David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Tag: prostitution Page 1 of 2

Slovak Chicken, Anyone?

Just got copies of the Slovakian translation of Chicken.  Here’s a sample.

slovak chickn & me

zajacik - chicken slovakiaSLOVAK CHICKEN 8 (2)

“Riveting, this memoir about Sterry’s time as an adolescent in the sex trade was brilliant”

“Riveting from beginning to end. Sterry’s use of vivid metaphors and musical language to describe his time as an adolescent in the sex trade was brilliant. This is the story of a young man who is sweet, innocent and alone. You root for him to find himself the whole time. The memoir explores themes such as good vs. evil and innocence vs. taint. It travels back and forth between Sterry’s time in the sex trade and his childhood with each plot sequence equally as engaging. The story is told with a childlike innocence and humor. I highly recommend this book. It will stir your soul.”

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

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’s Chicken: “I could not put it down.”

“I bought a copy of “Chicken” Tuesday afternoon and finished it this afternoon. I can only remember one other time I read a complete book in under 24 hours. I know this sounds like a cliche, but I could not put it down. I now remember reading about the book ten or twelve years ago. Why I didn’t pick it up then is beyond me.  David Henry Sterry really knows how to tell a story and move the story and the reader forward.  To write this took guts, which he obviously has.” Larry Erickson

Find Chicken at your local independent bookstore:  Indiebound Amazon

chicken 10 year anniversary cover“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).

 

David Henry Sterry’s Chicken: Fearless writing, raw, revealing, intriguing promiscuity, raw hope

David Henry Sterry’s intensely unique writing style has the ability to grip you by the soul and take you right inside as he struggles to free himself from “SEXY.” As you read word for word into his poetic memoir he continues by assuring the reader can feel, smell, taste, touch, and hear every step of the way. So as you read about Georgia and David we can smell her vagina and taste her juices right along side him. Davids pen runs like the hand of an older man given free range in-between the thighs of a ripe young pretty thing. Fearless, raw, revealing, and even strange at times, Mr. David Henry Sterry is more than just a man with a passion to survive and cook chickens! If you haven’t read his memoir Chicken : Portrait of a Young Man for Rent I urge you too. For those who have read it I urge you to revisit the vulnerability, intriguing promiscuity, raw hope, and aspiring twist of his great memoir.

Review by Jo Cantu

Find Chicken at your local independent bookstore:  Indiebound Amazon

chicken 10 year anniversary cover“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’s like Francesca Lia Block & Charles Bukowski arguing playfully at a Lou Reed listening party.”

“Chicken is like Francesca Lia Block and Charles Bukowski arguing playfully at a Lou Reed listening party.” -Chandra Friend

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.”

chicken 10 year 10-10-13This 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).

Best Sex Reading Thurs April 30 Bluetocking NYC 7pm

This Thursday April 30th at 7pm, the sexiest minds of our generation will gather at Bluestockings bookstore for a thought-provoking and passionate evening discussing sex. Reading their essays from the new anthology Best Sex Writing of the Year 2015—edited by sex-journalism-superstar Jon Pressick—are such revolutionary names as Vice Columnist Stoya, Mollena Williams, Cory Silverberg, Lux Alptraum, and David Henry Sterry. Hailed as a conversation-igniting megaforce and a must-read book of the year, Pressick’s collection of expertly curated articles traverses everything from celibacy to the death of a partner to life as a sex worker. “This book is as diverse and the writing as unique as editor, Jon Pressick, is as a person, and will take you though the wonderful and often confusing world that makes up what we call human sexuality. … Just be warned that this is a book that will likely make you throw everything you think you know about sex and chuck it out the window. It’s thought provoking and in some cases an emotional read and I can’t recommend this book highly enough.” —Clitical Jenne “This book highlights not only the diversity of sexual issues prevalent in the public discourse but likewise the importance of all things sexual to human culture.” —Library Journal “A must-read, regardless of which sex you like.”? —The Advocate For all media requests, including author interviews, cover images, review copies and digital ARCs, please contact Sarah Abrams. 510-845-8000 ext. 201 sabrams@cleispress.com

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David Henry Sterry’s “Chicken” Hypnotic, Rollicking Story: Don’t Peek Until You’ve Got a Clear Schedule

“I picked up CHICKEN on a Sunday morning. The plan was to browse and come back later if it was interesting. I was still reading at lunch. I was done by dinner. Sterry’s prose has a hypnotic, jazzy spontaneity. He makes everything feel immediate, writing disturbing episodes with lots of honesty and no sentimentality. His ear for vernacular and impish sense of humor keeps the story rollicking along. Pick it up—but don’t peek until you’ve got a clear schedule.” – David Busis

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.”

chicken 10 year 10-10-13This 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).

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.

Chicken Audio Book: Author Reads Memoir about Professional Sex & $ & Love & Hollywood

Very excited that the audio book for Chicken is now available. I loved reading this aloud, very proud of the results.

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 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).

Chicken: “I cancelled my weekend plans to read this book, I was so invested in what happened next”

“This story is told with the voice, humor and perspective of his teenage self, after letting it marinade in years of insight and wisdom. David’s account honestly portrays his own search for family and acceptance, which takes him to the unlikely of places — the streets of Hollywood. His account of a childhood riddled with the usual suspects of problems and misadventures took a few wrong turns, and landed him searching for a way out. Chicken reminds us of our shared humanity, as David shows us how he connects with his clients and other prostitutes along the way.

