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Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent
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Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  43 reviews
"I walk all the way up Hollywood Boulevard to Grauman's Chinese Theatre: past turistas snapping shots; wannabe starlets sparkling by in miniskirts with head shots in their hands and moondust in their eyes; rowdy cowboys drinking with drunken Indians; black businessmen bustling by briskly in crisp suits; ladies who do not lunch with nylons rolled up below the knee pushing s ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by ReganBooks (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 593)
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Petra Xtra Crunchy
The writing of this book sparkles. It's the only book I've read by a worker in the sex industry that got me inside their heads, made me see the industry, what they did and how they managed to do it and remain both dignified and humble when sex for money is such a taboo. It isn't at all titillating but neither doesn't it shy away from graphic descriptions. What truly lifts the book and marks it out as quite different from others in this genre, is the author's empathy for his clients, his desire t ...more
Evan
David Henry Sterry has mad writerly skills and this is certainly penned with a flourish, replete with expertly turned phrases. The book is an often flavorful and occasionally vivid memoir recounting the experiences of a teen boy prostitute in LA. Oddly, it reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird in the sense that the writer is an adult looking back but not letting his adult voice or hindsight judgment color the voice of a naive young man in his journey of discovery about the world. Sterry interweav ...more
Bo Winnberg
Mar 11, 2009 Bo Winnberg rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: memoir readers of all kinds
Recommended to Bo by: Karen McCarthy
Wonderful easy read, took me four days to read it.
It was such and easy read,its disturbing and at same time an eye opener for many.
It is great in a way of portraying tragic events somewhat comically.
What makes it special is that its stricvking a cord emotionally, instead of just decribing events Sterry manages to dig deep emotionally and put poetry to his feelings ina clear beautiful way so one just gets it.
Thats what I would say about this book.
ONE gets IT.
Danna
I decided to read this book after reading Sterry's more recent compilation Hos, Hookers, etc.
I really enjoy his writing style. He uses a lot of metaphors and similes, most of which I found creative and funny.
The book, although it is a continuous stream, could easily be read as short stories. Each chapter builds on the next rather than continuing from the last, if that makes any sense at all.
Some of the stories of him turning tricks are hysterical, some heart-wrenching. It gives an intimate look
...more
Love
This one was very good read...but the ending left to much unanswered for me. I thought through the entire book this man had been sexually abused by his father, with the way he talked about such things. He had so much anger inside twards people. Now I loved his writing style but the ending seemed very rushed to me. Unfortunatly I will always be wondering why he had all this anger and hur inside him. He never really tells you anything except that his father never really cared to much to be bothere ...more
Steven
"Well-paced and well-written, but superficial. It raises complex themes but doesn't dwell on or investigate them. Mostly it juxtaposes quaint snapshots of suburban American life against the depravities of the sex industry without doing much more. However, given that it wasn't a work of fiction lends a bit more heft to the prose, as it's harder to moralize one's own life than that of a character."
Faith
A young man wearing "blue nothugging elephantbells" comes of age in Hollywood. He is also a prostitute. in this most lighthearted look at childhood prostitution, the main character tells tales of chickenhood interspersed with stories of his childhood and occasional thoughts of true love. He is physically (and we're lead to imagine metaphorically) hungry. Day-old birthday cake is a metaphor for whatever is missing, but whatever that is isn't as important as party after party and trick after trick ...more
Jack
Easy to like this man. This book is structured with a back and forth from childhood to contemporaneous in a way I found sometimes too much. I think if the episodes were longer and there was less back and forth, ala Michelle Tea, I would have fived it. And what a story the contemporaneous episodes are.
Stacy
Very bizarre exploits of a seventeen year-old living in Los Angeles. The book was written in a very interesting manner - but I just can't believe some of the "adventures" he had! A lot of it was extremely disturbing, but so disturbing that I couldn't put the book down! Fast read.
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
It doesn’t seem right to devour a book in a single day when it took fifteen years to write, but devour it I did. This book will speak to anyone who has battled shame, blamed themselves for their own abandonment, or didn’t feel worthy of a better life. When you’re at the “bottom of the rock” and surrounded with bottom feeders there’s nonjudgemental camaraderie that can consume you. But through it, you see David’s struggle for normalcy, his compassion for his clients, and his not-yet developed tru ...more
Chris
The story of being a chicken is one for anyone who thinks their life is bad should read. No other job around will make you feel as worthless as being a chicken or whore.

The story of David is one about a boy who grew up in a household where his family went on vacations, traveled America and saw the great sites. Although there were moments of tension and displeasure, he still grew up in a home where there was love and attention from time to time. He attended (many) schools and had sisters and a br
...more
Blue
I received this book from Goodreads First Reads. Thanks!

Chicken is a slice of sparkling, sizzling, up-and-down nightmare of an adventure. Perhaps the best thing about it is that it is very well told. I like that there is a common childhood, some usual 17-year-old hormones pumping, and nothing really too drastic, other than the first encounter the author finds himself in when he goes to Hollywood for college. It is, I do agree, a bit unbelievable that with $27 in his pocket, and a relatively norm
...more
Judith
This is the story of a 17 year old boy who finds himself in Hollywood, completely broke and without family or friends. Almost immediately he turns to prostitution to support himself while attending Immaculate Heart College. He's not a street walker, but a male call-girl.

The art of the memoir is to make the story credible, interesting and articulate. In the end, I don't care whether the story is true or false. In most cases, it's all about entertainment value. Thus I was probably in the minority
...more
Frank
I received this book from First Reads. Many thanks - please send more!

