Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Whatever Happened To...The Happy Hooker?

Remember her? Her name is Xaviera Hollander and she took the book world by storm back in 1971 with her autobiographical account of life as a high class call girl and madam.

She was born Vera de Vries in the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1943, spending the first two years of her life in a Japanese internment camp. The family returned to Holland after the war and some years later, Xaviera was voted Holland's best secretary. She learned to speak half a dozen languages and was certainly not short on intelligence - or business acumen.

By 1968, following a short spell in South Africa, she was living in New York, and had left her secretarial job in favour of $1000 a night as a high class call girl. In her book, she states that she loved sex and, initially didn't charge. Her lovers thought differently and paid her anyway - with money and gifts - so her new career was born.

Her brothel, the Vertical Whorehouse, became the most successful in New York and her clients included a number of Hollywood 'A' Listers. She alleged that Alfred Hitchock was one of them. He apparently liked to dress up as a corpse and lie in a coffin. He got his kicks, so she says, from scaring the girls by suddenly sitting bolt upright.

Her blockbuster memoir, The Happy Hooker, broke new ground in its celebration of sex and the frank language used. Perfect for its time, it reflected the new permissive age and shocked almost everyone over thirty-five!

Arrested for prostitution in the same year her book was published, Xaviera was forced to leave the United States but, with her customary fearlessness and tenacity, she bounced back. A longrunning advice column in Penthouse followed, as well as a (mostly) spoken word album on which she talked about her views on sex and prostitution, sang The Beatles' Michelle and included several simulated sex sessions. An erotic board game (Xaviera's Game) appeared in 1974, and 1975 found her starring in My Pleasure Is My Business - based on her own life.

She moved to Canada (where she married an antique dealer) but, in 1997, began a long term gay relationship with a Dutch female poet called Dia.

Through the ensuing years, Xaviera has remained actively involved in many creative and artistic pursuits, including theatre production, performing (no, not THAT way) and is delighted to be involved in a musical based on her life, called The Happy Hooker. She lectures, is a frequent TV guest and has written some eighteen books.

For some years now, she has lived in Amsterdam where, in 2005, she established a bed and breakfast establishment called Xaviera's Happy House which she runs with her third husband, Philip de Haan. She and her husband personally run the villa and, judging by the reviews on Trip Advisor, it's a pretty unforgettable experience - just leave the kids at home!

As she says on her own website, the Happy Hooker has become the Happy Hostess.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Silent Seduction - Sensual Scenes From The Silver Screen

The old saying, 'one picture is worth a thousand words' may be a hackneyed cliche these days, but there is no escaping the impact of some of the classic love scenes from cinema of the silent era.

As a writer, it is my job to convey with words the kind of strong passion and emotion the eye can see and comprehend for itself on screen. It's no easy task, as any author knows, and particularly daunting when you look back at some of the most powerful love scenes ever portrayed - and the actors did it without saying one single word.

Take a look at this scene between Greta Garbo and John Gilbert in the 1926 classic silent, Flesh and the Devil:

Their expressions, movements and those amazing Garbo eyes say it all. You know exactly what's going on and, if anything, the interspersed dialogue boards are something of an intrusion.The screen positively sizzles with the chemistry between these two, doesn't it? 

Now try writing that scene - not as a screenplay but as part of a novel - creating as much sexual tension as Garbo and Gilbert achieved. Quite an exercise!

In complete contrast, here's another scene of a very different, intensely passionate kind. Here the seduction is much more deadly. Louise Brooks stars in the 1929 silent, Pandora's Box:

For me, there is so much going on in this scene. The complex relationship between all three characters, the passion, emotion and tragedy. 

Try and convey that scene through the written word. If you succeed, congratulations. Now write the novel and get it off to a publisher. You could have a bestseller on your hands!


