterfalls, release, the whole shebang.

“I know it sounds totally… far out… but if you can wrap your cosmic mind around this, you’ll always have lots of groovy lovemaking in your life. You probably won’t get it tonight, but it’s something you can always practice. By yourself, with a partner, doesn’t matter. In the words of Baba Ram Wammalammadingdong, ‘Practice makes perfect.’”

I was starting to really like this Wammalammadingdong guy.

“Wow, that sounds… far out.” I’d never said far out before or since, but Rainbow ate it up like wavy gravy with a tie-dye spoon.

She took off her robe. She was the only industrial sex customer I ever had who took off her clothes while I still had mine on. And for an old broad (again with the proviso that anyone over the age of twenty-five years was Old) she had a riproaring body. Supple muscles firm lithe and graceful, breasts slung low, with big brown chocolate kiss nipples in the middle. Mental note to self: as far as books go, don’t judge them by their covers.

Rainbow seemed to be one of those rare people who was actually comfortable with her own naked body.

“You have a beautiful body…”  I would’ve said it whether it was true or not, but in this case it was true, which did make it easier.

She liked it. She wasn’t desperate like lots of my other clients, but she liked it.

“Do whatever makes you happy,” said Rainbow.

“Do you want me to take my clothes off?” Just trying to keep the customer satisfied.

Wow. Whatever made me happy. Reminded me of my mom. No one said that to me in real life, never mind when I was chickening.

Seemed like if you were gonna learn to orgasm without ejaculating, you should be naked. So I took off my clothes.  Rainbow set opposite me crosslegged on that continent of a bed. I tried, but I just couldn’t get the crosslegged thing going.  My pedophile grandfather’s coalminer soccerplaying legs were just too unyielding. I was tugging and pulling, cuz I was trying to suck it up and play through the pain, but damn, that shit hurt.

“Don’t do it if it hurts. Don’t do anything that hurts…” Rainbow flows. You gotta hand it to the hippies, when it comes to peace and love and all that business, they really know their shit.

Rainbow showed me how to deepbreathe, and we deepbreathe until we felt the life force flowing through us. I didn’t actually feel the life force flowing through me as such, but she did, and that was good enough for me. The crumpled bills in my pocket were filling me with the life force.

Rainbow and I Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmed for about a fortnight. Eventually I did feel a little lightheaded, like when I first smoked a cigarette. But hey, if she wanted to pay me to breathe and say om, that was rolling off a log for a chicken.

Finally when Rainbow was om’d out, she took my hand, placed it on her breast, looked me in the eyes, and with a hypnotic smile showed me how to roll that mammoth mammarian poolcue tip between my thumb and forefinger, and it got bigger and tighter, until it felt like it was ready to pop, while she made airsuck sounds of pleasure.

I could smell her now, Rainbowing as she made my hand the axis between her legs around which she gyrated, nestling my head into her neck and whispering, “Kiss me soft…”

I ate her neck like a fruitcake while she revved in growly moans, everything moved in rhythm like a well-oiled sex machine, the fur blanket softly soft as she guided me like an air traffic controller. Then Rainbow replaced my hand with my mouth and she huffed and she puffed like she was gonna blow the house down, jimjamming and earthquakeshaking.

I smiled inside. I was getting a crash course in the fine art of a woman’s orgasm, and I was getting paid for it. America–what a country!

“Now I’m right there,” she pants, “…if I let myself, I’d go right over the waterfall… but… I’m… not… I’m gonna stay… right here and let the… waves roll through me… there’s one… slow down… Stop!” Rainbow squeezed, fists clenching and unclenching like a baby breastfeeding, “…now slow… there’s another one… ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… God…”

Rainbow let rip with a top-of-the-lungs scream. A gigantic little death. When she collapsed at the tip of my tongue, I understood for the first time what they were talking about, as time warped, Einstein smiling somewhere, eternity in a second, infinity in a grain of sand.