This is hardly great literature, but it is a fast and entertaining read. If you can get past sentences like, "As my dad mows the yard of my head, the grip of his vice [sic] tightens around my temples, and I absorb it into me like a new computer with an empty hard drive, his fingers plugged into the USB ports on either side of my head, filling me with an angry silent virus," then you'll probably survive it.

If this is truly a m
...more
George Ilsley
Sterry has a way with the manipulation of words and the narrative is well-paced. Childhood scenes intersect with his rent-boy escapades. He also does not shrink from detailing how damaging the sex-for-sale scene is to his teenage pysche. When I picked up this book, I did not realize that women would purchase sex from a 17 year old boy.

This edition was a bit sloppy. A lot of paragraph indents were missing, and two paragraphs seemed to have been in the wrong order.
Mike
Often feels a little under-crafted, but in a way that's likely intentional: a very strong voice, we would say. It's a fascinatingly frank discussion of a boy prostitute's experience in seventies LA --prepare to be titillated, but to leave with a sour taste in your mouth (as Sterry certainly intends).
Kimber Cross
Very well written, often painfully funny and just the right side of dark.

A good choice if you're interested in sex and sex work, or just want to read about a teenage life that wasn't at all typical.
Paola
Per quelli come me che pensavano fosse un libro divertente, questa é la dedica:
"Dedicato a tutti i ragazzi e le ragazze
che sono stati, e continuano a essere,
vittime di abusi per mano degli adulti.
Chiedete aiuto. Raccontate la vostra storia."

Oh certo i dialoghi sono esilaranti,però la storia é agghiacciante.
Solo l'autoironia ti permette di raccontare esperienze del genere.
Ripetitivo, alla fine stanca, e viene anche un filino di nausea.
John Rogers
If you don't want to more than you probably know about oral sex, then you shouldn't read this book. But it would be a pity not to. Sterry is a gifted writer. The book is funny, sometimes excruciatingly so, and that style and humor lies like a cloak over a real person that is smart, sensitive and trying figure out life. It's a story told about a boy in the process of becoming a man in a way that can be touching even through the blue humor.
Bill Fletcher
If even half of this is true, it's a pretty astonishing life this guy has led. The writing is a little California hip at times (think James Ellroy, but not as grandiose or annoying) but it is a very quick read. And the story (as horrifying as it is compelling, when you really think about it) is told with just enough detachment and charm that it doesn't make you despair for humanity.
Catalina
Closing an eye on some misconceptions like "90% of sex workers are abused persons" and a few others, I really love this book. I liked very much his writing style, the hilarity of the text, the simple, yet powerful way he managed to tell David's story, opening a window in the life, emotions, thoughts of this stallion teen, that can be any Hollywoodian teen!
Jo
Sterry was 17, at college, homeless and alone when he fell in with a pimp who turned him into a chicken (slang for a teen prostitute). These memoirs skip from the 'present' and the women he's servicing to childhood memories. It was interesting to read about prostitution from a straight male angle and Sterry has a charming way of writing.
Kim
This is the first memoir by Sterry. This is his own story of how he was a boy for rent for one year of his teen-age life. It moves quickly and is well done. His sympathy for his "clients" is what makes this less of a horror tale and more of a personal tale of how he and many other teen survive what life throws at them.
Melanie Neale
Almost finished this on the plane home from NYC yesterday and am just blown away by it. I love the pace and structure--two things that are oh-so-hard to get right in a memoir. And the material, of course, is great. But I think I'd like this book and David's sense of humor even if it was about something boring.
Vanessa
This book was a little weird. I liked it but it's definitively an odd book. It was almost a sad book, so afterwards I had to read a happy easy book. It wasn't a page turner, yet I had to finish it. When you read this, you should read it in bits and pieces as to not lose yourself in it.
Giselle
I enjoyed the writing. It was funny and Henry Sterry has a style reminiscent of Jerry Stahl, though not as clever. The book ringed false for me though. Like "A Million Little Pieces" or "A Piece of Cake", the story had a certain unrealistic, exaggerated quality.
Jenni
This book showed what it would be like to be alone and poor and desperate for money in a place where money was everything. I found the character very easy to understand, so overall I thought it was great. Though it is a little bit slow at the beginning.
sheena
"Then it hits me. I'm pushing that big huge rock up that big huge mountain, knowing it's just gonna roll back down again. And then tomorrow I'm going to do it all over again. I'm Sisyphus, naked in a black see-through French maid's apron."
Ronald
Give's a good incite in the life of a young man, who is raped on his first night in Hollywood and how that pulls him into the dark and painful world of sex for hire. Moving from one damaged female client to the next.
Lisa
Fantastic. His analogies were wacky and right on. The only reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is that I didn't want it too end. Too short. I'm going to track down his other books and read them too.
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David Henry Sterry

David Henry Sterry is an author, performer, educator, activist, and a man who hasn’t worn matching socks in 20 years. David is the author of 11 books, the first of which was published in 2001. Prior to becoming an author, David was a professional actor and screenwriter.

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published (aka: Putting Your Passion into Print) (Workman, 2005). Base
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More about David Henry Sterry...
Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money, and Sex Master of Ceremonies: A True Story of Love, Murder, Roller Skates and Chippendales Tricks, Johns, Marks, and Chicken Hawks: Sex Professionals Writing on Life, Love, and Money Mort Morte Confessions of a Sex Maniac

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