I cancelled my weekend plans to read this book, because I became so invested in what happened next to Sterry. This book is a sometimes horrifying and always fascinating tour of a world most of us will never know firsthand, and Sterry is the perfect tour guide.”

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.”

chicken 10 year 10-10-13This 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 will break your heart and make you laugh, sometimes at the same time”

“Chicken: Self Portrait of a Young Man for Rent is a powerful account of a traumatized and confused young man’s very human response to rape and family dysfunction. But this memoir stands out because it is also a meditation on the darker undercurrents of a very American story: the son of immigrants making his own way in a new land. The main character navigates a recognizably American landscape, containing both innocence and puritanism: nuns and funny good girls as well as cynicism and decadence: pimps and cash-filled envelopes traded for sex. Through it all, Sterry tells a good story that will break your heart and make you laugh (sometimes at the same time) in this compelling and well-written book.”

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.”

chicken 10 year 10-10-13This 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).

 

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.

How to Fix the Economic Meltdown & Stop Terrorism: Legalize Heroin and Whores

“Prohibition will work great injury… for it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”

If you don’t know who said that, I promise I’ll tell you later.

Selling sex for money is a multi-billion-dollar business. Apparently tens of millions of people want sex so bad they pay through the nose for it. And in that shadowy, shady, underworld, there are many different kinds of economic transactions. At one extreme are coercion, victimization, and exploitation. At the other are consent, empowerment and economic independence. I personally know many people from either extreme of this Bell curve. But both these exchanges are called prostitution. To say these exchanges are the same things is like saying that working at Bloomingdale’s and being forced against your will to work 20 hours a day in a sweatshop are the same thing.

Many people claim that if you make sex for money legal, it will be easier for predators who exploit adults and children alike. Of course, just the opposite is true. We know what happens during Prohibition. Gangsters control the means of production. Al Capone, quintessential American criminal/pop icon, was created by Prohibition. Just as the American Pimp has become the new superstar gangsta, and slithered his way into our culture. Pimp my Ride. Pimp my Crib. Pimp my Wife. It is much easier for predators to hide in an illegal industry. And when you make criminals out of industrial sex technicians, which is what I call people who work of their own free will in the sex business, they have no recourse when things go bad. And things go bad alot in this business. So people all over the Bell curve get raped, robbed, and beaten. Not only by clients. By law enforcement. When one of the recent whores serial killers was caught, he said he killed whores because it was easy, and he knew no one would miss them.

If you take all the money spent on the war on whores, on true industrial sex technicians, and focused it on actually tracking down traffickers and predators, you could take the bastards down. You can find these people if you want to. But there are great economic forces at work in America, and throughout the world, that want desperately to keep things the way they are. Because there’s so much money involved.

But the bottom line, economically, is that there is a big beautiful sexy cash cow to be milked here. With a reasonable rate of taxation, people who choose to work in the business could make a very good living wage, get health insurance, and even have a retirement plan, if that’s what they choose. It’s all about choice. Everyone should have the choice to do what they like as long as they pay their bills and don’t hurt anyone. Isn’t that the whole idea behind America? And with some of that money, we could help people who want to leave the sex business get the skills necessary to transition. Apply the rest of this cash flow to paying teachers a decent wage, making sure no one goes hungry or homeless. Arts and sports in the schools. Music classes for every kid in America! What a revolutionary idea.

As for heroin, since you’re a basketball player, I’ll put it in your vernacular. It’s a slam dunk. In <em>USA Today</em> recently, right on the front page, in very small words, it said that the Taliban is making its money from buying and selling heroin. If you make it legal, like tobacco and alcohol, and package it nicely, you take away the Taliban’s cash flow. And again, you get to control this huge beautiful dopey goose that keeps laying big golden eggs. And why stop at heroin? Consider the hundreds of millions generated by the wacky weed industry. The trade in opium has been brisk for centuries. Hashish. Ecstasy. Speed. ‘Shrooms. Cocaine. Acid. Imagine the fun Madison Avenue would have. Orange Sunshine, the LSD with Vitamin C. Willy Weed, the only dope Willie Nelson smokes. Harry Potter’s Magic Mushrooms.

It’s not drugs that are the problem. Humans have used hallucinogens, intoxicants and in inebriates for as long as anyone cares to remember. Even when they’ve imbibed so much they can’t actually remember. It’s people’s behavior that’s the problem. Every time I’ve been in a room with people shooting up, they just lay there with silly grins on their faces, and their heads nod up and down like bobble head dolls. It’s when they run out of the drugs that the problems begin. If heroin was legal, like cigarettes and alcohol, addicts wouldn’t need to rob and pillage. Cigarettes and alcohol kill a lot more people than marijuana and heroin. But we say, go ahead, smoke and drink all you want, booze it up until you’re dead, if that’s your pleasure. We make money from taxing these products. We control the means of production and distribution. Again, isn’t that what America is all about? That we can do what we want as long as we mind your own p’s and q’s?

Take the money we spend on the war on drugs, and actually go after the Taliban, as well as gangsters in South America and Asia (many of whom are financed by the drug trade) after their money source has been cut off. Instead of declaring war under false pretense and trying to set up our own militia government so we can make millions for military contractors and their cronies, while ensuring that we are more hated every day.

There it is. Economic turbo-boost, predators and traffickers hunted down, Taliban and international gangsters crippled. All with the blessing of Abraham Lincoln. That’s who gave that great shout out about prohibition.

