Thursday, February 21, 2008

"True" Sleaze: Some Like It Dark

(By Kipp Washington as told to Leo Guild, Holloway House, 1977)
The cover presented here is that of the currently available edition. It is, regrettably, far less attractive than the cover to the 1977 edition, but seeing that the book has a 1966 copyright date, there might actually be even older versions of the book floating around out there.
The 1977 edition cover is splashed with the less-than-true blurb that “Kipp Washington’s memoirs are the most erotic since The Happy Hooker,” an obvious attempt on the part of Holloway House to cash in on the popularity of other (similar but white) “true” hooker story popular at that time. Actually, the story is not very erotic at all, and almost lends itself to being believable simply due to the amount of tragic — or at least less than pleasant — events that happen to “Kipp Washington.” But if the story were true, it seems that she wouldn’t have had anything to lose by naming real names, instead of relying on pseudonyms. Without any concrete details, the men she mentions could be any of a thousand.
Somewhere in the book she briefly talks to some shrink (of one of her johns) who briefly asks her “why?”, and that is a question one keeps returning to again and again when reading her “bio.” She comes across as too intelligent to let herself be trapped in a career that she herself sees as futureless. That she is black and thus disadvantaged may be true, especially considering the time that the book takes place in. But she herself seems to make many a mistake on purpose, destroying paths that might have taken her somewhere better, cutting off chances that could offer a better future. If she is still alive today, one has a hard time imagining that she is living comfortably — especially if she never learned to make better decisions.
Her distaste for men of her own color seems odd, and comes across almost as an indirect way of expressing her own self-hate and dislike of her own race, an attitude totally contrary to her constant statements of being proud to be black. There is a lot of sex in this book, but hardly titillating. In fact, the sex described, even when said to be “good,” is less than prick hardening, often moving more in the direction of depressing. Want porno? Look somewhere else. Want a story that goes nowhere? Look here.
For all her bragging about what prices she gets, she often sounds like those strung-out hustlers one occasionally reads about that claim they earn $400 a day but still eat out of trash cans and sleep on the street. Okay, she’s not on drugs and has definitely situated herself better and lives a relatively comfortable life, but somehow it all rings hollow, more ego-boosting than real, even id she probably is far from the street.
The “autobiography of a black call girl” the book might be, but the story, despite the depressing parts, seems only half told. No photos, regrettably, the good looking babe on the cover (of the 1977 edition) being “posed by professional model.” Unlike Miss Hollander, Kipp obviously really did hope for middle-class normality one day — and, if she was real, maybe even has finally gotten it. Considering the number of other semi-sleazy “true” life stories told to Leo Guild, including The Senator’s Whore, The Black Shrink, Black Bait and The Loves of Liberace, it is easy to think that this book is actually just fiction.

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