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Paying for It

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  4,227 ratings  ·  550 reviews

Chester Brown has never shied away from tackling controversial subjects in his work. In his 1992 book, The Playboy, he explored his personal history with pornography. His bestselling 2003 graphic novel, Louis Riel, was a biographical examination of an extreme political figure. The book won wide acclaim and cemented Bro
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published 2011)
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Aamil Syed He didn't use it pejoratively for the "feminists" themselves, but for those who call themselves feminists but still espouse positions that are harmful…moreHe didn't use it pejoratively for the "feminists" themselves, but for those who call themselves feminists but still espouse positions that are harmful for a great number of women (and perhaps men). Are they being real feminists then? That's the question that he seems to be asking.(less)

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3.63  · 
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 ·  4,227 ratings  ·  550 reviews

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Kevin Kelsey
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2018
Posted at Heradas

Chester Brown, Paying For It

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about this book. On the one hand, Paying For It is a fascinating memoir detailing Chester Brown’s time soliciting prostitutes in Toronto from the late nineties through the late zeroes. It brings up all kinds of noteworthy questions about sex work, romantic relationships and the different kinds of love we experience. I have no idea what the answers to these questions are, but I love the questions themselves. Questions are almost always more in
Oct 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Bryant
My latest excursion into the ever-intriguing field of graphic novels turns out to be a radical challenge to the way we think about relationships, sex, romance and the whole kit and caboodle. A lot of the graphic novels I've read are autobiographical – Fun House, American Splendor, Clumsy, Maus, Persepolis – and this one is wildly so as it focuses on the author's sex life. But Chester Brown is no penis-wielding Henry Miller (or fetishistic Robert Crumb), he's a shy, bald, retiring type who works ...more
Allison Floyd
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Having read sex worker lit previously, and having lived in San Francisco for several years (with a sex worker no less!) and thus having been well-steeped in these issues, this was an interesting read for me because it's the first account I've read by a john.

Before I go further I should mention that I am absolutely in agreement with the author's premise that prostitution should be decriminalized and that in reading this I gave consideration to decriminalization versus regulation, which wasn’t so
David Schaafsma
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gn-memoir, gn-sex
Brown's Paying for It is a defense of prostitution beautifully and meticulously designed. It is a work of scholarship valued in several academic disciplines as a serious contribution to the study of sex work. 1/3 of the book is handwritten endnotes, reminiscent to me of Alan Moore's From Hell, his fictional theory of the killing of prostitutes in London by "Jack the Ripper," which similarly features dozens of pages of notes. From Hell involved serious work of research, as surely has Paying For I ...more
Chester Brown's paean to the joys of prostitution (hiring them, not being one; I suspect if he wrote from the latter point of view this would have been a very different book) is sort of an odd experience. The narrative was engrossing, believe it or not, and Chester is a more appealing character than he really should be, considering that he seems emotionally detached from everything and everyone in the world. But Brown's philosophy feels ill thought-out even though he goes on and on and ON about ...more
This Canadian dude wrote and illustrated about his journey with love and sex, how he gave up on and then eschewed "romantic love" and turned to prostitutes for sex while receiving normal love and acceptance from friends and family. He eventually comes back around to considering the possible link between love and sex after having been a "john" for several years.

It's an interesting perspective, that of a prostitute's client. I could relate to some of his thoughts - romance grosses me out and I sus
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a woman, I loved this book, and as a libertarian, I loved it even more. Chester Brown did a great job writing the appendices section, however, it kind of saddens me to know that he probably felt like he needed to write it in such great detail - with cartoons to help better explain his point to people who probably don't agree with him, or for those who just don't have a real educated opinion on the subject of prostitution. It was just obvious that he wanted to cover all his bases and make sure ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Like all of Chester's work, this book is beautiful cartooning. Every panel is a pleasure to look at. I must say, though, I find it sad that the boy from "I Never Liked You" turned into the man in "Paying For It."

Why do I find it sad, Chester would ask, when he himself is quite happy in the book. I'm not sure happy is the right word... the book has an emotionless, flat, analytical quality throughout. Apart from his very first experience with a prostitute I wouldn't say Chester ever seems to expe
Sam Quixote
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Chester Brown's for many years now and have always enjoyed what he's put out, whether it's childhood memoir (I Never Liked You, The Playboy) or historical narrative (Louis Riel), he always produces work that's both highly readable and unlike any other graphic novel out there. He is a true original.

