Monday, December 31, 2012

Interview with a female skydiving instructor

I finished off this year of my Forbes blog with an inspiring interview. The post is part of a series I started this year: "Hey, [Your Name Here], How'd You Get That Job?" So far, I've interviewed an adult movie editor, a death revolutionary, a young entrepreneur, and a blogger.

I'd spent some time looking around for my next subject online, and I think I'd decided a woman who was gutsy enough to jump out of airplanes would probably have something to teach young women about overcoming fear in the professional and personal realms.

Here's my favorite quote from skydiving instructor Jen Sharp, who you see in the photo above (taken by Emily Royal) free falling and working on a laptop at the same time:

"Skydiving makes me feel both vulnerable and powerful at the same time."


Friday, December 28, 2012

Be more creative now

If you're looking to get inspired on how to get more creative in 2013, I recommend The Oatmeal's "Some Thoughts and Musings About Making Things for the Web."

There's been quite a bit of back and forth debate lately over whether The Oatmeal is a comic god or an SEO hack, but I think he's great.

He's prone to bleeding in public, which, of course, is a good thing.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Without a doubt, the blockbuster post of my Forbes blog this year was: "The Hardest Thing About Being a Male Porn Star."

Because I've worked previously in helping entertainment sites generate more traffic, I tend to have a sense of what will get a lot of clicks and what won't. But I really had no idea this post would become my most popular post of the year and the third most popular post in the section where my blog resides on

I was surprised and continue to be surprised by the amount of traffic the post gets. So far, it has over 300,000 views, and it's the all-time most popular post on my blog.

Originally, the post was simply a series of quotes from the male porn stars I'd interviewed, but my smart editor pushed me to expand it and present it as a series of work tips.

I'm sure my failure to fully understand the popularity of the post has to do with the fact that I'm not a man. I think the subject matter appeals in a way that I simply cannot comprehend. But I wrote a post pondering that question: "Why Men Want to Be Porn Stars."
In an era in which “The End of Men” is being heralded, you can imagine the appeal of the male porn star fantasy to the Average Joe. The job of the Male Porn Star is unequivocally, undeniably male — so literally, one depends on one’s manhood to do it. This is what you are paid for as a male porn star: to be a man.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wedding bridge

Wedding Bridge, Shanghai, China

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I give it a meh.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What I'm reading

I don't know why I've been reading books like these lately, but I have. They're Tony Robbinsish. They're absurd.

Friday, December 21, 2012


These pink boxing gloves look like the perfect gift for the stylish postfeminist.
Everlast Pink 12-oz. Protex2 Training Gloves, $44.99
Found here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bride of Frankenstein's monster

I found this crazy fashion photo on my favorite fashion blog, Fashion Copious.

The players: Harper's Bazaar China, Daphne Guinness, David LaChapelle. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Marriage market

Marriage Market, Shanghai, China

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Om mani padme hum

Lately I've been doing a lot more yoga. I've been averaging four to five times a week. It helps mentally and physically.

I'd gotten overwhelmed between: different types of exercise, diet options, and whether to get on the scale or not. In the end, I decided that I would go to yoga more, and that would be that.

The key to going to yoga is not to think about going to yoga.

That said, the type of therapy that is appropriate for you really depends on who you are, your life experiences, and what transforms you into who you want to be.

[via Kottke]

Monday, December 17, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

I remember one night

I've got a new post up at The War Project, featuring Justin Savage.
I remember one night we camped out on the Iraq-Kuwait border on the way in. I’m there in my sleeping bag on a cot in the middle of dry, nothing desert. No landmark, no land features, nothing.
Read the rest here.

On a related note: I'm having some trouble with the Tumblr template I downloaded for that project. I'm using Synthesis, which is supposed to display images at high-res. But when I upload the photos, it compresses them to 500 pixels wide, and then stretches them to a non-high-res image on the Tumblr. Know how to resolve this issue? Email

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Beasts are better

Unfortunately, the tiny, powerful star of "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Quvenzhané Wallis, was not nominated for a Golden Globe this morning.

My first encounter with the movie was by way of a trailer in a theater. Later, I reported on its existence to Clayton Cubitt, who was already aware of it. My comment was sneering. His was positive.

Recently trapped on a long flight, I watched the movie. It is terrific. Wallis is phenomenal.

I haven't seen a ton of Hurricane Katrina movies, but I'm going to go bold and declare this one the best.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This is matter

Yesterday I talked to Jim Giles, one of the editors of Matter, a new digital platform publishing "unmissable journalism about science, technology and the ideas shaping our future."

