Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Interviews with johns

Based upon the enduring popularity of Letters from Johns, I've created a new project, Interviews with Johns.

Interested in being interviewed anonymously about why you paid for sex?

Email me.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Gift, Chicago, Illinois

Friday, October 26, 2012


Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs is now closed to submissions.

Letters from Cheaters is accepting submissions.

Letters are anonymous and can be submitted via email or on Tumblr.

You can be married or in a relationship, it can be something that's happening now or something that happened in the past, it can be about what took place or why it took place.

It's not about judging. It's just about the stories. Collectively, the letters reveal the total picture of why we do what we do. 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

I get email

I am a 27 year old female from San Francisco, CA. I am writing to you because your the only person I could find who clashed with a feminist and is intelligent. I am troubled by my professor for "Women's Health", a general education requirement class no one wants to be in. She is very controlling, making us answer twelve questions about ourselves clearly for the use of knowing where we stand, condescending, and has an agenda I don't believe to be completely pertinent t the class of women's health. Her articles out of date, usually from the same journal and articles on the history of women's health and patriarchy but not addressing some of the hypocrisies of the material. More troubling, she may be misinterpreting the material. There are issues I disagree with her on such as in health care, being a bipolar person, I feel those who need psychiatric care are in some ways far worse off...I digress. Should I report her to the school about the twelve questions? I am a respectful person and understand my own biases, but I also don't want to feel like I'm lying every time I open my mouth in class and participation isn't optional. Is their anyway in which I can take this class and be honest yet respectful?

Thank you so much for your time

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An excerpt from my novel-in-progress

The wife looks out the window. In the distance, she can see the tumor.

It is half-hidden behind a shrub at the park that abuts the alley behind the house. It is fiddling with a leaf and oozing a small pool of blood. The tumor sees her seeing it and withdraws, pressing itself into the leaves, concealing and congealing.

The wife looks at the dough ball. She pushes an errant raisin back into it.

It’s possible the tumor wasn’t a tumor at all. It’s fall. The leaves are turning vermillion, goldenrod, pumpkin. Perhaps she mistook a seasonal change for sickness.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Photo of the day

Vet, Chicago, Illinois

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Letters Project, Five Years In

In January, it'll be five years that I've been doing The Letters Project.

The Letters Project is a way for people to share their secret sex lives anonymously. The project includes: Letters from Johns, Letters from Working Girls, Letters from Men Who Watch Porn, Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs, and Letters from Cheaters.

Here are some thoughts.

1. I never thought I would do The Letters Project for five years.

In fact, I think the only other thing I've done for that long is write about porn. (See: "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?", "The Obscenity Police Are Coming.")

The first installment was Letters from Johns. It is my favorite. It is, I think, the best. That is because it is the one where there is the most at stake. What they are confessing to is illegal, in most cases.

My favorite letter is: "I Am Ashamed of Nothing I Have Done."
One can try to hang a sign on us, the collective john, as perpetuating the global conspiracy of sex/slave traffic, and I'll grant that my Thailand trip may have/probably did contribute to some sort of thuggery. But in the end, I am ashamed of nothing I have done. 
I corresponded with "I'm a State Investigator" through encrypted emails. 
I keep a coded diary, in case it's discovered. 1 dot is oral, 2 dots is vaginal sex, and 2 connected dots is anal sex. In the event that someone questions the dots, they are associated with good/bad days: no dots are normal days, 1 dot is a good day, 2 dots is a great day, and 2 connected dots is the best day for that week. 
"I Have a Physical Disability" had cerebral palsy.
I am now a regular customer, although not as regular as I’d like to be. This is mostly because my brother has moved overseas, and it is hard to find people who will willingly accompany me. However, each time I go, I no longer feel like a cripple. I feel whole. 
2. I have published:

51 letters from johns

18 letters from working girls

33 letters from men who go to strip clubs

13 letters from men who watch porn

3 letters from cheaters

118 letters total. 

