David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Tag: chicken:self portrait of a young man for rent

David Henry Sterry

Smart Smut: Litquake: San Francisco October 16, 8PM

Litquake

 

The Make-Out Room 3325 22nd St. San Francisco, CA

Click here to register.

David Henry Serry rides herd over a Litquake Who’s Who of sexual provocateurs, spinning tales of bawdy yet thoughtful perversions in the sexiest city in the world.

Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer and film critic for the Village Voice and SF Weekly. Her work can be found in the anthologies Atheists in America, More Five Minute Erotica, and Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation.

Nina Hartley is a pioneer superstar in the world of adult cinema. She is an actress, writer, director and producer, and author. She appeared in Boogie Nights, and is in the AVN Hall of Fame.

Scott James is best known for his columns about San Francisco for The New York Times. He also has the worst-kept secret identity as novelist Kemble Scott, author of the bestsellers SoMa and The Sower.

Richard Martin has contributed creative writing and journalism to books, magazines, newspapers, and literary journals. He lives in San Francisco and works in Oakland as a grant writer.

Dylan Ryan is the Gary Oldman of porn. She is also a writer, sex and relationship therapist, sexuality educator, performance artist, and yoga teacher who’s saving the world one porn at a time.

David Henry Sterry is the bestselling author of 16 books, including Chicken, which has been translated into 11 languages, and Hos, Hookers, Call Girls & Rent Boys, which appeared on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

Madison Young is a sexpert, artist, activist, and award-winning feminist pornographer. She is founder of the nonprofit arts organization Femina Potens, author of the newly released memoir Daddy, and a college lecturer with focus on feminist porn studies.

Read my interview: Madison Young on Beautiful Porn, Revealing All, Fearing Nothing & Daddy

Click here to register.

Professor Alice LaPlante on Chicken: “Splendid, wonderful, excellent, clever…. (I’m running out of adjectives)”

“I really can’t express how splendid, wonderful, excellent, clever…. (I’m running out of adjectives) your presentation was yesterday. You held a very tough audience absolutely RIVETED for 3 full hours! the beautiful prose coupled with your performance talent is a killer combination. (I kept wanting to stop your reading in order to point out specific narrative techniques you used–how *skillfully* the “technical” aspects of writing contributed to the power of the book. I guess I’ll have to wait until the book is out, and assign it as a classroom text in order to deconstruct it on that level.” Alice La Plant – SF State University Professor

chicken 10 year 10-10-13  To buy click here.

Silke Tudor SF Weekly on Chicken: “A literary rhythm as alluring as the strut of his ‘nuthugging elephantbells’”

chicken 10 year 10-10-13“Gsfweeklyraced with insight and empathy—for his own rage, for his family, and for the wealthy female clients whom he serves—Sterry finds a literary rhythm as fluid and alluring as the strut of his ‘nuthugging elephantbells. Combine this with a sense of humor as bright and ridiculous as a ‘blood-engorged wangdangdoodle-hammer, and you have material that is ideal for stage and screen.”

Silke Tudor, The San Francisco Weekly (House of Tudor column)

To buy Chicken click here.

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

It’s a sick twisted Wonderland, and I’m Alice.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pick of the Week.” -Independent

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

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

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

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

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

Book Clubs: Read Chicken & Have Me as Your Special Guest

Book Clubbers: I found out recently that three different book clubs are reading Chicken. One is right here in my home town of Montclair, NJ. I’m going to speak with them after they finish the book, something I love doing. So I thought I’d offer this to all Book Clubs who are bold and brave enough to choose Chicken to read.  I will come to your group if it’s in the NJ/NYC area. Or I will Skype with you if you are anywhere else on Earth. And I will give away FREE personally signed book plates for everyone who wants one.  Thanks, Daviddavid encyclo haPPY

chicken 10 year anniversary coverChicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, Ten Year Anniversary Edition

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

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pick of the Week.” -Independent

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

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

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

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

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

Art of the Memoir: Alan Black on the Illusion of Chaos, Copernicus and the Straight Railway Track to the Grave

To commemorate the publication of the 10 year anniversary edition of my memoir Chicken Self:-Portrait of a Man for Rent, I have decided to do a series of interviews with memoirists I admire.  I’ve known Alan black for many years, and I’m not ashamed to say it publicly.  I met him when he was running literary events at The Edinburgh Castle, in the groin of San Francisco’s seed-filled Tenderloin.  In the name of full disclosure, we wrote a book together.

David Henry Sterry: Why in god’s name did you decide to write a memoir?

51Os1eNYbkL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_AB: I didn’t write it in His name. I wrote it I my own name. God had already published a couple of biographies, the Bible, the Koran and He even has a global rights deal out in the East with the Upanishads in India. I thought about using His name but then I figured Oprah would find out and I would be exposed as a fraud and I like to keep my fraudulence private like my flatulence.

DHS: What were the worst things about writing your memoir?

AB: Reversing the Copernican model of the solar system. The sun went around me. When you’re at the center, it can be uncomfortable. I felt I was inventing myself. My entire life work of having others define me was in peril. I had to take responsibility for my own story and during the process of writing the book, all I could think of was Jim Morrison yelling at the audience, “No one gets out of here alive!”

DHS: What were the best things about writing your memoir?

AB: Working with an exceptionally talented editor who kept me straight. When I tried to bullshit him by re-inserting a petulant and infantile chapter in the document, he cautioned me – “Now you’re being a sanctimonious asshole. Let’s just get back to being an asshole.” Pure quality! Refreshing and direct. That’s the editor you want.

DHS: Did writing your memoir help you make some order out of the chaos we call life?

AB: I don’t see life as chaos. I see it as a straight railway track to the grave. The good parts are being able to go back to the restaurant car for a good meal or sitting in the observation car watching the world go by. And you meet the finest people on trains unlike planes or hot air balloons.

DHS: How did you make a narrative out of the seemingly random events that happened to you?

AB: None of it was random. I’m a Calvinist. Everything is pre-destined. If you work in a supermarket, you get to understand this. Everything has a sell-by date. It arrives ready to expire. I worked at Safeway as a kid and they still owe me for a week’s wages, the fucking bastards! I never shop there. However, I did learn one think working there – chaos is an illusion.

The beauty of baking the bread in the morning in the store’s bakery was as close to heaven as a person can get. For dough always rises. And tomorrow it rises again.

DHS: How was the process of selling your memoir?

AB: My agent was spectacular, the female 007 of publishing. Within a few hours of it being in the hands of an editor, it was sold.

DHS: How did you go about promoting and marketing your memoir?

AB: I tried hard – went on the radio, performed readings from the book, Google bought a box, but real life held me back via time. Having to work as a bartender for a living kept me short of hours to sell myself as “the next big thing.” Yeah right! I was busy throwing drunks into the street, breaking up fights, dodging punches, slopping up geographic vomit spatters in the shape of Long Island and sprinkling Holy Water Jameson droplets on bilious sociopaths while delivering the benediction – “the power of Christ compels you!” I am available for exorcisms at reasonable rates. I have met some evil spirits.

AB: Did you have difficulty speaking in public about the intimate aspects of your memoir?

AB: No.

DHS: How did your family, friends and loved ones react to your memoir?

AB: I don’t think any of them read it. And if they did, they kept it quiet.

DHS: I hate to ask you this, but you have any advice for people who want to write a memoir?

AB: I hate you for asking that question! Yes, write your memoir. It’s your story. What else is there?