The first story they've published is "Do No Harm," which seeks to answer the question: "Why do some people want to cut off a perfectly healthy limb?"
SITTING AT HOME in a small, somewhat rural American town not too far from the ocean, Patrick recalled the day his wife found out about his obsession. It was during the mid-‘90s. As with almost all BIID sufferers, Patrick was fascinated with amputees, so he began downloading pictures of them off the Internet and printing them out. One day his wife was sitting in front of their computer, while Patrick sat in a wingback chair. She noticed a pile of printouts. They were images of men, but “completely clothed, no nudes or anything like that.” It was an awkward moment. “She was thinking that maybe I was gay,” Patrick recalls. “I must have been crimson.” Patrick asked her to take a closer look. She did, and soon realised that the men were all amputees.
I'm talking to them about possibly doing a story for Matter. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing their next piece, which sounds like it will be online soon.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stop talking

I wrote a post on my Forbes blog about "How to Interview People."
For a story I did on the adult movie industry and the recession, I interviewed adult movie director Jim Powers.

I’d interviewed Powers before and know him. During the interview, which took place in his office with a desk between us, I failed to get a rise out of him.

Eventually, I did.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The things she carried

I came across this post by Susie Cagle on her blog. Susie does really amazing work. She's kind of an illustrated journalist, which is maybe something like the living embodiment of an illuminated manuscript.

I particularly loved her interactive field reporting kit post. You can see what she carries to create her unique work. Click here to experience the post's cool interactivity and learn more.

I found Susie's work through Symbolia, the new bible of comics journalism. There's an interview with her here.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Chanel mannequin

Chanel Mannequin, Shanghai, China

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The War Project

I've got a new post up at The War Project. The project has a new home online and a new format.

This is Dan Casara's story:
For three weeks, I didn’t know that Sgt. [redacted] and Sgt. [redacted] had been killed in action.

When I found out that they were dead, it was like from that weekend on, I couldn’t sleep without some type of aid.

To this day, I need medicine to sleep.
If you're interested in learning more or getting involved, or know someone who is: email me.

Thanks to Dan for sharing his story.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Dancer, Shanghai, China

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

That's a wrap

Check out my "30 Days of Freelancing" series on Forbes:
At some point, I read a quote from Andy Warhol that I loved:
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Monday, November 26, 2012


Head, Chicago, Illinois

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Are you following my "30 Days of Freelancing" series on Forbes?

It's like a marathon, and I'm a sprinter.

Check it out.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I get email

Hello my name is [redacted]. I live in [redacted] Florida. I have done under the table work for an escort service that one of my buddies work for. I have been there a few months but would love to start a new adventurous career in the porn industry. I love to meet new people. Im pretty well put and out spoken. Im experienced in my field whether call it a field of work which it is. If u know of anybody that can help me become the person i wanna be i promise that i will not let u down. Im a great man to my word and i have a loving family to look after. My email is [redacted] Thank you for your time and have a wonderful day.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mannequin man

Mannequin Man, Chicago, Illinois

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hey, lonely freelancer

I spent some time this week interviewing freelancers about what they like and don't like about their jobs. The results are pretty interesting.

My favorite answer I used in the title: "You Are All Alone." I think that's the hardest part about freelancing: the isolation.

I also liked this:
“Be kind. Don’t be a drama queen. Show up on time and do the work without complaining. Ask questions. Be honest and direct. Ignore the comment section. Trust your editors. Make sure you get everything (money-wise) in writing. And again: be kind, be kind, be kind.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I got this painting by Chris Bishop. The title is "Bad Memory." It's really awesome.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I get email

Would you like to do a piece for your forbes column? I got a memoir on work as a regulator in the funeral industry and an engineer as well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mannequin close up

Mannequin, Chicago, Illinois

Monday, November 12, 2012

7 habits

Freelancer? Independent contractor? I've got "7 Habits of Highly Effective Freelancers":
4. Diversify yourself.
I’m a journalist. I’m a pundit. I’m a copywriter. I’m a photographer. I’m a blogger. Who are you today?

Friday, November 9, 2012


Over at my Forbes blog I'm doing a series called "30 Days of Freelancing." If you can't figure out what it is, for 30 days, I'm blogging about freelancing.

Probably the hardest thing about doing it is that I have to post every day. This means you have to do it. You can't not feel like it.

Of course, this is what's good about it -- it forces you to go places you might not go otherwise.

