Thursday, December 31, 2009


I thought about writing some year-in-review thing, but I already sort of did that here, so I thought, instead, I would take a look back at pretty much the only thing I've done in the last few years that has any value worth considering, which is a series of online projects.

I think for a variety of reasons I began to sort of "give up" on the way that I had done things previously, the "traditional" way of doing things. I wrote my first freelance story in 1997, so I've been in the game a long time, and it just wasn't really working for me anymore. As you know, the magazine industry is dying, the economy is in the crapper, and the internet is going to save the universe.

From an editorial perspective, I was increasingly frustrated with my ability to get traditional publications -- online or in print -- to "support" what I wanted to do. This is nothing new, but seemed to be increasingly so in recent years. Also, looking back, the things I've done that have been of the most interest to me -- those projects where I had the most control, that, therefore, felt the most "me" -- were those that I did independent of any organization.

Of course, blogging is a big part of that. But blogging is transient, like a train that pulls into the station and then leaves. It lacks stickiness, sometimes depth, and since small children have them, they are not always taken very seriously. Such is the nature of when things go mainstream.

So, I wanted something "more." In 2008, I launched Letters from Johns because I had a random thought one day that if I put a query on my blog asking readers why they had paid for sex, I would probably get some interesting responses. Not long after, I launched Letters from Working Girls, featuring working girl stories. Both projects ran for a year, and while the former was definitely more successful than the latter -- there were about 50 john stories and around 18 working girl stories -- I felt like they were both successful. They were also cheap. I set up the sites on Blogger for free, and it "cost" me nothing to solicit and repost the letters. It was an important step because it enabled me to do something autonomous, something more than "just blogging," and it taught me that I could create and sustain a year-long project on a subject that was of interest to me. That the project happened to coincide with a year that saw the Spitzer scandal didn't hurt matters either, and I wrote about it for Newsweek, Time mentioned it, and my hero Susie Bright liked it. So, mission accomplished.

This year, I did one online project, and sort of by accident, but I think it had a greater impact on how I view this type of work, that, perhaps, this is the kind of work that I want to do: autonomous, self-propelled, outside of the box. That was: "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?"

Early in the year, I pitched doing this story, which was on the adult movie industry and the recession, to a publication for which I was writing. It was to be a long-form traditional piece of investigative journalism. Or something like that. In April, I flew to Los Angeles, where I spent a week interviewing people who work in the adult industry. I stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt, slammed around town in a rented Grand Marquis, and had a super-fabulous time. I took photographs on a set on my birthday, saw things I didn't expect to see, and spent time in what amounted to a suburban whorehouse. I came back, and, after some flailing around, wrote a 10,000-word story on what I had seen, heard, and experienced out there.

But, when I went to file the piece, as they say, things got complicated. Various factors were involved, it was no cut-and-dry situation, and, honestly, what happened wasn't really anyone's "fault." Ultimately, for several reasons, including the fact that revisions were being requested that I did not want to make, I pulled the piece. Then, I got depressed. For months, I "sat" on the piece. I tried to get it published elsewhere, to no avail. Finally, I believe it was some six months later, I decided that it was either let the piece die, ie stick it in a drawer, or self-publish it. So, I chose the latter.

Luckily, I already work with a super-awesome designer named Chris Bishop, who I hired to design and build the site for the piece. That's here. This was a bit more of a one-off than, say, the Letters Project, so I paid more attention to the numbers this time around. So far, the story has gotten close to one million page views. The feedback was really positive. Boing Boing said it was "bold and ambitious," Warren Ellis said it was "brilliant," and Metafilter said "Ms. Breslin has changed the way I think about the business of making pornography." And I learned I didn't really need an editor. I paid a friend, the lovely Joanne Hinkel, to copyedit the story before it went up, and the essay was accompanied by photographs that I took on location. I suppose one could say I "lost" money on this project, but not having to kowtow to somebody else's idea of what my work was supposed to be? Priceless.

At this point in my, er, career, I've published over 100 articles, been on TV over 100 times, and I don't want to know how many blog posts I've written. But it's the online projects that have felt like they mean something -- and that's what I want more of. I want steak, not loose meat. I want substance, not transience. I want control, not subjugation. So, I want to do more of this.

In the last few days, I decided on an online project I'll be doing in 2010. Once again, I'll be working with Chris, which is always great, because he always thinks of better design stuff than I ever could. The estimated launch date is January 15, 2010. Once again, it's a year-long project, it will be online, and it will be autonomous. This project will push me in some new directions. There were be a greater emphasis on photography, I will be exploring new territory subject-wise, and it's probably the most "serious" project I've ever done.

It's always a little nerve-wracking to embark on these projects, because you never know what will happen. You only have yourself to answer to, yourself to motivate, yourself to step up to the plate. You either man up -- or you're a pussy. Failure is omnipresent, but the alternative is death. So, here we go again, off to the races.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Occasionally, I get random weird emails. This should come as no surprise to anyone. Including me.
Hi Susannah,

I've got a bit of an unusual request and you were the only one I could think of that might be able to help me. I recently had sex with a prostitute for the first time and felt so upset about it that two days after the act I called and apologized to her. Coincidentally, I cheated on my wife by doing so but I felt more concerned for the prostitute. I didn't beat her or anything weird like that. I paid $50 for 15 minutes; the sex was awful and awkward and I felt like the whole experience was so demeaning to her that I felt extremely guilty about it. I tried to tell myself to just forget about it, that she had probably been subjected to a lot worse in her time, but she seemed like a sweet girl and I felt like she deserved better and so I called her two days later and apologized for the whole thing. She didn't remember me at all and probably thought I was crazy. I still felt somewhat better about myself for at least trying to apologize.

