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Rent Girl

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,877 ratings  ·  147 reviews
A graphic and uncompromising autobiographical bender, the story of Tea's years as a prostitute, with provocative illustrations by Laurenn McCubbin.
Paperback, 239 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Last Gasp (first published January 1st 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Toni
Dec 22, 2007 Toni rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sex workers, anarchist comic enthusiasts, horny pre-teen boys/horny lesbians
Shelves: queer
Terrible, terrible, terrible. Why did it happen? What makes it possible? This book has no point, it barely tells a story, and it is ridiculously aloof. Like talking to a coked up drag queen, smearing mascara all over your sensible sweater and gushing out their life story, morbidly fascinating, but you just want it to be over. Michelle Tea once again succeeds in convincing the world that yes, she is a vulnerable lesbian badass. And yes, there are people around her that do drugs and don't give a s ...more
Marissa
Rent Girl is an absorbing, but extremely depressing read made all the more depressing by its weird hipster cool tone. It strikes me as a modern version of Women by Charles Bukwoski, but this time written by a drug using hip young lesbian prostitute instead of an aging, alcoholic rock star poet. They are depressing books in very similar ways, because they center on a person who is clearly incredibly intelligent and talented who you get to watch kind of destroy themselves through sex and substance ...more
Jazz
"...people like to say things like 'all work is prostitution'. Most work is exploitation, but most work is not prostitution. Prostitution is prostitution, a very specific sort of exploitation... And while I am doing literal corrections to flippant turns of phrase, the earth doesn't get raped. It gets mined and poisoned and blown up and depleted, it gets ruined, but it doesn't get raped."

This book is so powerful I couldn't help but cry and laugh out loud.

Raunchy and bold. Michelle Tea shows the l
...more
Catherine Caldwell-Harris
If you've ever wondered what it is like to be a prostitute, this book offers a lot of insight. One among many searing moments is when Michelle and her co-worker are lost en route to a client's house. They stop for directions. She muses about how it feels when you walk into a 7-11 and the clerk looks at you as if you're a hooker .. and you are. Another one: Michelle gets increasingly more tattoos as she goes thru her 20s. At one point, she gets some down her arms to her hands, feeling satisfied b ...more
Aneesa
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. A lot of people have a lot of opinions about Michelle Tea and my opinion is that I like her writing (in this book). I like how she rarely uses contractions. I like the way the dialogue interacts with the narrative. I like her theories and considerations and anger. I like the nonchalant way she introduces the occult and other alternative life choices. I also like the illustrations, although they don't do the same thing illustrations do in comic boo ...more
Tania
reading "rent girl" right on the heels of "the passionate mistakes..." may have contributed to the super-saturated feeling of grittiness i had when i finished this book. while i remain a huge fan of tea's work, i found the graphic novel format a failure. it's a strange hybrid of drawings and dense tiny type-set text that does neither justice. individual pages are lovely, but as a linear narrative, it falls short. maybe i'm just tired of the wobbly line drawings of sexy girls that seem to be crop ...more
David Schaafsma
Tea's story of her cool, hipster, lesbian life and the central part of the story is that as a young lesbian, she and a group of friends worked for years as "escort girls" (i.e., prostitutes). The story is sort of distant, and not all that insightful, really, but it still is interesting and well told, and the illustrations, mostly black, white, red and pink, quite spare and stylized, are pretty gorgeous and help capture a life and time. It's not a great work of art, maybe, but I actually liked it ...more
Dawn
This book is awesome! I enjoyed every minute of it. The writing and illustrations are great! Alas, it would be five stars were it not the most poorly copy-edited book I'VE EVER READ. I'm sure it's not the author's fault, but next book y'all should totally have someone correct the typos. Aside from that technical issue, thanks for giving me a "good read"! (Ha, was that cheesy to say or what?)
Kirsten
Michelle Tea's trademark combination of wit and pathos is used to good effect in this memoir of her days as an escort. Laurenn McCubbin's arty but realistic illustrations complement the text perfectly, but do make it something you might not want to read on the bus. I noticed that Tea's tendency toward break-neck run-on sentences is much more restrained in this book, and that works well; the impression is that of a more disciplined writer than the one who penned The Passionate Mistakes and Intric ...more
Liz
I probably would have rated this book higher if the book was actually a graphic novel: it is really more of an illustrated novel, and I thought that the text layout was slapdash. The pages weren't really designed with much thought. Sometimes the blocks of text were so wide that I had to hold a piece of paper under each line I was reading, or else I'd get lost. Sometimes the text ran into the illustration in a really distracting way. And the illustrations sometimes betrayed details of characters ...more
Emer Martin
I interviewed Michelle in SF one Summer. I absolutely loved this book. It is funny and insightful and surprising. The darkness is real but the spirit of the character so strong I was carried aloft. Here is the interview http://writerscentre.ie/blog/blog/aut... Rent Girl is an illustrated memoir of Michelle’s days when her girlfriend announced that she was a hooker and, Michelle, who was one broke baby dyke followed her into the world of paid sex. Frankly, I’ve never understood people’s shock at ...more
Meghan
I started editing it in my head - in my dream version of this book, instead of being a mix of text and one portrait on each page, it's a traditional panel-format graphic novel. This would force the author to tighten up the storyline and maybe take out a big chunk of the middle. The most interesting parts were the beginning, when she starts working as an escort, and near the end, when she and her girlfriend start trying to sell cocaine and briefly go back into the escort business together.
Mike
This was... intense. [I basically read it in one sitting, so some of that is on me.] That's really my immediate reaction: I feel like I need to catch my breath. But beyond that...