Here's an excerpt from Day 8:
TIP #2: Don’t mix metaphors.
I spend approximately 10 minutes of my weekly 50 minute therapy session discussing the aforementioned issue.
“I want to stop burning bridges,” I tell my shrink. I rattle off a list of bridges I’ve burned over the years.
My shrink tells me that my problem isn’t burning bridges; it’s that I’m not swinging for the fences.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I've got a new interview up on Interviews with Johns: "The Correctional Officer."
What’s the relationship between your work and visiting escorts?

I’m not sure there is a relationship. Obviously, after swearing an oath to uphold the law and avoid behaving in any way that would bring the [redacted] into disrepute, I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. But let’s be clear, I started doing this long before I started working in law enforcement. My job is something I do a few days a week. Outside of that, I could care less about law enforcement.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Smiling woman

Smiling Woman, Chicago, Illinois

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I get email

You beast.  You lovely monster.  The three-headed gatekeeper of dreamlands.  I'm tempted to run from your nasty spell and cry myself silly until I don't believe in you anymore.  But you have seduced me with your conviction.  There is no arguing with your fervor.
My wife just came in and saw that paragraph and I'm sure freaked out a tiny bit as she calmly asked, "Who are you writing?"

I quickly explained how I read your article about why not to be a writer and how powerful and terrifying it was and that I needed to write you for my own sake and that it was not a love letter.  

She said as she smiled sweetly, "I know."

What does she know?  That I shouldn't be a writer?  That she thinks it's cute that I'm playing my writing games on the computer late at night?  That it actually is a love letter but not to but to myself?

Well thank you Susannah Breslin for sliding a broken plate full of rusty knife points and dirty glass shards onto my seat cushion just as I was sitting down.

You are absolutely right.  I shouldn't be a writer.    
And yet, who should?


Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear Johns

While Letters from Johns is no longer active, I've recently launched Interviews with Johns.

So far, I've heard from a site reliability engineer:
There was a lot of overlap with business travel. Earlier when I was at a startup, I was’t dating at all and was working 80-100 hours weeks, it just seemed easier. 
And a teacher:
I answered an ad on an escort site. This was before Craigslist or Backpage. She was an olde lady in a trailer park who walked me through the process. It was fun, but not hot. I forgot to pay her I was so on edge. I drove back to give her the money and she was really nice about that too.
If you're interested in being interviewed by email -- it's anonymous -- you can email me at susannahbreslin at gmail.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Diary of a freelancer

I'll be doing a new series on my Forbes blog this month: "30 Days of Freelancing."

I decided to do the series for a couple of reasons.

1) I didn't feel like I was getting enough done, and I wanted to get a bit more meta about the process.

2) I was focusing on getting less done, and I wanted a forum where I could explore that.

Those two things seem contradictory, but this is the nature of human existence.
Have you heard of the slow food movement? It’s part of the slow movement. Apparently, there’s something called the slow work movement. Pete Bacevice is its philosopher.

I decide I’m a recovering workaholic. The slow work movement will be my Alcoholics Anonymous. I will take 30 days to become a slower worker.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why men pay for it

Yesterday, I posted that I was reading Chester Brown's Paying for It. Basically, it's an autobiographical graphic novel about how Brown paid prostitutes for sex.

I think I got it yesterday in the mail and finished it last night. Generally speaking, I didn't really like it.

Mostly, it's depressing. Which isn't to say it's not accurate. I got the sense it was very accurate. Brown kept a diary of when he did who, and that's the structure that guides the narrative.

But Brown is a nerd/robot, and because of that, you don't get -- well, I was going to say, much in the way of feeling, but really you don't get any feeling at all.

Brown feels kind of dead.

Dead to me. To him, I think he feels like himself. He's very mechanical. Logical. Thorough.

But it's sort of like watching someone fuck a hole in the wall.

You get glimpses of the women, who are mostly disguised -- by speech bubbles over their faces or the absence of specific details -- but not a lot.

Mostly, I felt like the book read like a polemic that was pretending to be a diary. Brown is a fan of the legalization of prostitution. Which is fine. I don't have a problem with that.

There's a lot about his troubles with love, but in the end, it's like his real issue is a lack of ... passion.

Which left me feeling like I ate a sandwich with nothing in it. 

Aesthetically, I loved it. It's all tiny boxes, and little opaque people, and the sex scenes are like a sperm trying to penetrate an egg. I liked the way it looked the best.

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.