I thought of busting my ass in the grease of Hollywood Fried Chicken.  I thought of my father slaving away at the explosives plan. I thought about my grandfather shovelling coal down the mine. I sure as hell wouldn’t be getting black lung disease from this.

A rainbow slowly descended from Orgasm Mountain, while I stood next to her, nakedly rolling my big huge rock up my big huge hill.

After a brief intermission, Act II began. She pulled me into the river, took me right to the edge of the waterfalls, and then stopped. The most important thing, she said, was to turn off your mind, and move into your body. You can’t think and swim at the same time.

Once a man plunges over the waterfalls in his barrel, of course, it’s all over for him. For a while at least.  So you have to be very careful and really pay attention. I practiced getting right on the edge and just sticking there. And it was good. When she did something particularly compelling, I felt the spray in my face and the pull of the fall, and by God, quivers did quiver me, then I quickly pulled myself back.

Rainbow was my Seeingeyesexdog.

“Wow, that was groovy…” I said, when it was clear we were done.

Groovy? I couldn’t believe that came out of my mouth, but as usual I’d ceased to exist in my need  to please.

I didn’t know what to do next. Should I hang out? Were we friends? I thought for a minute. I still didn’t feel that creeping mudslide of depression I usually got after I worked as a chicken. I was just a little confused, that’s all. But looking around I could see myself moving right in here and being the sextoy for all of Rainbow’s old greatbodied freakyhippie chicks. Sounded like fun, I think, as I grabbed at another salvation flotation device.

“I have something for you…” Rainbow was sweet as you please, slipping into an old soft tie-dye robe. I followed at her heels like a naked chickenpuppy. She reached in a drawer and I was expecting a nice fat juicy tip. Twenty, maybe fifty. Instead Rainbow pulled the out a feather.

A feather.

“It’s an earring,” said Rainbow.

I had to work hard not to show how totally disgusted I was as I took out the rhinestone in my ear and replaced it with the feather. I looked in the mirror. To my amazement, I actually liked the way it looked. Kind of tribal. Even though I silently scoffed when she presented it to me, that feather became a war souvenir, and I wore it on and off for many years.

And whenever I did, I thought of Rainbow.

She kissed me on both cheeks. She thanked me. I thanked her. She didn’t say we should get together again soon, or that we should stay in touch. I loved that. I did what I came to do, we both got what we wanted, and that, as they say, was that.

Rainbow was the only trick I ever had who gave me more than I gave her.

Motorcycling away from Rainbow, floating on my feather earring in the sweetness of the cool Laurel Canyon night, I was high on Rainbow’s free love.

That she paid for.

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.

Rainbow, the Hippie Yoga Chick Who Paid Me to Learn About Tantric Sex

From my new book Chicken Self:-Portrait of a Man for Rent, 10 Year Anniversary Edition chicken 10 year anniversary cover

I was 17, studying existentialism at Immaculate Heart College, when I got sucked into the sex business in Hollywood.  I didn’t mean to.  It’s not like I thought, “I have no money, I have no family, I have no resources, I think I’d like to have sex for money.”  I was just in the right place at the right time.  That’s how it is with lots of the sex workers I know.

Sporting my nut hugging elephant bells, I arrived in Laurel Canyon, an enchanted eucalyptus oasis in the middle of this Hollywood smogfarm metropolis.  As I entered the log cabin house set behind a wildflower jasmine jungle, a solid block of patchouli incense musk nearly knocked me over.  With driftwood tie-dye batik beanbags windchimes macrame´ hanging plants and Mexican day-of-the-dead skeleton art everywhere, it looked like Woodstock exploded in Rainbow’s house, as this boomed out:

“Driving that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones, you better watch your speed”

Rainbow had long straight grey hair, feather earrings and a floor length tie-dye dress with a dopey hippie happy face on it.  No make-up.  No shoes.

“Namaste.  Enter.  Would you like some ginseng tea?” wafted out of Rainbow.

