Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Whatever Happened To...The Happy Hooker?


Remember her? Her name is Xaviera Hollander and she took the book world by storm back in 1971 with her autobiographical account of life as a high class call girl and madam.

She was born Vera de Vries in the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1943, spending the first two years of her life in a Japanese internment camp. The family returned to Holland after the war and some years later, Xaviera was voted Holland's best secretary. She learned to speak half a dozen languages and was certainly not short on intelligence - or business acumen.

By 1968, following a short spell in South Africa, she was living in New York, and had left her secretarial job in favour of $1000 a night as a high class call girl. In her book, she states that she loved sex and, initially didn't charge. Her lovers thought differently and paid her anyway - with money and gifts - so her new career was born.

Her brothel, the Vertical Whorehouse, became the most successful in New York and her clients included a number of Hollywood 'A' Listers. She alleged that Alfred Hitchock was one of them. He apparently liked to dress up as a corpse and lie in a coffin. He got his kicks, so she says, from scaring the girls by suddenly sitting bolt upright.




Her blockbuster memoir, The Happy Hooker, broke new ground in its celebration of sex and the frank language used. Perfect for its time, it reflected the new permissive age and shocked almost everyone over thirty-five!

Arrested for prostitution in the same year her book was published, Xaviera was forced to leave the United States but, with her customary fearlessness and tenacity, she bounced back. A longrunning advice column in Penthouse followed, as well as a (mostly) spoken word album on which she talked about her views on sex and prostitution, sang The Beatles' Michelle and included several simulated sex sessions. An erotic board game (Xaviera's Game) appeared in 1974, and 1975 found her starring in My Pleasure Is My Business - based on her own life.

She moved to Canada (where she married an antique dealer) but, in 1997, began a long term gay relationship with a Dutch female poet called Dia.



Through the ensuing years, Xaviera has remained actively involved in many creative and artistic pursuits, including theatre production, performing (no, not THAT way) and is delighted to be involved in a musical based on her life, called The Happy Hooker. She lectures, is a frequent TV guest and has written some eighteen books.

For some years now, she has lived in Amsterdam where, in 2005, she established a bed and breakfast establishment called Xaviera's Happy House which she runs with her third husband, Philip de Haan. She and her husband personally run the villa and, judging by the reviews on Trip Advisor, it's a pretty unforgettable experience - just leave the kids at home!


As she says on her own website, the Happy Hooker has become the Happy Hostess.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. ... I read her book as a teenager. .. right after Valley of the Dolls...

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    1. Thanks Deneen. yes, the two kind of went together, didn't they? It was that sort of time

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