Friday, September 28, 2012

Who are you?

So far I've gotten two letters for my new project: Letters from Cheaters.

Like the site that started the Letters Project, Letters from Johns, the letters read primarily as confessions.

While the Cheaters project is open to both men and women, the first two letters I've gotten have been from women.

I'm curious to get letters from men. Why did you cheat? Tell your story anonymously HERE.


Thursday, September 27, 2012


Statue, Chicago, Illinois

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I get email

Hey my name is shamika I want to maje money and I was thinking about starting a blog or something on teens with baby fever turn it into diagnosed medical problem and just a reality issue. Please email me back with idea's and how to get started thank you

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why do you cheat? [UPDATED]

I've been working The Letters Project since 2008, when I launched Letters from Johns.
I have been a john, off and on, since that crazy year. I've paid for sex with college girls in Seattle while on my way to Japan. I spent an extra two days in Frankfurt, returning from my last tour in Iraq, just to spend some Euros in one of the various Eros Centers. I've picked up streetwalkers for a twenty dollar blow job, and I've spent as much as five hundred bucks (not including a room and dinner afterwards). I've crossed the South Texas border for weekend sex jaunts. When I was stationed in Japan, I even took a week-long trip to Thailand for the single-minded purpose of fucking, fucking, and more fucking. -- I Am Ashamed of Nothing I Have Done
After that, I created Letters from Working Girls.
Yes, we had the foot fetishists, the slaves, the others. These guys always had to pay extra, so most of us liked doing them. 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. -- I Wanted Them to Leave Happy
Then I did Letters from Men Who Watch Porn.
Like a train wreck, baby: my eyes are inexorably drawn in to the center of scene, blood flow increases to the cerebral cortex, and my brain and body respond as programmed by thousands of years of evolution coursing through veins. -- I Began to Feel Abnormal
Which was followed by Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs.
My fiancee is a knockout, and has a great body that I get plenty of enjoyment from, including a naturally fantastic chest on a slim figure. We have a healthy sex life. She considers herself more sexually adventurous than me, and in some ways that may be right. But of course I can't talk to her about the fake boobs thing. It's not that I would even want her to get them. And of course, that's not the type of fetish that she and I could enjoy in the privacy of our bedroom. It's an in your face kind of thing. -- I Have a Fetish for Big Fake Boobs
Now I'm looking for Letters from Men Who Cheaters.

[UPDATE: I've revised this project to include men and women who have cheated.]

Why did you cheat?

Your letters remain anonymous.


Monday, September 24, 2012


Check out this awesome portrait photographer Daniel Shea did of me for the Telegraph.

You can see the rest of his work here:


Friday, September 21, 2012

Don't be a boob

Read my latest post on Forbes: "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You More Creative."
The day after my last chemo treatment, I went to a porn convention and wrote about it. What was I thinking? I had to double-check the dates just now. I must have been out of my mind. I was very tired. And bald. But I had something to prove to myself. I was angry I had cancer. If I’d run into cancer at a bar, I would’ve beaten the crap out of it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Quote of the day

But what really interests me ultimately is not to record the past, so much as how people live with the past and get on with it. There’s a kind of fetishization of memory in our culture. Some of it comes from the experience and the memorial culture of the Holocaust—the injunction to remember. And it also comes from the strange collision of Freud and human rights thinking—the belief that anything that is not exposed and addressed and dealt with is festering and going to come back to destroy you. This is obviously not true. Memory is not such a cure-all. On the contrary, many of the great political crimes of recent history were committed in large part in the name of memory. The difference between memory and grudge is not always clean. Memories can hold you back, they can be a terrible burden, even an illness. Yes, memory—hallowed memory—can be a kind of disease. That’s one of the reasons that in every culture we have memorial structures and memorial days, whether for personal grief or for collective historical traumas. Because you need to get on with life the rest of the time and not feel the past too badly. I’m not talking about letting memory go. The thing is to contain memory, and then, on those days, or in those places, you can turn on the tap and really touch and feel it. The idea is not oblivion or even denial of memory. It’s about not poisoning ourselves with memory.
-- Philip Gourevitch

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I get email

I am working hard and hardly working.
One time I learned from a co worker that its wrong to let pride get in the way of your pocket book...
Too me it ment many of things...
I dug. And Dug... Until something clicked...And I will only share it with you...Philosopy is a gamble because its not percise...and gambling is a philosophy in which the more you play the better your odds are...
So thanks for today yestersay nd tomorrow... 
My email is real.... 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Robot, San Diego, California

Monday, September 17, 2012

This is obscene

Please read "The Obscenity Police Are Coming," my latest on Forbes.