The customer’s always right.  When in Rome, drink ginseng tea.  While she fetched me tea I survey lots of pots of pot plants.  Rainbow returned with my tea in a psychedelic homemade mug with a drawing of some dopey hippie happy face on it.  The tea smelled too earthy and dank for drinking, but I brought the Mother Earth medicine scent up to my lips and siped.

It was good.  And good for me.

“Do you dig the dead?”

Rainbow looked at me like she expected something.  I was confused.  Was this some weird necrophilia deal Mr. Hartley, my employment counselor/father confessor/fairy godmother/pimp, forgot to tell me about?  I made a mental note: Find out what’s the going rate for having sex with dead people.  But perhaps more importantly, do I feel comfortable shopping a dead person?

“I believe Jerry Garcia is the physical embodiment of the Godhead, don’t you?”

Jerry Garcia!   The Grateful Dead.  That’s who belonged to that dopey hippie happy face.  Jerry Garcia!  I saw me digging a grave and putting a gratefully dead Jerry Garcia in it.

“Oh yeah, Jerry Garcia is a total Godhead.  Yeah, I definitely dig the Dead…”

I trotted out my best hippieboy smile.  Actually, I couldn’t’ve cared less about the Dead.  Or the dead.  Rule #5: the customer is always right.  I was there to get paid.  I looked around for my envelope.  No envelope.  I didn’t like that.  I was looking for a low-maintenance score, get in, get out, badda bing badda boom.  Relax, cowboy, you’re gonna get paid, go with the flow, flowing, in the flow.  Hey, someone wants to pay me to say Jerry Garcia is the physical embodiment of the Godhead, that’s Easy Money.

“Give me your hand,” Rainbow said.

I gave her the hand.  She took it.

“You have big hands,” she said.

In my line of work that was a compliment.

“Thank you,” I said.

She looked at me funny, like it wasn’t a compliment at all, just a statement of fact.  But she didn’t really seem to care, she looked into my palm like it held the key to the sweet mysteries of life.

GET THE MONEY UP FRONT

GET THE MONEY UP FRONT

GET THE MONEY UP FRONT

 Only the newest greenhorn in Greenhornville doesn’t get the money up front.  This is what separates the rank amateur from the hard working professional.  You’re not here to have a good time, Charley, you’re here to get paid.

But Rainbow had produced nothing, and I could tell she’d be just the sort who’d get all bent if a guy mentioned something as crass as cash.

So I sat and stewed as Rainbow gazed into the crystal ball of my palm.

After she stared at my palm for what seemed like a month, Rainbow was starting to seem demented.  I was convinced she was a Charlie Manson groupie with a garotte she was going to use to sacrifice me and the goat I was sure was in the backyard.

I was starting to have serious doubts about Rainbow.  About this whole line of work.  I had enough money.  I could excuse myself like I’m going to the bathroom and walk out and just drive.  But again the question: Where would I go?  Who would I go to?  I had nowhere.  I had no one.

“You’re a very old soul…” Rainbow concluded.

You said a mouthful there, sister.

“…and you‘ve lived many lives…you were an explorer and sailed all over the world… and you were a sultan with many women.  You were a mighty warrior in battle, and you were a slave on a plantation…”

Rainbow looked into me like she had periscopes that went through my eyes.

That was when I noticed her for the first time.  In all the confusion I hadn’t really seen her.  She had deep eyes, steel-colored with flecks of cobalt.  A big Scandihoovian Bergman madly-suffering but eternally hopeful face.  I half expected Death to walk out of her bedroom and challenge me to a game of chess for my soul.

“You’re here to learn a lesson, and I’m here to teach you…” Said Rainbow.

Okay, it’s a hot-for-hippy-teacher thing.  I breathed easy.

“Do you know what tantric sex is?” Rainbow asked.

I could dish some semicoherent gobbledygook about ancient mystic Asian sex, but she wanted me to be the blissfully ignorant manmoonchild, so naturally I turned myself into whatever she wanted me to be.  That was my job.