 

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 http://bit.ly/1ancjuE, 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/

chicken 10 year 10-10-13

 

SF Gate, Beth Lisick on Chicken: “Sextacular… Poignant…”

“Sextacular… Poignant… Effortlessly whip[s] himself into pimps, hos, housewives, hippies, swingers, nuns, and nice girls…” — Beth Lisick, San Francisco Gate

chicken 10 year anniversary cover

sfgateTo buy Chicken click here.

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 chronology 459against muscular Mercedes and Hell’s Angels hogs.

It’s a sick twisted Wonderland, and I’m Alice.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pick of the Week.” -Independent

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry Stahl on Chicken: “Alternately sexy and terrifying, hysterical…a coming-of-age classic”

“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… a coming-of-age classic that’s colorful, riveting, and strangely beautiful. David Henry Sterry is the real thing.”

— Jerry Stahl, Permanent Midnight
permanentmidnightchronology 150

 

 

 

 

 

To buy Chicken click here.

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

It’s a sick twisted Wonderland, and I’m Alice.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pick of the Week.” -Independent

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

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

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

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

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

NPR Interviews David Henry Sterry on Chicken: “Insightful and funny… captures Hollywood beautifully…”

Larry Mantle, Air Talk, National Public Radio, on Chicken:

“Insightful and funny… great stories… captures Hollywood beautifully…”

To listen to interview click here.

To buy Chicken click here.

chicken 10 year anniversary coverchronology 153

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

It’s a sick twisted Wonderland, and I’m Alice.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pick of the Week.” -Independent

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

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

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

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

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

Art of the Memoir: Tamim Ansary on Going Viral and the Importance of Not Knowing Where You’re Going

To commemorate the publication of the 10 year anniversary edition of my memoir Chicken Self:-Portrait of a Man for Rent, I have decided to do start The Memoir Project.  I’ll be doing a series of interviews with memoirists I admire.  I have known Tamim Ansary for what seems like a lifetime, but isn’t.  He runs the San Francisco Writers Workshop, and in that capacity he demonstrates every Tuesday night how much he knows about writing and books and people.  He’s been a professional writer for a very long time.  I’ve said publicly that he is the wisest men I know, and I stand by that statement.

David Henry Sterry: Why in god’s name did you decide to write a memoir?

ansaryTamim Ansary: Well, that’s a complicated question since I’ve written three. The first one, West of Kabul, East of New York,   I wrote in response to a historical moment. The events of 9/11 had highlighted to rift between the Islamic world and the West, which took most Americans by surprise. I knew all about this issue because I was born in Afghanistan of an Afghan father and an American mother, I had grown up in but grown old in America, and so my whole life had straddled this crack in the culture of the planet. I felt like I was the guy perched on the fence who could see the people on both sides even though they couldn’t see each other. I thought writing about my bicultural life might do some good in the world. The second memoir I wrote was actually someone else’s. I wrote it for an Afghan girl named Farah Ahmadi who  had stepped on a land mine when she was in second grade, had lived the horrors of the long war in Afghanistan, and had confronted them with flabbergasting dignity and courage. The exact circumstances of my writing that memoir are peculiar, but I thought her life was an embodiment of both tragedy and resilience that people should know about.  So these memoirs were attempts to engage with the world of politics and history. But my latest memoir is a very different sort of project. This is a more philosophical examination of “life story,” a phrase we often use without pausing to consider the implications; because the quesiton is, does a life have a story, a narrative arc, in the same way as a novel? A beginning, middle and end that adds up to meaning of some sort?  Several years ago, I was telling someone about a trip I had taken, I happened to tell it all one sitting, and when I was done, it struck me that any journey to any place far away and difficult to reach has a narrative arc if consider it as a whole.  I wondered if I could capture the “story-like arc” of one-whole-life by recounting a selection of iconic journeys. The result is Road Trips. The journeys I chose for this book took place when I was 10,  19,  24,  31,  50, and 52: so the movement is through time as much as space.   This memoir is not hooked to news events or public issues, it tells a private story, and it’s a story I believe all of us have some version of: that odyssey from young to old and the things that happen along the way: falling in love, falling out of love,  breaking up, breaking down, drifting, drowning, searching for solid ground… and finding it…maybe… The details are different for each person but underneath the welter of particulars is, I think, some single story that can be made visible only through the details of a specific life. Mine is the only life I know well enough to use as such a lens, and so I wrote this book. But I’m hoping this book will get readers ruminating on the story-like elements of their own lives even if, as is likely, their lives and mine don’t share a single particular detail. Because my premise here is that the narrative is there in every life; it’s there, you just have to look for it.

DHS: What were the worst things about writing your memoir?

TA: The worst thing, I guess, is getting flak from people whom I mentioned in the memoirs, people whose feelings I hurt, people who didn’t seem themselves the way I portrayed them, people who were disturbed, in some cases, to experience themselves as a side chaaracters in someone else’s life, not as the protagonist which is everybody’s internal identitication of him- or herself.  And there’s another disturbing thing, which is bound to happen when you write a memoir, especially if you’re doing it right, and especially if the focus is on your own life, not on some public event you observed. This is the discovery of narratives you’ve been carrying in your head all your life which are distorted, even false.

DHS: What were the best things about writing your memoir?

TA: I’ll start where my answer to your last question ended.  Gaining discomifting new perspectives on the things you’ve seen, done, and felt is also the good thing about writing a memoir. One can never have too many epiphanies.  And in the case of Road Trips, writing it brought epiphanies not just about my own little life but about the life we’re living on this planet, the implications of permanence and change, culture and identity, memory and time, fiction and reality–I mean writing a memoir, if you share my premise about life as story, does immerse you in the most fundamental issue of them all: everything feels so real when it’s happening, but when you look back, all you see is story. So was any of it real in the first place? And if,like me, you decide it was and you feel a connection to what is real, there is no better feeling.

 

DHS: Did writing your memoir help you make some order out of the chaos we call life?

TA: Asked and answered, your honor? Well, the true answer is yes and no. A memoir helps you make sense of things. Then life keeps happening and it all grows muddy again.  You look back and the meaning of it all changed, even stuff you wrote about earlier and thought you nailed completely. The train never stops moving and the same landscape keeps looking different as you move.

DHS: How did you make a narrative out of the seemingly random events that happened to you?

TA: Well, random is a part of life, but so is intention.  We’re never just knocking about like particles in Brownian motion. We’re always trying to push our story forward, through the random flotsam and jetsom of the world.   Some of that flotsam are obstacles and so they inherently become part of our story; some turn out to be tools but only if we figure out that we can use them, and so those are part of the story too. Some don’t fit into the story either way, so we ignore them, forget them. My premise is that when you write a memoir, you don’t “make a narrative,” you find the narrative. Intentions and obstacles are the indispensable elements of story and those exist in real life at every moment for every person.

DHS: How was the process of selling your memoir?

TA: Selling the first one was easie macheesie because I had just written an email in reaction to the events of 9/11 to twenty or thirty of my friends explaining what I, as an Afghan, thought about the horror because I knew they’d all be asking and I thought it would be say it once to all twenty of them.  Those twenty each sent my email to dozens of their friends and by the next day the email had gone viral across the globe and by the weekend had reached tens of milliions–it was, in fact, one of the first examples of the viral phenomenon that the Internet has made possible. That 900 words email took no longer to write than to type. Don’t tell met here is an inherant contradiciton between random events and story: nothing could be as random and accidental as that email and yet it is certainly a story. Anyway, after the email went viral, my agent had no trouble getting publishers interested. The second one, Farah Ahmadi’s The Other Side of the Sky was an odd one. Good Morning America staged a contest for the most inspiring life. Various people sent in one-page descriptions of their life story and the one judged most inspiring got a bunch of cash and a book about them written by a professional writer.  Farah won the contest, and I was part of her prize.  The third one I’ve just completed, so I’m still n the process of selling it. The difficulty here is that memoirs usually sell on their news hook. They promise to take readers to places they have not been and could never go without this memoir. I promise just the opposite: I intend to take readers to places they too have been, not to startle them with how unique my life has been but to startle them with how unique theirs has been.  We’ll see if that concept sells.

DHS: How did you go about promoting and marketing your memoir?

TA: I’m not much of a guy for marketing and promotion much, so I just write ’em and hope the chips fall were they do me some good. The publisher did send me on an extensive book tour for West of Kabul, East of New York, bookstores mostly, and I read from my book and talked.  With Road Trips, I’ve been reading from it at literary events, bars, bookstore reading and whatnot while I’ve been writing it, to enthusiastic response, so perhaps I’ve been building an audience for it even while it has been in progress.

DHS: Did you have difficulty speaking in public about the intimate aspects of your memoir?

TA: I used to have difficulty speaking in public about anything—really, anything. Then 9/11 happened, that email went viral, and suddenly I was yanked onto various stages and in front of cameras and microphones facing crowds clamoring to know the stuff I happened to know about and the crisis was so intense, I had to tell what I knew, pour it out,  no time to remember that I was shy about speaking in public, I was babbling nonstop, scarcely even knowing what I was saying, for months. When it finally slowed down, I found I no longer had any difficulty speaking in public about anything. And that transformation ha endured. Still, I maintain some reserve. Anything I’ve written about, I’ll speak about. Why not? It’s already out there. Anything I’ve held back about in writing, I will maintain some reserve about in public too.   The thing is, I was out to tell my story. People whose paths have crossed mine have shown up in my story, but they have their own stories and  I try not to be the one that’s telling theirs.

DHS: How did your family, friends and loved ones react to your memoir?

TA: After I published West of Kabul, East of New York, my mother said “What do you mean I had brown hair? I was a blond!”  One of my cousins said how could I call a famous ancestor of ours “a landowner and a poet.” He was a saint! Another cousin observed that of the uncles I had mentioned, his father should have been named the most eminent.  An aunt wasmiffed that I had called another aunt Elizabeth-Taylor beautiful.  I have also gotten some pretty severe and wounding blowback from Road Trips. On the other hand, I think the first memoir helped me and my brother reconnect after a long estrangement.  If you’re going to write a memoir, you have to be ready for some flak. You’ll get it even from—perhaps most of all from—people you’ve scarcely mentioned.

DHS: I hate to ask you this, but you have any advice for people who want to write a memoir?

TA: Well, I’ll say one thing about process: I think it’s a good idea to start without a plan and to do your first rush of remembering while you’re at the keyboard typing away, writing it down. I’d say, let the process of association take you where it will. I’d say, don’t pay attention to what you’re saying or what  you’ve just said, focus only on what you’re about to say.   Don’t push the string,  let yourself be pulled. Later you’ll see what you’ve got and at that point you’ll have to apply other skills to craft your work, but the first skill to cultivate is letting go and not caring or judging.  Association is the mechanism of memory, and memory is itself a narrative-creating machine.   We tend to think of memories as videotapes that we bring out of storage, but neural scientists tell us that memories are constructed in the act of remembering. They also say that more than half of what we think are perceptions are actually reactions to memory. When we reach for a doorknob we only perceive a flash of color and shape, memory supplies the fact that it is a doorknob and what a doorknob is and what we can do with one. Expand that perception and you realize that we’re always living as much in a story as in an immediately present world, in a narrative whose shape depends on what has happened before and what we expect or hope will happen later.S ettle in with this truth and you begin to see what a gigantic thing it is to write a memoir.

Tamim Ansary writes memoir, fiction, history, essays, and blogs. His book West of Kabul, East of New York tell the story of a life straddling Afghanistan and America. He runs the 65-year-old San Francisco Writers Workshop as well intensive memoir workshops in his home.

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/

 

 

Chicken Featured in SF Chronicle

My new memoir Chicken featured in SF Chronicle

“Fifteen years ago somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 AM on a thick funk-filled Saturday morning, I find myself in the deep darkness of a dank cracksmoke-saturated Harlem house surrounded by a very attractive transsexual and a dozen disenfranchised Americans in various states of disrepair.”

“Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man

for Rent,” a 10th anniversary edition,

by David Henry Sterry

To buy the book on Amazon click here.  To buy book on Indie Bound click here.

chicken 10 year 10-10-13

 

Phillip Lopate on Chicken: “Compulsively readable, visceral, and very funny.”

“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.”

portraitofmybody— Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body

To buy the book click here.

Chicken: 10 Year Anniversary Edition: “I Loved this Book”

“I loved this book. It is a hilarious and fascinating look into the shadowy world of sex for hire, but also a deeply moving, empathetic, finely written portrait of a young man coming of age, struggling with both emotional and physical survival. Colorful, bizarre characters, and an authentic narrative voice had me hooked from page 1. It is not for the feint of heart as it is graphic sexually – but i did not feel gratuitously so. i found the descriptions interesting in an almost Kinsey report way – all the odd things people do privately that they have no idea others are doing is poignant. For any one who has had to battle addiction or courageously face their own demons this book is right on target. It also makes it so painfully clear how easy it is for young people to fall through the cracks – david is a lucky survivor of his tale and a truly articulate, comic but powerful writer.”

To buy, click here.

chicken 10 year 10-10-13

Art of the Memoir: Josh Hanagarne, the World’s Strongest Librarian, on Tourette Syndrome, Choosing Stories & Being Strong at the Library

To commemorate the publication of the 10 year anniversary edition of my memoir Chicken Self:-Portrait of a Man for Rent, I’m doing a series of interviews with memoirists I admire. I’ve read lots of great things about the world’s strongest librarian, so I thought I’d track him down and see what he has to say about writing, memoirs, and being strong at the library.

To see piece on Huffington Post click here.

41AjkdnWr5L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ josh-hanagarne

David Henry Sterry: Why in god’s name did you decide to write a memoir?

Josh Hanagarne: I didn’t do it in god’s name, but here’s an answer: I’ve always liked to write, but I wasn’t trying to become a writer. I had started a blog called World’s Strongest Librarian, just for fun. I was writing about Tourette Syndrome, strength training, books, and a few other things, and there were a few readers (friends and family).  Two months in, the author Seth Godin wrote me an email and said “You should be writing a book! I’m sending your blog to my agent!” Forty eight hours later, I had a literary agent for no reason, and when she said “So what’s the book?” I said, “What book?” And that’s how it started.

DHS: What were the worst things about writing your memoir?

JH: Spending a lot of time thinking about parts of myself that I don’t like. You really get to know yourself when you write a memoir. When you start turning over those rocks, you don’t get to choose what you find underneath them.

DHS: What were the best things about writing your memoir?

JH: Making myself laugh every time I sat down to write. Paying tribute to things I love. Honoring the people who have helped me have the life I have.

DHS: Did writing your memoir help you make some order out of the chaos we call life?

JH: Nope. If anything, it made me throw up my hands and say “It all really is chaos.”

