David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Tag: male prostitute

Chicken: Page-Turner & Valuable in Studying Craft of Writing & Storytelling

New Review of Chicken from Susan O’Connor: To purchase click here.

chicken 10 year anniversary coverChicken, a book being about a seventeen-year-old male prostitute in Hollywood, California during the 1970’s, is one I’d never thought I’d purchase, having no interest in that time period, location, or profession.

I’d met the author and his wife (literary agent Arielle Eckstut) at a workshop run by the SCBWI. (Together they are The Book Doctors and provide a consulting service for writers). I found the couple to be insightful and knowledgeable about the writing process and the publishing industry. David was also laugh-out-loud funny so I ordered David’s book, “Chicken,” without knowing much about the content.

In Chicken I was introduced to a complex man with a fantastical story of his foray into the underbelly of prostitution and drugs with his fellow “Fraternity of Freaks.”

This was both an entertaining and tantalizing read, as well as a valuable tool in studying the craft of writing and storytelling

Examples of wording that I loved:

  • There is something so unrotten about her.
  • I come from a long light of toads, and it flows out of me easy as fur pie.
  • I was trying to be coolcalmcollected about the whole thing but my heebees were having geebees.

Lines that I thought were brilliantly specific:

  • Tooling through a trendy treed Pacific Palisades neighborhood chocabloc with brown migrant workers mowing green lawns, pink children throwing red balls, and white women driving overpriced foreign automobiles, I have that wonderful sense of déjà vu all over again as I go from the seedy pit of Hollywood to the clean hightone America of my youth.
  • Georgia lights a new cigarette off the cherry the one she holds, well another smolders from the ashtray.

Sentences where he trimmed the bull:

  • But I can’t listen to that voice inside of me that’s never wrong. I don’t know how yet.
  • I’ll assassinate that part of me that cares.

Metaphors and similes I thought were creative:

  • She’d flush me like a soiled toilet.
  • Steak is warm and yummy, resting like a hamster in the tummy of the snake as a curling to the skank the mattress.
  • It’s like eating taffy with no teeth.
  • Rainbow eats it up like wavy gravy with a tie-dye spoon.

This page-turner kept the stakes high throughout. In any moment he could be ripped off, humiliated, or assaulted. The only “normal” part of his life is a girl named Kristy, who he genuinely cares for. Any minute she could discover he is a “chicken” and break off the only stable relationship in his life.

The ending did leave me questioning what happened next. I wanted to know: How he tear himself away from the industry? What became of Sunny? Did his parents play a role in his breaking away? (I’d really grown to be interested in them through the his childhood reflections.) I hope the author has, or will chronicle that time. This I will investigate further.

 

 

Chicken: “Sizzles Off the Page”

I just ordered your book and read it last night until I fell asleep. Your honesty is astounding and your story is so compelling. I cannot believe you came through your experiences with such strength and dignity. You told your story without a hint of hatred or self pity and it sizzles off the page. I just wanted to tell you that. -David Crow

 

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

icon-amazonicons-goodreadsicon-bn
“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
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.

Leeds Guide on Chicken: “A really good, and enlightening, read.”

“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, and a fine knack with expertly told little escapades… 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

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:  IndieboundAmazon

“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).

Ex-Teenage Gigolo Interviewed on Naked TV

Naked TV interviews me about my life in The Life

The Chicken Clucks Defiant: An Academic Review

The Chicken Clucks Defiant: A book review of Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, by David Henry Sterry (to buy book click here)

