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Two young African-American ladies of pleasure turn the tables on unsuspecting boyfriends in this glib debut with a truly astonishing twist.

Five months after a dramatic shootout that has left her disfigured and emotionally raw, Celess recalls the spectacular year of 2001, when she came out as a wildly successful hustler on the streets of Philly. Impatient with school and eager to make money on their own, Celess and her high-school pal Tina learn how to “use what you got to get what you want”—namely, their youthful good looks to snag “the biggest ballers out there.” On the party circuit, Celess soon attracts three regular clients who pay her increasing luxuries in exchange for sex: O, a handsome (and married) bisexual who’s running illegal drugs; James, a skinny basketball star with whom sex is the best; and Tariq, a realtor from New Jersey, who buys Celess a condo of her own. Very early on, however, we learn that Celess (named after the child of her first lover) and Tina are really men who pass for women. A good deal of the narrative is devoted to how Celess manages to pull this off—dressing in outrageously expensive, designer outfits, taping herself firmly up, ingesting hormones and vitamins, making sure her clients’ hands don’t roam while offering herself anally, etc. (No one here uses condoms, by the way.) Some of the men actually don’t mind when, inevitably, they learn her true sex, but Tina is beaten up and eventually murdered by angry, horrified suckers. Touchingly, Celess tells her sad story in hindsight, after the harm is done and there is a real chance for her to start a new and better life.

Thin and glitzy, but bizarrely affecting in its way.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7432-8158-6
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2006


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