Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stripped Down A Naked Memoir--Behind the Scenes of the Sex Industry #memoir #asmsg #sex

  I've been looking forward to this interview for over a month now. I love this author, more than that, I admire this woman. I've read her memoir, "Stripped Down: A Naked Memoir," but have yet to write a review that fully conveys just how amazing this book is. It sweeps you up in emotion, ties you down with brilliant writing that keeps you turning the pages, and sets you free with inspiration. It is most definitely worthy of 5 kisses! Well, I guess that was sort of a review, huh? I'll stop rambling and get on with the good stuff.  Welcome, Stacey Keith! I'm thrilled to know you. 

Writing a memoir is an emotional ride, as I know from experience. There were times I shelved it because I questioned opening myself up for the world to see and judge. Did you ever consider not pursuing this project? If so, what motivated you to keep going?

Great question! A few years ago when I first started writing STRIPPED DOWN: A Naked Memoir, I really struggled. Every word felt as though I’d wrestled it through a garden hose. The narrative was stilted, and there was nothing organic about the way I was telling the story.

After weeks of frustration, it finally dawned on me that I was attempting to manipulate readers’ perceptions. I posed, hid, distorted and omitted in a craven attempt to make myself more palatable to the reading public. And if there is one thing I won’t easily accept in myself, it is cowardice.

So I started again, this time with the idea of really stripping emotional truth down to the bones.  I knew that if I had the huevos to tell not just historical fact but personal insight, I could breathe life into a stale narrative.  And some people might connect with the story in a way that had nothing to do with shared circumstances and everything to do with shared experience.

What do you hope people take away from this once they read the words "the end"?

I did a Spoken Word/Electronica concert in Italy recently with jazz artist John Arnold.  The ongoing refrain of the poem I’d written was, “There is no Other, only you.” And that perfectly encapsulates what I wanted to put forward in this project.  I wanted to expand on the idea that we are all human, irrespective of circumstances. That the human condition is fraught with insecurities, self-destructive behavior, and the occasional breakthrough.  A crack-addled hooker working the wharf bleeds red just like we do.  Conversely, even people who look as though they have it totally may be as fucked up and conflicted as all the rest of us.

 How did you feel on release day?
Terrified! I couldn’t sleep. I was convinced that everyone would heap scorn and contempt on me for having been a cover girl and centerfold and stripper. The irony is that I am far more naked in this book than I ever was onstage. By the time reviews started coming in, I felt some reassurance that people understood the reasons why I decided to come forward with the story. It has universal themes, this story does. I think most people can relate.

Where do you find inspiration?

Being a writer is odd. So much of a writer’s life is isolation and butt-in-chair tenacity, and yet life experiences and human interaction are the two most important contributors to richly-textured prose. As weird as this may sound, I don’t write with just my heart, my mind, or my soul. I write with my vagina. Not literally, of course, although that’s an interesting mental image! But the source of all my creative juice flows from that sacred channel.  When I shut down sexually, my writing shuts down, too.

I know you're a savvy relationship expert. What are some of the most common relationship problems you've seen?

Ah, yes. That infamous book. I wrote DRIVE YOUR WOMAN WILD IN BED when I was nineteen, if you can imagine anyone having the stones to do such a thing.  No surprise, the book sucked. But it sold remarkably well, in large part because of the talk shows I went on to promote it. My publishing house, one of the Big 6, didn’t do much more for me than to arrange a newspaper interview. It was on me to publicize the book, so I did. I’ve never really understood that about heritage publishing, why their PR Department seems vapor-locked in the Dark Ages. Why trouble yourself to acquire, edit, and release a book if you don’t take the time to promote it? Their business model is absurd.

Back to the memoir, after reviewing your life through a magnifying lens, what piece of advice would you give to your young self if you could travel back in time?

I would change nothing. Not because I was by any means perfect. But because I screwed everything up so badly. Those are the lessons that stick with you. I traveled some, but I wish I had traveled more. If I had known then what a truly adventurous soul I was, I would have honored the impulse to test my limits rather than shy away from them. Odd, isn’t it? I could shed my clothes and model for magazines without batting an eye. But putting on a backpack, hiring a Sherpa and trekking through Nepal filled me with terror.

Outside of writing, what do you do for fun?

Fun? What is this “fun” of which you speak? I work all seven days of the week, teach sixteen Strength Training, Yoga, and Pilates classes, and try vainly to have a life outside of the gym. I think when you become a parent, you find your joy but lose all sense of fun. Having said that, I travel to Italy a few times a year to visit my boyfriend who lives in a fantastic medieval village overlooking the Treja Valley. That’s pretty fun. I have a lot of great friends. Mostly, I try to get out of my comfort zone as often as possible. I find that for me, it’s good medicine.

