By Jared Stearns
It could have been a blockbuster. An erotic, candid book chronicling the meeting and sexual tastes and encounters of two of the most iconic figures of the 1970s would surely be money in the bank for everyone involved, and further the reputations of its leading ladies. But when Xaviera Meets Marilyn Chambers met the public in 1976 it landed with a thud and vanished as quickly as it had arrived.
In 1971, Xaviera de Vries published a shocking, bestselling autobiography called The Happy Hooker which told of the onetime secretary's rise to the top as a high-class New York call girl and madam. It was a landmark of sex-positive writing and became an international bestseller, selling more than 15 million copies. It spawned three films (Lynn Redgrave played Xaviera in the first), numerous other books, and even an erotic board game. Xaviera became a sexual pioneer. So when a mutual business acquaintance suggested she pen a book with and about her meetings with Marilyn Chambers, the most famous X-rated film star in the world, she agreed. But it wasn't what she expected. She recently answered some questions via email about the experience.
When The Happy Hooker Met the Ivory Porn Goddess
How did your affiliation with Marilyn begin? Did you contact her or did she contact you?
Our mutual entertainment lawyer Paul Sherman, one of the most famous in his field, had both her as well as me in his "stable" of famous people/clients. He came up with the idea that I should co-author, as well as ghost write, our book for the two of us.
The book Xaviera Meets Marilyn Chambers was written in third person but it's credited to both of you. Did you both write the book or did someone else?
I did it on my own, based on stories she told me while she spent a week with me, I believe, in Toronto, Canada, where I had a suite at the gay Carriage House Hotel on Jarvis Street.
Is the book an accurate account of when you two met?
Yes it is. We had taped most of the texts. I had prepared most of the questions.
I haven't been able to find any contemporary reviews of the book except a review in Screw magazine which reviewed it favorably. [A photo and a mention of the book was featured in People magazine in 1975, too.] Was the book a success upon its release?
NO, not at all a success. In fact, it was my own downfall for any book I tried to write and get published afterwards, as it was too superficial and basically boring, I hate to say. In all the interviews I had with her she never made me smile. I was aghast at HER own way she wanted to introduce the book to the public with a dedication to Chuck [Traynor], who was her manager, abuser and user at that time, by writing TO CHUCK MY TRAINOR [sic]. If that didn't show how dependent and enslaved she was to that horrid man(ager)...brrrr. I really could not get truly inspired to add some humor to that booklet. She was outright boring, far too skinny for my taste and what I would call [a] working-class type. Much like Linda Lovelace, [Marilyn] applied for a job at my brothel but I let her go as she too did not appeal to my taste for classy ladies. So neither Linda nor Marilyn appealed to my GOOD taste in women.
At one point, for the record, Marilyn and I ended [up] in bed together. Now I do KNOW how to please almost any woman in bed as long as she is for real and not a phony so-called lesbian or even a bisexual, which she claimed she was, [but] which she was definitely not. While Chuck was watching and cheering us on she screamed for happiness supposedly but what I felt under my hands and mouth was a frigid woman putting on a great loud act for her man -- an act of make-believe as she remained as dry as the back of my hand. [A]nd neither did I, who REALLY LOVES WOMEN AS WELL AS MEN, get excited.
Did you and Marilyn plan to collaborate on anything else?
Did you stay in touch with Marilyn over the years?
NEVER. [I] just heard about her early death and the sad deathly accident of Linda Lovelace and it appeared that both women died in total poverty. The famous hooker organization called International Congress of Prostitution actually begged amongst the thousands of hookers that were involved in this organization to pledge some money for a tombstone and the cost of [Marilyn's] funeral. Something similar I believe happened when Linda Lovelace died. Now the death of Harry Reems just recently did upset me emotionally as I did like him; he was handsome and bright and eloquent but got ruined for many years due to his sex reputation [and] by booze and drugs, but he found his way back in life, religion and good earning work in real estate. And died far too young in my opinion.
When Marilyn came up to Toronto did you spend the entire week doing the interview? Did you socialize with one another? Did you know Chuck Traynor when he was with Linda too? What was your experience with him?
I found him [to be] a low-class, small-time crook. No sympathy for someone like that. [I] did not really socialize with them, [e]specially not [when] he was around. She was kind of sweet and a bit vulnerable, but dumb as well. Amazing how both porno starlets died in such horrid way and so poor, while Harry Reems had just worked himself out of his poverty after all his drug-related periods. Annie Sprinkle is the one to contact as she knows much more from that period. Remember I was the first sexual pioneer in the world. [T]hen there was nothing [for a while], and then came Annie Sprinkle, and Veronica Vera and Candida Royale, all about 10 years younger than I was.