One of the more immediately striking things about Rent Girl is its normalizing of prostitution. It's not that Tea doesn't muse on the meanings and implications of sex work, both in a general sense and particularly as to her characters' involvement in it -- she absolutely does -- but she does it in the same way another a
...more
Teree
Here I am reading it, almost finished. One thing I have to say, that I haven't seen anyone else say, is the editing is awful. There are scads of mistakes. Typos galore!

I also wonder why these modern, young lesbian hookers have never shaved their bushes.

I love the artwork! I am a fan of this book, yet I think hookers are terribly intriguing and sad.

Read "Rose Of No Man's Land," by Michelle Tea. That was wonderful.
Leah
i bought this used from the bookstore and still managed to have a sinking feeling of regret while forking over the cash. while i am totally a target audience member for Tea, she just can't write a book i like; but when i'm desperate enough for reading material, i find myself giving her second chances.

so, i didn't hate this book like i thought i would, but i still didn't like it. the slew of typos didn't bother me, but i am thoroughly unimpressed with Tea's fabricated "whatever" attitude about ev
...more
Heather
This book is DESPERATELY in need of a copy editor. I wouldn't give it more than 2 stars under any circumstances, but the multitude of typos were just so irritating. It claims to be a graphic novel, but it's more illustrated than graphic. The images augment the text, but don't tell the story. As for the actual story, it was ok. Kind of blah.
Sarah
I really liked this--loved the art, the story was compelling. The only thing that keeps me from giving this 5 stars is the large amount of typos--unfortunately they were distracting. I really wanted to start marking them but this is a library book and I'm not that big of a jerk.
Ben Bush
I read this lying in bed as a weird kind of therapy after the one time I got fired. It was the one relaxation I allowed myself before job hunting.
Raina
Totally mezmerizing. The illustrations are really really gorgeous. Fascinating story.

Very not a kids book.
Brian
I find the underlying viewpoint and suppositions of this book bleak and ultimately sad. That may be a decent descriptor for the general human condition, but there's a problem when a narrator has broad damage-related suppositions about the male gender and then commodifies her sexual engagement with men only to find her suppositions confirmed. I know of one current Berkeley-based "fat pride" writer and quasi-activist (who I won't name: initials V.T.) whose issues are obvious, but who makes money o ...more
Lisa M.
I have read many books by artists from San Francisco/Oakland. (I think it’s the perfect literary community.) So, I had heard Michelle’s name frequently. I read a section of the book (without the illustrations) in “Sex & Single Girls.” I was really disappointed. The writing quality wasn’t bad— but when it comes to a memoir, it’s truly the author and their life that matters the most. When I read this section I found her to be really obnoxious and vowed I would never read this book— or any of ...more
Curtis
I accidentally stumbled upon Rent Girl at Borders, I was looking for poetry and ended up in the Gay & Lesbian section of the book store. Nevertheless, Rent Girl's enticing cover, gritty subject matter and hip illustrations were too intriguing to ignore.