 When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your books and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

She told the truth, even when it wasn’t flattering or convenient. She had a moral compass. She had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and adventure.

“She had a good run, but is worm’s meat now.”

What a wonderful interview! Thank you for taking the time to share that with me, Stacey. Now let's look inside the book with its blurb and great excerpt.

Cover blurb...
Whether skipping school to binge-read Falkner or losing a wet tee-shirt contest by claiming the Reverend Jesse Jackson as her biggest influence, Stacey Keith has struggled to reconcile her perception of the world with its expectations of her.  STRIPPED DOWN: A Naked Memoir is her deeply personal, unflinching look at growing up in America with “breasts that hold men spellbound”. In her journey from Texas naïf to international men’s magazine sensation, Ms. Keith takes readers on a no-holes-barred romp through the warped misogyny of Playboy to the secret S&M dungeons of the Pacific Palisades. Her story captures the tragicomic reality of what really gets stripped away as a covergirl, centerfold, Feature Performer and Hollywood starlet. In the process, she reveals who’s really behind curtain number three and makes some startling observations about sex, feminism, and the seamy underbelly of America’s adult entertainment industry.
It’s one of those parties where you don’t know the host, you never meet the host, because there are three hundred people there and a third of them are the catering staff. Ice sculpture in the living room (the usual nude, sweating tits, ringed by a display of red, engorged fruit). Floor-to-ceiling windows showing the rocky slope down to the Pacific.
I’ve been in L.A. two months and believe me, I’m intimately acquainted with that rocky slope.
But that doesn’t make things better. Already I feel sick and stunned and fat. You always feel fat at parties in the ’Bu, regardless of your dress size. And if you engage in conversation with any female for longer than ten seconds, you will hear the hair-trigger regurgitation of her resume—like a special form of bulimia—which is always more impressive than yours, and you will rightly feel like a failure.
A fat whale plus a failure = whalure. Anyone can do the math.

