When someone asks if you watch "The Bachelor," or "Survivor," or "insert your favorite reality TV show here," do you tell the truth?
Most people hem and haw before, maybe, finally, giving in to admitting their habit. Two recently published books, Candy Girl by Diablo Cody and Indecent by Sarah Katherine Lewis, will make you cringe and scuttle around in much the same way.
In Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire, the 34-year-old Lewis shares the day-to-day details of her 10 years in the sex industry. From work as a lingerie model and striptease girl to porn star and illegal body worker, Lewis sees and shares her love for the women she works with and her extreme hatred for the men who pay her. On the one hand, it's a can't-put-it-down story. On the other hand, it's often so graphic that putting it down is the only thing you want to do.
Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper introduces readers to a very different author who, on a whim, enters a strip club's amateur night contest. She loses, but oddly enough, she's sucked into a year-long romp through Minneapolis' sex-worker world. Cody struggles emotionally with the experience, but with the support of her boyfriend, she packages it up with a nice bow, and moves on. Candy Girl's brightly colored, sweet-yet-enticing cover blares chick lit. The story, too, reads like chick lit, and ultimately, it wraps up quite nicely like chick lit. Sure, her style is a bit over the top, but then, so is her story.
For all the obvious differences between a veteran sex worker's tale and that of a short-term stripper, there are numerous similarities.
Both women, for instance, come to fully grasp the value of a dollar. Lewis' entire reasoning behind her career path is to get out of her low-paying job at a coffee shop. Cody's foray starts as an attempt to bolster her savings but it, too, eventually turns into a position she needs to keep paying her bills.
Furthermore, each girl changes her name, and each experiences extreme highs and lows along their chosen paths.
What's missing in Lewis' tale, however, is the strength exhibited by Cody. In Candy Girl, Cody still maintains the ability to step back from her situation, to have an idea of who she is, who she was and who she still hopes to be one day. Lewis' Indecent focuses on the here and now, making the reader a simple voyeur to the acts she performs.
For those who've occasionally pondered what it's like to swing around a slippery silver pole, how to move much less dance in stripper shoes, or how much industry women really do earn, the peek into the world that Candy Girl offers is seedy but solid, and presented by an established journalist. For those looking to waste away commercials between rose ceremonies and tribal councils, Candy Girl just might fit the bill.
Indecent, on the other hand, shakes the brain with disconcerting details and a fear for where its author will end up. It's a full-frontal that'll never make it onto most bookshelves, never mind prime time.
But then, again, we all used to think that about most reality TV.
Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper
By Diablo Cody
Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire
By Sarah Katherine Lewis
The striking colors and textures are reminiscent of Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Lovely work.