Jodie Sh.Doff x-Times Square Bad Girl on Love Life Sex & Being Bad

Jodi Sh Doff, (aka Scarlet Fever) brilliant and hysterical x-Times Square hooker, scammer, & drug addict, & one of my favorite people, talks about Times Square, weird hair, sex, love, $ and life.

jshdoff2013

Kitty Stryker: When A Dominatrix Sex Worker Falls for Her Client

Kitty Stryker tells how she once fell in love with a domination client. From Johns Marks Tricks & Chickenhawks. To buy the book: http://amzn.to/Yg0Lp8johns marks cover cropped

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

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

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

Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing about Each Other is the follow-up to Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys, the groundbreaking anthology that appeared on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. “Eye-opening, astonishing, brutally honest and frequently funny… unpretentious and riveting — graphic, politically incorrect and mostly unquotable in this newspaper.” It is a unique sociological document , a collection of mini-memoirs, rants, confessions, dreams, and nightmares by people who buy sex, and people who sell. And because it was compiled by two former sex industry workers, the collection is, like its predecessor, unprecedented in its inclusiveness. $10 crack hos and $5,000 call girls, online escorts and webcam girls, peep show harlots and soccer mom hookers, bent rent boys and wannabe thugs. Then there’s the clients. Captains of industry and little old Hasidic men, lunatics masquerading as cops and bratty frat boys, bereaved widows and widowers. This book will shine a light on both sides of these illegal, illicit, forbidden, and often shockingly intimate relationships, which have been demonized, mythologized, trivialized and grotesquely misunderstood by countless Pretty Woman-style books, movies and media. This is hysterical, intense, unexpected, and an ultimately inspiring collection.

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

To see on Publishers Weekly, click here.

Book trailer: Who Really Buys & Sells Sex

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

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

Sexpert genius Veronica Monet on Rumpus.

Master graphic novelist & sexual revolutionary Chester Brown on Rumpus.

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

Sam Benjamin on Creating Utopian Porn on  Rumpus.

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).

From Chicken: When I Was a Birthday Present for an 82-year-old Grandmother

Excerpt from: Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent.  To buy the book click here.

chicken 10 year 10-10-13

“David, I’ve got a fantastic job for you, Friday night, this is a two hundred dollar job!” Mr. Hartley’s straight shooter baritone reaches down my throat all the way to my seventeen year old balls and squeezes hard.

“Wow,” I say in what I hope is a loverstudguy voice, but which I suspect smacks of eunuch, “that’s great, excellent, thanks, I uh-”

“David,” Mr. Hartley sounds like a benevolent dictator in a three-piece suit, the ultimate Master Alpha, “this is a very important client. And if you do this job well I can absolutely guarantee there will be lots of exciting opportunities on the horizon for you. You understand me David? Do we understand each other?”

I have no idea what he’s talking about so I say:

“Sure, absolutely, I got it-”

“This is a very unique opportunity for you David. I want you to be completely prepared. It’s rather unusual job. But I think it really matches your skill set.”

My brain races like a train on bad speed. Will there be barnyard animals involved? Ritual sacrifice?  Death masks and scat sandwiches?  What will you do for money? Where do you draw your line? How much of your life are you willing to sell for $200?

“David, this client, who I must emphasize is extremely important, has decided she wants to treat her friend to very special birthday gift. And that birthday gift is you. So get ready to put on your birthday suit.” Mr. Hartley laughs like a machine gun: rat-a-tat-tat. “I kid of course. Seriously though, David, it’s our policy at the Hollywood Employment Agency to give our clients all the information they need to succeed. We believe that preparation is essential to success. And for this job, it’s very important that you understand you are being given by one of our most important clients to her best friend, as a present for her eighty-second birthday.”

GULP!

“It’s very important to us that our clients are comfortable performing.  Are you comfortable, under the circumstances, uh… performing… David?”

No. No. No.  I don’t honestly think I can fuck an eighty-two-year-old. That’s what I say in my 17-year-old manchild idiot head. Out loud I say:

“Sure, absolutely, I’m all over it.”

“You’re all over it,” Mr. Hartley’s Ouzi of a laugh rattles my skull. “That is droll David, very droll. That’s exactly why I thought of you when this job came in. I have every confidence that you won’t let me… down.” Bam Bam Bam Mr. Hartley laughs fast and staccato. “I kid of course. David I want you to call me as soon as this job is done. Do you understand? Do we understand each other?”

“Absolutely, for sure, yeah.”

Mr. Hartley gives me the 411 and then I disconnect.

Immediately my shattered brain sees an ancient naked wrinkled saggy droopy granny spread-eagled in front of me and my poor placid flaccid penis is a lifeless piece of useless meat, I have to give the money back I see myself spiraling down humiliated, a brutal failure rejected by Mr. Hartley and Sunny, drummed out of the business shunned by all my chicken peers the only family I know at this point who accepts me for what I am, my paycheck my refuge my people, all gone.

Anonymously knocking on the door in the ultra fancy ass swank swish hotel that smell like Olde Money, my mind attacks itself with vicious visions  of wrinkled, ravaged, sagging grandmother flesh that shrinkwrap my rapidly shriveling penis.  Breath short.  Tight.  Heart racehorsing pounding against my breastplate.  A sticky clammy sweaty nervy jumpy freaky tweaky moisture oozes out of most of my pores.