Ann Lucas
San José State University
San José, California

As the subtitle of David Henry Sterry’s Chicken suggests, this book is a memoir of the author’s year working as a teenaged prostitute. At the age of 17, having arrived in Los Angeles to start college, Sterry found himself homeless when planned living arrangements fell through. In short order he was lured into a stranger’s home, raped, and robbed of his last twenty-seven dollars. Escaping, Sterry was offered refuge and a job by the manager of a fried chicken restaurant. In what Sterry now recognizes as a great cosmic joke, his boss also happened to be the purveyor of human chickens (i.e., a pimp); leaving fast-food wages behind, Sterry soon was charging $100 per hour for his services. His encounters with the colorful, seedy, bizarre, enterprising, desperate, and pathetic who lived on both sides of respectability in 1970s Southern California provide a framework and narrative thread for Sterry’s recounting of how his year in sex work affected him materially, emotionally and interpersonally. Throughout the book, Sterry’s accounts of assignations with clients and dilemmas in balancing his identities as rent boy and college student are interspersed with his childhood memories of growing up in an English immigrant family which is slowly falling apart. These episodes from his childhood and adolescence help provide a context, if not necessarily a cause, for his outlook on life and his foray into sex work. The book concludes with his decision to leave the sex industry.
The writing style in Chicken is brash and engaging. Reminiscent of “gonzo journalism” and Lewis Carroll, Sterry’s style includes vivid descriptions (“Frannie, perched like an anorexic bird in the plumage of her couch”) (p. 33), trenchant metaphors (Sisyphus and leaky buckets), creative compound words (“nuthugging elephantbells”) (p. 6 and passim), and a taste for alliteration (“black businessmen bustling by briskly”) (p. 6). Yet the book is more than just flashy, over-the-top recounting of colorful anecdotes. Rather, Sterry’s writing style serves his substance well, clearly evoking the milieu of 1970s sexual-revolution-era Hollywood and giving the reader a definite sense of his personal style and character as a lost but resourceful late-adolescent. At the same time, the book is visceral and brutally honest about Sterry’s emotional and physical ordeals during his year as a sex worker. He expresses both sympathy and anger for his clients; in regard to his own behavior, he is subtly introspective, smoothly moving between an account of his feelings at the time and a retrospective evaluation of his actions and motives. While his account does not appear to temper the meanness, sadness or vapidity of many of his customers, he does not shrink from reporting his own failings, either. For example, his recounting of his displaced rage on the basketball court is unflinching and heartbreaking (pp. 181-185).
Sterry’s book reflects the truism that experiences shape perspectives. His views of his year as a “chicken” reflect, among other things, his age at the time, the circumstances in which he began the work (voluntarily, but also with some sense of desperation), his feeling of parental rejection and need for love, his recent sexual assault, his interactions with others, as well as the tenor of the times and his location. Thus, despite the fact that many young people are rejected by their parents, find themselves on the streets, and engage in prostitution, this Chicken is not an “everyman chicken,” but rather an account of a unique person in a unique situation.
That said, Chicken can also be placed in a larger literary and socio-cultural context. Sterry’s memoir is important for many reasons, one of which is that it is the first account of a young male prostitute working primarily with a female clientele. We have several examples of memoirs and lightly fictionalized first-person accounts by female sex workers (see, e.g., Almodovar 1993; French 1988; Quan 2001; Hollander 2002) and by male hustlers serving a male clientele (see, e.g., Whitaker 1999; Lawrence 1999). Sterry expands the genre of work created by these “sex worker literati” (Kuczynski 2001); in offering his unique story, he also enables those familiar with the genre to speculate about commonalities and differences among prostitutes (and among clients) as we compare his story to others. For example, like countless others, Sterry refers to his time in prostitution as “the life,” (Sterry, p. 125) indicating a recognition that prostitution in the U.S. is no simple vocation, but rather has larger implications for its practitioners and a broader significance in society. Indeed, Sterry’s book helps demonstrate why “the life” is often used as a synonym for prostitution: illegal and stigmatized, for most prostitution is no mere way to pay the rent. Instead it may involve false names and cover stories; the threat or actuality of violence; uncertainty due to the risk of arrest, eviction, expulsion, loss of custody, deportation and the like; emotional distance from loved ones; and inner turmoil, just to name a few. Whether a prostitute embraces or regrets his/her work, the fact of stigma and criminality often do lead prostitutes into “the life” of prostitution because of the things they must do to conceal their activities from others and the opportunities they forego because of the risk of disclosure.
In contrast, unlike many other “sex positive” authors of prostitution memoirs, Sterry reports that he had only one client who was not hateful (p. 125). Among myriad possibilities, Sterry’s claim may suggest that women as commercial sex consumers tend not to be appreciative of the services they receive; that the kind of women, particularly in the 1970s, who could conceive of, afford, and follow through on paying for sex are a unique sample of mostly troubled, superficial, nihilistic or misanthropic individuals; that teenaged sex providers are particularly taken for granted; or that something specific to Sterry–his own misgivings about his work, the way in which his manager procured customers, etc.–influenced Sterry’s interactions with and perceptions of his clients. While the reader can do little more than speculate about this matter, this kind of contrast nonetheless demonstrates the usefulness of Sterry’s book in helping those among us who research, observe, theorize about, or participate in the sex industry to (re)consider how specific or generalizable our own findings, conclusions, beliefs and experiences may be.
