authors index

books index




click to enlarge
Xaviera Hollander
The Happy Hooker
Tandem, London, 1972
(price: 50p; 296 pages)

click to enlarge
Xaviera Hollander
Tandem, London, 1974
(price: 70p; 434 pages)

click to enlarge
Fiona Richmond
Tell Tale Tits
Javelin, Poole, 1987
(price: 2.95; 192 pages)
click to enlarge
Lindi St Clair
It's Only a Game
Judy Piatkus, London, 1992
(price: 15.99; 184 pages)

The autobiographies of workers in the sex industry are notoriously unreliable, even more prone to the attentions of ghost-writers than are the memoirs of sportsmen. And after Linda Lovelace's spectacular retraction in Ordeal, in which inter alia she claimed that she'd never even agreed with the words written in her name, one has even more right to be suspicious.

Lovelace's biggest rival in the early 1970s was the prostitute and madam, Xaviera Hollander (it's pronounced 'like in Riviera, but with a zah sound in front: Zah-viera'). Her memoirs, co-written by Robin Moore and Yvonne Dunleavy, were published as The Happy Hooker and were a huge, huge seller (over 10 million sold, according to this 1975 reprint). And it's a pleasure to discover that, unlike Lovelace, she doesn't claim to have been forced into her career and, to this day, maintains a position of celebrating both sex and her own fame.

Doesn't mean she wrote her own books, however. The success of that first volume inspired a plethora of spin-offs and rip-offs, amongst the latter being a book titled The Happy Hustler. This was knocked out by a jobbing writer named Thom Racina, who has since become a respectable mainstream novelist. According to his website, this was a book:

which he invented in a weekend, and sold three million copies, spawning three sequels. He then ghost-wrote three books for Xaviera Hollander (The Happy Hooker), made up life stories for Ivory Soap girl-turned-porn-star Marilyn Chambers and Fanne Fox (Wilbur Mills and the Tidal Basin), and turned out 25 novelizations of TV shows and major motion pictures. He has been published by Warner, Dell, NAL, Berkeley, Ace, Putnam and Penguin. In total, he authored 157 books before his breakthrough success...

I have no particular reason to doubt Racina's account, so we can assume that while he was not responsible for the first book, he did do some others. The second volume was Letters To The Happy Hooker, which probably didn't need a lot of writing (unless, like Tony Blair's spokesman Alistair Campbell while he was at Forum magazine, Racina wrote the readers' letters), and the third was Xaviera!, a collection of anecdotes and marginal incidents. It's not very good at all, to be honest. Worse than that, it's very dull indeed. If Mr Racina wrote it, he'd do well to forget it. As would you.

Fiona Richmond, on the other hand, is well worth reading (assuming that it was her that did the writing). Ms Richmond was effectively a fictional character invented in 1971 by porn king Paul Raymond and Tony Power, the editor of Men Only, the magazine Raymond had just bought. The concept was to create 'a girl to road-test men, as other people test cars', and the woman drafted in to bring the concept to reality was Raymond's girlfriend, who was then working in his show Pyjama Tops as a nude swimmer.

Paul Raymond & Fiona Richmond

From her column in Men Only, Ms Richmond went on to become a minor celebrity with a surprisingly impressive shelf-life. She never had the doomed glamour of Mary Millington, but she was a hell of lot more mainstream: a cross between a genuine porn star and Barbara Windsor. Best of all, she swam in the shallows of the British entertainment industry for some considerable time and has no problem at all telling you what she thinks of the people she met there: she doesn't take much of a shine to Clement Freud, for example. And she happily reprints her review in the Evening Standard of one of Kenneth Tynan's would-be erotic shows; the piece was headlined 'A load of old cobblers, says Fiona'.

The book is structured as an A-Z series of short articles and anecdotes, which makes a nonsense of the subtitle 'Her Revealing Autobiography', but does make for a much more agreeable book. Many of the stories are entertaining, and the seven-page transcript of Richmond talking to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (shortly after Derek and Clive Live had been released) is of considerable value to those who enjoyed Pete & Dud riffing.

There are also some curious asides: she interrupts a story about appearing on Terry Wogan's radio show (under the heading 'Arseholes') to tell us that: 'I've got a theory about all those Irish voices on air. They're only acceptable because they're classless.' A reasonable argument, but what's it doing here?

Whether it's actually Richmond writing, I don't know. She's quite prepared to admit that she didn't sing on her album, which doesn't augur well. Never mind, it's fun anyway.

And then we come to Lindi St Clair, a prostitute specializing in S&M and another would-be celebrity. Taking a leaf out of Lord Sutch's book (not literally, of course, 'cos I wrote that), she got some cheap publicity by standing in various elections as a joke candidate, in her case for the Corrective Party. It wasn't funny when Sutch did it, and it was even less so when St Clair did it. She did, however, stand against William Hague when he first got elected:

William Hague & Lindi St Clair

Which was nice. But to be honest, the rest of the book is tiresome in the extreme.

Like these? Try these...

Fiona Richmond
From Here To Virginity

Xaviera Hollander
Madame l'Ambassadrice

The Playbirds
the novelization

Joyce McKinney
& the Manacled Mormon

non fiction