The door slowly opens.  She’s trim and pretty in pink and a styly Channel-type suit.  She definitely has one of those helmet hairdo, but it’s well done if you like that kind of thing. A huge honking diamond ring holds court on a well tended finger.  Shoes the same color pink as her outfit.  She’s got wrinkles but they’re not gruesome. She’s wearing makeup but it’s definitely not Whatever-Happened-to-Baby-Janey.  But the best thing about her is her smile.  She has a smile that welcomes you in.  After a heavy sigh full of deep relief the first thought that pops into my seventeen-year-old manchild head is: Shit man, I hope I’m doing this good when I’m eighty-two years old.

Like a Hostess greeting an international dignitary, she asks me if I would like some champagne?  Chocolate covered strawberries?  Pate and cheese? It’s all spread out on this fancy silvery tray. Curtains are closed.  Lights are low. Candlelight makes everything soft.  She gives me a long thin beautiful flute of champagne.  With a sweet smile ripe with kindness.  Like I’m all growed up.

I know what to do.  I’ve been trained well by my mum.

“I want to wish you a very, very happy birthday, and if there’s anything I can do to make your dreams come true, I’m here for your pleasure.”

I have rehearsed the speech.  I am pleased with the delivery.  I hold up the long thin beautiful flute of sparkly bubbly.  She smiles kinda shy.  Demure.  Which is shockingly endearing in a lady who’s turning out to be the totally awesome grandma I never had.  That I’m just about to have sex with.

She holds out her fluke for a clink.  Weak clink.  We drink.  The champagne shoots little giddy meteors tickling my lips and teasing my nose.  I love the way it feels inside my mouth like the most sophisticated pop rocks ever. Smooth smooth, smooth, it goes down tingly and frothy, liquid laughter.

She tells me her name is Dorothy.  But her friends called her Dot.  I think that’s a cool name. Dot.  She’s talking about the champagne.  Apparently she knows a lot about champagne. This is from some famous champagne place in France.  Soon as I’m done with the first sip I can’t wait for another so I just let it guzzle down my muzzle all twinkly and sparkly.  One more big gulp and the whole beautiful flute is empty, the contents now inside me.  It comes on quick and suddenly my head floats on my neck and my face is happy, bones melting, blood rushing like carefree debutantes jitterbuging at their coming-out ball.  It feels a lot greater to be alive than it did five minutes ago.

Dot insists I have a chocolate-covered strawberry.  Doesn’t take much arm-twisting.  Apparently it’s some world-famous chocolate from Belgium.  It’s got a hard crunch when you bite it, but then it gets all melty in your mouth, as the fruity juice of the rapturously ripe strawberry sings with the chocolate in mind-boggling two-part harmony.  When I finish I see Dot watching me with a big grin on her face.  Makes me like her.   Even more.

Dot tells me she likes to watch people enjoy themselves. I tell her how much I’m enjoying myself.  And the crazy thing is I completely mean it.  She asks me if I want another one.  I say no, even though I really actually do want another one.  She asks me if I really want another one but I’m just saying no to be polite.  Like she can see right inside my head.  I confess I do and did.  She insists with an impy grin that I have another chocolate covered strawberry.  So I do.  I have two more after that.  I could eat every single one.  But I am there to do a job.  I figure after three chocolate-covered strawberries, it might impair my ability to perform.

Dot tells me all about her madcap romantic husband, how they met, how he proposed to her.  Took her to Europe, South America, Broadway shows.  She hauls out a picture of him.  It’s black-and-white.  He’s in a sharp suit with two-tone shoes, hair all slick and a debonair devilmaycare smile.  I must admit, he was one dapper motherfucker.

He’s been dead for ten years.  It’s sad and happy at the same time.  Makes me like her so much that she has all this love for this guy she was married to for like fifty years or whatever.  Being now the son of a dyke from a home broken beyond repair and having sex for money with grandmothers, I just can’t fathom being married to somebody for fifty years.  But Dot says her old man was a pistol and a mensch and a big old bundle of fun.  Dot tells me about how they used to have these wild and crazy parties with all their brilliant zany friends, where they’d get all dressed up, drinking, dancing and yakking all night about art and politics and life and death and war and taxes.

It’s a mad blast listening to her wax about her one wild and precious life.  Makes me hope that at some point I can have one.  A life.  A most excellent wife, some brilliant crazy zany friends, a house with a pool and lots of rooms where people can party.  Sounds nice.

This is such a great job so far.  But of course there’s that nagging tug in the back and pit of my head and belly: how in the name of Pan the horny goat boy am I going to get It up and off?  I am bombarded by the image of my meat torpedo morphing into wet spaghetti.  I am forced to focus extra hard to avoid hyperventilation.

Dot stops talking.  She hems and she haws and she tuts.  Clearly she wants to tell me what’s on the menu for her birthday dinner, but she’s having a terrible time spitting it out.

I’m scared breathless.  I desperately want to give Dot want she wants.  I need to please her.  She’s been so nice to me.  And I want to succeed at this job.  Be an American.  Be a man.  But will I be able to achieve liftoff with a naked octogenarian laying on top of me?  I believe I can.  I know I can’t.  What if she wants to do some weird old person sex thing I don’t know about?

My testes cower in a corner.  My head is like a balloon being inflated by a homicidal clown with ADHD.  My guts rumble thunderously, roiling like a boiler about to blow.