The complex relation between the specific and the general is implicated in other ways by Sterry’s memoir. For example, some readers may feel that Sterry wrongly sentimentalizes non-commercial consensual intercourse, drawing too stark a dichotomy between the nastiness of paid sex and the delights of unpaid sex. Remembering having sex with his college girlfriend for the first time, Sterry writes: “This is so different from working sex. That’s dank dark distant and mechanical, and I have to pump myself up into a loverstudguy to do it.” (p. 85) As people from all spectra of human experience have pointed out, including this reviewer (Lucas, in press), commercial sex is not always or necessarily impersonal and alienating, nor does non-commercial sex always or necessarily promote sharing, bonding and interpersonal connection. Yet Sterry should not be faulted for his viewpoint here, because, with few exceptions, his book consistently makes clear that this story is his alone; he never claims to speak for all rent-boys, rape victims, or homeless teens. Moreover, many teenagers see the world, including the world of sex, as black and white. Despite Sterry’s greater exposure than most adolescents to the extremes of sexual practice, given his conflicted emotions about his behavior, at this time he probably also viewed paid and unpaid sex strictly as a study in contrasts. Thus, rather than being faulted for portraying this view in his memoir, Sterry merits praise for recreating this duality so accurately.
However, when he ventures beyond his specific story, Sterry is on unstable ground. Sterry reports that “[o]ver ninety percent of sex workers have been sexually abused” (p. 82). This figure is wholly unsubstantiated. Studies reporting such a high rate of abuse have consistently proved invalid due to poor design, questionable administration, vague or over-general definitions of abuse, and inadequate sampling. Where even roughly accurate, such figures describe only specific and extremely limited groups of sex workers. For the population as a whole, it is impossible to know how many sex workers have been abused–even with precise definitions of abuse–because it is impossible to conduct random sampling or to establish that a sample is indeed representative of the larger population. Sex workers in general, and prostitutes especially, do not consistently admit involvement in the sex industry. As such, the size, spread, and basic demographic characteristics of this population are impossible to specify, including its rates of abuse. Moreover, it is probable that sex workers who are abuse survivors are more likely to come to researchers’ attention through contacts with law enforcement, safe sex outreach workers, drug counselors, and others, because their history of abuse may make them less able to conceal their activities, more at risk for problem behaviors, and more open to outreach workers offering help. In other words, researchers often start with a skewed sample. Finally, to the extent any generalizations are possible, they are most reliable for female prostitutes. Male sex workers are an especially poorly understood group, in part because they are rarely studied except in connection with HIV and AIDS. Absent more information about male prostitutes as a group, one cannot assume that findings applicable to women also describe their male counterparts.
However, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise outstanding work. In terms of its larger lessons, Sterry’s memoir reinforces what other sex workers and academics have said in their own ways about the many problems of stigma and the need for society to recognize prostitution as a legitimate and valuable profession when freely chosen. In recounting his yin-yang experiences and emotions regarding sex work, Sterry shows us what a minefield the terrain of prostitution can be for its practitioners. Like other prostitutes, both male and female, Sterry’s self-esteem was both enhanced by (or through) prostitution, and also, sometimes simultaneously, diminished–especially when his clients made clear their lack of regard for him and his ilk. Sterry’s memoir suggests that when prostitution is not fully chosen or continued, and when it is practiced by those who are vulnerable, immature, living in precarious conditions or otherwise at risk, it is a practice that may be highly fraught with tension and uncertainty. That is, a person who is both young and ambivalent about his or her work as a prostitute is likely to be particularly susceptible to societal condemnation, stigma, and self-doubt. These forces, in turn, can make it more difficult for such a person to navigate the terrain of prostitution successfully, find or create a support network, make decisions to promote well-being, negotiate successfully with clients, learn which clients (s)he prefers or how to select them, and the like.
Again, this is not to fault Sterry or to diminish his successes and ingenuity in chickenhood. Nor is it to suggest that we can reach dispositive conclusions based on one set of experiences. Rather, it is to insist that we not discount this set of experiences as simply a compelling coming-of-age story, another example of triumph over adversity, or a Day-Glo® portrait of seamy Hollywood excess. While it may be these things, Chicken is more. It expands our understanding of who does sex work and what it involves; of how family dislocation, dysfunction and desertion affect children and adolescents; and of the complex interplay between social norms, sexual practices, “deviant” behavior, and identity. Academics might use Chicken profitably to help students explore non-fiction and memoir writing, or substantively in courses on gender, sexuality, adolescence, deviance, the sexual revolution, the 1970s, southern California, and related topics. As a floodlit slice of life or an object lesson about attempts to counterbalance (dare I say “straddle”?) propriety and impropriety, Chicken is highly recommended.