DHS: How did you make a narrative out of the seemingly random events that happened to you?

JH: A memoir is not a life, it’s an aspect of a life. The stories are the illustrations of themes. Once you decide which themes you’re trying to illustrate, choosing stories becomes much easier.

DHS:  How was the process of selling your memoir?

JH: Long! It took three proposals. The first two went nowhere and took almost four years. The third proposal was the one that sold and it got picked up immediately. By that time I had figured out what the book would be and it was an easy sell.

DHS: How did you go about promoting and marketing your memoir?

JH: My primary driver is speaking. I still work at the library, but I’m giving over twenty talks in October alone. I blog. I’m on Twitter.

DHS: Did you have difficulty speaking in public about the intimate aspects of your memoir?

JH: No. Speaking is what I enjoy most, and it’s by far what I’m the best at.

DHS: How did your family, friends and loved ones react to your memoir?

JH: With incredible support. Although my mom says that I made her out to be way nicer than she actually is. She’s wrong.

DHS: I hate to ask you this, but you have any advice for people who want to write a memoir?

JH: Yep. Two things.

  1. Write. No matter what you’re doing, if words aren’t appearing on the page, you’re not writing yet. Don’t worry about people’s reactions during the first draft. Just get it down.
  2. Read The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith. It was the last book about writing memoir that I’ll ever read. And it’s short, if that tells you anything about Marion’s approach.

Josh Hanagarne believes in curiosity, questions, and strength, and that things are never so bad that they can’t improve. At first glance, Josh seems an improbable librarian. He stands 6’7″, competes in strongman contests, and was diagnosed in high school with Tourette Syndrome. But books were his first love: Josh’s earliest memories involve fantastic adventures between the pages of Gulliver’s Travels and a passionate infatuation with Fern from Charlotte’s Web. Everything in Josh’s life–from his Mormon upbringing to finally finding love to learning to control his tics through lifting–circles back to a close connection to books. His upcoming book, The World’s Strongest Librarian, illuminates the mysteries of Tourette Syndrome as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. Currently, Josh is a librarian at the Salt Lake City Public Library and lives with his wife, Janette, and their son, Max, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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/

 

On Huffington Post: Everything You Think You Know About Cambodian Sex Workers Is Wrong

I’m always on the lookout for people who have interesting things to say about the strange things that happen in the exchange of sex for money.  Heidi Hoefinger, author of the new book, Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia: Professional Girlfriends and Transactional Relationships, is one of those people.  Here are some of the fascinating things she has some to say about Cambodian sex workers. Click here to read piece on Huffington Post.

Sex Love and Money FINAL COVER

David Henry Sterry: Why did you want to write a book about Cambodian bar girls?

Heidi Hoefinger: I went to Cambodia 10 years ago as a backpacker and I ended up meeting, and connecting with a few girls really quickly. We identified on lots of levels — particularly around the way we dressed and danced, and the music we liked — so we became ‘fast friends.’ Phnom Penh, the capital city, also had a lawless and edgy magnetism about it and I decided then and there that I wanted to come back to Cambodia and write a book about the women who were at the heart of it all.

DHS: What did you expect, and how are your expectations met or shattered?

HH: I’m a little embarrassed to admit that when I first went to Cambodia back in 2003, I was filled with all the naïve assumptions and western biases that many people have when they first get there: all the girls are ‘trapped’ in the bars; they have little decision-making power; they are controlled by bosses and managers; they are all sex workers who are commercially available and negotiable for sex upon any request; and every inter-ethnic couple (Cambodian woman/western man) were commercially-based. Well, I had to confront all those assumptions pretty quickly, because when I got there in 2005 to start formal academic research, I learned right away that something quite different was going on. Most of the girls were working in the bars out of their own free will (to the extent that anyone does in Cambodia or beyond); their sexual decisions weren’t controlled by bosses or managers and the women could decide themselves whether or not they wanted to ‘go with customers’; and the majority did not actually identify as sex workers, or view their quest for foreign boyfriends as ‘work.’ They viewed themselves as ‘bartenders,’ ‘bar girls,’ or ‘bar maids,’ and viewed most of the sexual partners that they meet in the bars as ‘real’ boyfriends.

DHS: Did you spend much time in the bars, and what happens on a typical night?

HH: During several visits over several years, I spent every night out in the bars with the women. But in addition to that, I spent days with them in their homes, helping look after their kids; or we hung out at the markets buying clothes, or at internet cafes translating emails from western boyfriends, or even out in the countryside meeting their families in their villages. But indeed, the majority of our time was spent going out at night. A typical night out usually begins at the salon, where we would get our hair and nails done. The girls who work in the hostess bars that I was researching — these are bars where Cambodian women sit and chat with mainly western customers, but also increasing numbers of East and Southeast Asian men — are able to afford this daily activity due to the increased spending capacity they have which results from the material benefits they gain from foreign boyfriends. After we got dressed, many of them would go to their respective bars and work their shifts from 7pm-2am. After that, we would go to the dance clubs — with or without their male suitors — and when those closed, we would end up at the 24-hour bars to play pool. Finally, we’d end the night by having a bowl of soup on the street to catch up on the night’s gossip before going home to sleep as the sun came up.

DHS: Did you get to know any of these women, and if so, what would she like in terms of background, education, aspirations, dreams, goals?

HH: Over a decade, I got to know many of the women as close friends. And though we came from different ethnic, economic, class and educational backgrounds, we shared similar aspirations: to be happy and live in comfortable environments with our material, physical and emotional needs met. Most of the women were born in the Cambodian countryside, and a combination of familial obligation, financial need, and personal aspirations for adventure, freedom or romance drove them to migrate to the cities. Many but not all have elementary educations — but that’s it, so when they get to the city, their options are limited. They can either do domestic work like cleaning, or street trading of fruits or other goods, or garment factory work, or entertainment or sex work. Many tried their hand at everything and ended up preferring to work in the bars because they were the most lucrative, there was more flexibility of movement, they got to meet people from outside of Cambodia, and learn and improve their English skills, and the bars were just generally more ‘fun’ than the other jobs. Most women are very resourceful and entrepreneurial, and the ultimate goal of many of them was to open their own businesses — like a clothing store, bar, restaurant or salon, so they could support themselves and their families. Of course meeting a nice person along the way, who treats them and their families with love and respect, was also one of the life goals for many.

DHS: Do the bar girls see themselves as sex workers?

HH: Actually, the majority of women I spoke to in the hostess bars over the years do not, in fact, identify as sex workers, or their search for foreign boyfriends as work. Yes, they want and even expect, in some cases, to materially benefit from relationships with foreigners, who by default have more economic power over the women by nature of their western positionality, but the women normally don’t view these things (like clothes, jewelry, phones, tuition, rent or cash) as payment for sexual services from clients, but rather as gifts or support from boyfriends. Within Cambodian culture, there exists a thing called ‘bridewealth’ — which is when the potential groom’s family pays the potential bride’s family back the money they spent on milk while raising their daughter up — known colloquially as paying back the ‘milk money.’ So there is a deeply-rooted cultural expectation of economic benefits attached to marriage. In other words, it’s assumed that a man will financially support his female partner and her family — or at least provide a substantial gift. This is not as rigid as it used to be, and more and more women are equally contributing economically within their relationships, but the point is that just because they get stuff like cash and gifts from their western sexual partners that they meet in the bar does not mean they all identify as sex workers. There are plenty of women, men and transgender people in Cambodia who do identify as sex workers, and there is a growing sex worker rights movement in Cambodia led by a sex worker union consisting of over 6,000 members. But one of the main points of the book is that no matter how someone identifies — as a sex worker, prostitute, girlfriend, whatever — they should be treated with respect for the decisions they make. The book is really trying to destigmatize all the actors involved — the women and their male partners — whether they are involved in commercial relationships or not.