Again I find myself seriously questioning my career choice.

Dot forces out a strangulated sentence like a tongue-tied eighty-two-year-old schoolgirl.

“I’ve always wanted someone to kiss me…” she motions with her head down towards her nether regions, “down there.”

That’s it? Thank you Lord, for delivering me from the wilderness.  A little head?  A wee dram of cunnilingus?  Hell, I can do that with my eyes closed.  In fact many times I have. And then I think, Can you imagine wanting to have someone go down on you for fifty years?  Having a husband you love and not being able to ask him to do that?  I’ve gone down I can and in all this is what he is on every girlfriend I’ve ever had. It seems like one of the most basic sexual things you can do. My mind is officially boggled.

But the weight of the world, so heavy on my head moments ago, has been mercifully lifted.  I assure Dot that I would be more than happy to make her dream come true.

She gets under the covers.  She doesn’t take her clothes off.  This is just getting better and better.

Here are the best jobs in order.

1)      Just talking.

2)      Just talking while I’m naked.

3)      Just talking while I’m naked and playing with myself. And by playing with myself of course I mean masturbating.

4)      Cunnilingussing.

5)      Doggy styling.

6)      Missionary positioning.

7)      Cowgirling with direct eye contact.

So this is the fourth best job there is.

Dot wiggles and wriggles under the covers.  I assume she’s taking her granny panties off.  She doesn’t tell me to take my clothes off so I don’t. I crawl under the covers. I suspect there will be wrinkly grandmother flesh. But what do I care? Cunnilingus is cunnilingus. Luckily I was trained in this art by the first girl friend I ever had, who was much older than me and rigorously demanding, albeit in a very sweet educational way.

So it takes a while for me to burrow myself in, but eventually there I am.  Right between Dot’s 82-year-old legs. It’s very dark in there. Like a cave. I like it. And when I arrive, to my surprise it smells good. Fresh. Manicured. Everything is quite smooth leading up to the area. Which is a very pleasant surprise.

Dot is very ironing board like.  But cunnilingually I’ve been trained well.  I take my time.  I go slow.  I kiss all around the area soft and gentle.  Some lips.  A little tongue.  Very light.  The more I do it the more she softens.  Then suddenly she’s moving herself towards my mouth.  Now there are little moans and sighs and groans and gasps coming from outside the covers.  How cool is this?  I’m thinking, she’s totally into it.

At this moment I feel so useful.

Her hands are on my head and she’s pulling its into her area. And to tell you the truth, her area is much like any other area I’ve been in. Especially in the depth of this black cave.

Dot is now gently manipulating my head, moving it exactly where she wants it and I’m just applying the appropriate pressure.  It’s like we’re dancing and she’s leading while I follow. And she’s exhibiting all the symptoms of excitation. It’s all happening and I could not be happier.

Dot now seems to be climbing the ladder of the stairway to Heaven.  I don’t know how long we been going at this now, but it doesn’t seem that long.  And she’s already manifesting all the physical manifestations of pre-orgasm.

Sure enough, here it comes.  Here she comes.

Here comes Dot.  Diving off the cliff into the sea of sexual ecstasy.

I am overpowered by a sense of joyful satisfaction.  Mr. Hartley  will be so proud of me.

It’s clear we are, you know, done. So I burrow out from undercover and head into the bathroom, to give her a chance to put herself back together.  As I eyeball myself in the mirror, I shake my seventeen year-old man child idiot head.  Can you imagine?  Eighty-two-year-old grandmother pussy tasted great.

Sure enough, when I come back out, she’s totally put together, like nothing happened.  Except for the bloom in her cheeks and the sweet smile of satisfaction on her lips.

Dot thanks me profusely.  She asks me if I would like to take a chocolate covered strawberry with me.  I confess that I would.  I grab a chocolate covered strawberry and head for the door full to overflowing with a sense of well-being. Even though my parents don’t care to speak to me, even though I have no home and no family except for a bunch of prostitutes and a pimp, even though I have no future and I’m wracked by nightmares and lusting for revenge on the man who attacked and broke me into tattered pieces, at least I’m good at this.

As I’m leaving with my chocolate covered strawberry Dot surreptitiously slips a crisp green bill into my hand while she plants of very nice kiss on my cheek. When I pull back, she playfully wipes the lipstick off my cheek.  It’s a tiny little gesture, but it feels so intimate and connected in a world where connection is virtually impossible for me.

I thank her profusely—wish her a happy birthday.

She thanks me right back.

Then I’m gone.

It’s a $100 bill.  Add that to the $200 that was in the envelope on the fancy food platter.  So that’s $300 to drink fancy French champagne, eat world famous Belgian chocolate-covered strawberries and make one pretty great grandma’s dream come true.

As I leave the ultra swank Beverly Hills Hotel, I find myself thinking:

America, what a country!

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Nomad on Chicken: “An X-rated Boogie Nights narrated by a teenage Alice in Wonderland”

chicken 10 year 10-10-13“David Henry Sterry recounts his shocking, sad and sordid experiences as a 17-year old “chicken” (teenage prostitute) servicing the lonely matrons of 1970’s Hollywood with a standup comic’s sensibility, tone and timing. The overall effect is jarringly surreal, like an X-rated Boogie Nights narrated by a teenage Alice in Wonderland. Sterry’s anecdotes, ranging from the mildly titillating to the profoundly disturbing, expose Hollywood at its seamiest, a desperate city of smut and glitz. I read the book from cover to cover in one night, unable to put it down, finally arriving at the black and white photo of the softly smiling former chicken turned memoirist. Could all of this have really happened to him? If so, he deserves praise just for surviving to tell his story.”