“No, I don’t…”

Rainbow handed me a smile, and led me through a translucent tie-dye cloth door into a bed with a room around it.  It was the biggest bed I’d ever seen.  Overhead, high in the tall pointed ceiling was a skylight, where incense curled up thick from fat Buddha bellies; candles tossed soft little drops of light everywhere; elephantheaded Indian gods with massive genitalia copulated with lionheaded goddesses; statue women stared with dozens of breasts; a halfman halfbull was inside a godhead with a doghead; Japanese paintings of Jade-looking beautybabies intercoursed in every position imaginable, one leg up over an ear, the other wrapped around a head; Old French postcards of cherubinesque honeys were Frenched and doggied; a guy went down (or would that be up?) on himself; and a shrine of rosebudvaginas and phalluspeni smiled.  Pillows and cushions plump velvety; blankets, fur, and fat cloth made me feel like a cat, and I wanted to roll around getting my belly stroked while nubile handmaidens fed me catnip.

A sculpture of a vagina started talking to me: “Hi, David, welcome to the party, come on in.”

And in the center of it all a big picture of a dark man with long black curly hair and brown magnets for eyes that kept staring at me no matter where I went in the room, it was freaky.  He was hard and soft at the same time.  I’d never seen the guy, but he looked familiar, like he was the kind of guy who could set you straight if you were floundering around.  And I was so very full of flounder at the moment.  I made a mental note to find a wise, kind, benevolent guru teacher as soon as I left Rainbow’s.  I’m still looking.

“That’s Baba Ram Wammmalammadingdong,” said Rainbow.

I was sure she didn’t really say that, but that’s what it sounded like to my 17 year-old man child idiot ears, all Dr. Seussy.

“He’s the master of sensual enlightenment.”

That’s what I wanna be when I grow up: master of sensual enlightenment.

“Sexual transcendance can only happen when you are connected to the life force that flows through all living things,” breathed Rainbow.  “You have to open, I mean really open, all of your… shock absorbers.”

Years later I would realize it was my chakras and not my shock absorbers that needed opening, but at the time I couldn’t care less.  I’d open my shock absorbers, my athletic supporters, my cookie jar, whatever she wanted.  I just needed to get paid, and I needed to get paid IMMEDIATELY.  I was seeking enlightenment through cold hard cash.

“Why don’t we start by meditating?”

Rainbow settled into a big comfy-womfy cushy cushion crosslegged, and motioned for me to do the same.

I balked.  I’m naturally curious by nature, I was very interested in the whole third-eye transcendent sex thing, and picking up some exotic kinky eastern sex tips would’ve been grand, but I had to get my money UP FRONT.

I sighed quiet.  I knew for a fact it will not help us achieve harmony with the life force that flows through all living things if I told Rainbow she needed to pay me IMMEDIATELY.

I was dreadfully dithered.

But just when things were looking their most dodgy, the gods smiled upon me, and Rainbow, God love her, new what I needed and could not ask for.

“Oh, shit, you need some bread, don’t you?” she said.

I could’ve cried.  I saw this as a clearcut sign that I was being taken care of by something bigger than myself.

Rainbow got out of crosslegged, rummaged through an old macrame´ bag, and returned with four skanky twenties, a nasty ten, a funky five, four filthy ones and a bunch of loose change, then handed me the whole kitandkaboodle.

I was starting to dig this crazy chick.  I could see her scrimping and saving to give herself a treat.  Me.  I was the treat for my trick.  I vowed then and there to be a pot of gold for this Rainbow.

“Opening the gate that leads to the garden of earthly delights can only be achieved through a woman’s pleasure.”

Rainbow paused to make sure I got it.

“Opening the gate that leads to the garden of earthly delights can only be achieved through a woman’s pleasure.”

She looked at me intensely, so I understood how important this was.

So I thought about it hard.  It was comforting to have someone telling me what to think about.  I didn’t have to make any decisions, and that moment, decisions were just disasters waiting to happen.

