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.
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert
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.
What People are Saying About This
“Grant Stoddard’s debut is a sex memoir with heart: an American (wet) dream come true.”
“Stoddard takes on the city with poignancy and hilarity...and triumphs.”
“Funny, exuberant, outrageous, and tender WORKING STIFF is an erotic and comedic page-turner.”
“[A] brave, moving, and, yes, seductive story”
“Stoddard’s prose manages to be clever, poignant, x-rated, and hilarious... I couldn’t put it down.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wouldn't we all love to have a dream fall into our laps? And then to have the dream turn out to be enjoyable as well? Heaven!! Grant Stoddard falls into a job at Nerve.com writing a column on his sexual adventures called I Did It for Science. He gets placed into situations that the average person may not ever find themselves in, and then writes about it. Sploshing, Leather Camp, and a naked (but no touching) bridge lesson are all included here.I enjoyed the book and Grant's tone, but I would have enjoyed reading more about three years of columns at Nerve. This didn't cover as much as I would have liked it to. Some of the adventures are in here, but it is more about his life in NYC. Fun.
Working Stiff would be an enjoyable book if the author seemed anything but horrified by his job. Grant Stoddard arrives in America with limited aspirations and sexual experience, but after winning a bizarre online contest to have sex with a married porn star, he becomes a sex columnist at the website Nerve.com. Thanks to his willingness to do a pornographer he met online, his editors are convinced that he's up for all sorts of sexual hijinks, and soon his job consists of conducting and reporting on a variety of sexual experiments. Young Grant tries out all sorts of public places (subway cars, orgies), unusual practices (like flinging food at sex partners), and mysterious toys (like getting pegged by a strap-on replica of his own penis). I read with growing horror as I realized that Grant enjoyed almost none of these things; in fact, his attitude ranges from deep unease to outright disgust at each of his experiments. Between chapters, he relates more uncomfortable anecdotes from his personal life, like the time he took the virginity of one of his sex column's readers, only to have her cry and ask if all sex was that awkward. I could never understand why Stoddard insisted on inflicting such miserable experiences on himself, much less why he would want to share the in a forum as public as a memoir. I couldn't make it to the end.