Anyways, I thought the whole thing might make a funny/interesting short story. It doesn't look like you do The Reverse Cowgirl blog anymore, but you were the only person I thought of who would be interested in publishing the story. Maybe you still might be or maybe you could suggest a blog that might be interested. I still feel a little guilty and I'm trying to use writing as a bit of therapy.


John Smith

PS: Yes, I did feel guilty about cheating on my wife and I will never do it again.
Dear, Um, John:

I see. Thanks for writing. You know how I knew you were really and truly sorry for having underpaid, "awful," and "awkward" sex with a prostitute that you -- and I can hardly believe this part -- called up to apologize to afterward because, well, for reasons that I suppose are obvious? It's when you referred to this entire incident for which you are supposedly conflicted as "funny/interesting." That's when I knew. And I was moved.

I suppose you, John, wrote me because I used to do this project called "Letters from Johns." I suppose one could argue that I "asked for it." Of course, you may note on that project's website that it states: "THIS PROJECT IS NOW CLOSED." That is secret code for: "DON'T SEND ME ANYMORE LETTERS ABOUT SEX YOU HAD WITH PROSTITUTES KTHXBAI."

John, I must reassure you that my intention is not to demean my project -- something I think was pretty cool and of which I am oddly proud -- but to demean you. If you are so torn up over getting crappy sex for what wouldn't even buy the girl a new pair of shoes, why are you writing to me about it? For "therapeutic" purposes? Give me a break. You are trying to brag. Or just weird. Or socially retarded. I don't know. Ask your wife. Maybe she knows? Probably.

I don't know where else you can send your hilarious "short story" about having awkward sex with a prostitute for whom I now feel bad. Nerve? One of those godforsaken erotica anthologies? Some jerk-off site with a message board for johns? Try Googling, "Yes, I did feel guilty about cheating on my wife and I will never do it again," and see what turns up. The internet is a wonderful resource for finding the things that one truly needs in life.



PS Thanks for spelling my name right.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Over at The Frisky, we were asked to compile our best blog posts of 2009. So, in no particular order ...

How to Date a Tall Chick. This is basically a rewrite of a story I did for Details about a million years ago. Read it and weep.

10 Ways The Adult Movie Industry Can Save Itself From Premature Extinction. Funny title, no? I didn't think of it. This is sort of a tongue-in-cheek piece. The answer: ROBOTS.

Has Feminism Gone Too Far? Someone on some other blog wrote that I write a post like this a couple times a year. True! This is my favorite comment: "Ugh Susana Breslin drives me up the wall. Every time I read one her posts I want to throw something. I want to take her to the School of Logical Thinking Where Not Everything Is Totally About Susana Breslin." Do I get a scholarship if I agree to go?

The Top 20 Worst Pick-Up Lines Ever. This post is actually pretty funny and only exists because it was ripped off the comments for a post that Wendy did. My favorite: "Can I push your stool in?" Heh.

Think Porn Is Empowering? Think Again. It’s Not That Simple. More pr0n, but pr0n and women. Way to diversify, Susannah.

10 Things Guys Should Do on a First Date. Is there anyone less qualified to write this post? Hm? Wot? No? I didn't think so.

Meet The Frisky Crew At Work! I wandered around and took pics of the broads I work with. Enjoy.

Frisky Q&A: An Interview With Tattooed Lady, Lawyer, Author And Blogger Marisa Kakoulas. I interviewed the divine Miss Marisa, queen of Needles and Sins. The other day, we had dinner. She is tiny, but, man, she will bend you to her will. I was but a sapling to her hurricane-force winds.

Frisky Q&A: Tucker Max Talks “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell,” Feminism, Sex, And Why He Loves Women. Don't be jealous.

When Celebrities and Porn Stars Do It. I got one word for you kids: linkbait.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Me and Katie full of Vietnamese in Chinatown, NYC, Christmas Day, 2009, by Clayton Cubitt.

(Click picture for bigger.)

After that, we trekked uptown and watched "Avatar" in 3D with our super-cool shades.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Happy holidays!



Thursday, December 24, 2009


Yesterday, I came across "Lehrer's Rules" via Chris Bishop's Twitter:
"I promise you, one thing is never going to change. And that's our mission. People often ask me if there are guidelines in our practice of what I like to call MacNeil/Lehrer journalism. Well, yes, there are. And here they are:"
Reading over Lehrer's rules, I realized I had failed at all of them.

Do nothing I cannot defend. I think pretty much everything I've done, professionally and personally, is indefensible. From writing about pr0n to nodding vacantly at the woman who asked if I minded if she went and smoked crack in the bathroom to the fact that journalism is inherently traitorous, it's hard to think of anything I've ever done that I could defend. Which probably makes for less work. Defending things, that is.

Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me. Ha-ha. Eh, no. God forbid anyone ever writes a story about me. One of my favorites, and by favorites I mean "favorites," was a story someone wrote about me entitled: "Who the Fuck Is Susannah Breslin?" While I try and write the "truth," I would hope stories written about me would be a heady cocktail of flattering lies.

Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story. As Candice Bergen once said to me: "Well, duh." Of course, this is the problem of every story. The convenience is believing your story is the truerest one.

Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am. Wow. Not sure how to touch this one with a 20-foot pole. Am I "caring" and "good"? The negation of that sort of destroys the premise upon which this, um, theory is based. Next?

Assume the same about all people on whom I report. But what about all the idiots?

Assume personal lives are a private matter, until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise. How very Rockwellian. How 1952. Welcome to 2009, buddy. "Assume personal lives are a public matter, until someone sues you." One exception to the rule: kids. I met a lot of pr0n star's kids, and don't think I ever wrote about them. They are collateral damage. Why add to the disaster?

Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything. Maybe if I had one of those old school labeling guns, I could work on this. Also, "straight news stories" are super boring. Opinion is like gun powder. Watch it go bang.

Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes, except on rare and monumental occasions. Well, that's no fun.

No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously. Then why do I keep getting all these hate-emails?

And, finally, I am not in the entertainment business. Ah, yes. Well, I am. Or, perhaps we both are, Jim, and I'm the only one who will admit it.

In any case, I fail. I'll try harder in 2010. Or maybe not.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I was watching that movie "Choke," and I was watching the guy stagger around while pretending to choke, after I had watched another TV show about a guy who ran Ponzi schemes on people who like to gamble, and for some reason I thought about this guy who got into a car accident in front of an apartment in which I lived years ago.

I don't know. Maybe the trigger was all the noise from outside. New York City really is the city that never sleeps. You can tell because it never stops talking to you. So, that was in the back of my head, too, when I thought about this kid. I lived in the back of the building of this place on Los Feliz Boulevard. That's on the east side of LA. The road there is big, and busy, and, sure enough, about once a week there was a pretty bad accident somewhere along the road. You could hear it.

But this one was particularly bad, as I recall. Big enough a smash to send me running out the door, for some reason, and down a couple flights of stairs, and out the front of the building, where there was this kid sitting in this car that was all smashed and spun around so it was facing the wrong way, and all the traffic stopped. I went up to him. He was dazed, and bloody, and he kept saying over and over again something to the effect of, "I don't know what happened." I took off my hoodie, I think, or another shirt that I was wearing over a wifebeater or something like that, and I gave it to him, and I think we wrapped his arm in it. I don't know what happened to him after that.

Traffic brought strange things in LA. There was another time at the big intersection where there's a Blockbuster on -- I don't remember, Sunset or something. And I walked out, and everything was stopped, all the traffic all ways, and a car in the middle on the other side, and nobody doing anything. For some reason, I trotted over to the car, and I went over to the passenger seat, where the driver, who had gotten out of the car, was standing in front of the guy who was still in the passenger seat. I guess there was a drive-by shooting right before that, because the Hispanic kid in the passenger seat was dead, from being shot, and the driver was screaming, in Spanish, so I didn't know what he was saying. The front of the passenger kid's white shirt had two big bloody handprints on it that were from where his friend, the driver, had put his hands on him, except he was already dead.

I don't know why I thought about all this stuff, watching some stupid movie on the couch, listening to this truck that has been running outside for what seems like forever. I mean, is there even enough gas in it to have run this far? I guess I am trying to sort things out in my head. Like, LA was crazy, and where I went after that was something else altogether, and I thought maybe, I thought this exactly, actually, in New York City: This is where my future lives. And the movie kept playing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I'm staying in Hell's Kitchen. Or Midtown West? I am sure you can figure out which description I like better. Surely, there are wonderful things to be said about various other parts of New York City, from the Village to Brooklyn to whatever the hell is Alphabet City. But I love this part of town, because, in this weird way, it reminds me of LA. Not LA, per se, but like the seedy underbelly-ness of the east-end of Sunset. Yes, yes, I know it used to be much filthier here, I wandered through it then, but it has retained some of its stickiness. The random strip clubs linger, offering totally dated photographs of girls who have long since disappeared, and who knows what they're doing in the back rooms, except for sure it's illegal.

Every few years, every few months, I say, oh, I am tired of writing about X! Whatever X happens to be. Usually something filthy. Then, a month will pass, maybe more, maybe a few years. Then, there I am, right back at it again. When I was stuck waiting for a flight in DC, at one point, I took out my laptop and fiddled some with my novel. Sitting in the middle of all those people made me realize how filthy it is. I suppose I usually then wonder: What's wrong with me? But, hey, maybe it's in my DNA. Or something, somewhere deeper.

In a way, that's what I like best about NYC, what I wasn't sure I liked about it at all in the first place: it's freakin' filthy. I grew up in California, where "new" is mid-century modern, and the sky is made of gold, and we all drive fuel-efficient unicorns. By comparison, Jesus Christ, New York is a fucking dump. The stench of urine, and sidewalks no power washer could ever clean, and even the snow is a mess of dirt, and grime, and slip. But I like that. That feels about right.

In any case, I suppose this is a dress rehearsal for moving here soon. That is what I want for 2010. Won't I be happy then? We would like to think.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I got stuck in DC on the way to NYC, on account of the storm, that left all the snow, and the endless stampeding herd that is humanity. Life could be worse.

I get nervous flying, sometimes. During the ascent, the man in the seat next to me told me: "The day He pulled you from your mother's womb, He gave you a set number of days." That was supposed to console me. "But how many!" I wailed. He had no answer for me.

Tomorrow, I'll be in another place.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Lately, I've been dating. Dating, dating, dating. So ... strange. For a long time, a really long time, I didn't date anybody. Broken heart and all that. But, hey, I'm a "Soldier of Love," and it's the Wild, Wild West, right? ("I'm still alive ...")

It's been sort of strange. Because I'm not a kid anymore. And the men aren't boys anymore. So the game is different. And it's not entirely clear how to play it. If it weren't for Wendy and Lydia, I'd probably never do it, but they regularly deliver swift kicks to my ass, and so it goes.

Mostly, in this illustrious career of mine, I have long avoided writing about my personal life. In part, that's because I was spending my professional time around pornographers, pimps, and sometimes rapists, and you kind of want to desexualize when you're in that situation. You don't want to be the target. You want to blend into the wallpaper. Disappear.