References
Almodovar, Norma Jean. 1993. Cop to Call Girl: Why I Left the LAPD to Make an Honest Living as a Beverly Hills Prostitute. New York: Simon & Schuster.

French, Dolores, with Linda Lee. 1988. Working: My Life as a Prostitute. New York: E.P. Dutton.

Hollander, Xaviera, with Robin Moore & Yvonne Dunleavy. 2002 [1972]. The Happy Hooker: My Own Story. New York: Regan Books.

Kuczynski, Alex. 2001, November 4. The Sex-Worker Literati. New York Times, sec. 9, p. 1. Retrieved May 28, 2003 from LexisNexis Academic database.

Lawrence, Aaron. 1999. Suburban Hustler: Stories of a Hi-Tech Callboy. Warren, NJ: Late Night Press.

Lucas, Ann. In press. The Currency of Sex: Prostitution, Law and Commodification. In Martha M. Ertman & Joan C. Williams (Eds.), Commodification Futures: The Role of Markets in Love, Sex, and Other Areas.

Quan, Tracy. 2001. Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl: A Nancy Chan Novel. New York: Crown Publishing.

Whitaker, Rick. 1999. Assuming the Position: A Memoir of Hustling. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows.

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.

Chicken Staff Pick @ City Lights: “Hilarious & sad…serious thinking about family & sexuality & addiction.”

“Just published in its 10th anniversary edition, I’ve never read anything quite like this memoir.  David Henry Sterry performs a high-wire act in his vaudevilliain telling of life as a prostitute in 70s Hollywood.  Alternately sad and hilarious, Sterry provokes serious thinking about family, sexuality, and addiction.”
Picked by Stacey chicken 10 year anniversary cover

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

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).