This house is all white like it’s been scoured, with big oversized “statement” paintings full of turbulent color. Couches: white leather. A white shag rug lies beneath a coffee table. Around that table, half a dozen bare legs are crossed in coy invitation. You see things in lightning illumination: fingers holding champagne flutes; glossy curtains of hair; tanned, bony shoulders that resemble arthritic knuckles; and lots of teeth, bared in one giant rictus.
I swipe a flute of Tattinger just to give myself something to do with my hands, although champagne tastes like ass to me, and the stuff hisses angrily, flecking my wrist. I’ve probably debased my taste buds with too much Diet Coke. I wonder why I’ve never been able to do anything hip in my whole life, like drink absinthe or smoke a Galloise or enjoy a party. I’m not even sure why I’m here. And then I remember.
Gordon had regaled me over the phone with some shop-worn tale about a Playboy model from Missouri who did the party circuit, met Oliver Stone, and got a part in one of his films. This model must be one of the thousand headshots papering Gordon’s office, his private harem of holes (“Fucked that one and that one and I’m gonna fuck that
one ...”).
“Go so you can get yourself invited to other parties,” he tells me. “Dress to make their jaws drop. And if anyone asks if you’re into chicks, what do you say?”
I think a moment, remember what he told me, then decide to mess with him anyway. “The truth?”
“Fuck the truth. Haven’t I taught you anything? You think it’s going to help, being so uptight in your thinking? Bi is in. You might try it sometime.”
I can imagine him picturing this. The gleam in his eye.
Pushing him from my mind, I sip the Tattinger and hope to appear sophisticated.  Jesus, I hate parties. I recognize no one. How am I supposed to know who’s Important? It’s not like Gordon presented a flow chart and said, here, memorize these names and faces. Plus, at parties I tend to pull all sorts of weirdoes into my gravitational orbit: cross-dressers and CGI geeks and the occasional free-baser. My usual luck is to get buttonholed by some broke dick named Bill who does poetry slams down at the Waffle House.
My boobs are sweating as I head over to the hors d’oeuvres. I wonder how many mini quiches I can hide in my purse. I’m hungry and hormonal and the anxiety of being here isn’t helping.
Three of us are at the cheese tray, spearing assorted cubes with the tiny javelins of our toothpicks. Champagne fountains gurgle nearby. An old guy with an obvious rug lobs a smile my way. He looks like someone Important, and if I had any snap at all I’d know who he is, even though his pussy roster probably dates back to the Civil War.
He reaches across the table (okay, who the hell is he? It’s killing me), and almost brushes against my chest. When I don’t flinch, he launches into his pitch, delivered with all the subtlety of a carnival barker.
Him: (gesturing vaguely to my chest) You carry a license for those?
Me: (laughing) Maybe an Operator’s Permit.
Him: Bet you’ve got a lot of guys wanting permission to operate.
Me: (laugh accompanied by noncommittal shrug and mildly creepy feeling).
Him: You an actress?
Me: Uh ...yeah.
Him: You should drop off your resume and headshot sometime this week. I live just a couple of doors down. Jon Peters is a good friend of mine. I could get you in to see him.
And there it is, the sick feeling in your stomach because you can see the carrot (an appointment with Jon Peters!). But the hand that holds the carrot is fat and oily-fingered and bristly with coarse hairs. Already you can feel those pervy fingers fumbling for your crotch. You can smell the Tic Tacs on his breath. You can see the look of smug expectation in his eyes (“Am I driving you wild yet? Do I know how to turn a woman on, or what?”). The second pillow on his extra-firm, lumbar-support bed will have a dent in it from his wife’s head, his wife who’s probably the real hitter in the family, only now you’ve gone and slept with her husband, and he (invariably) has a premature ejaculation problem or erectile dysfunction from whacking off to the only kind of skankoid porn that does it for him anymore, usually something having to do with three tumescent assholes and a donkey.
Hell, I’m fresh off the boat and I know this.
So then you say, “Yeah, I’ll drop by sometime this week,” only his eyes slit in obvious suspicion and you know that he knows you’re full of shit, and you traipse off feeling (again!) like a whalure because any actress/model worth her bikini wax would have popped a Valium and slept with the guy, and she would be sitting in Jon Peters’ office right now, laughing.
But not me.
I never get it right. Just never. I’m like some hopelessly dorky white guy trying to bust a street move on the dance floor. As Bets often tells me, “Know what your problem is? You think too goddamn much.”
Jesus, I hate parties.
Is there a switch I can pull? Brain OFF. I picture myself navigating through the party—and life—with the ease and self-sufficiency of a shark, all rabid survival instincts, never worrying about doing the right thing, just the expedient one. I yearn to possess this single-mindedness of purpose. People like that don’t waste time worrying if some guy is married or a sex weasel. They snatch him up by the balls, shake him down, then walk away with the keys to the Lamborghini. And fools like me are left with their big boobs and their bewilderment, clutching stupidly pretentious glasses of Tattinger. I jettison mine on a side table and head for the safety of the bathroom. I can hide there. Hey, according to Zack, I’m good at hiding.
The bathroom, which reeks of pot, is done in muted gold foil and black marble. It looks like a 1970s bachelor pad. There’s a faux-mink (it is faux, right?) toilet cover and framed comics featuring a busty blonde who resembles me, only lobotomized. In every picture a different horny, slavering idiot is trying to get his hands on her rack.
Gazing at the comics gives me a clammy feeling. I don’t really have to pee, but I lurk there anyway and retouch my makeup without the slightest hint of irony. I am, after all, twenty. I’m at a party. I’m on a mission.
Mingle, Gordon told me. Make shit up. Talk about how much you dig anal.