Author Michelle Tea is a very interesting person with a colorful past. Rent Girl is her 2004 autobiographical illustrated novel about her years as a prostitute.

It's amazing to think that this was once her life and now she is an award winning a
...more
Travissimo
I'm not sure if I was prepared for this book. I thought the almost graphic novel element would be an interesting introduction to understanding the world of escorts, but this book has just as much about feminism and lesbians than it does prostitution. I read it on a general recommendation, and it seems to have good reviews, but it doesn't go through for me.
I do have to say that I seem to run into the same perspective on prostitution that I did when I had two friends that started it. It has someth
...more
Liza
I feel really sad because this was the last of Michelle Tea's memoirs I could read for the first time. I've read all of them this year and it's felt like a very significant thing. Of course there are several parts of Michelle's life that I can't relate to but there's still a lot that I do, and when I'm reading her stuff I often feel a sense of almost-calm that would be calm if the things I felt we shared were calmer things. I guess I'll read her fiction and poetry now and I expect it'll be aweso ...more
Erin
never have i read a book with more typos than rent girl. under normal circumstances, i think this would drive me crazy, probably even make me not be able to read the book. but this is michelle tea we're talking about here, and despite the typos, i couldn't put the book down. in fact, i'm kind of excited about re-reading the book so i can make all the corrections. pro-ject!

i think if it was easier to get my hands on her books, i would have read all of them by now. our library only owns one of the
...more
Dani Peloquin
I enjoyed the writing a great deal and was impressed that the "graphic" aspects of the novel did not override the plot and characters in the actual story. However, I was disappointed in the story as a whole. I found Tea's work as a sex worker extremely interesting, but as a narrator I found her to be whiny and often annoying. Though she courageously displayed her weaknesses as well as her strengths, I still could not help but want more from the characters whether it was development, background i ...more
Liralen
Up until about halfway through this book, I thought it was fantastic. It's on point, it's funny, and the red-black-white illustrations really make the book.

To an extent, the book remains its funny and on-point self (the illustrations, certainly, are still terrific), but by the time I reached the end I had soured on the narrator. Maybe it was the switch to a focus on drugs (doing them, dealing them), which I didn't expect -- but I think that more than that it was the lack of depth.

I wasn't sure a
...more
Peacegal
Rent Girl is sort of a lazy graphic novel. It's not presented in traditional comics format, but rather in text-dense pages with large illustrations on each page. It may have worked better as a traditional comic, who knows, or maybe its flaws are just endemic to the story. (LOTS of typos--a pet peeve of mine.)

The aspect of Rent Girl I found most annoying by far is the main character is a negative vegan stereotype. She is sickly-skinny, unhealthy, and hypocritical. Every few pages, we are reminde
...more
Liza
Jul 09, 2011 Liza rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Maybe this is silly, but I used this book as my bedtime reading. Each page is like a little mini-memoir, a distinct little personal essay paired with a graphic image. The illustrations are simplistic or simplified; they depict the idea of the page-long "essay" in a seriously essentialized, boiled-down way. I really liked this book. It reminds me of other great memoir, personal essay collections like those by David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, and Laurie Notaro. I really enjoy the self-deprecatin ...more
Renee Alberts
Tea candidly recounts her years as a young, broke lesbian in the sex trade in this absorbing, compellingly illustrated memoir. Intrigued by the large amounts of money and glam lifestyle of her wild girlfriend, Steph, Michelle decides to give prostitution a try. This is no exposé of the evils of the sex trade. Rather, Tea explores the range of emotions and experiences as a prostitute, from the allure of her first $700 trick, to her repulsion with the johns, to her struggle to establish boundaries ...more
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Michelle Tea (born Michelle Tomasik) is an American author, poet, and literary arts organizer whose autobiographical works explore queer culture, feminism, race, class, prostitution, and other topics. She is originally from Chelsea, Massachusetts and currently lives in San Francisco. Her books, mostly memoirs, are known for their views into the queercore community. In 2012 Tea partnered with City ...more
More about Michelle Tea...
Valencia Rose of No Man's Land The Chelsea Whistle Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America

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“i wanted to try things, everything, especially things that are illegal and have a faint whiff of glamour.” 31 likes
“You would have to forget everything that came out of her mouth in order to later enjoy it on your cock.” 9 likes
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