Dating, though, is nerve-wracking. As I informed one poor soul who had the misfortune of taking me out, I feel way more comfortable in a random apartment with a pimp who's showing me his AK-47 than I do on a date. Oh, the vulnerability! The wretched misreadability. It's all so unfuckingclear. I don't know if I speak the language.

One thing I know for sure: I love men. Women are my BFFs, and I love them, too, but I would rather chop off my head than date one. Way too fucking complicated. I love men. Everything about them. Their enigmatic-ness, and their strangeness, and their foreign-ness.

For a long time, after some shit happened, and everything got kind of wiped out, I felt sort of dead. Mostly, men make me feel more alive. So, I'm a soldier of love, right?

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Hey, want to read the first five sentences of my novel?
He was standing in the house on the hill, and he was watching the girl having sex with the machine, and he was thinking: Is this all there is? Is this it? Has my life come to this? He sat down on the purple velvet fainting couch behind him. That looks great, honey, he said to the girl. He didn’t want anyone else to know what he was thinking, sitting here, on this purple couch that wasn’t his, wondering what the hell he was doing, what he had done to take him to this place, to this house, to this hill, on this day. Whirrrrr, the machine said, like it was doing something really important, and the engine continued driving the metal bar with the dildo attached to the end of it in and out of the girl.
You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


A possible sublet in the West Village looms upon the horizon. It's all still up in the air, but moving to NYC seems closer daily. This would enable me to get up there, then find a place there, rather than try and find a place there from here, which isn't easy.

I can't say "I've wanted to move to New York since ..." because I don't remember a time when I didn't want to live there. My father grew up in Flatbush, in Brooklyn, so I've lionized it since, well, forever.

To live there would be like a dream that you couldn't quite let yourself dream, and then you dreamed it, and then it turned out it wasn't a dream at all -- it was real.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I'm looking for an apartment in NYC. In the Village or Brooklyn, ideally. Got a lead? Email me! susannahbreslin [at] earthlink [dot] net.

Monday, December 14, 2009


A friend emailed me today to tell me that Larry Sultan died. Sultan was an amazing photographer, and a hero of mine. He was only 63. This is sadness.

While the SFGate obit fairly buried it, Sultan was, IMO, perhaps best known for the series that he shot in The Valley, the San Fernando Valley, the adult movie industry to be exact. See?

He really captured the tragic beauty of that world. And maybe some of its majesty. I am sad that someone who saw something rare is no longer here to show us more of it.

Friday, December 11, 2009


This week:

1. I got the flu.
2. My car broke down.
3. I rode in a tow truck.
4. I almost threw up on the floor at the supermarket.
5. I wrote somebody an email that said: "Fuck Dave Eggers and his ilk."
6. I hyperventilated.
7. I got derailed.
8. I had a revelation.
9. I shifted from being psyched about going to NYC to being super-psyched about going to NYC.
10. I admired some women dressed in meat.

Have a great weekend because I told you to.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today, my car died. I don't know what's wrong with it, but by the time it breathed its last breath in the middle of the street, it was making the kind of noises that you never, ever want a car to make. It may well be that this story does not have a happy ending. I thought I was in the clear, it being nearly the end of the year. Apparently not.

I like this car. I wonder if the world turns animated when you drive it? Anything is possible with Queens of the Stone Age, really. Sadly, Josh Homme not included.

Purely out of coincidence -- or, perhaps, prescience? -- I was reading about the Maybach Zeppelin yesterday. I could probably do without that aroma-humidifier thing, though. Maybe Santa will spring for the $500K? Maybe not.

Check out Joan Didion and her little yellow Corvette. Driving around LA. Cruising towards Babylon. She's. So. Cool.

The main character in my novel drives a black 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. The first front-wheel drive made for the common man, people! It's a hell of a car. 5,000 pounds of grade-A American steel. "Toronado really handles great!" says Bobby Unser. Those retractable headlights are nothin' but sexy. I used to own a 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. That was a hell of a car.

Probably my all-time favorite car is the Lamborghini Reventón Roadster. It's just so fly. Am I the chosen one? I suppose that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


"That looks great, honey, he said to the girl."
-- the third line from the new version of my novel, HAPPY

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


"He sat down on the purple velvet fainting couch behind him."
-- the second line from the new version of my novel, HAPPY

Monday, December 7, 2009


"He was standing in the house on the hill, and he was watching the girl having sex with the machine, and he was thinking: Is this all there is? Is this it? Has my life come to this?"
-- the first line from the new version of my novel, HAPPY

Friday, December 4, 2009


My current plan is to self-publish my novel-in-progress. Over the last four years, I've had about as many agents, I've had contact with dozens more, and I've probably dealt indirectly or directly with about 50 editors. I'm pretty much over it. The traditional publishing world -- or, I should say, business -- is not really a match for me. My work is too weird, or too provocative, or too not what they want to work within the scope of what their machinery is equipped to handle. The problem was that I was unable to recognize, then accept that fact; instead, I kept trying to fit my round head into their square hole. It will never happen. So, self-publish.

Thankfully, the time has come for such things. Certainly, self-publishing is nothing new. From Areopagitica: "For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them." Why give your life force away? Every week, I get another shitty review copy of a book that I didn't request from a dying publishing house that, for some reason, has elected to spend I-don't-know-how-much to overnight it to me. I throw them in the garbage. If I wait to be published by them, I will die waiting.

As I've already mentioned, I "micropublished" my short story collection, You're a Bad Man, Aren't You?, with Future Tense Books, thanks to the kind Kevin Sampsell. I think we printed ... 600 copies? Maybe 700? And it sold out. I don't remember when, but quite some time ago. Now, for reasons that remain elusive to me, used copies are for sale on Amazon for $50 to $150. Which is absurd.