I head down the hall, make a wrong turn, and wind up in a bedroom. A man and a woman are screwing on the floor in front of a wall mirror. The man has a hairy ass and the woman’s breasts are as taut and shiny as Saran Wrap stretched over two grapefruit halves. What shocks me is not the screwing, which seems to be a plodding, joyless enterprise, but the fact that both of them are staring at themselves in the mirror. Not each other. Not their congress. Only careful, neutral self-assessments that send a chill down my spine (“here I am with my knees at a ninety-degree angle”; “here I am with my brand-new, zero-gravity tits”; “here I am with my manly, thrusting buttocks”).
It is this flash into their bleak narcissism that has me stammering apologies and backing out the door. Rattled, I manage to find my way to the living room again, which is twice as loud and twice as full as before, more emaciated women accompanied by short, troll-like men with golf tans. I’m sweating pretty hard now, and it feels like someone’s holding a pillow over my face. Everything’s too bright, there are too many competing fragrances, and I can hear sniggering, which tells me people are speculating about the authenticity of my chest. Or deploring my fashion sense. Or thinking I’m fat.
I step outside to get some air.
Typical California sunset, gorgeous, just gorgeous, the infinity pool reflecting the deep blue shell of the sky. Below, the sibilance of waves. Despite the fact that I’m miserable and out of my depth, the beauty of this place takes my breath away. In a petrochemical armpit like Houston, we’ve got spectacular sunsets, but they’re usually obscured by billboards and refinery smoke.
I spot Warren Beatty looking like a thirsty old vampire next to his date, a glum, underage Morticia. Someone shouts, “Hey, Leo!” and sure enough, it’s Leonardo DiCaprio. He spares me an appraising glance as he ambles by, but doesn’t stop to chat.
James Caan looks snarly and drunk, attended by a man in tennis whites. A chaperone? Maybe they have to issue him one at parties.
There’s Vanna White wearing a Versace jumpsuit and snakeskin peep-toes, the price of which could finance the overthrow of a small banana republic. I wonder if she would sell me a clue, one fucking clue how I’m going to ingratiate myself with anyone who can get me a job, because I could use that Big Break pretty soon, rent being what it is, and I’m getting pretty goddamn sick of taking my clothes off in front of cameras. What will I do when I turn forty and no one wants me to take my clothes off? I’ll be a grotesque parody of myself, one of those women with glitter lashes and smeared lipstick and tits that look like tires gone bad.
On a hot spur of fear, I sidle up to three Brits conversing by the pool. They look Important. I give them my best smile and ask if they know the host. See? I can do this. Behind one leathery English chap wearing a Madras shirt, two women peel off their bikinis and touch each other. You can hear them giggling. The suction of wet flesh on flagstones as one of them wriggles back and spreads her legs, exposing a fleshy, hairless pudendum.
Am I actually seeing this?
I whip my gaze away, air-raid sirens going off in my head. Red alert. Out of your depth. RETREAT!
They’re both blonde, indistinguishable except for the butterfly tattoo on the backside of the chick doing the chow-down. They’re enjoying each other in a loud, Vaudevillian way that’s impossible to ignore. Only, to my stunned amazement, no one is watching. No one. Madras shirt actually backs into the tattooed chick, says excuse me in his excessively polite English way, and continues his conversation. What, are they all fucking blind?
And then I realize: not blind. Jaded.
In one spectacular flash, I get it on a whole new level. A level deeper even than the one I experienced when I realized Gordon expected to sleep with me. In Hollywood, see, women aren’t actual people. They’re for personal use! They’re a rail of coke. They’re trafficked as human cargo. And I can’t figure out if they play along to get along or if they’re powerless to change the rules or if they’re too narcissistically wounded to question the rules in the first place. But it’s obvious to me that these poor bitches could set themselves on fire and no one would take the trouble to piss them out. And knowing this makes me sick.
My circuits are overloaded. When I stumble back through the living room, I’m dizzy and dehydrated and there’s a midget in my head pounding my brain with a meat mallet. The exit is in my sights and I claw my way toward it. I must leave. Now. I will go home, yank out the phone, pull on a pair of sweat pants, and re-read Anna Karenina. Even the Russians and their suffering are more fathomable than this shit.
At the door, the guy who knows Jon Peters lays his wet, hairy mitt on my shoulder. I can barely conceal my revulsion.
“So listen, babe,” he says, too close to my face. ”Sorry. Gotta ask. We all want to know ... Are they real?”
What are you waiting for? If you're not reading this memoir, then you're seriously missing out. 
More about Stacey Keith

Writing under various pseudonyms, Stacey Keith is a multi-award-winning author of Warner Books' popular self-help book, DRIVE YOUR WOMAN WILD IN BED. In her previous incarnation as a men's magazine model, she was the most photographed cover girl and centerfold of the mid 1990s, a notoriety she parlayed into B-movie roles, Feature Performances, and days off to perfect her writing. She has been seen on over twenty talk shows, including "Montel Williams", "Real Personal with Bob Berkowitz", "Geraldo Rivera", and "Joan Rivers". Interviewed by five hundred radio stations, Stacey has lectured throughout the United States and Canada, as well as the University of Toronto. 

Her fiction career has encompassed two Golden Heart nominations, a Maggie, two Silver Quills, a Jasmine, a Heart of the Rockies, and over fifteen other first-place wins in Romance Writers of America contests. Her most recent work of erotic fiction, CATWALK, written under the name Angelika Helsing, is available online or in paperback.

An avid writer of fiction, nonfiction, short stories and poetry, Stacey refuses to own a television, but reads compulsively--and would, in fact, go bonkers without her books--of which there are plenty to be found in her house. She now lives in Houston, Texas, with her teenage son and daughter, two cats, mountains of laundry, and a passion for teaching weightlifting, Pilates and Yoga.

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