3. The Letters Project has been featured in, among other places:

You see how complicated it is to be a man — you know, you’re supposed to be big and strong, but you also have these desires and conflicted feelings. Ideally, anything laid bare will invoke compassion, and that’s what it made me feel. Like a friend of mine says, “You see men as they are and you love them anyway.”
"What could be more taboo than going to an agency when you're a crusader for all that is moral and good?" she theorized. "It's only natural," this call girl asserted, "that they'd hire a girl to get off."
The Guardian:
A Washington DC policy analyst in his early 30s who went to strip clubs as often as two or three times a week during his 20s confirmed: "Our society has become so hyper-sexualised that [going to strip clubs] almost seems tame."
CBC Radio:
Susannah proclaims that it has freed us to express what we truly want and desire, when all it really has done is imprison us with our own desires, ignoring true love and compassion in the process.
Susie Bright's Journal:
It's sort of like "Post Secret" for turning tricks.
4. People are always interested in Letters from Working Girls.

I didn't get a ton of letters, but my favorite anecdote is from "I Wanted Them to Leave Happy." She talked about being a sex worker in 1979. She wrote about her two years turning tricks at a small town massage parlor in Connecticut. Her letter was one big, uninterrupted and breathless paragraph.
One guy, in particular, we all loved. We called him "park bench." He did not get undressed, he laid face down on the table, and the girl sat on him, naked, reading a magazine, not talking to him. After about 20 minutes he'd say thank-you, and that was it. 
Today she grows organic vegetables.

5. Every letter is a confession.

At first I thought people were confessing to me. They are not.

Years ago, I asked the john who talked about not being ashamed why he wrote me, and this is part of what he said.
When Studs Terkel shows up at the door, the Average Joe asks, "Studs who?" Yet he's created an indispensable repository of American history by asking simple questions. You were my Studs, showing up unannounced at my door, like a census-taker, with three simple questions.
They are confessing to themselves.

6. There are some letters I didn't publish. A few were disturbing. Some were fake.

A few months ago, I received two emails from someone I did not know.

The subject header of the first email was: "I knew it wasn't a dude!"
I read your post on some strip club stories site. I got lost in the article and towards the middle of it I realized how well crafted it was. Then came to the statement: "I cried myself to sleep every night".. then I realized a woman wrote it. If you changed it to "angrily jacked off" I would've just thought it was a man carefully expressing his feelings. I'm just curious why you wrote the article. Thanks!
The subject header of the second email he sent one minute later was: "I just realized you wrote every thing in that blog!"
Haha! You are a talented writer!  Still, what motivates you to write that blog?
I did not sit around writing 118 emails that I was pretending were from other people.

7. One year after I launch each project, I close it to submissions.

Then I start another one. I think after awhile I thought I would stop when I got to five years. But then I thought, well, why would I do that? Maybe I'll keep going.

Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs closes on October 26th. 

The strip club letter that got the most responses was: "I'm a 24-Year-Old Drone."
I get there at 8am. I leave at 6pm, and often times I find myself sitting in the parking lot wondering just where the hell to go. My family's far away, I have no friends to speak of; nothing awaits me at my apartment except Netflix and a couple of cold beers. Despite the overall pointlessness of my life, though, I do feel the basic human need to talk to someone. Not even necessarily to vent about how much I hate where I've ended up (especially compared to my childhood dreams of being an astronaut), but just to have someone who listens. Perhaps that's why I'm writing this e-mail, even.
I love this letter. Other people did, too. A woman sent me an email asking if I would please give her his email address. So she could reach out to him. She wanted to save him. She wanted him to feel less lonely.

Recently I reached out to the Drone.