— Eliza Thomas, Places, the magazine for the Modern Nomad

Johns Marks Tricks & Chickehawks: Professionals & Clients Writing About Each Other

johns marks cover cropped

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Signed Book : Contact me

Discuss the Book

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Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing about Each Other is the follow-up to Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys, the groundbreaking anthology that appeared on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. “Eye-opening, astonishing, brutally honest and frequently funny… unpretentious and riveting — graphic, politically incorrect and mostly unquotable in this newspaper.” It is a unique sociological document , a collection of mini-memoirs, rants, confessions, dreams, and nightmares by people who buy sex, and people who sell. And because it was compiled by two former sex industry workers, the collection is, like its predecessor, unprecedented in its inclusiveness. $10 crack hos and $5,000 call girls, online escorts and webcam girls, peep show harlots and soccer mom hookers, bent rent boys and wannabe thugs. Then there’s the clients. Captains of industry and little old Hasidic men, lunatics masquerading as cops and bratty frat boys, bereaved widows and widowers. This book will shine a light on both sides of these illegal, illicit, forbidden, and often shockingly intimate relationships, which have been demonized, mythologized, trivialized and grotesquely misunderstood by countless Pretty Woman-style books, movies and media. This is hysterical, intense, unexpected, and an ultimately inspiring collection.Publishers Weekly: This collection of personal essays by sex workers and their clients vacillates    wildly from hilarious to depressing but never strays from being utterly captivating. Among the more amusing stories are a client with a “sweater fetish”, a woman who paid for her family’s Christmas presents by stepping on a man’s testicles in a pornographic film, and the dominatrix who got fired because she could not remove a client’s tooth. The phone sex operator asked to do cartoon animal voices for a caller is also not to be missed. Candid essays cover everything from the anonymous “captain of industry” with an appreciation for transsexual prostitutes, to the human misery of a pimp who turned out his own girlfriend. Some pieces are more meditative: Fiona Helmsey recalls meeting a kind client at a bachelor party who later died on 9/11, while Dr. Annie Sprinkle discusses her 40 years in the sex industry and her wish for “a more compassionate sex-positive society” in which “prostitutes and johns would be government-subsidized”. Though obviously not for the faint of heart, this book contains some courageous, raw, and intelligent writing that breaks taboos and smashes misconceptions. (Apr.)To see on Publishers Weekly, click here.Book trailer:  Who Really Buys & Sells Sex

Excerpts

Resources

  • Great conversation w/ Jon Pressick on Sex Radio: Selling it, buying it, sex books $ love on Sex Talk Radio 4 Johns Marks Tricks & Chickenhawks
  • Interview with David Henry Sterry for Johns Marks Ticks & Chickenhawks in San Francisco Weekly by Chris Hall
  • Sexpert genius Veronica Monet on Rumpus.
  • Master graphic novelist & sexual revolutionary Chester Brown on Rumpus.
  • David Henry Sterry on Rumpus: Admit You’ve Paid for It.
  • Sam Benjamin on Creating Utopian Porn on  Rumpus.

Featured Books by David Henry Sterry

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

Amital Etzioni: Why Are You Saying Such Nasty Things About Whores?

hos hookers cover-500 HosHookersShame on you, Amital Etzioni, for the antiquated, insulting and frankly dangerous ideas you trot out like dead horses to flog in your recent essay on the review of the anthology Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys. Yes, of course, some people are enslaved in the world of sex-4-$. Just as they are in many industries, such as the garment and diamond businesses. These traffickers of human flesh should be hunted down like the filthy vermin they are, and thrown into a dark hole where the sun never shines. Yes, we all know this. But many prostitutes, or industrial sex technicians as I like to call them, actually choose to enter the sex-4-$ world as adults who carefully consider their economic options, and have decided it makes more sense to earn $250 smoking cigarettes, drinking and getting head (a scenario you reference in his essay), than earning $8 an hour getting their souls sucked out at McDonald’s. Comparing a victim being forced to have sex for money with a high-end industrial sex technician is like saying slaving in a sweatshop is the same as working at Neiman Marcus.

You wrote that HHCG&RB, “has little to say about the role of money in personal, intimate relationships.” Did you actually read this book? Because if you didn’t, then you have no business talking about it. And if you did, you’re intellectually blind not to see that this book is absolutely packed with stories about the role money plays in personal, intimate relationships. Case in point: Juliana Piccolo’s haunting, melancholy piece, “Vice.” It’s about when she was a 17-year-old massage parlor sex technician, and had a relationship with an off-duty cop client. He falls in love with her. She craves his fatherly attention, even as he makes her skin crawl. The last time she sees him he offers her $100 for a kiss. She doesn’t kiss clients. He holds out the money. She kisses him. The moment is devastating. It is a deeply personal, intimate relationship, and it illustrates the subtle, scary and very real way the line between the need for love and the need for money blur.

And in what post-Puritanical, Victorianically-repressed world does an open, honest discussion of sex and money, “embarrass a bunch of frat boys”? I guess it’s been a while since you’ve spent any time with frat boys. It’s very difficult to embarrass them. Given the fact that there’s a good chance they’re doing Jell-O shots out of the stripper’s vagina. In your opening salvo, you call this book “sensationalistic”. If you had taken the time to carefully read HHCG&RB, you would’ve seen that it is in fact a piece of American oral history that gives voice to a population that is woefully underrepresented and misunderstood.