So when I looked him up thinking that it's been a few years since Louis Riel, I was pleasantly surprised that he had another book completed, Paying For It, but even more surprised t
Dov Zeller
I really enjoyed reading this book. The panels are simple and clean-- black and white, stark and compelling. The story is fascinating, but not for the reasons one might imagine, and it is, I think, appropriately mundane. Because it's about his experiences as someone who hires sex workers, Brown could have offered a graphic memoir of dramatized racy controversial stuff, but the book is quiet, sober and respectful, even when disturbing. His introspective and reporterly voice is almost eerie in its ...more
Kris Lee
Dec 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm super open minded, I love art comics, I like memoirs, I like bizarre tales, I love Canadian content!

I hated this book.

Moreso, I really dislike Chester Brown now, and I don't want to read anything else by him, which is super unfortunate, because I actually liked "I never liked you"

I know the point was that the women were prostitutes and he has no emotional connection to them, but page after page of blatant objectification and comodification of women was too much to not turn my stomach. Cheste
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an offbeat, extremely down-to-earth story about Chester Brown’s evolution into a whoremonger. Imagine what would happen if Jerry Seinfeld realized he was tired of having girlfriends and started visiting prostitutes instead. That’s the basic vibe of this memoir. Have you ever had full-on intercourse with a girl two times without noticing that she didn’t speak English? What do you do when the girl who answers the door doesn’t match the description you were given? Do you reject her outright ...more
Aug 01, 2011 added it
Shelves: comics, memoir
An illustrated apologia for being a john. I recently heard eminent brain scientist Simon Baron-Cohen on the radio discussing the issue of evil in humanity and how it comes down to a clinical lack of empathy. He basically came out and said that one line of medical thought is to consider psychopaths as severely disabled because of their extreme lack of empathy. I'm not calling Chester Brown evil or a psychopath, but he is clearly unable to access his emotions in the same way as most people; note t ...more
Jun 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
By the end of the comic part, I was going to give this 3 stars... although I don't agree with many of his arguments when discussing the issues with his friends, I think he tried very hard to make most of the women he sees seem like nice people who are in a job that suits them, and make himself look small and grateful of the profession.

Then came the appendix... Chester acts like an authority on a lot of things that he is not an authority on. He is sexist, with on old-fashioned understanding of fe
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
chester brown states his case. i do not agree. it's not a story. it has the potential to be, but fails. which probably is a shame for chester brown, because it's surprisingly often via stories that you make people really think about something - not by stating your case in a matter-of-fact way. the appendices are extra ridiculous.

in the middle of the novel, chester changes his mind; he does not oppose the idea of romantic love, but of possessive love -- and it makes me wonder why paying a prostit
Peter Derk
Dec 18, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a true, comic book story of a man who eschewed romantic relationships in favor of fulfilling his needs for love through friends and his needs for sex through prostitutes.

At the time of the events chronicled, out-call prostitution was legal in Canada. This meant that a prostitute could visit a john in the john's home or a hotel, but they could not operate out of a brothel.

If you already have very strong views regarding prostitution, I don't think this book is going to be for you. It proba
come along with me on the journey that led me to read this book:

part one: I kept on hearing about "CHESTER 5000"* and how "sexy" and "hot" and "sexy/hot" it was and so naturally when I saw a graphic novel at the library that said "Chester" on it, I grabbed it (notice I didn't actually seek out the smut I just grabbed what was already there).

part two: I bring the "CHESTER" book home and I'm reading, reading, reading and wondering all the time, "where is the sexy?!", "I don't see any sexy", "this
Maggie Gordon
May 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
I should start this review by saying that Chester Brown and I do not have politically incompatible beliefs. I have a lot of ethical issues with sex work, but I am a pragmatist at heart who believes that criminalisation causes far more harm than good. I picked up Brown's book because I was interested in seeing the perspective of a John on sex work, but I'm afraid that this book didn't allay any feminist concerns. Furthermore, I found it to be a lazy and intellectually dishonest approach to the de ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wow. I really didn't expect to respond to this book in the way that I did. Brown articulates his reasoning and arguments for the decriminalization of prostitution extremely well in the appendices. There were some areas where I felt he was weak, for instance the objectification of women, but this could be a perspective issue. In all fairness the objectification of women is due to a large variety of factors, but in the context of the book this was one area I found his argument sparse. Similarly, i ...more
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had been curious to read this "controversial" graphic memoir following the Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown's experience "giving up" on romantic love and instead becoming a customer of the sex trade, but unfortunately it was a lot less thought provoking than I would have thought. Consisting of Brown's amiable, emotionless breakup with his long time girlfriend and his first clumsy attempts to break into the world of prostitution, he begins to learn the etiquette and "rules" of the business. It ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
I admire CB's honesty - and Sook Yin Lee's by default - but at the heart of this, I felt his arguments rang hollow. Each discussion of a woman's beauty or reviews on the internet or dubious legal age may have been honest thoughts of a John - but they creeped me right out. He seemed to think that prostitution was always entered into by women with a penchant for sex work, and never seemed to take seriously class, drug addiction, exploitation, pimps, sex slavery....that last one really bugged me. H ...more
Seth T.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
Paying for It by Chester Brown