This is part of what he told me.
Yes, my life is still significantly lacking in the intimacy department.  I know that for most, "intimacy" connotes something sexual, but that's not what I mean.  Compared to the robotic and automated world I find myself stuck in, a simple, friendly conversation is the sexual equivalent of a passionate make-out session; a hug, the equivalent of a group orgy.  I know the tease is still out there at the local strip club, though not the tease most strip-club patrons are looking for.  They want that almost-legal girl to get almost-naked so they can almost-taste that almost-sex that they almost-had that one almost-unbelievable night.  I want that same girl, but I want her to have an almost-conversation with me, to be an almost-good-enough actress to make me almost-believe she's almost-happy, to have an almost-chat about almost-anything.  "Guys" want lapdances.  I just want the time of day.
8. The Letters Project is not not about sex and cheating, johns and prostitutes, fetishes and lap dances.

It's about intimacy.

I know that when I read each letter for the first time. Because that is how it feels.

9. Before I post the letter, I put tags with it. So people who visit the site can see what the most common words are that appear in the letters.

Letters from Johns: alcohol, cheating, condoms, drugs, escort, love, marriage, money, oral sex, porn, professional, prostitute, relationship, sex, virgin, wife.

Letters from Working Girls: client, college, condom, escort, family, internet, love, marriage, men, money, sex, sex workers, strippers.

Letters from Men Who Watch Porn: addiction, adult magazines, anal, dating, friends, girlfriend, internet, masturbation, porn, relationships, videos, virginity, women.

Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs: alcohol, asses, beautiful, breasts, conversation, dancers, drugs, forties, friends, fun, girls, happy, intimacy, lap dances, loneliness, marriage, money, naked, relationship, sex, tips, wife, women, work.

Letters from Cheaters: alcohol, cheating, coworker, husband, love, marriage, men, relationship, sex, success.

10. I have gotten some grief along the way, for doing this project.

People have called my conclusions "twaddle," accused me of misogyny, complained because I am not a sex worker but I am writing about sex work that I am doing something bad. Mostly, I ignore them.

I believe the Letters Project is a mirror.

You can live your life believing someone else's husband is having sex with prostitutes, someone else's wife used to turn tricks, someone else's girlfriend is cheating, someone else's boyfriend is having an affair, someone else jerks off to porn. But it's not about them. It's about you.

Don't you see yourself in it?

Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs is open to submissions through Oct. 26. Letters from Cheaters is open to submissions via email or on Tumblr. All letters are anonymous.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Strip club generation

I wrote a post for the Guardian's opinion section on twenty-something men who go to strip clubs.
If one strip club gets its way, it'll be offering lap dances 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The effort by the London-based Spearmint Rhino has caused a high-profile controversy, with local residents complaining the club's non-stop stripping proposition will increase crime. Bob Dear, a retired member of the Metropolitan police, is leading the bid.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Be a death revolutionary

My latest post on Forbes is an interview with Caitlin Doughty, who works with the dead.
You’re easy on the eyes. Do people ever get turned on because you work with the dead?

I get comments like, “You give [me] rigor mortis,” which are weirdly flattering but also totally skeevy. But sex and death, eros and thanatos, are two sides of the same coin.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to get a job in reality TV journalism


My name is [redacted], and I am a casting associate for a new show on CBS called The Job.  It is produced by Mark Burnett and Michael Davies and hosted by Lisa Ling. It is a very positive passionate project that offers people a chance to win their potential dream job! One of the positions we have is an editorial assistant position at a major woman's magazine located here in NYC. We are seeking people of all types and are really interested in your sex writing experience. Attached is the job description and we are in a really tight time crunch right now and would love if you could call as soon as you can so we can discuss this more. If you are not interested, please forward this immediately to anyone you might think be interested! Thanks!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Hotel, San Diego, California

Monday, October 15, 2012

I get email

Hi and good morning!

I just finished reading you article (subject). It is very well-written but I think I have to raise to issues:

1. First, I have the feeling it is not complete, that more need to be discussed why I shouldn't be a writer.
2. I consider myself to be a freelance writer. To-date, aside from having ghost written a business school blog, I haven't had success in finding another writing assignment.

