David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Tag: escort

From Corporate Cubicle to Courtesan: Six Questions for Veronica Monet

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

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

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Ho’s cover

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

DHS: What are some other jobs you had?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Legendary Dr. Carol Queen’s Shocking True Story of Weird Bible Sex @ Lusty Lady

Dr. Carol Queen tells about working at the infamous Lusty Lady and encountering a Bible spouting sexual enthusiast who asks her to do the WEIRDEST THING.johns marks cover cropped

From Johns Marks Tricks & Chickenhawks. To buy the book, click here.

Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing about Each Other is the follow-up to Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys, the groundbreaking anthology that appeared on the cover of the 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.

Publishers Weekly: This collection of personal essays by sex workers and their clients vacillates    wildly from hilarious to depressing but never strays from being utterly captivating. Among the more amusing stories are a client with a “sweater fetish”, a woman who paid for her family’s Christmas presents by stepping on a man’s testicles in a pornographic film, and the dominatrix who got fired because she could not remove a client’s tooth. The phone sex operator asked to do cartoon animal voices for a caller is also not to be missed. Candid essays cover everything from the anonymous “captain of industry” with an appreciation for transsexual prostitutes, to the human misery of a pimp who turned out his own girlfriend. Some pieces are more meditative: Fiona Helmsey recalls meeting a kind client at a bachelor party who later died on 9/11, while Dr. Annie Sprinkle discusses her 40 years in the sex industry and her wish for “a more compassionate sex-positive society” in which “prostitutes and johns would be government-subsidized”. Though obviously not for the faint of heart, this book contains some courageous, raw, and intelligent writing that breaks taboos and smashes misconceptions. (Apr.)

To see on Publishers Weekly, click here.

Book trailer: Who Really Buys & Sells Sex

Great conversation w/ Jon Pressick on Sex Radio: Selling it, buying it, sex books $ love on Sex Talk Radio 4 Johns Marks Tricks & Chickenhawks

Interview with David Henry Sterry for Johns Marks Ticks & Chickenhawks in San Francisco Weekly by Chris Hall

Sexpert genius Veronica Monet on Rumpus.

Master graphic novelist & sexual revolutionary Chester Brown on Rumpus.

David Henry Sterry on Rumpus: Admit You’ve Paid for It.

Sam Benjamin on Creating Utopian Porn on  Rumpus.

Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys Gets Big Love

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Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys featured on the cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.  Written by Toni Bentley. To buy the book click here.


“An eye-opening, occasionally astonishing, brutally honest and frequently funny collection from those who really have lived on the edge in a parallel universe…unpretentious and riveting — but don’t worry, their tales are also graphic, politically incorrect and mostly unquotable in this newspaper…”

“Lele,” a piece by Jodi Sh. Doff, who “grew up in the suburbs as someone else entirely,” recalls Henry Miller’s in-your-face exposition. She tells of a night at Diamond Lil’s on Canal Street, where “Viva’s sitting onstage, legs spread wide.” While her customer is buried and busy, she holds a cigarette in one hand, a drink in the other, and chitchats with a girlfriend about another girlfriend. “Every two minutes or so Viva taps him on the head and he hands her a 20 from a stack of bills he’s holding, never looking up.” We see in this wonderful set piece the whole money/sex connection enacted with raw charm and an immediacy that reaches far beyond this strip club, as the man’s stack of 20s, one by one, becomes hers. Multitasking Viva holds them “folded lengthwise in her cigarette hand.”

“Very brave, very moving.”

“This collection is a wonderful reminder that good writing is not about knowing words, grammar or Faulkner, but having that rare ability to tell the truth, an ability that education and sophistication often serve to conceal. While we are all, I suppose, in the business of surviving, some really are surviving more notably than others. The collective cry for identity found in this unsentimental compilation will resonate deeply — even, I suspect, with those among us who pretend not to pay for sex.” – New York Times


“Sterry — who has written a number of other books, such as “Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent” and “Unzipped: A True Story of Sex, Drugs, Rollerskates and Murder” — spoke with Express about his idea for the collection, America’s most commonly held misconceptions about the sex industry and whether the book should go in the ‘entertainment’ or the ‘educational’ portion of your bookcase.” –Express interview in the Washington Post 


“’Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Money and Sex’ is graphic in nature, but full of raw, unfiltered and enlightening tales regarding a side of life not many want to know about; the sex trade. What’s so fascinating and downright addicting is that many of the entries are from individuals one would wrongfully assume to be illiterate, stupid or unworthy to hear from. While proving the stereotype wrong, each contributor delivers his or her side of a lifestyle with poise, passion, nuance and heart.

Real and undeniably shocking, “Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys…” made its debut to encore readers last winter, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. So, it’s one of the most impacting reads yet to strike my world. It widened my eyes, opened my heart and oddly made me want to listen to Madonna’s “Human Nature”—and that’s a good thing.” -Tiffanie Gabrielse, Top Five Reads: Tiff ranks her fave favorite page-turners Encore Online


“This kaleidoscopic portrait of sex work in America is all the more striking for its breadth.” –SF Weekly


The sprawling project offers insight into seemingly all aspects of the sex trade: high-profile celebrities like Xaviera “Happy Hooker” Hollander and Nina Hartley make notable contributors, but it’s the unknown writers who will stick. The selections from the book’s closing section alone, written by members of a writer’s workshop for sex workers, range from triumphant to harrowing, making up for a lack of style or form with passion. Aside from exposing the complex web of relationships among phone sex operators, dancers, massage parlor workers, prostitutes and their customers, the book is heavy with raw emotions ranging from celebratory to shameful, giving armchair sociologists plenty to ponder. It’s not all dark and heavy: Sterry’s own account of his experience as a birthday present for an 82-year-old grandmother is touching and sentimental; veteran performer Annie Sprinkle is characteristically blunt, funny and honest. This volume houses some real gems.” – Publishers Weekly


“The prose in this volume is fresh and the tales are both heart-rending and hilarious, sometimes simultaneously. What’s most striking about the volume is how relevant these intimate and detailed chronicles are for any reader, whether they’ve sold their bodies or just their souls. It’s not just about sex. Rather than ghettoizing prostitutes, strippers and porn actors, editors David Henry Sterry and R.J. Martin have brought together essays from a broad sampling of sex workers, keeping it balanced. There are gripping accounts of writers who struggle to pay bills and get their lives together, who have families, who are human beings. How this crew differs from the straights is they all opted for sex work rather than a drone job.” – New York Press


“In these dark days of brokedom, who amongst us hasn’t lingered a bit too long in the Etc. section of the Craigslist job postings? I mean, I do have dainty feet with nicely trimmed toenails, and if I could make my rent just by stepping on some random businessman’s face, well who’s to judge?? Granted, I am not brave enough (or hard up enough) to go through with such an evening’s work (just yet), but the selection of writers featured in the anthology, Hos Hookers, Call Girls, And Rent Boys were not only brave enough to do it, and keep doing it, but were equally brave enough to write about it.  The first hand accounts, interviews, and poems featured in this book are so well written and organized, that the fact that they all center around the exchanging of sex for money falls into the background, and what’s left is an intimate offering of on-the-job gossip and late night horror stories that have you wanting to spend more time with the writer than the three or four pages a pop you’re given with each one.” – Kelly McClure, Bust Magazine


“In a reading that brought down the house at Busboys and Poets, Sterry’s rendition of “I Was a Birthday Present for an Eighty-Two-Year-Old Grandmother” was both incredibly funny and a fascinating anti-ageist commentary on the things we’re all afraid to ask for (namely, women asking for oral sex).” – Allison McCarthy, Womanist Musings


“Sterry and Martin have managed to bring together a crazy quilt of essays, and work the fabric of the anthology into a rich tapestry… Some of the narratives are polished and savvy, some are as hard and rough as drug addiction that dogs a body and soul. Others reveal a tarnished realism about the painful truths of being in the life. The most compelling are those which give voice to the most vulnerable, in the chapter written by sexually exploited youth. Helping Daddy Pay the Rent is a devastating indictment of societal neglect and despicable acts of parental desperation combust in one abused child that will tear at your heart… The writing is diverse and eclectic, a mirror into the nature of the industry itself. Sex workers with advanced academic degrees, porn stars and anonymous phone operators, exotic dancers in various states of gender and undress, have more in common than sex for money; they are united in their courage to tell their stories. They unabashedly relate their emotions, actions and reactions, in situations from victimization to domination, hunger to satiation; size twelve stiletto wearing cross dressers, full body massage providers, plaster casted exhibitionists all tell their tales in gripping first person I-live(d)-it-so-there’s-no-sugar-coating-it manner. Hearts, heads and other assorted body parts, seedy strip joints, broken down bars and spirits, upscale hotels and high rollers are exposed with unflinching candor and gritty authenticity, bringing to light the world of industrial sex workers.  This book is more than an interesting and affecting read. In its entirety, in its insistence that the gamut of personal histories about sex/money/power/frailty is a reflection of the human condition, it speaks to a broad audience. A bit of paraphrasing may serve to place the content in its most valuable context: Roman philosopher, Terence, said nothing in humanity can be alien to man; and renowned psychoanalyst Carl Jung said that light is revealed by uncovering shadow. HHCG&RB presents the universality of ancient archetypal themes playing out in modern day scenes, and in doing so, uncovers shadow for all.”  –Barnes & Noble.com


“Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys is an extremely valuable and necessary book, not because it tells you what your perspective ought to be, but because it provides more perspectives than pretty much any other book on the topic. It covers more ground than I would have imagined possible. What I love is the fact that, for once, so many different voices are represented within the same space…I can’t help but feel that it should be required reading… precisely because it addresses, head-on, so many of the issues and schisms that have kept those conversations stalled for so long.” – Tiger Beatdown


“There’s something unique about being a member of the sex worker club, an instant camaraderie that bonds one to people who would otherwise be strangers, and this chemistry is something of which Sterry can’t get enough. You might be one of those people who doesn’t believe that sex workers are interesting. You may downright resent the cultural fascination with those who take money to titillate and masturbate strangers. Maybe you’re convinced that the only thing these men and women have going for them are passable looks and a wildly miscalibrated moral compass, and that paying attention to their déclassé life of the body glamorizes underachieving and turpitude.
If you belong to this camp, you probably don’t actually know any sex workers—at least none who would come out to you, and why would they? You’ve made up your mind about them already. You say things like: “Stripping is 1) a way to make a lot more cash than other “unskilled” service jobs [and] 2) incredibly degrading,” then add, “I’ve never been a stripper and I don’t know any strippers.” Never, for that matter, will you actually ever know anything about strippers, because they aren’t going to talk to you. Sex workers just don’t feel comfortable around you. But many do feel comfortable with David Henry Sterry, a former gigolo best known for his memoir Chicken, and what they share with him should convince even the grouchiest non-believers that sex workers are an engaging, unusual tribe. In Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys, Sterry and co-editor R.J. Martin have assembled an array of poems, interviews, and essays in a professed attempt to humanize sex workers. The mission is an admirable one, but raises the question of how many individuals who don’t already believe in sex workers’ humanity are going to pick up this hefty anthology. It also masks the true motivating energy behind the collection, which is Sterry’s exuberant love of his fellow pros and his desire to celebrate their histories and personalities. There’s something unique about being a member of the sex worker club, an instant camaraderie that bonds one to people who would otherwise be strangers, and this chemistry is something of which Sterry can’t get enough. He refers frequently to this sense of kinship and stresses the uncommonness of his access to such candid and diverse workers. (This bragging about connections ultimately seems a little silly, given that many of the book’s contributors are well-established go-to writers like Audacia Ray, Annie Sprinkle, and Xaviera Hollander.) Sterry’s enthusiasm also manifests as frequent, ill-advised introductions to pieces written by individuals whom he personally knows. As he details first meetings with contributors such as Surgeon and mochaluv, the focus is directed on himself rather than the person he’s touting, and it creates the impression that the writing itself isn’t good enough to hold one’s attention—that without knowing how beautiful Lorelei Lee or Carla Crandall or April Daisy White are, we won’t care about their essays. We do care, though, because in addition to being porn stars and prostitutes, many of these people are talented writers with strong voices and precise observations. They’re natural born storytellers who manage to encapsulate an aspect of their experiences in wonderfully succinct (Sebastian Horsley: “Brothels make possible encounters of extreme intimacy without the intervention of personality.”) and stark, unsentimental ways (Brenda: “I have been arrested eight times for prostitution. It messed up my life.”) Among the most effective pieces is Melissa Petro’s “Mariposa,” an essay on her time spent in Mexico as a white American stripper, an unforgettable script-flip of the highest order (our girls go there to make money?)  Candye Kane reminisces about her sweet and genuine childhood friendship with an exotic dancer, while Sadie Lune explores the decadent excitement that comes from self-consciously inhabiting the role of an archetypal whore. Sterry himself reflects on his session with an 82-year-old woman, an encounter he initially dreads but eventually delights in: ‘I am making this happen. I have such a sense of joy and satisfaction.’ The standout offering, however, is Juliana Piccillo’s “Vice,” an exploration of her relationship with an invasive and needy client that rendered her alternately gratified and repulsed. Piccillo relentlessly mines the conflicting emotions that come with clients who want to play the white knight, a common but relatively undiscussed topic in most sex worker literature. “His fatherly concern co-existed with his hard-on,” she writes. “He left me to reconcile this.” She also admits to coming unintentionally (and practically unwillingly) while working in a job that generally disgusts her, and not wanting to leave in spite of hating the routine—paradoxes that many prostitutes shy away from acknowledging. Some of these essays barely even explicitly address sex work, particularly those culled from SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) workshops. The focus is instead on struggles with addiction, particularly clear and affecting memories, and current personal relationships. The inclusion of these selections may be the book’s greatest, albeit most subtle triumph. It serves as an invaluable reminder that hos and rent boys aren’t as prone to filtering their complex lives through the sieve of clients’ orgasms as are the civilians who debate about and condemn them.” – The Rumpus

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

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