Bad Booze, Broken Dreams, Loose Loins and Tender Hearts
October 10, 8 PM
David Henry Sterry
Alan Black & David Henry Sterry, ne’er-do-well degenerates who’ve spent decades debauching in the TL, will ride herd over an all-star cavalcade of literary luminaries who shine a light on the dark underbelly of the seedy groin of San Francisco’s dirty little secret: the Tenderloin. God-fearing evangelists and godless pimps, homeless crackheads and slumming dotcom millionaires, rogue cops and dirty dancers, fallen angels and back from the dead devils, transitioning streetwalkers and problematic hypersexualists, this is the last bastion of the adverse shrinking urban jungle that has made San Francisco San Francisco since the Gold Rush on Barbary Coast.
The Tenderloin Museum is hosting a 2016 Litquake event (https://litquake2016.sched.org/) on Monday Oct 10th. Tenderloinism: Tales from the ‘Hood features gritty tales from the city’s most misunderstood neighborhood, with Alan Black (of Edinburgh Castle), Paula Hendricks (TL apartment manager & prolific writer), Gary Kamiya (Cool Gray City of Love), David Henry Sterry & Carolyn Terry.
398 Eddy Street @ Leavenworth) San Francisco, CA 94102 415-351-1912
made in Glasgow. unmade in California.
manages an 81 unit apartment building in the TL, writes poetry, and designs books. Author of September in Corrales and The Tire House Book, Paula is interested in the mystery of the everyday… things that are right in front of her eyes, that often go unseen or under-appreciated.
is author of Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco. He was a co-founder of Salon.com, with David Talbot. He is currently executive editor of San Francisco magazine and writes a weekly history column for the San Francisco Chronicle, “Portals of the Past.”
David Henry Sterry
is the best-selling author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, producer, and activist. His memoir Chicken:Self-Portrait of a Man for Rent, has been translated into a dozen 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 is co-founder of The Book Doctors and has helped countless writers get successfully published. He’s appeared on, at or in London Times, National Public Radio, the Blue Man Group, Stanford, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Yes! Look, you can’t call up HarperCollins and say, “Hello! I’ve written a great book, could I please speak to Mr. Harper or Mr. Collins?” If you’re an unknown quantity, and you aren’t sleeping with someone at a literary agency–or even if you are, in some cases–it’s virtually impossible to get face time with a publishing professional, be it an agent, editor, or publisher. Your blind query is usually dropped with a plop into the slop of the dreaded and aptly named slush pile, where it is then skimmed over by an eighteen-year-old unpaid intern. The fate of your book, the object of your passion and hard work, is frightfully beyond your control. Luckily, at the best writers conferences and workshops, and even some of the top-drawer bookfairs and festivals, you can personally meet, speak with, and sometimes even pitch to real publishing professionals. We know. We’ve met amazing writers at all of these places and helped them get book deals.
“I’d already begun the pitch process by mail and email, and it felt like yelling into the void most of the time,” recalls Roxanna Elden, whose experiences looking for an agent to represent her first book are all too typical. “There were agents who took six months to respond to emails, and one who asked me to send a hard copy of the manuscript overnight, then rejected me weeks later with a one-line, all-lowercase email that said something like, ‘love the title but not for me sorry.'”
Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu thought they had won the lottery when they almost immediately landed an agent. Their agent shopped their proposal to a dozen big New York City publishers and one by one they were rejected. “Soon after,” Nura explained, “our agent dumped us because she no longer had faith in the project.”
Roxanna, Nura, and Ayesha knew they needed to get in front of professionals. Roxanna signed up for Miami Writers Institute, an annual conference at Miami Dade College. There, she attended a talk by agent Rita Rosenkranz. “By this time, I had perfected my pitch and built my platform and had some idea of what I hoped to find in an agent. Then, in her talk, Rita mentioned that many agents wrongly ignore books for niche markets, which my first book was. She also said she was looking for authors who showed the willingness to hustle to promote their work. Everything she said made her seem like an incredibly good fit for my work. I walked up to her after the talk, handed her my card, and emailed her as fast as I could. She answered my email within 24 hours… and still does!” Rita went on to sell not only Roxanna’s first book, See Me After Class, but also her children’s picture book, Rudy’s New Human.