DHS: How are sex workers viewed in Cambodia?

HH: Typically sex workers, or entertainment workers in general — whether they identify as sex workers or not — are viewed with either contempt by general society, or even as subhuman by others. Otherwise, they are viewed as pitiable victims that need saving (and there are lots of local and international NGOs who make it their business to do so). There are written social and moral codes for women that dictate how they should live (originally known as the Chbap Srei, or Women’s Code): quietly, without drawing attention to themselves; obediently and submissively towards their husbands, while not venturing far from home; modestly, in the way they dress, etc. So the women in the bars go against these social codes 100 percent — they are the epitome of ‘bad women’ or ‘broken women’ (srei kouc, in Khmer). But, they can also materially ‘make-up’ for their tarnished images by providing their families with new houses, cars, and tuition for their siblings. So they experience extreme stigma and praise at the same time. It’s a difficult gendered social world for them to negotiate.

DHS: Do these bar girls in Cambodia see themselves as victims? Do they long to be saved?

HH: Most of the women did not view themselves as victims, and expressed a strong desire to instead by respected for the decisions they make under some really tough circumstances. They often referred to themselves in English as ‘strong girls.’ That’s not to say they didn’t know how to capitalize on empathy. That was definitely a strategy that some of the women used to tap into the ‘hero syndrome’ that many western men experience — which I define as an overwhelming desire by the men to use their status, resources, and knowledge to ‘save’ the women and their families from destitution. The problem with ‘hero syndrome’ is that once men offer their ‘help,’ they also expect a certain degree of power in decision-making about how those resources are spent. So really, those with this ‘hero’ mentality to ‘help’ aren’t really helping in the long run if they are just trying to control the families and their finances.

DHS: What is the best way for a well-intentioned white Westerner to help then?

HH: Cambodia has quite a bit of ‘help’ already. The country has been heavily funded by international aid agencies since the 1990s and is still a place where SUVs slapped with NGO logos take up far too much space. It’s also currently flooded with masses of well-intentioned but highly uninformed ‘voluntourists’ who actually pay money to volunteer their time at the plethora of dodgy orphanages or schools that line the cities. The country certainly doesn’t need more ‘help’ of this sort. If Westerners have a burning desire to spend their money philanthropically in Cambodia, I would suggest they donate to projects like the Women’s Network for Unity (WNU), which is the sex worker union I mentioned above, or to other community-run projects that are led by the women or workers themselves, so that the community members actually have a say in what their needs are and where the resources should be spent. I would not suggest throwing money at the hundreds of anti-trafficking groups that have wasted millions (probably billions) of donor dollars in unrealistically trying to ‘abolish slavery’ by forcefully ‘rescuing’ women from the bars, detaining them against their will in ‘shelters,’ and shoving sewing machines in their hands because that is supposedly a more ‘dignified’ form of work. Instead, people should ‘help’ by listening to the women themselves, and to what their needs and desires are, and to respect them for the decisions they make, rather then treating them like infants, victims, or criminals that need rehabilitation or rescue by those who think they know best — who most often have never even met or spoken to a Cambodian bar worker.

DHS: What was your most surprising take away after all was said and done?

HH: I guess the most surprising take away from the research is this controversial idea that not all women who work in bars identify as sex workers; that their relationships aren’t all commercial and often filled with love and emotion; and that the women aren’t all victims who want to be rescued by do-gooder westerners! Instead they are resourceful and using whatever tools are available to them — in this case sex and intimacy — to improve their lives and find happiness amidst tons of stereotypes, sexual violence, corruption, and domestic abuse. I also learned that all relationships around the globe mingle economics, intimacy, emotion and pragmatic materiality on some level, and so the relationships that transpire in Cambodian bars are really not so different from more ‘conventional’ relationships that develop anywhere. Of course there are certain power differentials that are present within these relationships based on economics, nationality and class in many cases, but I guess I’m trying to encourage readers of the book to stop stigmatizing sex and relationships between Cambodian bar workers and western men as something fundamentally different from ‘their’ sex and relationships, and to recognize the transactionality and materiality of their own relationships. And I think the most important thing I learned is that no matter how women identify, and no matter what circumstances they happen to be in, they are capable of — and should be valued for — the decisions they make and that includes their decisions to sell sex, trade sex, and have sex with the people of their choosing. It’s my hope that public understanding of the issues outlined in the book might ultimately help to reduce the stigma that most bar workers experience there, which is really at the root cause of all the discrimination and violence they experience.

BIO: Heidi is a postdoctoral fellow in drug research at the National Development and Research Institutes in New York, and an adjunct lecturer at Berkeley College in NY, and the Institute of South East Asian Affairs, Chiang Mai University, Thailand. She is actively involved in the global sex workers rights movement, and a member of Sex Worker Open University and X:Talk in London, Sex Worker Outreach Project in New York, and on the program advisory committee for the Red Umbrella Fund, which is an international granting body for sex worker projects around the world.

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/

chicken 10 year 10-10-13

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-henry-sterry/everything-you-think-you-_b_4086449.html

Chicken Named on Top 10 Most Provocative Books Of Month List

Chicken, the 10 Year Anniversary Edition, was named on the Top 10 list of most provocative books of the month. Saucy! I’m huge in Tampa Bay!

Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, Ten Year Anniversary Edition

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

chicken 10 year anniversary cover 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.”

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

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

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

Publisher’s Weekly Review of Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, Ten Year Anniversary Edition

Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, Ten Year Anniversary Edition