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Klimt The Lover

He was one of Austria's pivotal artists of the later 19th Century, founder of the Secession movement, an amoral man who fathered possibly as many as fourteen children (none in wedlock, as he never married).His painting, Der Küss (The Kiss), is one of the most famous and instantly recognisable in the world. Yet, surprisingly little is really known about Klimt the man. What there is tends to be shrouded in conjecture and open to wild speculation.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Klimt
He made much of  his money by painting rich women in Viennese society. Their husbands were only to open their wallets for him. The wives may well have opened much more! Alma Schindler and Adele Bloch-Bauer - to name but two - probably shared his bed, although it's by no means certain whether his companion from 1890 until his death at the untimely age of 55 in 1918 ever did. Her name was Emilie Flöge and whether she was his mistress or just a very good friend is a secret both took with them to their graves. 

Alma Schindler (later wife of Mahler)
Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, a suburb of Vienna, in 1862 and never moved far away. He was the badly educated son of a gold engraver who went onto influence an entire art movement, and his favoured attire consisted of a collection of floppy smocks under which he wore no underwear. It would seem he was possessed of a certain animal magnetism and women appeared to find him irresistable. So, what did he look like? Tall, dark, sexy?

Er - well no actually. He was short, dark and chubby. On the plus side (from my point of view), he was a great cat lover and always kept a few around him.

Much of his work is overtly erotic and nothing was taboo. Hundreds of his drawings exist portraying women masturbating and nude Lesbian couples. He detested censors and believed in the artist's right to freedom of expression. Small wonder then that he was a leading light of the Secession movement in Vienna, helping to create the wonderful building that now houses his famous Beethoven Frieze as well as a number of exhibitions. 

He never painted a self-portrait, proclaiming himself to be unimportant as a potential subject. Similarly, there are few photographs of him but my favourite is this one. His smile is warm and it's quite clear that, for him, the main subject of this photograph is his little feline companion. I'm beginning to understand a little of why those women fell for him! 

I have stood in front of Der Küss on many occasions. It is indeed as golden as you would imagine, although I remember when I saw it the first time, I was disappointed that it was much smaller than I had imagined. It is by no means my favourite Klimt painting either but there is no escaping its power and magnetism. The sensuous embrace - the man enfolding his lover while she, eyes closed, gives herself up willingly to his embrace. I find it sexually charged. Looking at it, you feel like a voyeur intruding on an intensely private, passionate moment. Their love is displayed for all to see.

Emilie Flöge by Klimt
Klimt, on the other hand, preferred to keep us guessing.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

To Hiss Or To Kiss - Katya Armock Interviews Her Hero

Today I'm joined by fellow Etopia Press Paranormal Erotic Romance author, Katya Armock, and it seems she's brought a rather gorgeous friend...

Thank you, Antonia, for hosting me. Today I’ve been interviewing my hero, Jorge. He’s a jaguar shape-shifter. 

Katya: Thank you for agreeing to let me interview you, Jorge.

Jorge: I am your character. I felt it would be rude to decline.

Katya: OK. Well, let’s get started. Where did you grow up?

Jorge: I grew up in Belize City, but my family spent most weekends at my uncle’s preserve near what is now the Cockscomb Basin Nature Preserve. I also spent time each summer with my paternal grandparents in Ohio. I am currently living in their house, now that they have passed on.

Katya: I’m sorry for your loss. Do you miss being in Belize?

Jorge: Sometimes. My jaguar misses it the most. No one thinks it’s weird to see a jaguar lounging in a tree in the jungle. I’m sure people would feel differently if they saw that in Ohio.

Katya: Yes, I think they would.

Jorge: My parents live full-time in Scotland now, near Edinburgh. My brother and his family also live there. My parents got a place there when I was 11 so we could spend time with our Scottish relatives.

Katya: So you’re quite the world traveler. Where did you go to college?

Jorge: MIT. 

Katya: Right. You’re a techno geek.

Jorge: Some would say that. One of my first childhood hobbies was building robots. I specialize in high tech security. Being a shape-shifter, it is important that we keep our identity a secret. My day job is more focused on managing my family’s financial portfolio.

Katya: How about a fun question. If you were on an online dating site, what would your user name be?

Jorge: SexyNerd

Katya: Why that?

Jorge: When Chloe called me that, I knew I had a shot with her.

Here's the blurb for To Hiss Or To Kiss:
Chloe can “talk” to animals…so why can she hear the thoughts of this hot, green-eyed man?

Abandoned by her mother and raised by a father who’d given up on life, Chloe doesn’t let anyone get close. Lucky for her, she can communicate with animals—telepathically. Her long hours at the animal shelter help her cope with the stress, and the animals are the only people she needs. But when a suspected dog-fighting ring comes to her attention, Chloe decides to do a little spying. And in her rush to win the dogs’ trust, she almost gets herself caught.

Until a sexy stranger intervenes, and she finds she can overhear his thoughts. She’s never been able to hear people, and this man’s about as sexy as she’s ever seen. It’s more than intellectual curiosity that drives her to discover his secret: he’s a jaguar shape-shifter, and the presence of this cat among the dogs might be a bit too much to handle. But the animal attraction is just too hot to resist, and the passion between them makes both the sparks—and the fur—fly…

Now, here's an excerpt: 

“Despite how things were left last night, I am still concerned for your welfare, Chloe. It was not my intent to upset you last night. I am, uh, I am…”

I want to jump in and finish his sentence with something like “stupid,” “mercurial,” “heartless,” “a cad,” et cetera, but I bite my tongue. I did, after all, admit I might already be in love with him earlier today. Perhaps I shouldn’t do anything to completely screw this up.

So instead of a biting retort, I soften my expression but still stare mercilessly, willing him to look back up and meet my eyes.

He finally looks up, his eyes pleading with me to understand. “…I do not do well interacting with people. And I don’t tell people my secrets.”

I find myself melting a little when I see some chinks through the wall he erected last night. “Yeah, well, I can understand that.”

He looks mildly surprised that I’m not berating him or stomping past him to get in my car. Am I really that harsh?

Yeah, maybe. No, definitely, if I go on what he’s seen of me.

“You do?” He looks more vulnerable, and therefore more sexy, by the minute.

“I know having to hide a part of yourself puts up a pretty big barrier to maintaining relationships,” I say, and find I mean it. I smile. “And you do seem like kind of a nerd, too.” I’m relieved by the slight upturn to his lips.

“A nerd?”

“Yeah. You’re quiet and I bet you know a lot. You’ve got a bookish vibe.” At that he seems a little crestfallen, and I worry I just undid any repairs I’d made to this incredibly awkward conversation/relationship/future marriage/whatever.

“That’s not a bad thing. Nerdy can be cool. I’m somewhat of a science nerd and bookish myself. And you’re a pretty sexy nerd, so it’s all good.” Oh, God. There go my capillaries again.

I decide the best way to save face ­is to keep staring at him, so I see his mouth widen into a satisfied grin. His nervousness seems to have evaporated, and he’s back to cool cat. “You think I’m sexy?”

“And if I do?”
Buy Links:

 About the Author:

I  like books that are funny and fun to read (and hot!) but also make me think or look at the world in a new way. I am influenced by magic realism, comparative mythology, and esoteric spiritual practices from around the world.

I spent too many years chasing someone else’s definition of success. My life simplified, I returned to my first love of writing.

These days you’ll find me writing, pet sitting, juggling a number of freelance gigs, and reigning as my home’s domestic goddess. I live in the Midwestern U.S. with my husband, dog and cats. Alas, I have, as of yet, been unable to teach my husband how to purr.




Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Little Sunday Seduction...

Sunday already! 

Time for a Weekend Writing Warriors extract from Vienna Valentine

Moving straight on from last week's extract:

Magda and Jakob collapsed into each other’s arms, sated. It was time for me to leave. I didn’t know if the invitation would ever be repeated, and the thought that it might not be saddened me a little. But nothing would take away the memories of that evening. And memories of the mysterious Karl who’d fled, as they say, into the night.

That night, my dreams disturbed me. They were full of strange visions, images of fantastic creatures mingled with glimpses of Magda, Jakob, and Karl, but not as I had seen them in that apartment. These people morphed into beautiful wolf-like animals, with soft, thick fur and burning eyes, who raced off into the night and left me bereft, waiting for their return.

You can read more about Vienna Valentine by clicking HERE
 Vienna Valentine is available from

and other online booksellers
Thank you for dropping by. Now, click HERE to read the other excellent Weekend Writing Warriors