“…fascinating, stimulating and somewhat randy.”
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
two years before Erica Jong's Fear of Flying, Xaviera Hollander's The
Happy Hooker remains not only a classic taboo-buster, but one of the
earliest flashpoints of sex-positive feminist writing to have emerged
from the '70s sexual revolution. Robert Dunlap's documentary
(co-written by Madame X herself) contextualizes the life and work of
Hooker's notorious author, from her introduction to prostitution
through her present-day iconic stature. It's been a long journey from
Hollander's deportation to today's almost comical plethora of porny
bios. With clips and testimonials featuring everyone from Larry King to
Candida Royalle, Xaviera gives us a fascinating roadmap."
– Stephen Gossett flavorpill/Chicagoure guide
‘Happy Hooker’ documentary not what one might expect.
“The legendary call girl-turned-author could fill 50 films with her X-rated exploits alone, but documentarian Robert Dunlap chose not to focus solely on that part of her life… Dunlap does a masterful job of avoiding gratuitous footage or soundbites… Whatever one might think about Hollander or her career choice, viewers of this film will leave the experience feeling as far away from dirty as possible.”
Xaviera Hollander, “The Happy Hooker”: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary made its world premier in the City of Brotherly Love at the Philadelphia Independent film Festival.
As I sat, stuffed on a small loveseat, preparing for the film’s debut,
I thought it very possible I would not care for the documentary’s subject matter at all. I was absolutely smitten by The Happy Hooker!
Xaviera Hollander made waves in the 1970’s with her bestselling book The Happy Hooker: My Own Story – a memoir that recounts the author’s work as a prostitute and a high class New York Madame as well as her experiences with S&M, lesbianism, and the law.
Hollander has gone on to write eighteen other books with topics ranging from the kinky, The Happy Hooker’s Guide to Sex: 69 Orgasmic Ways to Pleasure a Woman, to the sincere Child No More, a memoir of her mother’s passing.
Though her books are marketed as tell-alls, Hollander decided a documentary film might better complete her legendary life and demystify her iconic status. Hollander co-wrote Xaviera Hollander, “The Happy Hooker”: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary with director Robert Dunlap.
The film begins with a psychedelic montage of Xaviera Hollander waving to fans and embracing her celebrity status. In just seconds, the movie’s tone turns much more serious as Hollander narrates, in a style reminiscent of poetry, her family’s history in the Japanese concentration camps of World War II. Hollander was released from the perils of torture and starvation at the age of three. The film documents her very early childhood before jumping rather abruptly to the story of “Teenage Lovers and Lesbians”, an account of Hollander’s bi-curious adolescence.
Though I wish Hollander had spent a little more time talking about her transition from a beautiful blonde little girl to a sexual siren, I was nevertheless fascinated by what insightful, articulate, and introspective narrative she did offer up about her budding sexuality.
Most interesting were Hollander’s notes on the old cliché that “women marry men like their fathers.” According to Hollander, she
experienced her first orgasm on her father’s lap while he spanked her for her teenaged indiscretion. Since then, she has always fallen in love with men who fulfilled that paternal image.
From there, the picture goes on to discuss Hollander’s introduction to prostitution. According to her, a friend suggested that she was sitting on “a gold mine”, sleeping with many men a week for free, when her irresistible charm could make her hobby a business.
The rest is history and the film whips back into the whirlwind of Hollander’s past and present lives: her position as a pioneer for the
concept of “whore-pride”, her literary career, her call girl encounters with clients such as Alfred Hitchcock, her struggles with motherhood, and the discovery of her eventual, everlasting love.
Evenly interspersed throughout the film are media clips of notable television interviews between Hollander and Larry King, as well as testaments to Hollander by some of the country’s most renowned sexologists. With respect to its variety of media, Happy Hooker is an excellent composition.