Xaviera! The Recorded Thoughts Of The Happy Hooker


The life and times of the world’s most famous sex worker, and her curious LP.

Xaviera Hollander rose to fame in 1971, the right person at the right time with the right book. In her case, it was The Happy Hooker, an autobiographical erotic book inspired by her life as a high-class call girl in manhattan, a career she chose after quitting her job as a secretary in the Dutch consulate – she was arrested and deported from the US in 1969, but her decision to write up her experiences proved to be an inspired one. At the height of the sexual revolution, Hollander’s career choice was sensibly seen as one of power and emancipation rather than choosing to be an exploited victim and possibly a trafficking statistic (the fact that she had ‘trafficked’ herself from Holland to the USA being neither here nor there) that would be the case today. Her book caught the public imagination and became an instant bestseller and erotic classic. Hollander would go on to write twenty-three other books, ranging from erotic fiction to sex education to misery memoir about losing her mother, as well as a column for Penthouse that ran for thirty-five years!

The book was filmed as a mainstream movie in 1975, with Lynn Redgrave in the lead role. A year earlier, Samantha McLaren had played Hollander in the X-rated Life and Times of Xaviera Hollander, and Hollander would play herself in the R-rated My Pleasure is My Business, also in 1975. Three films based on one book over a two year period is impressive by any standards. The mainstream film also spawned two sequels, The Happy Hooker Goes To Washington (starring Joey Heatherton) and The Happy Hooker Goes To Hollywood (starring Martine Beswick).

There was also a Happy Hooker board game for adults (God, how we want to get hold of that) and a 1973 LP. Depending on which version of this you pick up, it is either called Xaviera! or The Happy Hooker – The Story of Xaviera Hollander, and it first appeared in Canada on the GRT label before being released in the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Oddly, it doesn’t seem to have come out in the Netherlands, despite Hollander being one of the country’s best-known celebrities at that time.

The LP is a real curio. It’s a mix of philosophical musings about sex, the sort of thing you might expect to find in the book, with weird spoken-word sexual encounters – and, for good measure, a warbling version of The Beatles’ Michelle, which we might best describe as a game attempt. Among the voices accompanying Xaviera is veteran rock star Ronnie Hawkins, who was clearly game for a laugh and appears in the final track, The Bar Scene.

There’s an odd lack of erotic oomph to all this – certainly, compared to Fiona Richmond’s LP, it lacks both passion and humour. Audio erotica is a hard thing to get right, and this feels a bit flat, a bit too downbeat to be arousing.

There is another Hollander LP, Happily Hooked, that came out in 1984. We haven’t heard this one, but it seems to be all ribald songs and sounds a lot more fun.

Hollander no longer has the public profile that she enjoyed in the 1970s, but she’s still remembered with affection by libertines of a certain age. And she has never turned her back on her notorious past. At 77, she’s still going strong. In 2005, she opened Xavier’s Happy House, a ‘bohemian’ bed and breakfast in Amsterdam, where guests can – if they wish – take part in a workshop on how to be a better lover. Or you can just book a dinner with Xaviera and her husband, and enjoy her stories first hand. We’re rather tempted to go.

https://www.xavierahollander.com/happy-sleeper.html

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