Garden of earthly delights.  A woman’s pleasure.  A woman’s orgasm.  Tumblers click in my head, a lock snapped open, and I saw the light.  A woman’s pleasure was the key to sexual ecstasy.  Now that I had my money, I was keenly interested in this whole thing.

“A man can have multiple orgasms… most people don’t know that, but it’s true.  And I can show you how to do it.” Rainbow said with absolute conviction.

Multiple orgasms?  Hell, I had one and it nearly kills me.  But I was crazy curious to see if I could incorporate some clitoris into my penis.

“There’s a line where your orgasm is, it’s kinda like a waterfall.  See, it’s like you’re in a beautiful warm river, and the current is pulling you along, and you’re headed towards the waterfall, you’re getting closer and closer… until you’re hanging right there on the edge of the waterfall, but you’re not letting yourself go over.  You just get inside your own orgasm, and you can stay there as long as you want, as long as you don’t release.  Do you know what release  means?”

Yeah, I think I got the idea.

“No, what do you mean?” I asked.

“Your release is your ejaculation.  So you can orgasm without ejaculating,” Rainbow said carefully.

And the weird thing was, I knew exactly what she meant.  River, waterfalls, release, the whole shebang.

“I know it sounds totally… far out… but if you can wrap your cosmic mind around this, you’ll always have lots of groovy lovemaking in your life.  You probably won’t get it tonight, but it’s something you can always practice.  By yourself, with a partner, doesn’t matter.  In the words of Baba Ram Wammalammadingdong, ‘Practice makes perfect.’”

I was starting to really like this Wammalammadingdong guy.

“Wow, that sounds… far out.” I’d never said far out before or since, but Rainbow ate it up like wavy gravy with a tie-dye spoon.

She took off her robe.  She was the only industrial sex customer I ever had who took off her clothes while I still had mine on.  And for an old broad (again with the proviso that anyone over the age of twenty-five years was Old) she had a riproaring body.  Supple muscles firm lithe and graceful, breasts slung low, with big brown chocolate kiss nipples in the middle.  Mental note to self: as far as books go, don’t judge them by their covers.

Rainbow seemed to be one of those rare people who was actually comfortable with her own naked body.

“You have a beautiful body…”  I would’ve said it whether it was true or not, but in this case it was true, which did makes it easier.

She liked it.  She wasn’t desperate like lots of my other clients, but she liked it.

“Do whatever makes you happy,” said Rainbow.

“Do you want me to take my clothes off?” Just trying to keep the customer satisfied.

Wow.  Whatever made me happy.  Reminded me of my mom.  No one said that to me in real life, never mind when I was chickening.

Seemed like if you were gonna learn to orgasm without ejaculating, you should be naked.  So I took off my clothes.  Rainbow set opposite me crosslegged on that continent of a bed.  I tried, but I just couldn’t get the crosslegged thing going.  My pedophile grandfather’s coalminer soccerplaying legs were just too unyielding.  I was tugging and pulling, cuz I was trying to suck it up and play through the pain, but damn, that shit hurt.

“Don’t do it if it hurts.  Don’t do anything that hurts…” Rainbow flows.  You gotta hand it to the hippies, when it comes to peace and love and all that business, they really know their shit.

Rainbow showed me how to deepbreathe, and we deepbreathe until we felt the life force flowing through us.  I didn’t actually feel the life force flowing through me as such, but she did, and that was good enough for me.  The crumpled bills in my pocket were filling me with the life force.

Rainbow and I Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmed for about a fortnight.  Eventually I did feel a little lightheaded, like when I first smoked a cigarette.  But hey, if she wanted to pay me to breathe and say om, that was rolling off a log for a chicken.

Finally when Rainbow was om’d out, she took my hand, placed it on her breast, looked me in the eyes, and with a hypnotic smile showed me how to roll that mammoth mammarian poolcue tip between my thumb and forefinger, and it got bigger and tighter, until it felt like it was ready to pop, while she made airsuck sounds of pleasure.

I could smell her now, Rainbowing as she made my hand the axis between her legs around which she gyrated, nestling my head into her neck and whispering, “Kiss me soft…”

I ate her neck like a fruitcake while she revved in growly moans, everything moved in rhythm like a well-oiled sex machine, the fur blanket softly soft as she guided me like an air traffic controller.  Then Rainbow replaced my hand with my mouth and she huffed and she puffed like she was gonna blow the house down, jimjamming and earthquakeshaking.

I smiled inside.  I was getting a crash course in the fine art of a woman’s orgasm, and I was getting paid for it.  America–what a country!

“Now I’m right there,” she pants, “…if I let myself, I’d go right over the waterfall… but… I’m… not… I’m gonna stay… right here and let the… waves roll through me… there’s one… slow down… Stop!” Rainbow squeezed, fists clenching and unclenching like a baby breastfeeding, “…now slow… there’s another one… ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… God…”

Rainbow let rip with a top-of-the-lungs scream.  A gigantic little death.  When she collapsed at the tip of my tongue, I understood for the first time what they were talking about, as time warped, Einstein smiling somewhere, eternity in a second, infinity in a grain of sand.

I thought of busting my ass in the grease of Hollywood Fried Chicken.  I thought of my father slaving away at the explosives plant.  I thought about my grandfather shovelling coal down the mine.  I sure as hell wouldn’t be getting black lung disease from this.

A rainbow slowly descended from Orgasm Mountain, while I stood next to her, nakedly rolling my big huge rock up my big huge hill.

After a brief intermission, Act II began.  She pulled me into the river, took me right to the edge of the waterfalls, and then stopped.  The most important thing, she said, was to turn off your mind, and move into your body.  You can’t think and swim at the same time.

Once a man plunges over the waterfalls in his barrel, of course, it’s all over for him.  For a while at least.  So you have to be very careful and really pay attention.  I practiced getting right on the edge and just sticking there.  And it was good.  When she did something particularly compelling, I felt the spray in my face and the pull of the fall, and by God, quivers did quiver me, then I quickly pulled myself back.

Rainbow was my Seeingeye sexdog.

“Wow, that was groovy…” I said, when it was clear we were done.

Groovy?  I couldn’t believe that came out of my mouth, but as usual I’d ceased to exist in my need  to please.

I didn’t know what to do next.  Should I hang out?  Were we friends?  I thought for a minute.  I still didn’t feel that creeping mudslide of depression I usually got after I worked as a chicken.  I was just a little confused, that’s all.  But looking around I could see myself moving right in here and being the sextoy for all of Rainbow’s old greatbodied freakyhippie chicks.  Sounded like fun, I think, as I grabbed at another salvation flotation device.

“I have something for you…” Rainbow was sweet as you please, slipping into an old soft tie-dye robe.  I followed at her heels like a naked chickenpuppy.  She reached in a drawer and I was expecting a nice fat juicy tip.  Twenty, maybe fifty.  Instead Rainbow pulled the out a feather.

A feather.

“It’s an earring,” said Rainbow.

I had to work hard not to show how totally disgusted I was as I took out the rhinestone in my ear and replaced it with the feather.  I looked in the mirror.  To my amazement, I actually liked the way it looked.  Kind of tribal.  Even though I silently scoffed when she presented it to me, that feather became a war souvenir, and I wore it on and off for many years.

And whenever I did, I thought of Rainbow.

She kissed me on both cheeks.  She thanked me.  I thanked her.  She didn’t say we should get together again soon, or that we should stay in touch.  I loved that.  I did what I came to do, we both got what we wanted, and that, as they say, was that.

Rainbow was the only trick I ever had who gave me more than I gave her.

Motorcycling away from Rainbow, floating on my feather earring in the sweetness of the cool Laurel Canyon night, I was high on Rainbow’s free love.

That she paid for.

If having sex for money were always this good, I’d still be an industrial sex technician.

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 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 www.davidhenrysterry.com.  https://davidhenrysterry.com/

 

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