The Prurient Interests

images1522382_6Belle-du-Jour-Deneuve_lThe sexually adventurous smart girl — from Anna Karenina to Lady Chatterley to Erica Jong to Carrie Bradshaw — is a character that has always titillated. But a new generation of women has risen the stakes on the genre. Rather than toy with sexual promiscuous personae in dating columns or transparently self-referential novels, these young women start off as sex workers. Then work their way back into the Establishment. Diablo Cody is the poster girl of this phenomenon. She blogged about her stints as a stripper and sex phone operator, got the attention of a Hollywood producer, who helped her land a book deal, a movie deal and ultimately a screenwriting Oscar. Then, there’s the London call girl who blogged about her exploits, got a two-book deal that turned into the successful ITV/Showtime TV series “The Secret Life of a Call Girl.” More recently, Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s call girl Ashley Dupre, an aspiring singer, passed on Larry Flynt’s $1 million offer for her own Hustler spread and –after downloads of her songs skyrocketed when the scandal broke last spring – she landed Mariah Carey’s former music manager Jerry Blair. Now she’s in talks with Reveille Productions (which produced “The Office”) to create a dating reality show.
Clearly the motivation differs with each woman. But they share a similar drive and stamina and, most likely, a formidable talent for compartmentalization. They make bloggers like apologetic naughty girl Emily Gould and TimeOutNY sex columnist Julia Allison look even less appealing than the neurotic, long suffering Belle du Jour made famous in 1967 by Catherine Deneuve. Is this new generation of women more complex, less cavalier and more thoughtful than the infamous “Happy Hooker” of the 1970s Xaviera Hollander (who is, incidentally, the subject of a small documentary released this year)? Or have these women just learned how to harness the machine and market themselves?