Chicken: “Prose that sizzles … a jazz beat … with a wail of blues”

New review for Chicken:

“You’re young, hot and desperate—then along comes a sweet-talking guy named Sunny, “all mint julep Old School Charm School charm,” who wants to sweep you into his, uh, employment agency. It’s a story as old as civilization, but rarely before has a straight young man come forth to bare the time he spent cruising the finest boudoirs of Los Angeles. David Henry Sterry, in prose that sizzles with verbal pyrotechnics, answers the call of a Lost Angel Siren and takes us on an anthropological tour that includes “a postmodern June Cleaver,” a Deadhead, a judge and a friendly cast of junkies and cross-dressers. Sterry’s party-til-forever scenes thwump to a jazz beat, but there’s always a wail of blues in the background. It’s a double-life story, at heart a raw tale of the bullying father, the neglectful mother and the broken-up home that led him to the streets when he was a college freshman who looked, on the surface like a middle class kid. At the same time Sterry is candid about the lure of his other life; the addictive appeal of getting paid to inflict pleasure, the cheap euphoria that never fully masks the fear that you’ve become what you’re pretending to be.” – Jan Alexander

 

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

Find Chicken at your local independent bookstore:  Indiebound chicken 10 year anniversary coverAmazon

“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).

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).

INTERVIEW WITH ME, MALE PROSTITUTE ON SALLY JESSE RAFAEL

First interview I did for my book Chicken. I was so nervous and scared and ashamed and embarrassed.  But she was very nice to me.  See more and buy book here.

"Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie" Premiere - 2012 Tribeca Film Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I Ain’t No Model”: Interview with a Real Life Male Hustler

male_body_types_by_chaosbringer99-d4mql6q

This is an interview I did with a gigolo for a book I’m working on entitled, Working Stiffs, about men who’ve worked in the sex business. I first met Hawk at the Sex Workers Art Show in Olympia Washington. He did an absolutely haunting version of the Bruce Springsteen song, I’m On Fire. Turns out he’s a truly astonishing human being. I’m honored to know Hawk.

DAVID: How do you deal with being naked with various clients?

HAWK: It isn’t that hard. I had clients that were big gymbunnies, jocks, younger than me. They didn’t hire me to be pretty, they hired me to play a part, to make them interesting for a period of time.

Hawk Kincaid was born and grew up in the middle of America’s hinter-heart land: Central Illinois. His was a nomadic childhood, and his parents divorced when he was in the second grade.

HAWK:  I won’t be so trite as to say my mom was the purest woman on the planet, she had great qualities and human flaws. She spent a lot of herself trying to get approval from my grandmother, from everyone. I remember her caught up in the frustrations of fulfilling expectations. I have brought much of that in my own life – as if what I do is never enough. I make myself acutely aware of whether I am following a path that I determined for myself instead of by others. I have memories of her as constricted, and that is what I find myself running away from. My brothers disagree with me, but I think she regretted not being able to explore more diverse interests. I don’t want to regret that for myself.

Hawk’s dad had difficulty finding a passion for anything in life. And apparently had a very hard time being alone.

HAWK:  For me, my father’s a solid, caring family provider who embraced everything from theater to philosophy, but never really making them a life’s passion. He took to ‘Dad’ things, like golf, fishing mowing lawns, and watching TV with beers in hand. Eventually he shacked up with my stepmonster, a failed actress gone alcoholic. Wicked-tongued and passionate, she provided him with alternating pieces of trauma and joy. My father and I never talk about these things or in any detail about HOOK, or my personal life. I still don’t chatter well with my father. My family says I spend too much time thinking about the past, the reasons and impacts of our decisions, but I fear the inevitable reproduction of the life I grew up with, and that’s why it’s important to me.

DAVID: Do you feel like you are a beautiful person?

HAWK: I have good energy.

DAVID: Do you feel like you’re attractive?

HAWK: I ain’t a model.

Hawk was a chubby, unattractive redhead. According to him anyway. Often made fun of and quiet, he yielding to television when he could.

HAWK:  I can’t recall many friends growing up because we kept switching neighborhoods and because my family did not encourage that kind of social behavior. One of the biggest forces to change that was a babysitter named Pauline. She was passionate, loudmouthed and in a world where things seemed so sterile, she was an opposition. Not dirty, but touched: the glasses in her kitchen, her aged beads/curtains that separated rooms, her velvet paintings. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are at Pauline’s, lip-synching to Chicago records, hanging bags of Avon samples on doors in rich neighborhoods, the smells and all. It felt more real than my own family, which was so concerned with appropriateness.

Hawk went to private high school.

HAWK: Public junior high made me understand why kids kill themselves.

He’s always had a hard-on for religion. Literally.

HAWK: I have terrible memories of getting hard-ons in church, and perhaps this is the source of my persistently negative association with the church, religion and formality. When I get a little sleepy sometimes I accidentally get a hard-on. Jesus notwithstanding, the notion of sex and church has never been linked in my head, but my body was uncontrollable. In church I always devised plans. Used to pinch myself. I never understood it. But the body is like that. My mother’s cancer. My constant battle with flab. The body infrequently does what I want it to.”

Hawk is very self-conscious about his body.

HAWK: I gotta fight getting fatter. I think that feeling unattractive is the propulsive force for a lot of guys in the business. Certainly for myself, the flattery of men responding positively to you affects your mood, your sense of self. BUT that tends to be an addictive path. Looking outside to find that validation is a long self-destructive cycle. I’ve seen a lot of people fall into some bad behaviors to maintain that position. To give priority to strangers over their lovers, friends. Gaining pleasure from giving pleasure, or the act of being appreciated is simply human – but needing that in ever increasing amounts will kill ya.

Hawk first had sex with a female. When he was 17.

HAWK: I remember her as baby powder smelling underwear with roses/flowers on it. Pink. Definitely pink.

He now identified himself as queer. He first did sex work with a man. He was in college, staying with some bigoted ignorant distant family members, who accused him of gangbanging, doing drugs, and screwing girls.

HAWK: Eventually they accused me of trying to kill some family members by doing my laundry (I know, it sounds insane – it was). So, I got a housesitting gig and met a guy who introduced me to doing bodywork. As weird as it sounds, because of the long hours I worked, it was ideal. The work was rough, a bit scary, but it just made sense. I mean, I was working 10 hour days for nothing at the internship, and then trying to work for a record store for 3-4 hours and making 20-30 bucks after taxes. I could turn around 100 in a session doing massage, and with tips upwards of 200. Since I was uncertain about housing and scared about being so many miles from my home and my family, it was the right choice.

Hawk was nervous the first time he had sex for money. “But I shortchanged myself. After meeting other guys in the business… I should definitely have asked for more. Never shortchange yourself. I never felt guilt about the money. Just guilt about the sorrow.

When Hawk first started doing body work, he was paid extra money for doing Extras.

HAWK: The Extras sometimes involved sex, sometimes because I liked the client, sometimes for affirmation – hell, I even dated one of my clients and he is still one of my dearest friends. I think that’s the strange part of the sex industry, that even in my most panicky moments, it was often an attempt to connect to people. The money part has always been hard for me. Not just in sexwork, but even now as a freelance designer, I dread the billing aspect, because I like what I do. Charging for it seems the right thing to do, but it doesn’t always feel right. Sometimes, I think the generosity I have stems from feeling awkward about asking for compensation. Leftover deposits of Midwest Protestantism. That being said, having sex for money was never wrong. It wasn’t a moral issue. It was the feeling that these are vulnerable people, and I am cautious about business operations or personal behaviors that leverage people’s weakness. It is the source of guilt for me. Not the morality of prostitution, but the sense that making people feel better about themselves is a paid-for operation. Sex can be an industry – but self-esteem just feels diluted when you commercialize it. It’s why I don’t trust bartenders or psychologists. They make a living off of your sorrows.

Hawk’s specialty was breaking-and-entering, also known as B&E. This involves surprising a client, tying him up, and fucking him.

