Tyler Stoddard Smith: Whore Stories

As proof that there is indeed someone out there for everyone, take the story of 19th century French courtesan Blanche Dumas (a woman with two vaginas), who reportedly had a torrid affair with Juan Baptista dos Santos (a man with two penises). Their story is among the many tidbits found in Tyler Stoddard Smith’s book Whore Stories: A Revealing History of the World’s Oldest Profession. The book takes a look at famous and infamous whores throughout history, giving equal attention to men and women. It also names names — there’s an entire chapter dedicated to people who prostituted before their prime, including Bob Dylan, Nancy Reagan and Malcolm X.

Smith, a Houston native, has written for Esquire, The Dallas Morning News and Utne Reader. His brand of sarcastic comic commentary makes for a quick and easy read. Among his targets are Russian mystic Rasputin and Houston newsman Marvin Zindler. “The journey of Rasputin’s penis was particularly Byzantine, even poignant at times,” says Smith. “It (Rasputin’s penis) may be in Russia. It may be in California. Once it was mistaken for a cucumber. Nobody knows where it is for sure; it’s like the Amelia Earhart of penises.”

About Zindler, who famously railed against the La Grange brothel known as the Chicken Ranch, Smith says, “Actually, I loved Marvin Zindler. Who could hate him? He was a Houston institution. But he was also a completely comic figure who took himself way too seriously as a muckraking reporter. When I wrote that he was an ‘odious and officious presence on the news’ and that he resembled ‘a constipated orc’ and a ‘lunatic,’ I meant that in the nicest possible way.” Tyler Stoddard Smith -discusses and signs Whore Stories at 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet.
Tue., Aug. 21, 7 p.m., 2012

 
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