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The Happy Hooker: My Own Story Paperback – June 4, 2002

3.8 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Xaviera Hollander has been writing a Penthouse column for 30 years. She chronicled her life as a "high-class New York madam" in 1972's The Happy Hooker: My Own Story, which now returns to print. Frankly discussing lesbianism, bondage, voyeurism and run-ins with lawyers and the FBI, Hollander's book was an international bestseller. In her new epilogue, Hollander rather questionably attests that although her stories may not be as shocking or taboo now as they were in 1972, "the business of sex [has] a new relevance" since September 11. Regan Books will also publish Hollander's new memoir, Child No More, in June (a review will run in an upcoming issue).
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Dutch madam Hollander scored big with this 1972 autobiography, which became a best seller 15 million copies worldwide. Although the book ended up in the hands of respectable readers, it's little more than smut, as Hollander recounts how she left Holland for a job as a secretary in New York, got bored, and became a prostitute and brothel manager (doesn't everybody?). Three decades later, when you can find raunchier stuff on prime-time TV, this is kind of kitschy. This 30th-anniversary edition contains a new epilog.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; 30th Anniversary ed edition (June 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060014164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060014162
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"How did YOU first learn about sex?" the reviews ask. Even more importantly, when? I'll confess that I learned about it in the 1970s, and that "a gleefully lusty tour guide named Xaviera Hollander" was responsible. The volume that started it all, "The Happy Hooker: My Own Story" is now titillating a new generation of readers who cut their teeth on matter-of-fact sex guides like "Savage Love" or Dr. Ruth Westheimer's preachy "Sex for Dummies." While many may wonder what all the fuss was about, the truth is that today's twenty-somethings can't begin to imagine how shocking this book was when it first appeared in February 1972, when most of us still gasped after hearing the word "damn" on TV.
Reared in the liberal Netherlands, the author discovers early on that she is bisexual -- and ultimately, it seems, sexually insatiable as well. Relating her own personal experiences in vivid detail, Xaviera chronicles how the sexual revolution of the 1960s hit full stride at the beginning of the 1970s. In the days before AIDS, she would regularly meet people of either sex, engage in small talk with them, and take them to bed before the night was over. Many ships pass in the night this way throughout the book, yet the author's first sexual encounter with a man is strangely given short shrift. Presumably it wasn't as memorable as her many other adventures and escapades. Entering adulthood, she migrates to South Africa at a time when apartheid and other repressive laws are still in force. Bored within a matter of days, she seduces her brother-in-law and spices up his previously boring marriage to her half-sister before moving on to the staid Johannesburg club scene, where she promptly makes a name for herself.
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Format: Paperback
As a modern twenty-something who wasn't even born when this book first came out in 1972, I enjoyed picking up what is undeniably a part of the history of American sexual culture. I tried to keep in perspective how shocking this book must have been in the 1970's, before our bookshelves and televisions were plasted with frank talk about sexual health and sexual deviance. To me, the opening lesbian girlhood fantasies and the nymphomania (of course all prostitutes love sex) seemed cliched, but I don't doubt Hollander's account of her early sexual life and introduction to the profession.

Hollander had an fascinating life growing up in Holland and moving to America. She was well-educated and very intelligent, and she eloquently explained how a girl of her breeding could become absolutely trapped and imprisioned in an abusive relationship. Her insight on that relationship alone makes this book a worthwhile read.

The book is a true page-turner as Hollander describes her sexual escapades in New York and the ways in which she earned money on her trip to Mexico. Hollander explains all the ins and outs of the high-end prositution business and the complicated formal relationship hookers have with their madam. The end of the book becomes a business treatise on the prostitution world, and it makes for compelling reading.
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Format: Library Binding
This is the book that made ex-New York madam Xaviera Hollander famous as The Happy Hooker. It is a classic, and typically, her best work. Of particular interest is the exposure of the corrupt politics with the New York Knapp Commission, and the U.N. - where Xaviera was propositioned regularly when she was a secretary there.
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By A Customer on June 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
I recently purchased Xaviera's book and found it to be enlightening in some areas, though terribly exaggerated in other areas. As someone with experience in the sex industry, I'd have to say that some of her experiences just don't add up. That's not to say that she isn't a wonderful writer. She is indeed. But I would have been more pleased with an honest, straight-forward account of her life as a hooker and madame, versus an embellished rendition of what actually took place. All in all, it was worth purchasing used.
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Format: Library Binding
I first got this book as a joke. When I read it, though, I found out that it really wasn't a joke. The book was extreamly discriptive, especially the part about the dog.....HMMMMMM I also never thought that it was possible to have that many people. You would think that all of the precautions in the world would not sop you from getting some sort of STD. I liked it.
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Format: Library Binding
Ms Hollander tells all in this book. If you think you know all there is to know about enjoying sex, you should read this book. Women will learn how to make their men and themselves happier and men will learn what they've only dreamed they've been missing. Even if you're not interested in better sex, this book is witty and will give you a chuckle.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a sexy classic. As a sex worker in New York, I found this book to be truthful and entertaining at the same time (although dated in many respects). You will find yourself liking her because she never feels sorry for herself and truly loves the business. She is street smart, funny, and feminine with no apologies. It's too bad they made such a bad movie adaption - I would love to see another one made!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I first read this memoir not long after it came out in 1972, when the controversy over its message and explicit content was in full swing, so to speak. Suffice it to say that it made quite an impression on my virginal self at the time.

Fast-forward 39 years. I happened upon this reissue while searching for something quite unrelated, and decided that nostalgia plus the promised "new epilogue" added up to a re-read.

The book, for those of you under 40, is Ms. X's definitive autobio (there were several follow-on books in the same vein, none especially notable,) spanning her early years as a perpetually horny, bisexual girl in the Netherlands, through her coming of age in Johannesburg and elsewhere, to self-realization as a "working girl" which culminated in her becoming New York City's most notorious (and notoriously self-promoting) madam; her arrest and eventual deportation, and finally into a sort-of retirement overseas.

As you might expect, this book is chock-full of a wide variety of imaginative and imaginatively-described sex; "Kinsey, cover to cover," as Steve Martin put it. As you might not expect, there is also a lot of surprisingly interesting material on the practical aspects of operating a business whose services are quite illegal in 49-1/2 states of the Union. One thread I found particularly fascinating concerned the trials and travails of Xaviera's fiance as he coped - sometimes successfully, often not so much - with X's intense lifestyle and profession. Suffice it to say, that was undoubtedly a very interesting (and exhausting) period in Larry's life, but I wouldn't have wanted to trade places with him.

_The Happy Hooker_ is indeed a classic.
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