A stimulating cry for sexual humanism that sometimes becomes a dubious brief for sexual radicalism.



Constraints on sex work, pornography, nudity, privacy, and other sexual aspects of life are forms of totalitarian oppression, according to this polemic.

Cook gamely associates all manner of restrictions on sexual behavior with a fascist persecution that is, he suggests, at least Trumpian, if not downright Hitlerian, in its mobilization of laws and prisons, malign surveillance, demonization of sexual nonconformism, and repressive imposition of patriarchal values. Some of his criticisms are well aimed, like his cogent attack on sex-offender registries that make it almost impossible for ex-cons to find jobs or housing, even if they were convicted of minor transgressions. (Underage teens, he notes, can face child pornography charges for snapping nude selfies and sending them to friends.) Other arguments can sound naïve. “A new self is born” when a woman takes up sex work, Cook rhapsodizes, because “freed of the burden of being ‘normal’ and ‘proper,’ she can now relax into psychological health”—so much so that he recommends that all sexual intercourse be paid for, with wives perhaps offering their husbands discounts. (Several chapters describe the author’s assignations with masseuses and sex workers in Asian countries.) And some of Cook’s proposals seem like fascist social engineering. He calls for unisex public restrooms with female urinals—“She must pull down her pants and pull aside her panties, legs astride in a semi-squatting stance, thus exposing her groin from the front or rear”—positioned in full view of male users, a reform desirable for “the sheer logic of it” as well as water conservation benefits. (He reassures women that “over time, one assumes, male leering and harassment of female users would dwindle.”) The author makes telling arguments against the absurdity of some of the restraints, taboos, and hang-ups people place on sex, condemning in elegant, sonorous prose “a society that is itself perverted and schizophrenic, dangling sexual temptations to ever-younger people and then punishing them brutally.” But his less convincing arguments inadvertently demonstrate that many sexual restraints, taboos, and hang-ups are pretty sensible and necessary for the safety and peace of mind of women and men alike. The result is an impassioned, thought-provoking manifesto that’s brave enough to raise scandalous questions that it doesn’t always answer satisfactorily.

A stimulating cry for sexual humanism that sometimes becomes a dubious brief for sexual radicalism.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73227-746-5

Page Count: 251

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC - KDP Print US

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.


The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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