Basically I got tired of writing shit advice posts on my Forbes blog. How to do this. How to do that. The only reason people write advice shit is because they don't know how to do the thing. So take heed when you take advice.

I wanted to stop doing that. Which wasn't a super easy choice. Because shit posts about stupid things tend to get you a lot of traffic. Then people write you emails telling you how inspired they were by your words. And before you know it, you are a shit-turner-outer. Because it gets you paid and it gets you appreciated. So why would you stop doing that?

Only that's not good enough. So I decided I would stop writing shit, and I would start working on getting better at doing journalism again. So I did that.

I wrote about cupcakes first -- "A Cupcake ATM Dispenses Love" -- because that was easy. I felt sort of intimidated -- intimidated by cupcakes: sigh -- so I told myself it was a photo essay. And I took a bunch of photos to distract myself. Then I told myself the text was just captioning for the photos. And then it was done. So I posted that.

Of course, that was sort of silly. So I wanted to do something more serious. So I wrote: "Is Apple a Sin Stock?" That intimidated me for other reasons. Because it was about finance. And I don't know anything about finance. Or Apple, really. Other than I use their products.

So when I called up, say, the portfolio manager, I wrote the questions out beforehand, and I didn't say much other than ask the questions, because I didn't want them to realize how much I didn't know. I ended up really liking the portfolio manager. He was interested in the ideas of things rather than numbers, and I liked that. We had something in common, which I did not expect.

I also talked to a priest for that piece. I asked the priest if something bad that had happened to me was because I had sinned, because I was a sinner. He said no. He said that can't be the case because bad things happen to babies, and what have they done wrong? He said why God makes us suffer is a mystery, and when he said this I understood that he meant pondering this question, why does God make us suffer?, was maybe the thrust of his life, and if maybe I spent the rest of my days pondering this question, that would be enough. Because there is no answer. Only the question.

Then I read about how Romney would maybe launch a war on porn if elected, so I decided to write about that. "The Obscenity Police Are Coming" is what I called it. Usually, I write the title first. This time, the title came later.

I talked to an anti-pornographer, and a pornographer who went to trial and got off. I talked to a lawyer who defended a man who dealt in scat and bestiality porn, and then I talked to the man who made the scat and bestiality porn.

That man is Ira Isaacs. I talked to Ira years ago, before his first trial had started. Now it was three trials and an appeal to the Supreme Court and four years later, and Ira had been convicted and was telling me how long his sentence might be.

I like Ira. I always have. I told Ira I would visit him in prison. And I meant it.

I also told Ira that I would let you know that if you want to donate to his defense fund, you can email him here:

I also talked to a porn star and budding pornographer named Sovereign Syre. I couldn't link to her blog from my Forbes post because she posts too many sexy naked photos of herself, but you can look at her naked here

One of my favorite parts of the piece was the fact that photographer J.M. Darling allowed me to publish a photo he took of Sovereign at the top of my post. See. I think that photo made the piece. Thank you, Mr. Darling.

At first, the post didn't get a lot of traffic, but then it did, because it blew up on Reddit. Probably by the end of today it will be the all-time-most-read piece I've done for Forbes. So far it's gotten 153,000 views. At one point, it was the #1 most read post on And another post I wrote, "The Hardest Thing About Being a Male Porn Star," was #3. 

Now I want to do more in-person reporting. The Apple piece and the obscenity piece were mostly phoners.

I am best in the flesh. So that's where I am going.


Friday, September 14, 2012


Believe, Manhattan Beach, California

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Advice from me

I'm going to be speaking at the Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon, Georgia, October 5 - 7, 2012.

I'm part of the Freelancers Summit headlined by Kevin Maurer, coauthor of No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden.

I'm be talking about how to thrive in the gig economy.

Here's their interview with me: "Don't Be Boring."
M: You talk a lot about ‘the hustle’ specifically that being a good marketer, traffic pusher, and editor of your own writing is increasingly important in the freelancing world.  Any specific tips and/or suggestions on how to become a kick ass and take names hustler and/or improve one’s hustling skills?
S: Your article isn’t going to read itself. You published something online, and nobody’s reading it. That’s probably because you thought writing it was enough. It isn’t. Send out the link to your piece to anybody of influence who may be interested in it. That’s networking on behalf of your prose. It’s not enough to write. You must also work to be read.