Know of any good sex worker memoirs?
March 21, 2021 9:19 PM   Subscribe

I’m looking for book suggestions! Open to pro/con perspectives, international or domestic (US) and illegal, legal, or decriminalized types/eras.
posted by Selena777 to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
There is Rent Girl, written by Michelle Tea and illustrated by Laurenn McCubbin.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:13 PM on March 21, 2021

In My Skin by Kate Holden.
posted by Thella at 10:25 PM on March 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Whip Smart by Melissa Febos.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 10:43 PM on March 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown, Paid For by Rachel Moran, Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd
posted by Gorgik at 11:01 PM on March 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Working - My Life as a Prostitute by Dolores French.

This may not be what you're looking for because it deals with the management end, but The Mayflower Madam by Sydney Biddle Barrows.
posted by rednikki at 12:46 AM on March 22, 2021

From an anonymous commenter:
‘My Body, My Business’ (Amazon link). In this book “...eleven New Zealand sex workers speak in their own voices about their lives in and out of the sex industry. Based on a series of oral history interviews, the book includes the stories of female, male, and transgender workers, workers in brothels, escorts, strippers, private workers, and dominatrices. Wilton describes the many political and social changes that have affected the New Zealand sex industry over time, the most profound of these being the decriminalisation of prostitution in 2003”.

The book was published by Otago University Press (NZ) in 2018.
posted by taz at 2:29 AM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Since you didn’t mention gender, John Preston’s Hustling: a Gentleman’s Guide to the Fine Art of Homosexual Prostitution is part memoir, part manual. It’s very rooted in the 70s, and heavens knows how it reads today.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:14 AM on March 22, 2021

From long ago and far away, there's Xaviera Hollander's 'The Happy Hooker,' which was just astonishingly popular in the '70s.
posted by box at 8:17 AM on March 22, 2021

Here is Annie Sprinkle's wiki, scroll down for her extensive bibliography.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 8:18 AM on March 22, 2021

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody.
posted by sacrifix at 8:27 AM on March 22, 2021

Camgirl by Isa Mazzei is a very current, illuminating memoir of her time has a cam model. Highly recommended.
posted by holmesian at 8:34 AM on March 22, 2021

Memoirs of courtisans were a thing in 19th-early 20th century France. Céleste Mogador, Cora Pearl, Marie Colombier, Liane de Pougy and Caroline Otero (among others) all left memoirs. Mogador, Pougy and Colombier were actual writers who also authored novels and plays, and several are available in French on or Cora Pearl's memoirs are available in English at There's also a English version of Caroline Otero's memoirs (My Story), but there's only an snippet view on Google Books.
posted by elgilito at 8:58 AM on March 22, 2021

The Scarlett Letter by Jenny Nordbak details her time as a dominatrix
posted by jander03 at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2021

Playing The Whore: The Work of Sex Work by Meliss Gira Grant is not a memoir but the author is a former sex worker.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:46 AM on March 22, 2021

Last of the Live Nude Girls - a memoir about Times Square peep shows.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:08 AM on March 22, 2021

3 Conversations, a chapbook extended conversation between merrit k and Charlotte Shane, "delves into bodies, cosmetic surgery, gender, feminism, sex, Tinder, monogamy, work, relationships, and more."
posted by storpsmop at 10:44 AM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Indecent by Sarah Katherine Lewis. By far the best that I've read in this genre; so funny and smart and insightful. It's a crying shame she's only published two books.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:29 AM on March 22, 2021

Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America by Lily Burana
posted by cyndigo at 1:11 PM on March 22, 2021

Was coming here to suggest Grant's book too, it's a really interesting read though not a memoir.
posted by jessamyn at 1:42 PM on March 22, 2021

The Memoirs of Hariette Wilson, Written by Herself is a fun tell-all book from 1825, when Wilson, once a fashionable courtesan, had fallen on hard times. Before publication she wrote to her former patrons offering them the chance to pay her not to mention them. Many of them did; but the Duke of Wellington famously wrote back: “Publish and be damned!” Thus, the section on Wellington is particularly salty.

From the Project Gutenberg intro:
“The Memoirs were first published in 1825 by John Joseph Stockdale, who issued them in paper cover parts, and so great was the demand that a barrier had to be erected in Stockdale's shop to regulate the crowd that came to buy. Thirty editions are said to have been sold in one year.”
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:37 PM on March 22, 2021

(Reading over the first section of Wilson’s memoirs, I see that it should carry a CW for racism and potential references to enslavement. John, the Earl of Craven’s footman, may or may not have been enslaved; but Wilson refers to him in an insultingly offhand manner.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:44 PM on March 22, 2021

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