chicken 10 year anniversary cover

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

Amazon  Indiebound

Books, Dexter, Rejection, Art, Masturbation, Good Sex, Bad Sex

Interview from the Dan O’Brien Project

Tell us about your most recent release.
My new book is Mort Morte, with beautiful pictures by Alain Pilon.
On my third birthday, my father, in an attempt to get me to stop sucking my thumb, gave me a gun. “Today son, you are a man,” he said, snatching the little blue binky from my little pink hand. So I shot him.
mort coverSo begins MORT MORTE a macabre coming-of-age story full of butchered butchers, badly used Boy Scouts, blown-up Englishman, virginity-plucking cheerleaders, and many nice cups of tea.
Poignantly poetic, hypnotically hysterical, sweetly surreal, and chock full of the blackest comedy, MORT MORTE is like Lewis Carrol having brunch with the kid from The Tin Drum and Oedipus, just before he plucks his eyes out. Or Diary of a Wimpy Kid as told by Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver
In the end though, MORT MORTE is a story about a boy who really loves his mother.
A new review:
“Who do you think of when someone says black humor? Johnathan Swift? Joseph Heller? Kurt Vonnegut? Perhaps Roald Dahl?
Well, add David Sterry to your list. His newest book, Mort Morte is as black as sin and twice as fun. It all starts innocently enough. Our three-year-old protagonist, vengeful over his father’s depriving him of his binky, seeks revenge by shooting dear-old-dad with the very gun he had given Mort as a birthday present. Be forewarned, though. After that, things take a violent turn. This pithy little book with its delightfully cheeky artwork escorts us through murder after murder, each more hilariously executed than the last, before our hero is figuratively ridden out of town on a Texas-sized rail. Where does Mort go from there? Surely, you jest! Where else but Harvard? Buy a ticket on this one. You’ll enjoy the ride.”
Here’s where to buy it:
From publisher Barnes & Noble Amazon Bookadda (India’s favorite on-line bookstore) Books for less
What else do you have coming out?
I have a new anthology called Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks, it’s all writings by people from the sex business. It’s a follow-up to the anthology I put together a few years ago called Hos, Hookers Call Girl and Rent Boys, which appeared on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times book review. “Eye-opening, astonishing, brutally honest and frequently funny… unpretentious and riveting — graphic, politically incorrect and mostly unquotable in this newspaper.” It is a unique sociological document, a collection of mini-memoirs, rants, confessions, dreams, and nightmares by people who buy sex, and people who sell. And because it was compiled by two former sex industry workers, the collection is, like its predecessor, unprecedented in its inclusiveness. $10 crack hos and $5,000 call girls, online escorts and webcam girls, peep show harlots and soccer mom hookers, bent rent boys and wannabe thugs. Then there’s the clients. Captains of industry and little old Hasidic men, lunatics masquerading as cops and bratty frat boys, bereaved widows and widowers. This book will shine a light on both sides of these illegal, illicit, forbidden, and often shockingly intimate relationships, which have been demonized, mythologized, trivialized and grotesquely misunderstood by countless Pretty Woman-style books, movies and media. This is hysterical, intense, unexpected, and an ultimately inspiring collection.
Next up is a book that I cowrote for Norton with my partner Arielle Eckstut and two brain scientists from Duke, it’s called What Are They Thinking? It’s all about this amazing research they’ve done on the teenage brain. It’s absolutely horrifying! But fascinating at the same time. Really gives insight into anyone who’s ever been, or will be, a teenager.
Then I have a novel which I wrote with twins Keith and Kent Zimmerman, they’re best-selling authors who’ve done books with everyone from Johnny Rotten to Alice Cooper. This collaboration is called The Hobbyist, it’s about this strange real-life website in the Bay Area where men rate sex workers, kind of like a Zagat guide for prostitutes. The book can be described as About a Boy meets The Graduate meets The Happy Hooker.
And finally, the 10 year anniversary of my memoir Chicken I coming out in the fall. It’s about when I was studying existentialism with a bunch of nuns at Immaculate Heart College, while I worked as a rent boy, servicing rich ladies in Hollywood. The book has been translated into 10 languages, it’s an international bestseller, and has been optioned by Scott Buck, the show runner for Showtime’s Dexter. He has written a screenplay based on the book.
Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?
I also run a company called The Book Doctors, which helps people figure out how to get successfully published. We started the company when our book The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published came out a couple of years ago. Anyone who buys a copy of our book after reading this interview will get a free 20 min. consultation from Oz. We helped dozens and dozens of talented amateurs become professionally published authors. Just send your proof of purchase to: Sterryhead@Gmail.com
What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?
I once tried to pick up girls at Venice Beach by telling them I was a photographer for Playboy.
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
This was from the editor of a poetry journal that went out of business about six months after he sent me this very helpful critique of my work I am now the author of 14 books.
How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?
First I tried to figure out if there’s anything useful I can get out of the criticism. I’ve had some reviewers say really helpful things as they lashed me with their poison pen. After that, I plan revenge. What can I do to wreak havoc on their miserable lives? That kind of thing.
When are you going to write your autobiography?
I’ve written two memoirs, the above-mentioned Chicken, and I wrote a book about when I was the master of ceremonies at a male strip club called Chippendale’s in New York City in the mid-80s, when it was the hottest show in the city that never sleeps. My boss was shot in the head, executed by a hitman. It’s called Master of Ceremonies.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important?
Absolutely. The hero of my novel was called Mort Morte. The E on the end of the second Mort of course means death.
What about the titles of your novels?
Yes.
Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
I think if you spend too much time in your imagination you can get stuck there, and it gets hard to interact with the other humans. Of course it’s hard to make money writing novels. But I absolutely love it. As Woody Allen said, there are only two things in life can control, Art and Masturbation. And as a novelist, I get to engage in those two things every day.
What’s your favorite fruit?
Raspberry.
How many people have you done away with over the course of your career?
In my new book, our hero kills four or five of his dads.
Ever dispatched someone and then regretted it?
In the novel I’m working on now, a character gets exterminated. But my readers love this guy, so I kept expanding his role in the book. I’m definitely going to bring him back for the sequel.
Have you ever been in trouble with the police?
I was once thrown in jail for hitchhiking through Highland Park, which is one of the richest suburbs of Dallas. I was 18 at the time and had very long hair.
So when were you last involved in a real-life punch-up?
When I was eight years old, in Hueytown Alabama, my neighbor was really mad at me, I can’t remember why, but he came running straight at me like you was going to kill me. I reared back and punched him right in the nose, and fell like I shot him. It was very satisfying.
If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?
I been watching a lot of Breaking Bad, and I think I would get a big plastic tub and dissolve the person in acid.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Happy. If I can’t be happy, I’d like to be really really rich.
What is your favorite bedtime drink?
Chamomile tea laced with liquid opium.
Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?
I was a building inspector. I fried chicken for a living. I was a telephone solicitation technician. I learned a lot about life from all these medial, deadening, dead-end, underpaying jobs. But I would not want to do them again.
Do you believe in a deity?
I guess I categorize myself as a Pagan humanist. I worship the earth and the sky and food and sex and love and music and creativity.
Do you ever write naked?
I’m naked right now!
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Actually, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who was a teen heartthrob on the show Home Improvement optioned my memoir Chicken so he could play me at 17. Sadly, that never happened. Right now we’re trying to get Justin Bieber to play the lead role in Chicken, he would be portraying a 17-year-old sex worker. I’m not kidding. That’s totally real.
 Jonathan_Taylor_Thomas-1-smallJustin Bieber6-20120821-47
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Surrounding yourself with people who like you. I had a lot of trouble doing that in the first 40 years of my life. I really enjoy reading my work in public, that’s part of what keeps me sane as a writer.
Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie? 
I was a professional actor for many years and did portrayed everyone from George Washington to Abbie Hoffman to Leif Ericson. Among many others. I see myself as every character in every movie or book I read or watch.
What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing novel?
Getting people to read your work.
What do you consider your biggest failure?
I trust people too easily. I assume they’re going to do what they say they’re going to do. I suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder, and I sometimes fly into a crazy rage. I’m really trying hard not to do that, but there are just so many RIDICULOUS HORRIBLE ASSHOLES!
 Do you research your novels?
I tried to do is little research as possible, because I want to make the most money per word as possibly. One of my heroes as a writer is Dr. Seuss. There are only 232 words in Cat in the Hat, and he’s made approximately $1 billion from that book. I don’t think he had to do much research on it. The novel I’m working on now involves the main character living with the Shakers, who were a pretty well known religion in the mid-1800s. The Shakers are famous for two things. They made great furniture. They didn’t believe in sex. There are no more Shakers. I did lots of research on them.
How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?
Enormous. As you see above, in my new book, a three-year-old kills his father with the gun his dad gives him as a birthday present. It’s the first book I ever wrote. I think I was trying to work out some stuff.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I got turned onto a lot of great books and music. Beethoven to Nick Drake to Robert Johnson to Taj Mahal to Jean Pierre Rampal. Thomas Pynchon to Charles Dickens to Hunter S Thompson. The list goes on and on.
Do you laugh at your own jokes?
Only if they’re really really funny.
Do you admire your own work?
Only when it’s really really good.
What are books for?
Escape, laughter, adventure, information, thrills, chills, romance. My partner and I wrote a book called Putting Your Passion Into Print, which got updated into The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. So we got a bunch of boxes of the hard cover version of PYPIP, which are essentially useless now. But they throw off a lot of heat when you burn them in the fireplace. And living in northern New Jersey as we do, that can be highly significant.
Are you fun to go on vacation with?
Oh yes. I love to swim. I also enjoy playing all kinds of games.
How do you feel about being interviewed?
I love it.
Why do you think what you do matters?
It keeps me out of trouble. Also, I talk about things that are forbidden in our culture. I was raped when I was 17. It’s in my memoir Chicken. When I get up in public and talk about that, there are always a couple of people in the audience who’ve been through the same thing. And when I talk about it, it gives them license to talk about it. They don’t feel like such a freak anymore. Or maybe they realize that we’re all freaks in one way or another. Part of my mission has been to expose how kids get exploited and abused by grown-ups. I think this is very important. I also write a lot about se work and create a forum for writers who have been in the sex business. I want to normalize this occupation, remove some of the taboo and stigma. I consider this to be important.
 