I have never been to a prostitute. Nor do I really ever intend to visit one. Hiring an escort, like eating balut, is not a thing I ever plan to count among my worldly experiences. Like pretty much all of Chester Brown's friends—as depicted in Paying for It—I have certain qualms about the idea of paying for sex. That said, Brown, through this memoir chronicling nearly fifteen years of visits to prostitutes, presents a compelling case for the decriminalization of prostitution in a pluralistic soci
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Despite all the negative hubbub about this book, I didn't find it offensive at all. It is radical and radically self-centered in some ways, but he makes a lot of good points. And remember: most of the fodder people are throwing at Brown was SUPPLIED by him and volunteered by him. Which puts everything into a different perspective.

As far as how it has affected me, the whole anti-possessive monogamy thing wasn't a new concept, but the book drove it home in an interesting way. I certainly look at p
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
Okay, so I’m kind of on a Chester Brown kick right now. I really enjoy his artwork and his stories for the most part. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of Paying for It.

The premise of this graphic novel is really intriguing - it’s his comic-strip memoir about his history of meeting with various prostitutes. It’s great that he can be open about this subject and also a vocal advocate for those who choose this line of work. He defends every argument of why prostitution should be legal, is not immo
May 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mza by: Everybody
Shelves: 2011
... haven't read the endnotes yet ...... Now here is something: a book that questions our most common assumptions about romantic love, but from a perspective neither of bitter longing nor of self-back-patting-and-ultimately-self-deluding contrarianism. Chester Brown maps his feelings the way a good anthropologist might compile an ethnography of a heretofore mysterious culture ... calmly ... factoring in his own biases and weaknesses ... and patiently recording even his most minute reactions ... ...more
Nate D
Mar 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017, comics
Blunt memoir of, yes, paying for sex, broken into chapters corresponding to different call girls, expanded with the author's conversations with the girls about their professions, and with friends on why this is, to him, preferable to the possessiveness and pain of long-term monogamous romantic love. This is a comic, so it's entirely illustrated, but not exactly graphic and certainly not erotic, everything depicted flatly at a remove and from a kind of philosophical distance. Brown's case is well ...more
Mar 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
I will never, ever like johns. So you write a negative review of some 18 year old sex worker on some forum because she can't seem to look you in the face when you're fucking her? It's not like she's financially coerced into doing this for a living or anything. Bravo for being wonderfully self absorbed, self serving and uncritical in your exploration of your penchant for purchased sex.
Sep 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, non-fiction
I feel less compelled than usual to bother sharing my own ideas because there are so many great reviews of this book already available and with ratings from 1 to 5 and disparate points of view. I almost couldn't find a review i didn't want to read. I found only the tolerable kinds of repetition among the first dozen or so reviews, but all of them also mentioned points i felt were key to my personal relationship to this book. People who rated it highly might also strongly disagree with all or mos ...more
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Should Prostitution Be Legal? 2 14 Jul 31, 2014 04:56AM  

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Chester Brown was born in Montreal, Canada on May 16, 1960 and grew up in the nearby suburb of Chateauquay. His career path was set at the age of 12 when the local newspaper, The St. Lawrence Sun, published one of his comic strips.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

At 19, he moved to Toronto and got a day job while he worked on his skills as a ca
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“Feminists have accepted that choice is possible when it comes to a different, difficult subject: abortion. The feminist position (and I agree with it) is that women own their bodies and therefore each woman has the right to choose to get an abortion if she gets pregnant. This is called being "pro-choice". Feminists should be consistent on the subject of choice. If a woman has the right to choose to have an abortion, she should also have the right to choose to have sex for money. It's her body; it's her right.” 4 likes
“Gay rights aren't predicated on being born gay or having the right gene. Gay rights are predicated on having choice and consent. If you're a man and you can find another man that consents to have sex with you, it's the consent that gives you the right to have sex with him. Genetics are irrelevant when it comes to sexual rights. Just as gay rights are based on choice and consent, so are prostitution rights. All sexual rights are based on choice and consent.” 1 likes
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