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Whore Stories: A revealing history of the world’s oldest profession

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by Marene Gustin

So, you’re a former Houstonian humorist and you’re searching for a topic for your first book.

And you pick whores.

Yep, that’s what Tyler Stoddard Smith did with his book Whore Stories: A Revealing History of the World’s Oldest Profession published this month by Adams Media.

As he explains in the introduction: “When I was a small child I was prone to insomnia and fits of night terrors. To get me to fall asleep, my mother and father would fasten me into our family’s 1971 Toyota Carina, throw in an eight-track cassette of Anne Murray’s Greatest Hits and drive up and down South Main Street in Houston, Texas, to look at the prostitutes.”

So it seems he was destined to write this book, which is a fascinating and fun read with sections about all those famous hookers from history and today’s tabloids, as well as some people you would never imagine trading sex for money, rent, or power.

OutSmart reached out to Stoddard Smith in Austin, where he currently resides, to find out more about the history of whoring.

Marene Gustin: So your parents really lulled you to sleep by driving past hookers and neon no-tell motel signs?
Tyler Stoddard Smith: Yes, that’s really true. [Also true is] the IM exchange with my agent last year where I was talking about sex in a limo at a drive-thru car wash, and he said that I should write something about whores. That’s when I started researching, because there wouldn’t be a book unless I found some interesting prostitutes.

Which you certainly did. Do you have a favorite whore?
Basically whichever one I’m reading. But artists like Maya Angelou, who wrote about being a prostitute in her second autobiography, had such a struggle in her early life and went on to do such amazing things. Also Steve McQueen is the one who gets everyone’s panties in a bunch. He had such a macho image, but he did a lot of things before he became famous, like masturbating in a coffee cup onstage in Havana, Cuba. But I think of all of them as my children.

Was he the one that most surprised you?
No, that was probably Al Pacino. He revealed in a 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle that he sold his body when he was 20 living in Sicily. Him and James Lipton. It’s really hard to imagine the host of Inside the Actor’s Studio working as a pimp in Paris, but he wrote about it in his autobiography! Everyone I wrote about had already outed themselves, or there was enough historical research to back up the stories. I didn’t expose anybody [who was] in any kind of closet.

Native Houstonian Tyler Stoddard Smith is the author of "Whore Stories: A Revealing History of the World’s Oldest Profession"

You also include a lot of Texans in Whore Stories.
I’m a Texas boy, so I wanted to represent the state. Of course I wanted to include the Chicken Ranch and the long-standing legend of Emily West, the Yellow Rose of Texas, who kept Santa Anna engaged during the Battle of San Jacinto. Here you have this iconic Texas song that may or may not be about a whore. But the most surprising were Isaiah and Carol Reed of Richmond’s Christian Vision Ministries. He was a pimp and she was a whore before their come-to-Jesus moment. When I found their website, I just fell on the floor laughing. Some of these stories just wrote themselves.

So you put the humor in whoring with this book. What’s the response been like?
Besides people confusing it for a horror story, it’s been pretty good. No threats or lawsuits, yet. The hardest part is knowing how to categorize

it. Right now it’s in history, but it could be humor.

Any backlash from friends or family about the topic you chose?
Not in the least. My mom helped edit the book. They are both really supportive.

Where do you go after humorizing whores?
I’m working on a dark comedy novel that is Houston centric. No one hardly ever writes about Houston like they do New York or Chicago. And there’s just so much to Houston.

Tyler Stoddard Smith
Book Signing and Discussion
August 21 at 7 p.m.

Brazos Bookstore
2421 Bissonnet Street • Houston, Texas 77005
www.brazosbookstore.com
Call 713/523-0701 for information.

Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.

 

 

 

 

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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