Tag: bowery poetry club
“They Walk Among Us” is something from a ‘50’s space invaders movie, a tag line from the McCarthy era, and an accurate description of sex workers in clubs. The oldest profession thrives in late night venues, where liquored-up potential Johns with about as much chance of scoring as the New York Jets are easy marks. Tables filled with big spenders invariably attract ladies of the evening, especially when they’ve already been agitated by waitresses who in some quarters have been described as “half-hookers.” The man who just laid out $5,000 on sticky liquids probably isn’t going to get laid after all, and there lies an opportunity.
There are plenty of people looking for opportunity in this big city. After all that Beau Joie champagne, opportunities seem to present themselves. The girls, and sometimes the guys, walk among us. They are the models or actors who never get up early for a casting, are between agents. They are the beauties with no visible means of support other than the ones provided by Victoria’s Secret. It’s done with a whisper and a touch. It’s advertised by word of mouth. It’s everywhere. Some are actual escorts looking for one last score to top off the night. These working girls slip past door people with a wink and an air kiss. The door people wink back and watch them slip back into the night a half hour later with their prey in tow. There are unspoken and spoken rules of behavior, but the pros know how to handle business and the people working in clubs understand how things work.
In Vegas it’s all around, as obvious as the neon, but here you have to squint a little, ignore the lights and sound to see it. The clubs are filled with the unemployed, who wear nice shoes, live in apartments, and stay out late every night. Some actually have parental support or have their own money, but many depend on the kindness of strangers.
With that in mind, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas everywhere I ho. This Friday at 9pm at the Bowery Poetry Club, my pal Zoe Hanson will host her Sex Worker Literati Ho-Ho-Ho-Holiday Party. It’s readings from ho’s, hookers, call girls, and rent boys—with help from friends and allies. It is an xxxmas xtravaganza, with stories from Raff from Cycle Sluts from Hell, Michael Alago & Keith Caputo, and many more perverts or reformed perverts. Speaking of which, our favorite rabbit, Heather Litteer, is dancing. Zoe told me, “These monthly readings have picked up a rather nice following, and I enjoy hosting. I have a Sonny & Cher thing going with David Sterry, it’s rather amusing to take the piss out of him, which my audience finds hilarious! Of course done with kindness & just a touch of Zoe domination!” From the press release:
“Sex Worker Literati is the slutty child of the groundbreaking and internationally acclaimed anthology Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys, which shocked America by rocketing onto the front page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review, and gave voice to PhDs and high school dropouts, soccer moms and jailbirds, $5,000 a night call girls, $10 crack hos and hard-working rent boys. David Henry Sterry and Zoe Hansen will ride herd over an all-star lineup of the finest ho writer/performers money can buy.”
There will be a sex worker quiz and giveaway, and there’s no cover – the first time this crew hasn’t charged in decades. The press release comes with a tag line that sounds rather clever: “In the exchange of sex for money a window opens into the soul.” I will ask one of my ex-wives to explain it to me, they should know.
Besides David Henry Sterry, who is described as “Ex-teen manchild ho, ex-sitcom actor, Huffington Post muckraker, and author,” and Zoe “Ex-madame, ex-junky, ex-hooker, and memoirist,” readers will include Mary Raffaele, a former metal queen singer in Cycle Sluts From Hell, who wrote a memoir chronicling misadventures of a Midwestern girl who moved to New York to seek glamour in the lowest of places; Christina Cicchelli, a AVN nominee and Feminist Porn Award winner; Matthew Lawrence, a writer and curator who will tell tales of why he wasn’t a very good escort; Keith Caputo, ex-Life Of Agony front man who once worked with Flea & Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Björk, David Bowie, and the Pixies; and Michael Alago, who is famous for discovering Metallica. Michael is a talent scout, producer and writer who worked with Nina Simone, Johnny Rotten, Rob Zombie and Cyndi Lauper. He also turned to photography and put out the book “Rough Gods.” This event will of course attract all the unusual suspects including sweet, innocent me. http://www.blackbookmag.com/article/ho-ho-hos-sex-at-the-holiday-party/23976
Give a nice shout-out: The Perfect Sunday Nove 28: go to the park, the Whitney, a Broadway show, the Blue Note, & Sex Worker Literati, @ Bowery Poetry Club, 7pm.
This story starts when I was 17, alone in Hollywood with $27 in the pocket of my nuthugging elephantbells. I had just arrived to begin my collegiate career at Immaculate Heart College, where I planned to study existential under a bunch of radical nuns. That night, while admiring Marilyn Monroe’s handprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, I was approached by a very charming man wearing a shirt emblazoned with the word: SEXY. He invited me back to his place for steak. Turned out to be the most expensive steak of my life. The steak was drugged . SEXY raped me. I escaped with my life. But the happy-go-lucky lad who breezed into that apartment died in that room. SEXY killed him. I sprinted out of there broken and bleeding. Within the week I was in the sex business. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The part of my brain responsible for emotion was engorged, and the part responsible for communication shriveled. I was a living breathing fully-loaded semi-automatic weapon just looking for an excuse to go off. So given my economic situation, (making minimum-wage frying chicken), my alienation from my parents, and my newly acquired mental illness, it seemed absolutely like my best option. I was in the sex business for nine months. One human gestation period. But it changed me forever, and in ways I wasn’t even aware of for years to come. Certainly I had great times in that world, and made gigantic money for a person my age and with my work experience. But I also downloaded the sexual trauma I encountered in that world, and it infected me like a virus.
I became a sex addict and a cocaine addict. Which is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. In my mid 30s I realized that if I didn’t change I was going to die, or my penis was going to fall off. I’m not sure which scared me more. I knew I had to find a panic mechanic. Fast. Since I was living back in Los Angeles, naturally I found a hypnotherapist. She gave me some tools to stop my sick twisted behavior, and helped me unraveled the huge gnarly knots inside myself. I was a professional screenwriter at the time, so she suggested I write about my experiences. Thus was born my memoir Chicken. Writing down the most miserable things that ever happened to me helped me understand why I became a man child rent boy. It helped me embrace my inner ho. See myself as the survivor not the victim. Accept responsibility and not blame everyone else. Appreciate the good and not obsess about the bad. Do things that made me happy and healthy instead of miserable than sick.
When that book came out it changed my life and I was so grateful I was overwhelmed by a fierce desire to help somebody. Be of service. So I decided to start a writing program for people who’d been arrested for prostitution. For two years every Tuesday me and my ex-literary agent/current wife would go down into a basement of a nonprofit organization and run a writing group. The hos, hookers, call girls and rent boys we worked with wrote shocking, funny, smart, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping stories. And they always left the workshop in a better mood than they arrived. As did we. Part of my mission became to put a human face on these people who are glorified and stigmatized, worshiped and reviled, spat upon and paid outrageous sums of money. Thus was born the anthology, Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Boys.
One of the great things about prostitutes is that they are amazing networkers. They pretty much have to be. So I put out the word that I was looking for writing by people in the sex business. Me and my partner Richard Martin were flooded with submissions. I was already the author of a bunch of books by then so I started shopping the anthology. I showed it to my agents. Not interested. I showed it to other agents. Even less interested. I showed it to publishers I knew at HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and lots of the big boys of publishing. They laughed at me. Or ignored me. On to the small publishers. Nothing. University presses seemed like the next logical choice, since this is really a piece of American oral history. No pun intended.. I actually got the head guy at Duke University on the phone. He told me in a disdainful, dismissive, condescending, adenoidal and freezing cold tone that this was certainly not the kind of book published by Duke University. He told me they preferred material that was much less vulgar, rude, crude and illiterate. Finally I approached places like Joe’s Publishing Co., where you call the number listed on the website and a guy answers, “Hi I’m Joe, can I publish your book?” Even Joe turned me down.
