In the early '80s, my friend's mom belonged to an all-female bowling league named "The Happy Hookers." Though he was too young to know what the name referred to -- and too afraid to ask -- most folks back then knew exactly who the "happy hooker" was. Published in 1972, Xaviera Hollander's titillating exposé of the world's oldest profession remains one of the milestones of the sexual revolution. An instant best-seller, the tell-all also put Hollander, New York's most powerful madam at the time, on the map. Since then, the sexual pioneer, who splits her time between Marabella, Spain, and Amsterdam, where she runs a bed-and-breakfast, has written 17 books and a popular advice column for Penthousemagazine.
Xaviera Hollander, aka "The Happy Hooker," can still
teach us a thing or two about sex.
Wednesday, June 12, at 7 p.m. at
Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole),
S.F., 863-8688; and Thursday,
June 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Cody's
Books, 2454 Telegraph (at Haste),
Berkeley (510) 845-7852
HarperCollins recently released a shamelessly retro, 30th-anniversary edition of The Happy Hooker that comes with a new epilogue and coincides with the publication of Hollander's latest book, Child No More. But those looking for the same cheap thrills that some of Hollander's writing and columns provide will be disappointed with the new biography. A "voyage of discovery through three lives," the memoir details Hollander's stormy relationship with her parents, a Jewish intellectual and a German model, revealing a vulnerable and not-often-seen side of Hollander. She shares the dramatic story of her life, from the traumatic first five years of her childhood, which she spent in a World War II prison camp during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, to her transformation from an underpaid secretary to a high-class call girl in New York, to her overnight success and sex-symbol status. Written with Hollander's characteristic candor and flair, Child No More proves that Hollander is no one-trick pony (pun intended).