But just attending a writers conference, workshop, or book festival is no guarantee of a book deal. How you present yourself (and to whom) matters as much as your idea and your book. You have to pick the right agent or editor. Present yourself as a complete package. Seize every opportunity at just the right moment.
Lana Krumwiede, whose attendance at the James River Writers Conference helped land her first book deal for Just Itzy, advises, “Be as prepared as possible by researching the agents, editors, and authors who will be speaking. You’ll get more out of the conference that way and you’ll feel more confident talking to people. Get out there and talk to people! Ask (appropriate) questions and take in as much as you can. And if you have an appointment with an editor or an agent, don’t fall into the trap of thinking of it as your ‘one big chance.’ There is no such thing as ‘one big chance.’ You will have as many chances as you create for yourself.”
Victoria Skurnick, a literary agent at Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency, has this advice for first-time attendees, “There are ways to an agent’s heart at conferences for writers. The first is–be normal. This is harder for some people than you might have thought. The second, be helpful. The people who provided me with a club soda when they noticed my voice cracking, who offered to pick me up and drive me to a dinner far away–I will be grateful to them for the rest of my life.”
We agree. Here are our top ten tips for scoring at a writers conference, workshop, or bookfair.
The Book Doctors Top 10 Tips for Scoring at a Writers Conference, Workshop or Bookfair
Look good, smell good, and don’t be late. Pretend you’re a guest on The Today Show–act and dress accordingly.
Be respectful of publishing professionals. Don’t just blast over and bombard them. Be patient, wait for your opening. Never pitch your book unless they ask you to, and if they do, don’t go longer than a minute. And please, we beg you, don’t follow them into the bathroom! This has happened to us more times than we care to remember.
Listen more than you talk. Your goal should not be to pitch at all costs. Better to have a good conversation where you get to know an editor or agent.
Research! Make sure the event caters to the kind of book you’re selling. Make note of who is presenting, and plan your approach for whom you want to meet. Sign up early. The most valuable conferences, classes, and one-on-one sessions fill up fast.
How do you get to perform at Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. The same is true with pitching books. Workshop your pitch whenever possible. Tell everybody who will listen, honing your delivery so the pitch lasts less than a minute. Try rehearsing with other conference attendees. All this extra effort will have a make-or-break effect on an agent or editor.
Have an excellent business card and don’t be afraid to use it. Collect as many cards as you can.
After the event, follow up all leads as quickly as possible. Early birds strike while the iron is hot.
Network! Meet as many fellow writers as possible. These encounters can blossom into all sorts of relationships. You never know who will be published one day.
Buy books written by people you want to approach. Ask them to sign the book for you if they are willing. Use this as an informal opportunity to make a connection.
Connect! Do something nice for booksellers, agents, editors, writers, and publishing professionals using social media. If done actively and appropriately, tweeting, facebooking, instagramming, and blogging are great ways of staying in touch and making yourself a known quantity.
The Book Doctors travel across America to feature in writers workshops, conferences, bookfairs, and festivals. On February 13th, we’re holding a conference and Pitchapalooza at one of the greatest bookstores in the country, Changing Hands. If you are in the Phoenix area, come hang out, polish your skills, and maybe take a selfie with us. But please, don’t follow us into the bathroom.
To read this article on the Huffington Post,click here.
Roxanna Elden has been a teacher for eleven years and is the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. Her inspiration for Rudy’s New Human came from watching her dog, Rudy Elden, as he adjusted to having a new baby human in the house. She lives in Miami, Florida, with Rudy and his (now two!) little humans.
Lana Krumwiede began her writing career by creating stories and poems for publications such as Highlights, High Five, Spider, Babybug, The Friend, and Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul. Her first novel, Freakling (Candlewick, 2012) was named a finalist for SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Member’s Choice Award and an honor book for the International Reading Association’s Intermediate Fiction Award. Freakling was followed by two more novels, Archon (2013) and True Son (2015). Lana is also the author of the picture book Just Itzy (2015). She lives with her husband and daughter in Richmond, where she sits on the board of directors for James River Writers and runs a local writers’ group.
Ayesha Mattu is a writer, editor and international development consultant who has worked in the field of women’s human rights since 1998. She was selected a ‘Muslim Leader of Tomorrow’ by the UN Alliance of Civilizations & the ASMA Society and has served on the boards of IDEX, the Women’s Funding Network, and World Pulse. Ayesha is an alumna of Voices of Our Nations writers’ workshop and a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.