Have you ever found true love?
Absolutely. Writing Mort Morte actually led me to getting an agent, who turned out to be the love of my life. And we have a daughter who’s five years old, and I have a love for her that is so profound and deep, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
How many times a day do you think about death?
I sometimes go days without thinking about it. But I do have these morbid images of my daughter dying in some horrible way, and me not being able to stop it. Once in a while lying awake at night I imagine what the world would be like without me, and it’s truly a horrible idea.
Are you jealous of other writers?
Constantly.
What makes you cry?
One of the ways I got over posttraumatic stress disorder, and addictions to cocaine and sex, was through hypnotherapy. My hypnotherapist taught me how to unleash the emotions within me. I was raised in an English environment, where no one ever cried. So now all kinds of things make me cry. I can cry watching a trailer for a sappy movie. The other day I was watching Love Actually, which is really cheesy movie. But I wept like a baby. I really enjoyed it.
What makes you laugh?
Buster Keaton. Richard Pryor. Lenny Bruce. George Carlin. People who can make comedy out of tragedy.
What are you ashamed of?
When I was in my 20s I used and exploited people, mostly women, to get what I wanted. I was like a vampire sucking love & sex out of women, and giving nothing in return.
What’s the loveliest thing you have ever seen?
My daughter.
Hiding eyes Edinburgh 1
David Henry Sterry is the author of 14 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, activist, and book doctor. His first memoir, Chicken, was an international bestseller, and has been translated into 10 languages. His anthology, Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys was featured on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. He authored The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published with his ex-agent and current wife. His novella Confessions of a Sex Maniac, was a finalist for the Henry Miller Award. He has written books about working at Chippendales Male Strip Club, the teenaged brain, how to throw a great pajama party if you’re a tween girl, a patriciding mama’s boy, World Cup soccer, a sex maniac, and how to get a book published. He has appeared on, acted with, written for, worked and/or presented at: Will Smith, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Stanford University, National Public Radio, Penthouse, Huffington Post, over 100 independent bookstores from the Strand in NYC to Books & Books in Miami to City Lights in SF to Powell’s in Portland, Miami, LA & Teaxas Book Festivals, Michael Caine, 92nd St. Y, Smith College, Brooklyn Book Festival, the London Times, Reed College, Playboy and Zippy the Chimp. He loves any sport with balls, and his girls. www.davidhenrysterry

Chicken: 10 Year Anniversary Edition

Chicken

Purchase the Book

Paperback : Amazon.com | Barnes & Nobles | Indiebound | Softskull | Powells
Ebook : Kindle | Nook | iBookStore | Kobo
Audiobook: Audible.com
Signed Book : Contact me

Discuss the Book

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“Ten years ago, this debut memoir from Sterry burst upon the literary scene with an energy and inventiveness that captured his little-known subject matter—teenage life in Los Angeles as a rent boy working for a benevolent pimp named Sunny whose “rich, generous, horny friends,” Sterry explains, “pay good money to party with a boy like me.” Now back in print, Sterry’s memoir still crackles with its unsparingly honest approach: “I catch myself in the mirror, seventeen-year-old hardbody belly, pitprop legs, zero body fat, and huge hands. I’m seduced by the glitter of my own flesh.” Scenes from Sterry’s early dysfunctional family life not only add pathos to this tale of fall and resurrection but assure readers that he never sees himself as better than his clients, such as Dot, the wealthy 82-year-old, whose only desire is to experience cunnilingus for the first time—a desire that Sterry readily fulfills. “Even though I have no home and no family except for a bunch of prostitutes and a pimp, even though I have no future… at least I’m good at this.” (Oct.) – Publisher’s Weekly.This is the chronicle of a young man walking the razor-sharp line between painful innocence and the allure of the abyss. David Sterry was a wide-eyed son of 1970s suburbia, but within a week of enrolling at Immaculate Heart College, he was lured into the dark underbelly of the Hollywood flesh trade. Chicken has become a coming-of-age classic, and has been translated into ten languages. This ten-year anniversary edition has shocking new material.“Sterry writes with comic brio … [he] honed a vibrant outrageous writing style and turned out this studiously wild souvenir of a checkered past.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times“This is a stunning book. Sterry’s prose fizzes like a firework. Every page crackles… A very easy, exciting book to read – as laconic as Dashiell Hammett, as viscerally hallucinogenic as Hunter S Thompson. Sex, violence, drugs, love, hate, and great writing all within a single wrapper. What more could you possibly ask for? -Maurince Newman, Irish Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pick of the Week.” -Independent

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpts

Featured Books by David Henry Sterry

chicken-10-year-anniversary-cover-198x300 Master-ceremonies-cover-199x300 essential hos
johns mort HobbyistFinalPRINTCover5.375x8.25inchesCMYK300dpi confessions

How I Became a Whore @ Sex Worker Literati

Hookers, Writers & Other Strangers: Red Orbit Article on David Henry Sterry

http://www.redbankgreen.com/2010/02/in-orbit-writers-and-other-hookers/

Bizarre (but nice) New Review of Chicken

from a website that helps treat psoriasis naturally. don’t quite see the connection between itchy skin condition & being a teen rent boy, but so it goes.

http://psoriasisnaturaltreatment.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/review-of-chicken-self-portrait-of-a-young-man-for-rent-paperback/

The San Francisco Weekly on Chicken: “Humor, energy, & a sharp eye

sfweekly.jpg“Sterry tells a sad and harrowing story with humor, energy, and a sharp eye for the sort of characters an ‘industrial sex technician’ might meet in the weird aftermath of the ‘60s.”

— Michael Scott Moore, The San Francisco Weekly (Theater section)

 

To buy Chicken, click here.

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The San Francisco Examiner on Chicken: “A Rare Pleasure”

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“Experiencing [Sterry’s] natural ear for rhythm and timing, we are reminded of what a rare pleasure it is to see a writer perform his own work. Much like beat poetry, Sterry’s carefully crafted, simple language infuses mundane situations with dream-like profundity…Sterry’s portrayal of his 17-year-old self is immediately honest and believable. In fact, the character’s insecure teenage naiveté juxtaposed with Sterry’s masterful control of poetic dialogue is what balances the show…Sterry remarkably creates and portrays his characters.”