HAWK: Bondage was definitely my thing. And spanking/paddling/abuse. I preferred bondage though because I could tie them up and leave for a bit, come back and be mean, hit them, and then leave. Low maintenance. It also gave me control with clients and meant I had little contact if I wanted. Kink was where I made most of my money and now, when my partner brings up some kinky ideas, I always resort to cuddling cause kink is what I did with customers and I think it reminds me too much of that. Cuddling is something I do with people I care about… This might be something to deal with in the future, I think… Not to vilify radical sex in general, but I just think that it has taken me a long time to rethink sex and contact in positive, constructive terms that don’t mean fear. I think people are often afraid of contact and now, it is what drives me. Laughing during sex. Joy during sex. Porn doesn’t cover that for me and there is a cool aesthetic to that kind of aggressive image. That was an image I maintained with clients, but it is not what I want to come home to.

Hawk’s ads as a sex worker featured a rough tough persona.

HAWK: My partner says I’m a lot of false advertising since my ad looks so rough, but my real identity is more cuddly and fuzzy. I am softer than I let on, especially when working, but that was the edge. To be in control maintained my safety, my security, and solidity in that market. It gave me the elements I needed to walk in and out of the industry in tact. It was a fun image but definitely a lot of work.

Hawk often found that his clients were turned on by being controlled.

HAWK: It’s what all people want, for the most part. Freedom from responsibility, from having to make choices. Most men seem to equate sex to a freedom from thought. Sex is a way to avoid loneliness most of the time. To forget about it for a short time. People want a psychiatrist that doesn’t make them self-consciously aware they are seeking treatment. We play doctors, and the more you understand that what they need more than sex is care, you are good to go. With a client, it’s all performance. I don’t think it’s about being turned on. That doesn’t matter. It’s like theater and you treat it like theater. They don’t know and they certainly don’t care. They don’t want you to be real. Real people have problems, dramas, credit card bills, etc. They want you to be simple and they will want you to be a separate part of their lives. They want you, most importantly, to leave quietly.

Being in the sex business has never really inhibited Hawk in his relationships, but he had commitment problems anyway.

HAWK: A few guys shied away from me when they found out what I did, but in the gay world, I think that prostitution is hardly news to anyone. I’ve been honest my whole life about being in the sex business. Oftentimes I think guys have sex to make a connection. The quality of the sex is bad, and I know I used it for that, as well. When we get hooked up in a relationship, suddenly you don’t need to have sex so you don’t. Or the thrill of sex was not knowing the other person well, and when you get someone you know, the thrill is gone. I often associated sex with those two elements: work or loneliness.”

Hawk was unattractive as a kid. According to him anyway.

HAWK: I am unique in that I don’t represent normal images seen in magazines and idealized in the gay world. How many of us do? At times, I think that is where I found success. I never pretended to be pretty, I simply was genuine. I found clients interesting, and that was something they liked. Truth is that I am jealous of pretty men. Beautiful people paid to be beautiful have to spend their energy there, and my success in the business was not on being beautiful outside – it was about the conversations, the conviction, the energy and the other attributes I leveraged. It will never be my job to be beautiful.

There are diehards who want to reminisce about the beautiful badass days of streethustling and the hyper-masculinity it conjures.

HAWK: But they have short memories and are probably lonely or bored with the reality of today (and were just as bored in the reality then, but choose to forget). It was a messy, self-destructive lifestyle that was either littered with rape and drug abuse or self-involved ego issues. I made it in and out of the industry with my body and health in tact. I could lay down my own rules, and I was never in a position of being abused. I have been ripped off (my own damn fault – for a check… yes, a CHECK!), but if that’s the worst mistake I made in years of taking clients, then consider me lucky.

After having been in the life for awhile, Hawk decided to start a website for male sex workers. Thus HOOK was born.