Nura Maznavi is an attorney, writer, and Fulbright Scholar. She has worked with migrant workers in Sri Lanka, on behalf of prisoners in California, and with a national legal advocacy organization leading a program to end racial and religious profiling. She lives in Chicago.
Victoria Skurnick came to Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency after being at The Book-of-the Month Club for almost twenty years. As Editor-in-Chief, she relished the opportunity to devour every kind of book, from the finest literary fiction to Yiddish for Dogs. She also is the co-author (with Cynthia Katz) of seven novels written by “Cynthia Victor.”
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.
Litquake: The Make-Out Room October 17, 3225 22nd 7 PM
Ex-teen rent boy David Henry Sterry will ride herd over this cavalcade of seamy, steamy stories, with an all-star lineup of the finest burlesque dancers and sex-working writers money can buy; PhDs and high school dropouts, soccer moms and hot dommes, $5,000-a-night call girls and $10 crack hos, penthouse escorts and hard-working rent boys.
In the exchange of sex for money a window opens into the soul
Come take a peek
Bert Avila’s work has been featured in This Bridge We Call Home, Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys and Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks. She lives in the Bay Area and is a well-respected linguist.
Sam Benjamin attended Brown University where he deciphered post-modern theory, drew comic books, and made videos, eventually becoming a pornographer. Sam has an MFA in writing from Cal Arts, and is author of the memoir American Gangbang: A Love Story.
Sherril Jaffe is author of The Unexamined Wife, Expiration Date, and You Are Not Alone and Other Stories, winner of the Spokane Award. She received the Josephine Miles and PEN awards and a MacDowell Fellowship.
Lilycat often traps people into telling their life stories on FCC Free Radio. Her stories have appeared in Chemical Lust, Whipped, More 5 Minute Erotica, Surprise, Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys, and elsewhere.
R.J. Martin, Jr.’s work has appeared in anthologies, magazines, and books. He served as director of development at SAGE. He was presented with a Certificate of Honor from the City of San Francisco. He has a master’s degree from San Francisco State University.
Chris Moore was born and raised by a television and drug-abusive wolves masquerading as parents. His work has appeared in crude and obscure zines and on bathroom stalls. He can be found in San Francisco.
Carol Queen is co-founder of the Center for Sex and Culture. Her books include Exhibitionism for the Shy and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture. Her novel The Leather Daddy and the Femme won a Firecracker Award. sexandculture.org
Dylan Ryan is a porn star, writer, performance artist, social worker, body-working yoga teacher, and bacon lover. Her writing has appeared in Bitch Magazine, The Huffington Post, and on CNN.
David Henry Sterry is author of 16 books and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys. His work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Huffington Post, The London Times, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. davidhenrysterry.com
Kitty Stryker co-founded Consent Culture and helps produce the live sex show “Cum & Glitter.” See her at SXSW or Regents College discussing the intersection of sex and technology or therapeutic prodomming.
I just got home from the Litquake Writers on Drugs show, the place was packed, jacked and wacked, 200 litquakin’ loons crammed into the Edinburgh Castle, where the ghost of Irvine Welch pukes in the bathroom, and oh man the joint jumped, rumbled, rattled and rolled, 9.8 on the Richter Scale. Alan Black the masterful master of ceremonies, was the very model of Scottish hospitality, all nettles and good cheer and the blackest of humor, invoking the dead who’d perished in the Castle from overindulgence and intemperence. What a wag that Alan is, if you’ve never met him, do yourself a favor, introduce yourself at the Caslte and have a blather, he is a true Olde School wit. BTW, Litquke was actually conceived at the Castle, in the front room, i’m not sure what bodily fluids were exchanged but the fetus was made and life began there. From such humble beginnings, Litquake has become such a huge amazing phenomenon. I was very happy to be at the Castle for Drug Night.