Finally, one of the biggest peeves I keep as a pet is when people who have never turned a trick in their lives, who have no idea what sex-4-$ is like, try to tell us about it. What do you know about the “facts” of the world of sex? When was the last time you sat around chewing the fat with people who actually inhabit that world? I have a news flash for you: people who exchange sex for money are not illiterate, pimped, diseased, drug addicted, career criminals. And it is grotesque, condescending, and ignorant to imply, as you do, that they are. I know because I was one. An industrial sex technician. No one forced me. My employment counselor/pimp did not take most of my money. Of course he got his taste, just like my current literary agent does. I was not on drugs during my time in the Life. In fact, at the high-end agency I worked for, if you were caught taking drugs, you were fired. I have no diseases. The only time I was a criminal was when the Prohibition era laws of America turned me into one while I was making money at the oldest profession in the world. I edited the above mentioned anthology, Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys. I put together this book as an attempt to tear down harmful myths about sex work and sex workers — myths which you sir, seek to perpetuate. But just to show you there’s no hard feelings, next time you’re in New York, call me and I’ll hook you up with my friend Naughty Michelle. She’ll open all your eyes. And it’ll only cost you $300.

The Whore Wars

HosHookersjohns marks cover croppedIt took me a quarter of a century to transition from teenage rent boy to best-selling author, but soon after I did, I was invited into the office of the prominent book agent. “David,” he said as he leaned back in his air ergonomic Aeron chair, “whatever you do, don’t get stuck in the sex ghetto.” So I left the sex ghetto, and wrote several books on very straight subjects. On five of those books, the publishers would not allow me to use my real name, because I have the stink of fornication upon me. But the sex ghetto kept singing her siren-sweet song to me. So I plunged back in and co-edited an anthology in which the contributors have one thing in common: they worked in the sex business. Absolutely no one wanted to buy this book–agents, major publishing houses, smaller publishing houses, university presses, even the tiny presses that publish exactly this kind of book. Finally after two years, and dozens of rejections, we landed at a small but well-respected independent publisher. In the end, after we paid all the contributors, we lost money putting together this book. The publishers only printed 2500 copies. Dan Brown has sold that many books since you started reading this piece. But somehow this little book that nobody wanted has put me at the epicenter of the Whore Wars, a fierce and ugly battle that has been raging for years in the sex ghetto.

In the world of sex for money, there are two armies. The decriminalizationist, largely liberal lefty, “sex positive,” it’s-all-good camp. Many are turning tricks to finance their master’s degrees; others are dominatrixes who are equally at home deconstructing the Marquis de Sade and flicking a cat-o-nine tales; lots of very organized loud lesbian activists. Even though they’re always telling you how empowering it is to be a sexual healer, most are either retired, or looking for a lucrative exit strategy because when you retire from the sex business, there’s no golden parachute. They argue that prohibition makes criminals out of hard-working Americans who are just trying to make sure baby has new shoes. Across the road is the abolitionist, mostly conservative, Christian-tinged, prostitution-is-slavery, everyone-is-trafficked, it’s-all-bad camp. They are mostly academics who wear dowdy clothes and look like they haven’t had sex in years; quasi-neo-feminists who claim to speak for the downtrodden victims of commercial exploitation from the lap of luxury; and not-for-profit activists who overcame brutal beatings on the mean streets as junky hos. They will trot out statistics that prove everyone in the sex for money world was sexually abused as a child, and that everyone who trades their body for cash is brutalized by charming but subhuman pimps, traded by smugglers of human flesh. Except for the reformed junky hos, none of these people have ever turned a trick. Not surprisingly, abolitionists and decriminalizationists alike seem to want to simplify this ridiculously complex subject so it fits their agenda.

In 2002, when my first book and I came out, I was recruited by both sides. And before I looked, I leapt. Just say yes. A good recipe for getting yourself into the sex business in the first place. So I collected writing from both the groups. My mission was to give voice to the entire spectrum of this underrepresented population, to humanize these creatures who are reviled and glorified, worshiped and spat upon in the sex ghetto. I invited everyone. If you lived in the Life, and if you had a story to tell, regardless of whether it was polished prose or a diamond in the rough, you were welcomed with open arms. I very consciously didn’t grind my political ax. In our book $2500 call girls, $100 rent boys, and $10 crack hos are bedfellows.

Most everyone, except me and my co-editor, thought this book would fly under the radar and die a slow painful death, probably out of print in a year. But on August 23, 2009, all that changed. That’s when our little book rather shockingly appeared on the front page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. That’s when it got ugly for me in the sex ghetto.

Usually, a book or an idea gets attacked from the right or from the left. But I’ve got both sides calling for my head on a pike. One side thinks I am, “Deplorable… dishonorable…” The other is, “Disappointed… pissed off…”. I have no idea what percentage of people who toil in the world of sex for money are doing so voluntarily, and how many are doing so against their will. In my experience, it’s virtually impossible to get reliable statistics. It’s not like a census taker can go to a “massage parlor” where trafficked women are being kept against their will (as was the case in several recently busted in the Bay Area) and interview the slaves. Or from an independent contractor who gets her tricks through craigslist. Or, for that matter, from “Ashley Dupree,” after she’s had her way with Elliot Spitzer. And so many of the statistics we do see from the left or the right are manipulated to fit their agendas. The fact is, right now, in big cities and small towns across America, a hard-working sex worker who is not being coerced, who is doing this of his or her own free will, is making money having sex with someone. And at the same time, a victim is being used as a sex slave by the most hideous, vile creatures ever spawned. That’s what’s going on in America, and whether we like it or not, the sex for money business is booming.