After a year my partner Richard was ready to give up. I was furious. I knew I had something valuable. Even though “experts” from the top to the bottom of the food chain told me that I was a deluded, moronic ex-ho. Objectively, in the face of universal rejection, I should’ve quit. I did not. Me and Richard worked our asses off to make the proposal better, refining, buffing and polishing. Then I came up with the title. I did it with this game that we use to come up with titles. You get a bunch of your intelligent friends, if you have any, you get a bunch of drugs and alcohol, and you write down every single word you can think of related to your subject. Then you just start mixing and matching. That’s how I came up with Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Boys. And I kept asking every single person I knew, wherever I went. Finally I got connected to a guy named Richard Nash, who ran Soft Skull Press. A week later we had a book deal. They gave us such a tiny advance that by the time we ended up paying all the writers, me and Richard lost money on the deal. But we were ecstatic.
We were even more ecstatic when our Little Ho Book That Could, the redheaded step-child nobody wanted, ended up on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. I happened to be in Hollywood doing my Sex Worker Literati show to promote the book, when I got a call from my agent. Marta Kauffman, co-creator of Friends, wanted to talk to me about the anthology. I was excited yet slightly confused. Why was someone in the center of American culture interested in our book, which was so rooted in America’s dark, dank, filthy underbelly? I tried to imagine a show about a group of perky, attractive, funny, fresh-faced BFF-sex workers trying to deal with life, love and turning tricks. Sure, I thought, why not? As I drove up to our meeting, I was expecting much Hollywood slickness. But Marta was just like people I worked with in the theater for 20 years. After we had our getting-to-know-you chat she told me how taken she was by Hos, Hookers. How she had a vision of the characters and stories being brought to life as a modern dance piece, realized by some breathtaking choreographers. Would I be interested in something like?
My eyes popped while jaw dropped. I would’ve never imagined this scenario in million years. But I liked it. Sex is, after all, the ultimate primal dance. And when sex is exchanged for money, a window opens into the human soul. What a great way to let people to take a peek.
Yes, I said. Yes.
Writing down the worst thing that ever happened to me was the final piece of my odyssey from out-of-control self-destruction, working at Chippendales, acting on Fresh Prince of Bel Air, writing screenplay for Disney, living in a fancy house in the hills; to getting my head cracked open, almost dying from a massive coke overdose, having my house stolen, and going bankrupt; to making Ross, Rachel, Joey and Chandler end up in the same sentence as Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Boys.
David Henry Sterry is the author, with Richard Martin, of the anthology Hos, Hookers, Call Girls & Rent Boys. He runs the monthly reading series Sex Worker Literati, giving voice to sex workers telling their stories about the exchange of sex for money, at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. The next show is November 28, 2010. https://davidhenrysterry.com/ http://www.facebook.com/sexworkerliterati
I can’t tell you how supremo-psyched I am that Toni will be gracing us with her bad ass. Toni Bentley was a dancer with George Ballanchine’s New York City Ballet. She is the author of many books, including The Surrender, which was name one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books 0f 2004. Her essay, “The Bad Lion” is appearing in “Best American Essays 2010” published this month edited by Christopher Hitchens. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a regular contributor to the New York Times, and speaks at Harvard. http://www.tonibentley.com
Sex Worker Literati is moving uptown – and by uptown we mean the Bowery – for a lust-drenched 1 year anniversary cavalcade extravaganza. After packing them in downtown every month for year, Sex Worker Literati sheds its skin and reinvents itself at the great East Village landmark that has come to represent the finest in words: Bowery Poetry Club. Besides our usual collection of stranger than fiction tales from the seething underbelly of America’s sex trenches, we’re adding ultra-live music and brazen, bawdy burlesque. It hardly seems a year since the groundbreaking anthology Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys shocked America by rocketing onto the front page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. Giving voice to an under represented population that is glorified and reviled, fetishized and stigmatized, worshiped and spat upon, from $5000 a night call girls to $10 crack hos to hard-working rent boys, Sex Worker Literati is the living breathing embodiment of this internationally acclaimed anthology. In the flesh. David Henry Sterry and Zoe Hansen will be riding herd over an all-star lineup of the finest ho writer/performers money can buy. & IT’S ALL STILL FREE!!!
In the exchange of sex for money, a window opens into the human soul. Take a peak. Cum laugh. Cum cry. Just cum.