Before the show I was hanging out all alone, rehearsing, in the upstairs back room where they normally have readings, when I met another of the evening”s performers, Ed Rosenthal, one of America’s most famous marijuana advocates and a writer and publsiher. He asked me if this was the place to smoke weed. I said I thought this was as good a place as any. He kindly asked me if I would like to join him. I thanked him, and explained that I can’t perform as well when I’m stoned, it throws me off my game. Funny to be performing a drug story in a night full of drug stories, and not be able to be on drugs because it would make my performance suffer. At one time in my life I would have said yes, got stoned, and agonized about it, got all FREAKED OUT, and been all tight and weird and destroy my own self, then fall deep into a funk and go engage in some Behavior, as my AA friends call it, that stuff you do to destroy yourself. I was happy to have evolved enough to recognize what was in my own best instance, and to act accordingly. That made me happy. But when Ed pulled out his pipe and happily lit up, getting quite lit up in the process, I was suddenyl sad. Imagine how great Ed Rosenthal’s weed must be. Later when he went out to perform he confessed in a tiedied stoner voice that he didn’t really remember anything of his life up to about a week ago. He got a big laugh. I was struck by how he had evolved enough to make comedy out of his life. And I thought, ahhhh, yes, that’s why I moved to San Francisco. Ed did a mad rant about how insane it is that the government is sinking all this time and money into fighting the war on drugs when so much else is mucked up in the world, and thanked San Franciscans for helping him make legal history in fighting the evil bastards of the Dark Side. Jayson Galloway, Professor of English author of Viagra Fiend, deconstructed his six favorite drugs, from acid (worst) to ecstacy (favorite), elborating on the pluses and minuses of each. Favorite line: Cocaine is a dillatante drug. Quite right. Fascinating that meth (#4 on his list I believe) got booed. Meth apparently is no longer sexy. Unless you’re on it. Before you crash and just want MORE METH. R.U. Serius, looking deliciously Hobbitty and puckish, read a hysterical story about growing up and doing drugs. Favorite scene: He’s listening to some local dude talk about eating some girl out, and he has no idea what that means, so he assumes it’s about cannibalism and wonders why there were no arrests afterwards. Favorite line: Something he learned that has stayed with him the entire rest of his life: When you’re in a group experimenting with drugs, NEVER GO FIRST.
Then came the break, and I was disturbingly nervous as I did my warm-ups and stretches. They’re going to hate me. I could see it so clearly. Kept flashing on this time I was performing in a nightclub in Edinburgh and they turned on me, I was so bad, I sucked so hard, I bombed, I died, I crashed and burned. It kept recurring, that flashback of the sick cold failure clamming all over me, wrapping its icy fingers around my neck with an ever-tightening chokehold. I fought the image as best I could, using Jedi mind control techniques: I countered the failure flashbacks with memories of when I had fun, when I flowed sweet and easy. At the Assembly Room at the Fringe Festival. Last year at Litquake when Furlinghetti opened (yeah right!)for me. Doing a sketch for HBO where I was a leach lover. Emceeing at Chippendales one Saturday night when I was whipping the Ladies into a frenzied froth. Every time I did, the failure flashback faded. Still, it was exhausting.
So after the break, the music finally gets turned off, and Alan makes the crowd shut up. He’s like a great dominatrix, he just demands respect. So naturally he gets it. They shut up. He’s giving me a great intro, and I take a moment to look out at the crowd, all baited with anticipation, so much human energy waiting to have fun, and I have a profound sense of well being, like where in the world would I rather be? 200 humans just waiting be to entertainment, desperatley wanting to be entertained, and I didn’t have to lift a finger to get them there. I had a deep feeling of gratitude to the universe, so lucky to be there in the now of that moment, and I felt a sense of accomplishment, like I worked so hard to get there, the years of stand-up and the years of writing and writing of writing, and the hours and hours I spent working on this story I was about to read,the revising, the re-writing, the tinkering, the buffing the polishing, it all lead me there. As I looked at the crowd, all those faces, eyes shining, souls hungy for something to wrap themselves around, to transport them, make them laugh and feel and be alive with all these other humans, I felt like part of a long line of history, of people gathering to share their stories, to rejoice in the beauty and terror of being alive on the planet with all the other humans.