Quite simply, our society is sexually ill. It is broken. I believe the vast majority of Americans do not come close to getting all the love and sex they want. So they try to buy it. I believe this book has generated such intense interest in part because the oldest profession seems to be the next taboo being exposed in the limelight of the American zeitgeist. Mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, incest, one after another have been trotted out and examined like a bug under a microscope. Jim Carrol’s The Basketball Diaries, Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss, Pete Hamill’s A Drinking Life and William Styron’s A Memoir of Madness were all deeply personal accounts of aberrant behavior that had been previously swept under America’s rug. And now it seems like the world wants to know, who are these people selling sex? Why are we buying so much of it? Who are these hos, hookers, call girls and rent boys that make everyone from Catholics to Orthodox Jews to Islamic fundamentalists to Mormons regular guests in the sex ghetto?

This book was an attempt to answer that question. It took no sides in the whore wars. Should it be legalized? Prohibited? It seems both sides want the book to take their position. But it doesn’t. Our agenda is to let these hos, hookers, call girls and rent boys speak for themselves. This is why we opened our book with Post-Porn Modernist Annie Sprinkle’s “40 Reasons Why Whores Are My Heroes.” And followed it with Oakland’s diamond-hard mochaluv’s: “Being a Ho Sucks.” Are whores heroes? Does being a ho suck? Yes and yes.
However, as we put this book together, one thing became clear. Until we take the millions of dollars and man/woman hours currently being directed at adults who, having weighed their economic options, choose of their own free will to exchange sex for money, predators and peddlers of flesh who operate in every major American city, largely ignored by law enforcement, will continue to flourish. People who sell sex will continue to be in constant danger of being abused and beaten by both johns and the police, with no legal recourse. While savage killers like Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, continued to prey on women in that world because, in his words, “I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”

If this book helps people see that men and women who have sex for money are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, I will be happy. If it shines a compassionate light into the sex ghetto, it’ll be worth all the slings and arrows slung my way in the whore wars. But if nothing else comes out of all this, I hope the words of the legendary Georgina Spelvin, anthology contributor and star of The Devil in Miss Jones, ring out from between the covers of our book. “Do your part. Take a hooker to lunch.”

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).

The Hobbyist

HobbyistFinalPRINTCover5.375x8.25inchesCMYK300dpi

Purchase the Book

Paperback : Amazon.com | Barnes & Nobles
Ebook : Kindle | Nook
Signed Book : Contact me

Discuss the Book

icon-amazonicons-goodreadsicon-bn
I wrote this with my pals Keith & Kent Zimmerman, under the name King Starr. Rockwell, a 29-year-old fast-tracker, makes large coin at a Silicon Valley brokerage house, has a gorgeous girlfriend, and plans to conquer Wall Street and the world. Then it all comes crashing down. His gorgeous girlfriend dumps him. His beloved big sister dies. Suddenly, he is left alone to raise his teen niece, Ellie. An emotional cripple, Rockwell is an easy target for Dean Manne, a roguish work pal, who invites him to join the Fellowship of “the Hobby,” where a group of sexual raconteurs sample, rate, and review “sexual providers” in excruciating detail. As Rockwell the Hobbyist is busy having no-holes-barred sex with some of the most beautiful and sexually talented women in the world, Ellie is busy with her own transformation. She turns her drab school persona into the mysterious SpaceFace super vixen AnnabelLee, posing in Goth makeup and skimpy lingerie. Victims of their own self-destruction, Rockwell and Ellie are led to commit desperate acts with violent consequences. The Hobbyist will take you deep into an underground fraternity of sexual cyber deviants who play out their every fantasy in the flesh, then into the netherworld of a new generation desperately looking for love in all the wrong places. It will take you from the dark heart of sexual addiction and lost innocence into the bright light of human love.

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

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 Featured in SF Chronicle

My new memoir Chicken featured in SF Chronicle

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

“Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man

for Rent,” a 10th anniversary edition,

by David Henry Sterry

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

chicken 10 year 10-10-13

 

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

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

Sex Love and Money FINAL COVER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DHS: How are sex workers viewed in Cambodia?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, activist, and book doctor.  His new book Chicken Self:-Portrait of a Man for Rent, 10 Year Anniversary Edition, has been translated into 10 languages.  He’s also written Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money and Sex, which appeared on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.  He is a finalist for the Henry Miller Award.  He has appeared on, acted with, written for, been employed as, worked and/or presented at: Will Smith, a marriage counselor, Disney screenwriter, Stanford University, National Public Radio, Milton Berle, Huffington Post, a sodajerk, Michael Caine, the Taco Bell chihuahua, Penthouse, the London Times, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a human guinea pig and Zippy the Chimp.  He can be found at www.davidhenrysterry.com.  https://davidhenrysterry.com/

chicken 10 year 10-10-13

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

Chicken Named on Top 10 Most Provocative Books Of Month List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chicken 10 year anniversary cover

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

Amazon  Indiebound

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