— Emily Klein, The San Francisco Examiner

To buy Chicken click here.

Josh Cohen, WZZR on Chicken: “I Couldn’t Put it Down”

“Written so well… eloquent, amazing… I couldn’t put it down!”

— Josh Cohen, WZZR Radio

To buy, click here.

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Chicken Review: “Dark wit and considerable compassion… wickedly funny, baroque”

“Jawdropping… Even as confessional memoirs go, David Sterry’s Chicken stands out from the rest. Alternately farcical, grotesque, brutal and sad… A carefully crafted piece of work… Gives the famous encounter between Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini in “Blue Velvet” a run for its money.”

“Dark wit and considerable compassion… wickedly funny, baroque… sadly, even touchingly human, thanks to Sterry’s matter-of-fact empathy for his disturbed customers… Chicken gets its soul from Sterry’s nuanced portrait of his growing anguish as the work takes him to increasingly scary places, physically and emotionally.”

— Wendy Smith, Amazon

To see more & buy Chicken click here.

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Spectator Magazine Dr. Carol Queen on Chicken: “Super-readable roller coaster”all

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“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

To buy Chicken click here.

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Readers Write About Chicken: “Like Kerouac, I HAD to read it in one sitting”

Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent – to buy click here.

chicken 10 year 10-10-13Incredible… your book, it’s like Kerouac. I loved it so much, I HAD to read it in one sitting. I can’t wait for the next book.

I really can’t express how splendid, wonderful, excellent, clever…. (I’m running out of adjectives) your presentation was yesterday. You held a very tough audience absolutely RIVETED for 3 full hours! the beautiful prose coupled with your performance talent is a killer combination. (I kept wanting to stop your reading in order to point out specific narrative techniques you used–how *skillfully* the “technical” aspects of writing contributed to the power of the book. I guess I’ll have to wait until the book is out, and assign it as a classroom text in order to deconstruct it on that level. Alice La Plant – SF State University Professor

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I tore through your book in a matter of hours: read it while walking to work, on the BART, in line at the store. Loved it. – SF

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I am really looking forward to reading your next book – you are an incredibly gifted writer. The book broke my heart, turned me on, and gave me the vicarious thrill of walking in a man’s shoes (yours) for a day. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and yourself, with me and the world. As with all great books, the last page left me screaming No Wait- I Still Don’t Know What Happened – Juline Koken – NYC

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I just finished the book. First, my gratitude for the testimony, for positing the story in the world. Then for the cockygiddyjoygift of your style, grace, clarity, humour and generosity. all this seeping and fuming between bouts of mouth-drying horror and lumpy-throat sexiness. Thanks – Dr. Leon Johnson, University of Oregon

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Very powerful–sad, funny, accomplished… Susan Boloton, Workman Press

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I was skeptical about reading this memoir because the sex industry is not a subject that I’m especially drawn to. My friend read and loved this book and strongly suggested that I read it. I took her advice and once I began to read I was completely unable to put Chicken down. The writing style of this book flowed so smoothly and was crafted so skillfully that I felt that I was watching the story happen rather than reading it off of a page. This book was fascinating and I commend David Sterry for his honesty and courage. – San Francisco

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Just finished you book and enjoyed it very much. Thought I’d reach out and let you know that you touched at least this reader. You have an excellent and articulate voice – looking forward to your next work. Adios, Patrick

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Your book has been such a sumptuous meal, a feast on this day where I starved for inspiration. Thanks! For being not only so brave to tell your story but also for being such a true artist. You are so lush, your poetry so rich, phrases pop out at me like valuable diamonds never before seen, never before measured. The juxtaposition of your childhood and the narrative story is brilliant. You taught me so much, you are a magic beacon of light. Grazie mille, Daisy – Hollywood

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I hate to invade your email privacy, however, I must tell you that since I received “Chicken” by mail yesterday, I was able to put it down only twice before finishing it. I could all too well identify with your horrors and through your confessions am finding catharsis. (Even though I only finished it ten minutes ago) Congratulations, and thank you. Kyle Bastien – Vancouver

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Ye flipping gods. The first passage I peeked at was howlingly funny, so I was expecting something lighter, more tongue-in cheek, maybe even flippant. What I have here is merciless writing, zero to wrenching in less than fifteen pages, at a pace that leaves no time for the reader to wallow. – Oregon

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Wow, not only was your book incredibly interesting but your style of writing was THE MOST engaging and enjoyable book I have ever read. I read nonfiction and memoirs, about a book every week and yours was awesome. Good for you with your survival, courage and talent not to mention all of your hard work. I so much appreciate the opportunity to have read your book. I hope you are creating another book that I and others can enjoy. Your perspective, your style, your visions, descriptions and feelings, the way you ran words and sentences together for an amazing affect was a joy to participate in and I thank you again for sharing. Good Luck to you. Congradulations on a fabulous piece of art! Sincerly, Nancy Malone

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I love your book. You are so poetic. You have the same wonderfully vivid style. Candye Kane, San Diego

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i just wanted to tell you how incredible your book, “chicken” is. it reads “on the road”, like a chicken kerouac. i loved it so much, i HAD to read it in one sitting. i can’t wait for your next book. -a fan. – Alger Batts

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I was so moved by your first chapter. I myself am a survivor of sexual abuse so hearing you talk about it definitely makes me feel strong and hopeful for my own situation. (I have been dealing for a year now… I was abused as a five year old by my stepfather… and haven’t been able to write–much less talk–about it yet.) I was one of those teary eyed people after hearing you both read and talk about it, and I wanted to come up to you after class…. but it still has a huge emotional impact on me and I’m one of those girls that hates to cry. Anyway, I didn’t e-mail you to write you my life story, I only wanted to thank you for the generosity to express yours. And to express it so beautifully. So thank you very much. I wish you much luck and lots of return on your book! I’ve already told three people they HAVE to read it… and buy it! UC Berkeley Student – Megan Allen

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I nabbed his review copy of Chicken. It obviously took a rare amount of courage to write and publish it – such candour and humour about such a dangerous and soul-destroying situation. Your book describes perfectly the dark split between double lives – I am unfortunately well familiar with it. Aside from this being fan mail, would you like me to send you a check? I feel guilty about reading Chicken without buying it. – Dawna Rae from Toronto

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I was blown away. Not just a reading of good material, a performance…It was very intimidating and awfully impressive. – Jan Nash

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I love his writing style; it brings you into the story. You will not want to put it down. The fact that this is an autobiography makes the story even more horrifying. Yet since it is a catharsis of a true survivor, it seems that David brings somehow to an unexpected redemption. You must read this book

The Observer on Chicken: “Very funny. A side of the sex-worker’s story that’s rarely heard”

observer-329.jpg“It’s a breezy read, pleasingly free of self-pity. Sterry judges the tone carefully. He’s unflinching and perceptive without being mawkish, and often very funny. And the side of the sex-worker’s story he tells is a rarely heard one.

— The Observer

To buy Chicken click here.

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The San Francisco Bay Guardian Reviews Chicken

San Francisco Bay Guardian[A] refreshingly affectionate portrayal of a naïve young man’s first taste of Los Angeles in mid 1970s…Sterry expertly and economically brings the parade of pimps, nuns, debutantes, rapists, and sexual deviants who populate his past to life…he attacks his evocative prose like a grizzled beatnik poet hitting a home run.

— The San Francisco Bay Guardian

To buy: Indiebound.  Amazon.

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