HAWK: HOOK was a project that grew from my frustrations with silence around the male sex industry. The only discussions I could find harbored an approach toward victimization or were the self-destructive biographies that the press loves to promote. There were other stories. Not just mine, but many stories. I consider myself unique in this particular industry because as a sex worker, I went in and out again a few times, maintained being sober the entire existence, and then have spoken publicly in all forums about the issue. The idea of HOOK was to pull together true stories and tips from guys in the business. When I was in the business, one thing I did share with others was the lack of connection. The separation from different sides of my life, and often the inability to really find an ear that understood. Where was I to vent? Especially since a lot of guys took up drugs or alcohol to release those feelings (which often made them worse). I wanted to provide a format that would open up that dialogue and help people avoid some of the common mistakes. The point was to say, ‘Hey, this happened to me, and here’s something you can do to prevent it from happening to you.’ In the same vein, a lot of guys are in the business for immediate cash and lose sight of long-term goals or what to actually do with the cash or how to get more cash while making better decisions. Often the fast cash comes with the worst decisions, like more money for barebacking, ie having unprotected sex. And HOOK serves as a publication by, for, and about guys in the business. We don’t push people into the business on a float of ‘Whore Pride’, and we don’t tell people to get out. What we do is simply tell it like it as best we can. Through guides and tips and materials, we attempt to build something that is fun, comfortable, and most of all, helpful. You can find the history of HOOK.

Hawk’s brothers definitely know that he’s worked in the sex business.

HAWK: I have shown them HOOK and we have talked about it in various ways and circumstances. My father should know by now, as I have never hid it. I can’t tell you if that is because I don’t want to talk about it and I avoid him or because his opinion would mean so little. I imagine it more the latter.

Hawk has worked as a host in a restaurant, a shoe and record salesman, a tour guide, and teaching art to kids. He graduated from Drake University, Des Moines Iowa, Summa Cum Laude, Majoring in Broadcast News, Minoring in Russian Studies and Cultural Studies (College Honors in Cultural Studies). He is currently an activist for sex workers, is the founder of HOOK On-line, the world’s premier website for male sex workers, a graphic designer, photographer, and performance artist, living in The Deep South.

 

Chicken Gets Big Love from Publisher’s Weekly

“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 coverFind 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).

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).

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

Big Black Stud Does Monkey Love: Sex Worker Literati Presents Stephen Lloyd

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

hos cover JPEG

Purchase the Book

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

Discuss the Book

icon-amazonicons-goodreadsicon-bn
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

Sex Worker Literati: Matthew Lawrence Comes Face-to-Face w/ a Mighty Mighty Cock

Craig’s List, Whoring & Murder on Daily Beast

Article on Daily Beast about sex work, Craig’s List & murder

Painful Sex @ My First Orgy from Chicken @ Sex Worker Literati

“>

Hawk Kincaid, ex-Rent Boy, Spits Fierce @ Sex Worker Literati

How I Became a Whore @ Sex Worker Literati

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/

Chicken in Erotica.com: “A page-turner”

“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

To see more & buy book, click here.

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.

chicken 10 year anniversary cover

 

The San Francisco Chronicle Reviews Chicken, the 1-Ho Show

sfchron.gif

“Poignant, humorous…a rare pleasure…funny, moving and original…an exceptional, comically idiosyncratic and revealingly honest look at life in difficult times…Much of the material in the 85-minute one-act is hilarious…Sterry is a sharp comic, using his limber body and versatile voice to create memorably funny portraits of the hungry, lonely, wealthy women who employ his services…Sterry needs no other prop than a wooden bench to get full comic mileage out of the ludicrousness of sex in some wonderfully varied and graphic guises. But what sets “Chicken” apart and gives it depth is the hard, sad reality beneath its Rabelaisian humor…[“Chicken”] is richly entertaining and thought-provoking… [It] speaks cleverly and provocatively to anyone who’s ever been or had a child.”

— Robert Hurwitt, Head Theater Critic to The San Francisco Chronicle

To buy the book on Amazon.  To buy the book on Indiebound.

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.

chicken 10 year anniversary cover

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

spectator.gif

“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.

chicken 10 year anniversary cover

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.

chicken 10 year anniversary cover

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén