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All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C. Paperback – August 4, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If an account of one's tour of duty as a stripper and sometimes prostitute in seedy downtown Washington, D.C. gay clubs could ever be called "breezy," Seymour's achieved it. Sure to please the hedonistic gay man in (almost) all of us, Seymour is frank and entirely explicit as he chronicles his journey from diligent Masters' candidate (developing a thesis on gay strip clubs) to onstage talent working every night to make a living. Unafraid to bare it all, in person and in prose, Seymour details his brief foray into prostitution as well as the (very) personal stories of his fellow dancers. Seymour can dissemble, first pinning his stripping career on low self-esteem, but later admitting to some early success with more traditional dancing and acting; it becomes clear that the author is a bit of a narcissist, but a charming one. The last fifty pages, accounting for his subsequent work as a celebrity interviewer, are pure filler; when he sticks to the clubs, though, readers will feel they're in the hands of an expert.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Part sexy parable, part witty reminiscence, part informative history lesson, All I Could Bare is a captivating introspective into a world we all have pondered. Unflinchingly honest, Seymour shows that there's far more to being naked than taking off one's clothes." -- Josh Kilmer-Purcell, author of the New York Times bestseller I Am Not Myself These Days and Candy Everybody Wants

"A clever and candid look into the world of gay male stripping that is infectious, irreverent, and ultimately inspiring." -- Stewart Lewis, author of Rockstarlet

"Witty, humorous, and filled with the guilty indulgence of an unadulterated insider's view...a cunning memoir of what most gay men search for -- to be desired, and hot boys." -- Terrance Dean, author of Hiding in Hip Hop

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141654206X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416542063
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,488,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Craig Seymour is an accomplished writer, photographer, and writing coach. He is the author of two books, the memoir All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C. (Atria/Simon & Schuster) and the biography, Luther: The Life & Longing of Luther Vandross. He has also written for The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Vibe, and Spin magazine, among others. He has taught writing at Northern Illinois University and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on June 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In this unique and engaging memoir, Craig Seymour attributes his childhood fascination with street hookers, glimpsed as his parents drove through his native D.C. at night, as the likely motivation to do his master's thesis on the social interaction of male strippers and their customers in the "hands on" D.C. gay clubs of the late '80's and early '90's. When one of his interviewees at the clubs suggested he'd get a much better perspective by actually working as a stripper, he agreed, with much trepidation yet excitement at no longer being an "outsider" in that world. For a period of years that reached through his doctoral studies, Seymour became a regular performer at several of these clubs located in the seedy S.E. section of downtown, ironically a short distance from the White House and Pentagon. Throughout these years, he returned home each night to his longtime (and first) lover, Seth, who didn't really understand his need to dance naked in front of strangers instead of teaching (as he did) to finance his graduate studies, but nevertheless tolerated it as something Craig needed to do.

The "memoir" section of most gay book stores has no shortage of books by former strippers, escorts or porn stars, doing a "tell-all" about their exploits for a willing audience of readers. Seymour's book is refreshingly different from this crowd, not just because he "drew the line" at stripping, but because he recognizes and reflects on the reasons why he needed to do it, and how it has helped and shaped his personality and future career aspirations, which included a stint as a music critic, celebrity journalist/photographer, and now as a professor of English.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By VJBoyd on June 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When this book first came across my desk, I wondered if I'd be able to relate to some gay guy who fantasizes about stripping, and then makes that fantasy come true. But this book is about more than that. Sure, that's Craig Seymour's story, and he's sticking to it, but he also makes the book about so much more: about following your dreams and passions, about facing down your fears, about being who you really are. And to top it all off, Seymour accomplishes all this with a page-turning narrative that somehow manages to be raunchy, inspirational and hilarious, all at the same time. If you can only read one book this summer, this one is it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rich Merritt on June 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
LOVED THIS BOOK! It's easy to read and entertaining and deep all at the same time. Seymour goes from being a guy who wanted his epitaph to say "He Never Embarrassed His Parents" to a stripper who takes all his clothes off so men could fondle him for money. Craig comes across as a guy you'd hope to meet and not just for his body. As only someone who's participated in the system can describe, he grasps the nuances and complexities of sex work.

He seems to have a great spirit with observations like the following:

"It was easy to think of the customers as just dirty old men, but many, like Dave, had led lives that had been full of secrets and compromise. That made their time at the clubs seem less like a hedonistic indulgence and more like a taste of hard-worn freedom."

He also pays tribute to Frank Kameny, an often-overlooked brave pioneer in the days of pre-Stonewall gay equality and exposes the hypocritical Matt Drudge.

Thanks for baring your soul, Craig!

Rich Merritt, author of Code of Conductand Secrets Of A Gay Marine Porn Star
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Danniray99 on June 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On the surface, Craig Seymour's "All I Could Bare," is simply a coming-of-age chronicle of his adventures as a gay stripper in the late 80's and early 90's, in the notorious, no-holds-barred gay nightclubs of downtown Washington, D.C., a scene which had flourished in plain sight for more than two decades. The book briefly traces the neighborhood's historical development and notoriety as a gay mecca and offers up some interesting, if not entirely original, composites of characters. These range from (gay and "straight") chiseled poster boys--who gleefully profited from the attentions (and the hefty tips) of their rapturous admirers--to the largely diverse and self-aware crowd of "sugar daddies" who avidly sought, paid for and indulged in sexual fantasies elsewhere denied them.

But "All I Could Bare" is actually a time-honored search for self, identity, a sense of place and community, the quest to make sense of it all. In contrast to the work of the controversial "gay" author John Rechy, there are no kernels of nihilism here: Seymour inevitably manages to wean himself from the nightclubs (though never quite entirely), gradually morphing into a skillful entertainment journalist and, later still, forging a successful career in academia (Rechy also parlayed his vast experience--and his existential angst--as a gay hustler into a profitable academic sideline). All told, Seymour's journey is a bona fide--albeit improbable-- success story told with a great sense of humor and insight.

For all its merits, however, the memoir is not faultless. Despite his frankness, Seymour is pathologically selfish, as when he describes the painful break-up of a long-term relationship and scarcely pauses to acknowledge the shattering effect that his obsession with stripping had on his partner.
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