Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pg. 69: "Indecent"

Acclaimed author Stephen Elliott cited Indecent by Sarah Katherine Lewis as one of his favorite books of 2006.

So of course I invited her to put the book to the "page 69 test" and was delighted when she accepted. Here she first provides part of the text from page 69, then explains how it fits in with the book:
I lifted my hips up from the couch and slid my panties off.

"You wanna fingerbang me?" I cooed. "Let's mess around."

I reached down and held my labia open, butterflying my pussy back against my inner thighs. I'd shaved that morning. My skin felt soft. Hair grows back so fast: less than a day after shaving, you can always feel stubble. But now, no--I was smooth, with only a strip of hair on the top of my mons veneris, like an arrow pointing down to my hole.

Roderick zoomed in, and stayed zoomed.

I thought I heard him breathing a little harder as he stayed squatting between my legs with the handheld.
On page 69 I'm doing my first porn shoot for Roderick Saxon, a local pornographer. I'm dirty-talking the camera while I fake-masturbate, performing as a "hot, horny amateur" for one of his popular DVD series. On this page I realize that doing porn is more boring and uncomfortable than it is exciting, discovering that while in the midst of contrived auto-erotic activity for the camera, "...[i]t was like my emotions were wrapped in bath towels." On subsequent pages I finish the shoot and get paid $250--the extra fifty for anally penetrating myself with a pacifier-shaped buttplug.

This page is fairly representative of my book. Throughout Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It As A Girl For Hire I try to de-glamorize the adult industry, describing how it feels to be a stripper, a dominatrix, a porn star, and a happy-ending masseuse. None of these jobs function as true expressions of my erotic nature--but they're almost always better than flipping burgers, and they keep my rent paid. As a chubby metalhead pretending to be a fantasy girl, I am alternately horrified and amused by my customers' depth of belief in my paid performances.
Many thanks to Sarah Katherine for the input.

Click here to visit Radio Blowfish and listen to a podcast featuring Lewis talking about her book.

Stephen Elliott praised Indecent here.

Writing at MSNBC, Paige Newman called Indecent "an honest, graphic, hilarious and poignant look at life as a stripper, erotic masseuse and adult-video star."

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer review:
Lewis' new memoir is a brutally frank and graphic recounting of what it's like to work in massage parlors, porn films, strip clubs and other seedy way stations in this shadow economy.

But what truly distinguishes "Indecent" is Lewis' cutting and sarcastic sense of humor. No matter what she does, Lewis never seems to lose her finely honed sense of the ludicrous and ridiculous, two quantities never in short supply when sex is being provided for sizable bucks.

"Indecent" follows the familiar format for such sex memoirs -- the innocent pilgrim's progress into a strange and forbidding world. But Lewis is a pilgrim with a decided edge, a feisty, independent feminist with a high school degree who enters the sex business at age 24 after eight years of poverty-level employment in food service, including a stint as a barista at an unnamed franchise coffee place where she was fired for "insubordination." [click here to read the review]

Click here (and scroll down) for more reviews.

Title your book Indecent and there's a good chance the organizers of Northern Kentucky University's Indecent Day will invite you to headline the event.

In 2004, NPR's Noah Adams aired "a series on low-wage jobs with a look at writers in Seattle who can only dream of quitting their day job to dedicate themselves to their art," and yes, Sarah Katherine Lewis was featured.

Visit her blog here.

Previous "page 69 tests":
Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
William Easterly, The White Man's Burden
Danielle Trussoni, Falling Through the Earth
Andrew Blechman, Pigeons
Anne Perry, A Christmas Secret
Elaine Showalter, Faculty Towers
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile
Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane
Nicholas Lemann, Redemption
Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything
Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile
Josh Chafetz, Democracy’s Privileged Few
Anne Frasier, Pale Immortal
Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
David A. Bell, The First Total War
Brett Ellen Block, The Lightning Rule
Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
Jason Starr, Lights Out
Robert Vitalis, America's Kingdom
Stephen Elliott, My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up
Colin McGinn, The Power of Movies
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood
Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind
Stanley Fish, How Milton Works
James Longenbach, The Resistance to Poetry
Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Season of Betrayal
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Allison Burnett, The House Beautiful
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
Ed Lynskey, The Dirt-Brown Derby
Cindy Dyson, And She Was
Simon Blackburn, Truth
Brian Freeman, Stripped
Alyson M. Cole, The Cult of True Victimhood
Jeff Biggers, In the Sierra Madre
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue