Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert

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A twenty-two-year-old perennial virgin, Englishman Grant Stoddard didn't know what to do with his life in America—until he won an X-rated online contest, the prize being intercourse with an infamous married sex columnist. He consequently wound up delivering mail at Nerve.com but accidentally found his calling as a gonzo sex reporter who would try any and every lurid activity his crafty coworkers devised—from offering himself up as man-bait at a hard-core gay bar to attending an elite orgy, to being a hapless ...

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Overview

A twenty-two-year-old perennial virgin, Englishman Grant Stoddard didn't know what to do with his life in America—until he won an X-rated online contest, the prize being intercourse with an infamous married sex columnist. He consequently wound up delivering mail at Nerve.com but accidentally found his calling as a gonzo sex reporter who would try any and every lurid activity his crafty coworkers devised—from offering himself up as man-bait at a hard-core gay bar to attending an elite orgy, to being a hapless participant in a sexual home invasion—all the while wishing he could be safely tucked in bed.

Working Stiff is the humble, hilarious, and delightfully salacious fish-into-water story of a young man who followed his heart—and other organs—into places where few would dare to venture.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
It's difficult to describe Grant Stoddard's Working Stiff without exploding into laughter or retelling stories that would curl your mother's hair. This perversely enjoyable memoir introduces us to a ne'er-do-well Londoner who ends up begging for jobs and scrounging for food in America. Grant's Big Break arrives in the form of X-rated online contest prize that circuitously lands him a position (no pun intended) as the sex columnist of Nerve.com. As an only recently deflowered virgin, Stoddard is decidedly not the best man for the job, but he gropes (again, no pun) his way through his new assignments, wading into orgies, porno films, and hard-core gay bars. This devilishly unconventional memoir will amuse all those it doesn't scandalize.
Lauren Weisberger
“Stoddard’s prose manages to be clever, poignant, x-rated, and hilarious... I couldn’t put it down.”
Jonathan Ames
“Funny, exuberant, outrageous, and tender -- WORKING STIFF is an erotic and comedic page-turner.”
Jessica Cutler
“Grant Stoddard’s debut is a sex memoir with heart: an American (wet) dream come true.”
Jonathan Kilmer-Purcell
“Stoddard takes on the city with poignancy and hilarity...and triumphs.”
David Goodwillie
“[A] brave, moving, and, yes, seductive story”
Calgary Herald (Canada)
“[H]ard to put back on the shelf…remarkably endearing.”
Elle
“HUCK FINN at the Playboy Mansion...you’ll have a fantastically fun frolic in Grant’s world.”
Booklist
“[R]elayed with self-deprecating wit, a surprising sweetness, and an unceasing sense of amazement.”
The Vancouver Province (British Columbia)
TOP PICK FOR 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
“Paperback Pick”
The Advocate
“[O]ne of the best works of creative nonfiction since Joan Didon’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“At it’s finest, his work is an antidote to the swaggering misogyny of the genre dubbed “fratire.”
Calgary Herald
“[H}ilarious, occasionally disturbing and utterly impossible to put down...wrting--and not fornicating--is Stoddard’s true calling.”
Publishers Weekly
Readers of Grant Stoddard's popular Nerve.com column "I Did It for Science" won't be surprised that Stoddard opens his memoir with a description of himself, down on all fours, about to be anally penetrated by a latex replica of his own phallus. For three years, Stoddard's was the thinking pervert's go-to guy for behind-the-scenes reporting on everything from chin-mounted dildos to group sex. Now, in this consistently hilarious exploration of the life of an accidental sexpert, Stoddard combines adventures from his dot-com days with a portrait of the artist as a young virgin, growing up luckless and loveless in London. Stoddard would probably balk at the suggestion that he has a "typically English" sense of humor, but whatever he'd choose to call it, his self-deprecating style and wonderful appreciation of the absurd serves him well, whether he's describing his highly unusual university flatmate (an octogenarian named Mrs. Montague) or a more recent stint as a terrified extra in a pornographic movie. If the book has a weakness it's in the pacing: toward the end the narrative threatens to stall, and an over-long description of Stoddard's failed attempt to woo a visiting French teenager falls flat. Fortunately, though, these slightly uneven interludes don't significantly diminish the pleasures of this smart and appealing book. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Undereducated, undernourished, underemployed git from Essex shows up in Manhattan and falls into job as sex columnist for hot website. To say that Stoddard is the absolute last guy one would imagine to end up in the job he did would be an understatement of staggering proportions. After a raucous flash-forward detailing in graphic terms his experience having sex with himself (it involves plaster of Paris, a mold and a willing female friend with a harness) at a California ranch, Stoddard's memoir winds back to his modest roots in the benighted borough of Thurrock, Essex, one of England's "cultural blind spots." Initially possessed of absolutely no luck with the opposite sex-those years at Thames Valley University are cringingly hilarious-Stoddard finally loses his virginity to a friend he visits in the US. His New York visits begin to stretch out, and he's soon a bona fide Manhattanite, working for a small record label, conniving for cheap rent and getting as much mileage out of his British accent as he can. Although the meat of the book involves Stoddard's almost accidental hiring at the sex website Nerve.com at the height of the Internet boom-and his misadventures as the site's wacky columnist-his low-key writer's voice is better suited to the sad-sack persona he develops early on. Stoddard's descriptions of his increasingly edgy sex misadventures (bondage summer camp, public orgies, working out a closetful of kinks with an apparently endless stream of ready-and-willing New York girls) are enjoyable for their geek-out-of-geekdom charm. But the appeal here winds down as his career amps up. This odyssey of luck is often charmingly relayed. However, by the time the formerly mousy Brit findshimself in California shooting a pilot for VH1 and sleeping with teenagers, it all loses its luster.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060876128
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/9/2007
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Grant Stoddard came to the United States in pursuit of true love. After eighteen months of couch-surfing, he was in danger of being deported when he discovered his true calling as New York's most intrepid sex columnist—despite having little experience in either sex or writing. He lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Working Stiff
The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert

Chapter One

4089

When I met her, Beatrix Cecilia Montague was somewhere between seventy'five and eighty'five years old. She was born in colonial India and attended a posh girls' finishing school in Harrogate, Yorkshire. Her hobbies included bridge, golf, and tennis—her mother was the all'India women's tennis champion. She made sure she never missed an episode of EastEnders, Neighbours, or Coronation Street, owned a beige fifteen'year'old Ford Fiesta and a cockatoo named Dippy. She smoked a pack and a half of Lambert and Butler cigarettes per day, washed and reused the half dozen pieces of cling wrap she owned, and seldom arose before eleven. She delivered a right'wing newsletter throughout the neighborhood regardless of inclement weather. Her hair was salt white and pepper gray save for a pompadour, stained the color of egg yolk from cigarette smoke. Her entire wardrobe was polyester and sported all sorts of unclassifiable stains. On any given day she could smell of faintly spicy sweat, pet stores, or musty cupboards. She didn't flinch when using racist, empirical terms like "golliwog" and "pickaninny." Beatrix Cecilia Montague was my college roommate.

Mrs. Montague—I never once addressed her as anything else in three years of living with her, so I won't here either—was above all else a woman of principle. She wasn't in the business of taking advantage of anybody and was vigilant in ensuring that she wasn't being taken advantage of herself. This is what I knew about Mrs. Montague prior to meeting her: in her inconveniently located ground'floorflat in leafy Hanwell, W7, she had a spare room that she rented to students for twenty'five pounds per week. She had one pet, a cockatoo, she was a smoker, and she would not be providing meals.

"Twenty'five quid?" said Sandra, my mum's best and brassiest friend, when I told her about my bargain over a meal from Mandarin Court, an establishment known locally as "the chinky." "Blimey, that's cheap, innit? A cockatoo? Are you sure it doesn't say she's looking for a cock or two?"

Getting a cheap place with no lease was of the utmost importance to me. Here's why: I was not exactly college material. A precocious five'year'old, I had peaked early intellectually. Since then I'd become bone idle and had developed a socially debilitating love of heavy metal and had a D+ average. Undeterred, my dad threatened severe economic sanctions unless I at least tried to get into a school.

In the United Kingdom, where until recently education was entirely paid for by the taxpayer, all university places are provisional until the publication of A'level results in the second week of August. A'levels are the equivalent of SATs. Let's suppose your first choice of school was Oxford but you didn't get the grades required there. You would have to opt for another one of the schools you were provisionally accepted to who would admit you based on your A'level results. Schools are required to keep these provisional places open until the results are published. This means that after publication a lot of university places suddenly become available and there is a mad scramble to fill them. (On the day the results are published, broadsheet newspapers include supplements made up purely of ads from different schools to entice those still without a place to secure one over the phone!) Places at better schools are snapped up instantly by the most qualified, but the trickle'down effect means that a lot of the shittier universities are practically dragging 'people in off the street regardless of their academic aptitude. That's how I got in.

Upon getting a place at Thames Valley University my plan was to leave Thames Valley University. I felt by the age of eighteen there was barely any room left in my brain to learn any new stuff—even "Media Studies"—but I also knew that my attending university, even for a semester, would make my father a happy man. Nobody in our family had gone to college and it was my father's ambition that I should be the first to go, in spite of me expressing absolutely no interest in furthering my education or even having the grades to get into anything but the most piss'poor of institutions. In our town, going to university was far from expected from a child, and I felt it unfair that I was being randomly singled out to attend. In my graduating class, I would say less than one in twenty kids went on to university, or "uni," as it's known.

All I really wanted to do was play in what I now realize was a dreadful rock band. My plan was a tightrope act: I had to teach my parents a lesson about not overestimating their children, but I knew that if I made that lesson an expensive one, I'd never be able to forget it. That's why when I saw Mrs. Montague's ad in TVU's Accommodations Office, I knew I had found the perfect housemate. TVU had no student housing but instead provided listings of whole houses to rent with other students or rooms to rent within a family home or private residence. In either situation, it was unheard of to pay less than fifty quid a week.

Before my mother and I took a train to London to meet her and see the available bargain room, I hoped that Mrs. Montague was a sexy divorcée, or better yet, an independently wealthy widow in her early forties, yearning for the company of an eager house boy as per the ad's insinuation. The way I saw it, what a sultry Mrs. Montague could teach me in the bedroom would ultimately have a more practical application than anything I'd glean from a patchily attended semester of Media Studies classes at Britain's worst university. The school's only real claim to fame is that it used to be Ealing College of Art and was attended by rock heroes like Queen's Freddie Mercury, The Who's Pete Townsend, and Ron Wood from the Rolling Stones. With such a rock'and'roll precedent, I idly hoped that, if nothing else, a bit of uni might bolster my chances of rock stardom.

Working Stiff
The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert
. Copyright © by Grant Stoddard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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