This was the clincher: "More on the Reality of a Times Bestseller" (via Boing Boing). "If I published only one book a year, and it did as well as this one, my net would be only around $2500.00 over the income level considered to be the US poverty threshhold." Juxtapose these two sentences: "After paying taxes, commission to my agent and covering my expenses, my net profit on the book currently stands at $24,517.36, which is actually pretty good since on average I generally net about 30-40% of my advance." And then later, this: "Speaking of comparisons, the publisher’s portion of sales on this book has grossed them around $453,839.68." The part I don't get is: Why does she keep on doing it? Does it feel that good to get fucked in the ass by Penguin?

Besides, I'm a control freak, and there's nothing a control freak likes better than complete creative control. But, who knows. I've got pages and pages to go before I finish this novel, or novella, I should say, and I seem to have lost the ability to sleep already. Every night, I dream of floods, and drowning, and I wake up in fits, and I can't go back to sleep. In my dreams, I've lost my way, and I've misplaced all my belongings, and I cannot locate my luggage to save my life. Such is the nature of going deep, I suppose: You run the risk drowning. So be it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Did you know I work for The Frisky? Well, it's true. I do. That's my day job. I write posts daily and do various other things. It's not a bad gig. In fact, it's a pretty good gig. In truth, I have no idea what I would do without it.

Recently, I wrote a post on women and porn. Usually, I stay away from this topic, because if you say anything negative you end up sounding like a nervous Nellie, and yet the reality is that it is not all cupcakes and daises. I kind of like the way this essay is constructed: as a slide show with words and images. Oprah did a show not long ago that prompted its writing. The show made me want to throw up. A bunch of broads spinning a bunch of lies about porn. Thanks, dumb asses.

Then, I wrote a post on what guys should do on a first date. This is pretty much a joke, because, in a weird way, I don't have that much dating experience, and I'm also pretty sure I'm a pretty horrible first date, with crimes including "frowning," "making jokes at my date's expense," and "refusing to pay." But my boss lady made me do it. Apparently, the guys at Manhood 101 didn't care for it, because they called me a "dumb cunt," a "dumb bitch," "fucking stupid," a "stupidfuck," a "gold digging cunt," a "hooker," and a "mindless cunt." Touché!

I also wrote about snail poop, men in prison, and H1N1 style.

So, if you've been sitting around wondering, What does Susannah spend her days doing?, that, my friend, is your answer.

Also, I wrote another 1,000 words of my novel, which I think is going to be a novella.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Yesterday, I decided to throw out my novel and start all over again. Yes, I am clinically insane. I believe I started writing that version of it in early 2008, and I've been working on it ever since. At one point, I had an agent for it, then I stopped working with that agent, and then I kept working on it. Over the last six months, I've been revising it, but I could not shake the growing feeling that it simply wasn't working. I wrote it at a certain time in my life, when my head was in a certain place, and I changed, and I couldn't make my head fit into that box anymore, and it got to the point where I simply couldn't stand it. I did this once before, with another version of the novel, in early 2005, so this is not entirely new. It was the right thing then, and it's the right thing now. I suppose, in theory, it's daunting and/or difficult, but nothing is worse than spending day after day working on a novel that simply doesn't work. So, I gave up.

Recently, I looked over some of the short stories that I wrote over the years. Someone asked me about this, so I picked it up and looked at it, and I read some of the stories in it. I looked at some other stories, too, including this one, which I didn't have a digital copy of, so I had to transcribe it, which helped, because it got me back into the language, and the cadences, and the way I used to write.

A series of things happened to me during 2005, which was my life's annus horribilis, and by the time that year was over, my head was different, the way it worked, and that eventually changed who I would become, although that person didn't really re/surface for a few years. For a long period of time after the hurricane (I was living in New Orleans at the time), I couldn't write. It's hard to explain, but there was a long time during which I sort of lost who I was. Maybe I hoped that person would come back, but that experience, and ones that preceded it and followed it, really changed the topography of my brain, and there was no going back. It was either move forward, or become Lot's wife.

The whole idea of this novel was that it was supposed to be the novel version of a short story I once wrote, the title story of my short story collection, "You're a Bad Man, Aren't You?" That story is told from the point of view of a pornographer. A "bad man," if you will. And the story was very easy for me to write. He was based on someone I met in the Valley. But every time I would go to write this novel in the seven or eight years since I wrote that story, I would shy away from that character. I guess it entails inhabiting the mind of a monster -- but he isn't really a monster, is he?

In any case, poring over those stories, and remembering what I used to write like before everything changed, and not being able to stand another day working on the last version of the novel led me to start writing the novel all over again, this time from the point of view of that pornographer, a man who may be a bad man, but one I love regardless. I started writing it last night, and it was easy, and it was fast, and it made me laugh. For the first time in what seems like forever, I wrote something that sounded like me, like someone I used to be, and someone I've become.

So, we'll see. Novels are slippery. The title is still HAPPY. (Oh, the irony!) The epigraph is here. I'm 1,000 words in.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I received this email yesterday from a young journalism student. So, it has come to this? It's all so very tragic.
Dear Ms. Breslin,
I am a student TV reporter from [redacted] College doing a story about online dating. My friend [redacted] told me you would be a great source. While I am failing at finding a good angle, my teacher demands that it be sensationalist. I need some sort of dark experience story or something quirky. I was thinking about dating sights for amputees/ injured soldiers coming back from war looking for love. I will take anything that I can film in Boston with. Would you know anybody who would be willing to talk on camera before Friday? That is my deadline for a mini-story. I really appreciate any kind of help and thank you for your time.
Very truly yours,
I'm sorry, A, I cannot help you in your quest for a sensationalist, amputee-addled love story.

