Prostituting the Art

Some time ago the confidants who critique my fiction writing accused me of including too much gratuitous sex. Guilty as charged. (Although I do make an effort to adorn it in classic-style prose as opposed to the gutter-mouthed writing style of many modern authors.)

I decided to try and capitalize on my carnal inclinations and answered an ad for a writer at an “adult magazine” based in Philadelphia.

The interview went well. They said ‘let’s see some of your fantasies in writing’ and I probably frightened them with what I presented. They made me an offer but the job paid next to nothing. I opted for another gig.

While the job would have been a kick of sorts — that episode revealed me to be a whore willing to sell my craft for dollars without a care in the world as to whether or not my writing did anything constructive or positive for me or anyone reading it. Even worse, no thought was given to possible damage my twisted tales might have helped cause.

What’s the strangest or most “sell out” thing you ever did with your writing? (Those of you with more integrity than me, which may be most of you, please relate the most magnanimous or altruistic use of your art.)

8 Responses

  1. You’re not a whore.I would
    You’re not a whore.

    I would make an uneducated guess and estimate that at least 95% of people who write ultimately want to make money from their writing. Look at the titans — Dickens, Faulkner, Fitzgerald. They all were out for the almighty dollar/pound. Hey, Dickens never ended his damn stuff so he could continue to sell it in monthly magazines.

    So I don’t think you’re a whore for writing porn. Keep in mind that porn is still legal in the US (for how much longer remains to be seen). And, allegedly, only those over the age of majority can buy the porn your writing was in.

    I think the real question is how demented was your porn? If you think that it was twisted enough to cause possible damage. . . well then I’d like to read it. For the sake of science, of course.

  2. singlemalt, you mongerkeep up
    singlemalt, you monger

    keep up the good work.

    Tulate, I don’t think it’s a sell-out necessarily, You said yourself that you try to write well, even when writing about “gratuitous” sex. The only thing, to me, that constitutes selling out would be espousing an idea you don’t believe for money. I’m not talking about fiction, as in “I don’t believe I would really have sex a certain way, so I can’t write about this”, or “I don’t believe I would really shoot someone so I can’t write about that”. I’m talking about, if you thought you could sell a lot of books to conservatives and be on evangelical TV shows if you wrote “Why God Hates Tattoos: A Scriptural Guide” when, in fact, you don’t believe God hates tattoos, or you really have no idea one way or the other.

  3. To Whore or Not to WhoreI
    To Whore or Not to Whore

    I wish I could approach this with some levity. I try. It falls flat. I fail. Especially today.

    I didn’t want “my boys” (all 25 of them and all with HIV/AIDS) to see themselves as writers. They have enough to deal with.

    But no.

    Lately, they’ve been writing like crazy. It has to be a madness or maybe desert bugs. I underestimate the power of role modeling, and I am NO role model. But there it is. They’re writing. Some of them day and night.

    Most of them come from various backgrounds where they’ve been sexually abused.

    Their stories take my breath away. I am in awe of them. That they are alive at all.

    Now. This. Writing thing.

    There’s a lot of sex in there.

    There’s this huge issue they share about what it was like for them not simply to survive abuse but what it was like to be a whore. Most turned to it at one time or another as it was the only thing they knew to market surviving as they did living mainly homeless and on the street.

    Now, the 14-year-olds want to be writers, too. I’m not sure I can handle it.

    Writing and whoredom seem to have invaded our house and psyche.

    I might put them on the Web. The Web will scream, of course. How dare you…

    They’re children.

    But I do dare.

    I don’t want to live with this agony alone.

    They really were whores and they really are writers.

    Why me, god.

    I can read a little bit of what they write at a time. It turns my guts inside out and back into knots again.

    It’s easier for one boy to talk about his scars and how he got them in his written words than to talk to anyone out loud. In fact, he hasn’t talked out loud to anyone in a couple of years, now.

    In his missive that he wrote today he left a note saying: maybe I could read this out loud to the group.


    The whole notion of writing and whoredom is a tough one. Especially when the whore becomes the writer and not the other way around.

    I love living in my own rose-colored glasses where I can fool myself that they’re just children.

    They are not just children. They’re damaged and some of them are dying.

    Even so, through the words they write what they speak to is an extraordinary love.

    For one another. It is a soldiership of whores. A brotherhood.

    It is also a reaching out where the boy is connecting his past to a future he may never have.

    Maybe four are going way deep down into the forbidden territory of the naked words and bones where all the gloves are off. They speak through what are definitely tears to the broken fragments of what they refer to as the sex they are having now — in relationships — with one another as they claim that that is what is now left to them.

    I sort of knew but it’s easy to ignore what you don’t want to see.

    Now, I see it in their words.

    Plumbers. Why couldn’t they have wanted to be plumbers. Plumbers make lots more cash than whores.

    Their writing is filled to overflowing with tenderness, generosity, pain, confusion, compassion, confrontation, lust, sexual sophistication, and a DIRE, GRIM wisdom far more advanced than anything I have ever read in the context of a published book.

    Their work is a different take on childhood and adolescent sexuality entirely. In fact, it speaks to the culture at large in terms of who are these children who survive (barely) at the margins.

    They do not stop there. No.

    They delve into the connections between love, death, sex, reciprocity, and gender.

    I want to forbid them to ever read anything ever again. I want to plead with them to go back to being little boys. But it’s a little late. Having graduated from Whoredom University, we’re now a house of writers.

    All of them face their mortality in ways where the train has been set on a high speed Internet connection.

    They want everything now.

    They want to be writers now.

    They want to understand life now. (My telling them that this is a tall order only gets me the rolling of the adolescent eyes.)

    I don’t really know if writing has brought them insight.

    I know this.

    Writing (or even pretending to be a writer versus a kid who now has AIDS and was a whore) has imbued them with a dignity they did not know as whores.

    I learn something new from them every minute of every day.

    “We’re not hustlers anymore,” they tell me. “We have things to say.”

    — Nasdijj

  4. Nasdijj — you are saying a
    Nasdijj — you are saying a real lot here. I barely know how to respond except that it’s good to have you here on LitKicks.

    Also — when your kids write, they must be following your example. Whether you see yourself as a role model or not, that’s what you are to them. All of my kids write, and I always find it a bit embarrassing to face them about it, because I don’t want to play any influencing role. But I can’t deny that they frequently saw me scribbling crazily into notebooks, and must have been wondering what that was all about, and now they’re finding out for themselves. Of course I see what you’re saying … but I’m really glad when I see my kids busily writing away. It won’t save them from the crisis of life, just like it didn’t save me, but I guess it won’t hurt them either.

  5. ApollinaireHe wrote porn. If

    He wrote porn. If he can do it, you can too.

  6. This is such a serious thing
    This is such a serious thing that all I can think to ask is, what are the best organizations to support to help kids like this?

    I will add this about the role model question. Yes, I vividly remember my Dad typing away on his old Royal typewriter, mostly letters to the editor of the local paper, things like that. He said he once wanted to be a writer but never did it as a profession.

  7. I Wrote For The Student
    I Wrote For The Student Newspaper

    When I was 22 I wrote for the Northern State ‘Exponent’. They kept labeling me a ‘Green’. Actually they asked what my poltical currency was and I said “I’m me.”

    But, since the other writers were labeled 98% lean and fresh cut they really needed to pinhole me because I mostly wrote to piss the other ‘poly sci’ authors off.

    That was probably my first sell out, writing merely to piss people off. GG Alin might be fun to watch but he is extremely misguided. Even the Sex Pistols and Old Bull Lee had something to say.

    To write merely to piss the audience off is such an ego bound trip. It is a form of self-anal rape, pleasure in a divergent manner. Back to Old Bull Lee, or the characters from ‘Invisible Monsters’ you’ll never truly gain sation from merely pissing people off, its like peeing in the shower.

    The second mistake was to let them label me a “Green” or an anything for that manner.

    I hate labels. I buy Durkheim’s theory of anomie and know that you apply a message to yourself your bound to become it.

    Why make yourself into a product?

    The goal should neither to arouse feelings of resentment no matter how humourous you may find them. That makes you like labeled from America meat, not better for any actually reason, pure marketing.

    What are you going to do? Give someone mad cow disease?

    Writing should be pure and expressive not condensed and repulsive. Writing a ‘product’ for consumption is a bad of sin of anything.

  8. I agree, slog, and I’ll add
    I agree, slog, and I’ll add this: When we actually see good writing, it’s self-evident. The real thing doesn’t need a label to be recognized.

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