And it is giving me doubts.Can I write?

I know it sounds stupid, but how do I know if I can or cannot write in the eyes of others?


Friday, October 12, 2012

Are you a twentysomething male strip club patron?

I'm working on a piece under very tight deadline and am looking for twentysomething males who go to strip clubs. Basically, I want to know why you go. You can be anonymous or not -- whatever you like.

Email me.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cheaters and strippers

Two things regarding my latest Letters Projects.

Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs closes to submissions on October 26th. So if you're a guy who's ever been to a strip club, you can send in your anonymous letter now or forever hold your peace.

In other news, I find it odd that I'm not getting any submissions to Letters from Cheaters. It's on Blogger here and Tumblr here. I got two letters from women right after I launched it, and since then it's been radio silence.

Possible reasons:

1. "Cheaters" makes people think it's a "you're bad for cheating" site. It isn't. It's like all the other Letters Projects. It's just a way of collecting stories about why something happened. Take, for example, Letters from Johns. It's just the letters. No judgment.

2. The fact that two women submitted the first two letters is making men less likely to submit. I don't know why this would be the case. Unless it's guilt inducing or something.

3. It's hasn't gotten around enough yet, and when it does people will submit.

4. People are worried about getting caught confessing. I guess it's possible, but maybe we used to believe that our private internet stuff was really private, and now we worry about anonymity. If that's the case, there's always Hushmail or something like it.

5. What do you think?

In any case, send me your strip club and cheating confessions. That way we'll find out more about why we do the things we do. Anonymously.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet a smut cutter

I dig this interview I did with AVN Hall of Fame porn movie editor Sonny Malone for my Forbes blog.
Do you ever get tired of watching people have sex?

Yes. I can’t lie there.

My home office is decorated with a lot of “Steamboat Willie” and Disney things. I sometimes need the distraction away from the sex.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Writing conference

Writing Conference, Macon, Georgia

Monday, October 8, 2012

I get email

I hate your article about becoming a writer. I had my mouth open tasting words and picturing the good life I will enjoy as a writer. Just I was about to dive into absolute fantasy and dreamland of money everywhere , you walk up and dumped acid in my mouth with this article.

I will follow you on twitter however , don't know why but I am curious to see what else you have to say(LOL).

Thank you


Friday, October 5, 2012


Hotel Room, Macon, Georgia

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Get that job

I interviewed the awesome Kelly Internets of The Daily What for my Forbes blog.

We discussed Colonel Meow.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Story of my writing life

This is the outline of the presentation I'm doing at the Crossroads Writers Conference this weekend as part of the Freelancers Summit on Friday.

-- Born and raised in Berkeley, CA
-- HS drop out, UCB grad, UIC writers program
-- Gypsy scholar, Father dies
-- Book publicist, The Internet, The Postfeminist Playground
-- Porn, politically incorrect, punditry
-- Move to LA, start freelancing, TV
-- Beat: culture, sex, adult movie industry
-- 2002: Leg injury, launch RCB, traffic junkie
-- 2003 – 2005: New Orleans, mental breakdown, suicidal
-- 2005: Hurricane Katrina, move to VA, waitress
-- 2008: Time Warner editor, the art of online outreach
-- 2009: They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?
-- 2011: Downsized, Forbes blogger, digital copywriting
-- 2011.5: Marriage, cancer, work as identity
-- 2012: Stop everything but Forbes, reinvention, novel
-- Tips: Pick a beat that isn’t boring, get rejected a lot, learn to hustle

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mannequin Daydreaming

Mannequin Daydreaming, Chicago, Illinois

Monday, October 1, 2012

I get email

Hello Susannah

I am an erotic author who is currently published by [redacted].

I wasn't sure if you conduct interviews, but wanted to request if it is something you might be interested in.

You can learn more about me via my website, and if you need any additional info from me please let me know.