Monday, November 30, 2009



1. Went back to Porn Valley, wrote and published an essay about it, loved it, hated it, got 850,000 page views, wished I could go back, turned my back on it, wondered if I should leave it all behind or do it again, again.

2. Drove to DC, got cold as fuck, holed up in a hotel, went to Walter Reed, saw a freaky baby girl in a jar, freaked out about it, wandered around the J. Edgar Hoover Building, saw stuffed wild animals attacking one another, drove home on a bridge that sat on the water and then dove under it, came back out the other side.

3. Flew to NYC, partied, drank, smoked, dated, saw the future, saw a graveyard, saw a woman dressed in meat, saw a man pretend to be Tolstoy wishing he was dead, came home, went to bed.

4. Worked on my novel, hated it, loved it, broke up with my agent, cried, gave up, tried again, despaired, conflicted, got really into it, concluded it was super great, sent it to some people, they loved it, they hated it, tried to finish it, revised it, wondered if it would ever end, if it was a Gordian knot, if it was the story of my life, if it was something in between.

5. Blogged, quit blogging, took a break from blogging, started a new blog, decided blogging was dead, decided I needed to blog, couldn't figure out how I got eaten by a blog, blogged, blogged again, blogged some more, couldn't figure out what to write about, wrote anyway, that is, blogged.

6. Took photographs, liked that it's one of the rare times in which I do not think, wanted to think less, thought too much about thinking less, went to sleep and never thought again, until I woke up and started thinking all over again.

7. Went on some dates, met some men, couldn't figure out what to do with them, heard Wendy when she said, "Keep your light on," cleaned the apartment, bought some clothes, lost some weight, got my hair done, kept the goddamn light on.

8. Did yoga, sucked, got better, relapsed, tried again, bowed, lay on the floor, sweating, in the dark, waiting for something to happen.

9. Decided I'd move to NYC, decided I'd move to DC, decided I'd move to LA, decided I can't stand people who can't make up their minds, tried to leave it all behind, wanted to let it all go, leaped, retreated, moved forward, went backwards, sailed in circles.

10. Got on my knees and prayed to God for a 2010 comeback, sat in the bathtub and thought, Asperges me, and waited for deliverance.

Friday, November 27, 2009


The other day, I was looking at this, and I was going through some of my books, and I found this, an anthology called Homewrecker to which I was asked to contribute several years ago, and which includes a story I wrote, "Belonging Impossible, Longing All There Is," which I believe I wrote in late 2004. In any case, I thought I would republish it here.