I was gonna do some sort of introductory remarks, some witty chitchatty small talk, but feeling the crowd, I sensed that I should just dive right into the telling of the story. It felt like they wanted to be told a story, so I gave it to them. Right from the very beginning I could feel the room come with me. It’s hard to describe how you know that, you can’t quantify or measure it, but my God you can feel it. When a crowd is bored or resistant, or turned off, it’s like when a date goes bad. You can just feel it, and if you’re not careful you panic and work harder to make it better, only that just makes it worse. But when you feel them with you, that crowd, it’s electric, and you feel you can do no wrong. So, at the beginning I was getting laughs from lines that I never got laughs on before in that story, which is always a great sign, but not abnormal, when you have a large jacked up crowd crammed into a small intimate space. But then when I came to the part in the story where a character makes an impassioned plea for everyone to all take acid together before the big hockey game against the hoity toits at Andover, I really let loose, and shouted out the lines with all my mojo flowing, amd the crowd roared eruptingly, man what a krazee rush that was. The best drug of all, I thought, this is the best drug of all, being up here and getting all that laugh love and riotous crowd happiness, riding through my veins finer than the finest China White. I’m getting goose bumpies just stting here typing this, it was so overwhelmingly purely joyful. Addictive? Perhaps. Hangover? Never.
So then I got to the part where we’re on the bus going to the game, as everybody waits for the acid to kick in, and in the story it gets quiet. Scary quiet. I hadn’t planned to, but I lowered my voice to a whisper, and then just stopped talking to let it sink in. Pindrop eery silence fell night over the room. In a club so crowded that kind of silence is stunning, and for me, pure gold, mana from heaven, mother’s milk, possibly better than an orgasm. No, better than an orgasm for sure, cuz you can have an orgasm in your room all alone. It takes 200 other humans to create this spooky silence, where no one is breathing, and even the machines seem to be holding their breath. Again I hadn’t planned this, but I just stopped talking. Let it sit there and sink in. Early in my career I could never have done that. You have to have absolute trust and faith to stop talking like that. To give the moment its full due takes a kind of blind faith. But I felt it. And I just let it be. Trusted myself and my instincts. Trusted the crowd. Trusted the story. It was like a comedy time bomb. After a few stunned seconds of stunning silence, the reality of the moment in the story, where everyone is waiting to feel the acid come on, sinks in to the audience there in that room. And they get it. They are one with me and I with them, and that is when I feel God in that moment of union and communion transcendent and holy in the very best sense of the word. I scanned the room with wide eyes, feeling that feeling from the story fully and truly, of waiting to feel the acid and watching the faces of my teamamtes to see if they were feeling it too. And the more I looked, the more they laughed. It’s just the coolest thing to get that huge a laugh from NOT saying anything. This is when Einstein is revealed to be a genius. Time for me becomes palpably relative. This moment just keeps going on and on and on, the laughter washing over my shores all warm and wet and tall and tan and young and lovely. When I die and my life flashes before my eyes, I hope this is one of the moments I relive. As the laughter faded, I dove right back, and I felt myself riding that crowd like a dragon I trained and made my own, flying through the air, with the greatest of ease, swooping and diving, spitting fire at will. It was just so easy. Effortless ecstacy. The crescendo happened right where it should, we all climaxed together just like it’s supposed to be. To the golden sounds of the crowd giving it up, I floated off the stage and up the stairs, the high on all the love I’m getting.
The rest of the show was a blur to me, but Kate Braverman, transplendent and noirish in black, and Michelle Tea were amazing. Michelle read from Rent Girl. I was reminded again what a great reader and writer she is, which is rarer than hen’s teeth, (as my poor dead mom used to say) and she’s so styly to boot.
As we were leaving the club Arielle turned to me and said, “Boy you coulda gotta lotta pussy tonight.” I smiled at her and said, “Honey, I’ve got all the pussy I want right here with me. ” And I gave her a big wet sexy kiss. I guess we’re just a coupla knuckleheaded romantics. The one sad note of the evening was that I invited a writer who I’m working with to come and talk and network. She’s got, irony rearing its fat head, a terrible drug problem. She showed up wacked out of her skull. Didn’t even stay to watch my part of the show, never mind let me introduce her around afterwards. She called my cel phone while I was actually on stage. In her message she said she had a headache. Headache, my eye. The fact that she had to self-medicate herself to the point of stupification made my heart sink like a sad loadstone. She couldn’t do what was in her own best interest. And she’s such a talented writer. I want so much to help her, but then I wonder why should I bother if she can’t show up. It’s not enough to be talented and to to want it. You gotta show up. It’s nearly 4am now and I should be sleepy but I’m still so high and wired from my performance. I guess I’ll go read Crime and Punishment. I started it about a week ago, and man, that bastard can really write. Thanks San Francisco, you made my night.