The relationship between the husband and the wife was in a bad state. The husband had cheated on the wife. Now, there were a great many walls between them. Something had to be done. One day, the wife woke up, and when the husband went to work, she went to the store around the corner. There, she bought herself a sledgehammer. She took the sledgehammer home, wrapped in a sheet of brown paper, and with it knocked down all the interior walls of the apartment in which they lived. That night, the husband returned home. He was surprised to find the mess the wife had made of their life. There was dust everywhere--in her hair, in his gin and tonic, in their underwear drawer. Over dinner, the husband asked the wife what she had done. The wife shrugged her shoulders and smiled at the husband as if to ask what else could she have done? At this, the husband realized he was sorry. From that point onward, the husband decided he would be true to her. Afterward, things were better. The husband and the wife could see each other when they were at home in their apartment; it was hard to hide anything from one another when everything could be seen. Eventually, the wife returned the sledgehammer to the store, explaining to the young man working behind the counter why she didn't need it anymore. For his part, the young man was helpful and obliging, as if he understood what the wife was saying, even though the young man was soft in a way that reminded the wife of the husband years ago. Later, the wife found herself in the storage room of the store, her rear end situated atop an unvarnished wooden workbench, where, it appeared, she was having sex with the young man from behind the counter. After that, the wife went home. In a way, she felt better, as if somehow things had swung back into balance, but she also felt worse, as if what had swung back into balance had at the same time lost its moorings altogether. She considered this as she made dinner. The husband was sitting in his armchair at the other end of the apartment with no walls. He appeared to be reading, but he was watching her from over the top of the newspaper that he was pretending to read. There was something different about her, he knew, and while he suspected it was unfamiliar to her, it was familiar to him. The wife looked over her shoulder at the husband, across the great expanse of space between them, and she recognized that she did not know what this situation was or what to do about it. The wife turned away from the husband. She went into the bathroom, the last room with walls. The husband came to the door and told the wife to come out, but she did not; she did not even reply. Instead, the wife sat on the lowered toilet seat lid, her chin on her palm, thinking about how while it had seemed on the outside that things had gotten better, she had come to find that on the inside, things were not better at all. The husband stood on the other side of the door, listening to whatever it was the wife was doing. The wife picked up a small dictionary sitting on the tank of the toilet, and she began reading out loud from it, making her way through the As. When she arrived at the word "adultery," she paused. She could hear the husband breathing on the other side of the door. Here was the entry and the meaning of the word. She read it loudly, as if she was trying to make some kind of a point. On the page, she could see, there was an illustration of an adulterer, a companion for the words that described it. She looked at the drawing, and she realized it was a portrait of herself; although, when she closed her eyes and opened them again, the drawing looked like her husband. It was hard to tell. On the other side of the door, the husband was frightened; the words the wife had spoken made him anxious, but the silence that had followed was unbearable. He asked the wife why she wouldn't come out so they could talk about this like adults. The wife heard what the husband was saying, but she didn't want to do that. There was nothing adult about any of this, especially when she had been in the storage room with her legs spread wide amidst all that white plumbing, feeling like she was fourteen again. The husband could hear the desperation in his voice as his words bounced off the bathroom door and back at him. It was impossible, he feared, to reach her. The wife stood in front of the bathroom mirror. She balanced the dictionary on her head like a beauty queen and pirouetted once, sticking her tongue out at the bathroom door. On the other side of the door, the husband fell to his knees, and through the keyhole demanded to know what she was doing. The wife got on her knees at the door. She could see the eye of the husband peering in at her through the keyhole. With one hand snaking up the wall, she turned the bathroom light on and off, watching the husband's pupil contract and dilate as she did so. She had a powerful effect on him, located at such a deep level that even he could not control it. In the past, this knowledge had kept her company, but she felt sad and lonely with it in the bathroom. The wife went to the bathtub and turned on both faucets, creating a racket that drowned out the husband. As the tub filled, the wife focused all her energies on ignoring the small person inside herself who wanted to turn the doorknob and let the husband into this interior of hers. She had to do something; she knew this. So, the wife took off her clothes, unlocked the door, ran across the bathroom, and leaped into the tub, submerging herself under the surface of the water. In one hand, she held a tampon insertion device, devoid of its tampon, above the water level. Through it, the wife breathed like the deep sea snorkeler she knew she could become if she dumped all this and moved to Australia, or Fiji, or some place like that. There the wife lay, staring at the ceiling. The husband's face entered the frame of her vision. The husband was talking to the wife, but she couldn't understand what he was saying because the only thing she could hear was the vast nothingness of water pressing in upon her, making her feel safe, which was all she had ever really wanted in life. If it was water that would be there for her in this, then water would be it. The wife watched the husband's mouth say the letter I, then M, then S, then O, then R, then another R, then a Y. She was angry, self-sunk in this sea of hers, because Y was it, wasn't it? Why the husband had done this. Why she had done this. Why they had come to this, her with a tampon insertion device in her mouth and him apologizing to her over a toilet. She could stay like this for the rest of her life, coming out only to de-prune and loll about on the bathroom rug, but it was possible that one night, gazing out the window and staring at the moon, thinking about the boy at the store, she might see the boy below her in the halo of the streetlamp, walking home with a young girl tucked under his arm, and the only thing she would be able to do would be to toss a roll of toilet paper out the window at him. Here, at least, the husband was sorry. The wife moved the tube to her eye so she could see the husband better through her periscope. It looked like he was crying, there was something falling from his eyes, but the wife couldn't tell if it was tears or not, since she was in the water. She had to know. She sat up in the tub, and she threw the tampon insertion device across the room. The husband stood limp before her. The only thing the husband knew was that he didn't know what he knew anymore or what to do about it. The wife waited. Slowly, the husband peeled off his clothes, and he climbed into the tub, sitting in the water across from the wife, so the two of them faced one another. There they were, this husband and this wife, two piles of skin stretched over taut muscles hung on fragile bones. He had done something terrible, put himself out for sale on a fluorescent-lit supermarket aisle like a package of chicken parts, all pink flesh and yellow skin, and some woman had come along, eyed his price tag, checked his expiration date, and thrown him into her basket. He had gone home with her, laying himself upon her plate, sacrificing himself to this cannibal of their marriage, making a totemic feast of their life. Still, the husband and the wife knew there was something here between them, something more dim than bags of meat and bone. They had slipped out of one body, into the arms of others, and, within these four walls, discovered they only had each other. They were intertwined like legs under a table, on loan between God and the grave, two books checked out from the library with a debt to be repaid. Belonging impossible, longing all there is, he was the man of her days, she was the apple of his eyes, and it was in each other's company that they hoped they would one day die.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009


TORO Magazine interviewed me about "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?"
Q: What do you think of the psychological, emotional unease that runs through your narrative, the sense that working in porn has become harder?

A: It's tough. Being a porn star isn't easy. I don't fully understand why that's some kind of a shock for people. What did they think? That getting fucked in the ass for a living was a fun time?
There's also a gallery of my photographs.

TORO: "The Business of Porn."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I've written previously about Condition: Critical, an online project created by MSF, otherwise known as Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders. The project focuses on the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo, particularly the women and children who have been victimized by a civil war in which rape is used as a war tactic.

(For expert coverage of the conflict, Jeffrey Gettleman does it better than anyone else. See: "Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War" and "Rape Victims' Words Help Jolt Congo Into Change.")

Today is the launch day of the final chapter of Condition: Critical. This week, the site will feature a series of videos, including that of Françoise, who was severely burned when her home was set on fire, and the door locked. One of her children died in the fire. The other died at the hospital.
Whichever way I look, forward or back, I can't see a beginning or an end. I ask myself, how will I live my life? The pain of my body is bearable. It's nothing compared to the wounds in my heart.
If you want to donate to MSF, you can do so here.

[Condition: Critical, YouTube, Blip]

Monday, November 23, 2009


Today, I got my contributor's copy of the new issue of Fray in the mail. The theme is "Sex & Death."

For my contribution, I wrote about The Letters Project, a year-long, two-part online project I created, which consisted of Letters from Johns and Letters from Working Girls.
If the question is, Why do men pay for sex?, their answers are legion. Because they're lonely. Because they're bored. Because their wives won't screw them. Because they're stressed out. Because they want somebody to touch them. Because they want to fuck. Because girls are pretty. Because sex is everything that they aren't feeling. Because they can.
The issue also includes two letters from the project.

"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 Am a Journalist Call Girl":
I am not terribly good at writing letters, which is strange because my day job is one for which I write constantly. I am a journalist call girl. Or at least I was, until recently. I met someone. I quit before he had a chance to ask me to. It's just easier that way.
The illustration editor is my pal Chris Bishop, who created the site for and illustrated "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?" Other contributors include Dan Savage, Jack Boulware, and my friend Eric Spitznagel.

Thank you to Fray creator Derek Powazek for including me.

You can buy a copy here.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Ever since I stopped writing about you know what all the time, I have no idea what to blog about. In the meantime, I can't decide whether to move to NYC or DC next, probably in January.

In that spirit, I created a poll, which can be found in the left-hand sidebar of this blog. Since I couldn't make up my mind, I figured I'd let random strangers decide.

Your choices are: a.) NYC, b.) DC, and c.) Mars. If you all vote for Mars, I guess I'll have to do some additional research. If you all choose either NYC or DC, I'll move wherever wins. The poll decides at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Remember, my future is in your hands. Vote with reckless impunity.

Have a great weekend, because you're awesome, and you voted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


One of the highlights of my trip to New York City last week was a visit to The Strand, one of the oldest bookstores in the city, which features 18 miles of books. I about died. It was this book-lovers dream come true.

And it wasn't just the books, right? The place was packed, filled with people who had come from all over the city and all over the world to stare at, and fondle, and buy books. Nothing but books, everywhere you looked.

In 2005, I lost most of my books, but I am slowly replacing them. I bought a trio of Faulkners -- As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and The Sound and the Fury -- and I even found a copy of a book I never expected to find, City of Glass: The Graphic Novel. I've read them all before, but nothing beats having them in your possession. Then they're there for you whenever you need them.

When I got home, I started re-reading As I Lay Dying, which is probably my favorite Faulkner novel, although that's like picking your favorite child.
And at night it is better still. I used to lie on the pallet in the hall, waiting until I could hear them all asleep, so I could get up and go back to the bucket. It would be black, the shelf black, the still surface of the water a round orifice in nothingness, where before I stirred it awake with the dipper I could see maybe a star or two in the bucket, and maybe in the dipper a star or two before I drank. After that, I was bigger, older.
I wondered what agents and editors would say today if Faulkner wasn't Faulkner. What's with the bucket, Bill? Enough with the bucket already! Get on with it and tell the damn story.

Last night, I dreamed I was trapped in a bathroom with Paul Auster. I put my hands over my face in horror. "The only way this could have been worse is if this was Faulkner!" I wailed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


What I've been listening to lately ...

The Scientists, "We Had Love."

Diddy and Dirty Money, "Love Come Down."

Beyonce and Lady Gaga, "Video Phone."

Optimus Gryme remix of Lil' Wayne, "A Milli."

Denots MCs, "Movimiento."

Nicki Minaj, "I Get Crazy."

Ohio Players, "Pain" (via Kevin Depew).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Here's an excerpt from my novel, Happy, and a photo I took last week of Andy Warhol's Skull at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Over time, there was a certain numbing. Occasionally, it was as if he was observing his actions through a pane of smoked glass. With increasing frequency, he awoke from night terrors in which he could not locate his firearm. In the company of Charon's chattel, he had been forced to admit that whatever delicate system enabled him to do this job was likely being irreparably damaged by doing it. Of course, it was hard to know, when you were surrounded by homicidal maniacs, when you bore witness to death every day you lived, when you got home at night and the guy in the mirror looked a lot like you, only deader.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Back from trip to New York. Spent, tired, sleepy. Trip was way better than I expected.

I took this photograph of a girl statue in some hall at the Met.

She was sleeping, amongst the Warhols and Pollocks.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Having an amazing time in NYC.

Plan is to move here early next year.

I. Can't. Wait.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Party for The Frisky at 1 Oak. L to R: Drew, Wendy, me, Joanne, Jason. Wendy was the dance floor queen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today, I came to New York City. Hopefully, I will never leave. Not soon, anyway.

Linda worried the whole flight. I, on the other hand, never worry.

Hello, lovah.

Later, she will shake her groove thing on the dance floor, and you will think, is this New York?, shaking your booty?, if so, I want more.

I am Michael Clayton.

Does your bathroom look like this? Me thinks not. We spent the night at a party, but I didn't bring my camera, because I wanted to remember how things were, not what they looked like.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


In the early part of next year, I'll likely be moving. To either NYC or DC. But I can't decide which one. DC would enable me to do a new project that I've had in mind for some time. NYC would be, well, a dream.

I don't remember a time when I didn't want to live in NYC. My father grew up in Brooklyn, in Flatbush. I love it because it is larger than life, like me.

DC is sort of like the opposite of everything I know. Cold as fuck. Built like a prison. A weird kind of wunderkammer, if you dig deep enough in the right spots.

For a while, I was hoping I would return to LA, but it seems like that's not going to happen. The old life is dead. The only question that remains is where the new one begins.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Looking for more photojournalism on the web? Like big pictures? Here are some of the photojournalism sites that I check daily ...

Lens. As usual, the does it better than anyone else. Nice emphasis on keeping it timely, understanding words are as important as images, and bringing compelling stories alive in dynamic ways. Often focuses on the stories behind the images. A few favorites: "In Dark Corners, Hope," "To Publish or Not?", "Chop and Crop," "Digital Manipulation," "Afghanistan."

Photo Journal. The Wall Street Journal's online daily roundup of photojournalism. Sometimes shocking, sometimes schlocky, the large format and brilliant colors make up for what's lacking in terms of originality. Where to go to get the day's news in pictures. Here: "A mental patient participated in a therapy session at the Galuh foundation in East Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday. The facility houses underprivileged mental patients. (Beawiharta/Reuters)"

The Big Picture. How the Boston Globe got it right before anyone else will forever remain a mystery, but The Big Picture set the bar high on large format news pics and remains the king of visual storytelling. The only problem is that posting is definitely not daily and seems somewhat irregular. Still, searing, encompassing stories like "2009 UN World Drug Report" have no peer.