David Henry Sterry

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David Henry Sterry
Born David Henry Sterry
United States
Occupation Writer, actor/comic
Nationality American
Period 1983–present
Notable works Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent (2002), Hos, Hookers, Call Girls & Rent Boys (2009), The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, co-authored with his wife, Arielle Eckstut.
Spouse Arielle Eckstut

David Henry Sterry is an American author, actor/comic, activist and former sex worker.


Early life[edit]

Sterry's parents were immigrants from Newcastle, England. His paternal grandfather was a coal miner. His maternal grandfather was a professional soccer player, bicyclist, and boxer, as well as a suspected pedophile. grew up in New Jersey; Birmingham, Alabama; Virginia, Minnesota; and Dallas, Texas. He attended boarding school at Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY, went to Immaculate Heart College in Hollywood for one year, where he also was employed as sex worker. This became the subject of his first memoir, Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent. He then transferred to Reed College, where he studied existentialism and poetry, and graduated in 1978. There he began to publish his poetry, which has appeared in journals such as The Orangutan, and Santa Monica Review. He was a baseball prodigy, and after training in England, was offered a professional soccer contract when he was 21. He has worked as a building inspector, a chicken fryer, a limousine driver, a telephone solicitor, a soccer referee, and a marriage counselor.


He started in show business as a stand-up comedian and improviser in the San Francisco during the comedy boom of the early 1980s, performing at clubs such as the Holy City Zoo, The Other Cafe, and the infamous Sutro Bath House. He opened for acts ranging from Milton Berle to Robin Williams to Dana Carvey. He then became an actor, appearing in small productions, such as Nuts at the Walnut Creek Rep, and Comedians the Red Flag Theater Company. In 1984, he moved to New York, where he appeared in hundreds of commercials, for McDonald's, AT&T, and Levi's, eventually becoming the spokesman for Publisher's Clearing House. He also performed in many Off-Off Broadway plays, such as Story Theater, and Fast Girls, and began writing short plays which he performed at places such as the West Bank Theater, with actors such as John Michael Higgins, and comedians like Louis Black. In 1985 he was hired to be the master of ceremonies at Chippendales, the notorious male stripper show. Nick de Noia, the creator of the show, was assassinated while Sterry was working for him. This would become the subject of his second memoir, Master of Ceremonies: A True Story of Love, Murder, Roller Skates & Chippendales.[1] He was brought to Hollywood to act in the film Memoirs of an Invisible Man, starring Chevy Chase, directed by John Carpenter. He appeared in a pilot for Eddie Murphy's production company. It starred Margaret Cho, and was not picked up by ABC. This led to a string of guest starring roles in black sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sister Sister, Roc, Minor Adjustmnents, and in HBO's Dream On. He was a regular on the HBO/CTW show Encyclopedia, where he played characters ranging from George Washington to Napoleon Bonaparte to Leif Erikson. He also appeared in what is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, Hellroller. He wrote the movie script Army Dog for Disney, and sold the feature Jackpot to Nickleoden. His script Baby Love was purchased by Goldstreet Pictures. None of these scripts were made.

He began writing books in 2001, with the publication of Satchel Sez: The World, Wit & Wisdom of Leroy Sawtchel Paige (Random House). His next book, the 2002 memoir, Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, described by The New York Times as a "studiously wild souvenier",[2] details his experiences as a teenage hustler in 1970s Hollywood. His one-man show, based on his memoir Chicken, debuted internationally at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and was named the #1 show in the UK by the Independent. It was then published by Canongate, and has been translated into ten languages. He has also been published in numerous anthologies, such as San Francisco Noir (Akashic); Creative Non-Fiction; Things 2 Do Before I Die; Five Minute Erotica; Tarnished: True Tales of Innocence Lost.

Sterry is also an activist, a teacher, and a book doctor. He has taught at Stanford University, the University of New Orleans, the University of Amsterdam, and ran a writing workshop for at-risk teenagers and survivors of the sex industry for the United States Department of Justice in Washington DC in 2005. Sterry co-edited the Soft Skull Press anthology Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rant Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money and Sex, which was featured on the front page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review on August 23, 2009.[3]

He performs the show Sex Worker Literati all over the country. The show consists of people from the sex industry reading and performing their work, and is based on an article which featured him, written by Alex Kuczynski in the The New York Times.[4] Sterry is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.[5] As a result of his book The Glorious World Cup: A Fanatic's Guide, which he co-authored with Alan Black, he is also a regular commentator on NPR.[6][7]

With the publication of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published (Workman, 2010), he co-founded the company The Book Doctors, and developed a show called Pitchapalooza, where writers get one minute to pitch their books ideas to a panel of publishing experts. He has done this show, with his wife Arielle Eckstut, at book stores such as the Strand in NYC, Powell's in Portland OR, Rainy Day Books in Kansas City, and the Miami, Texas and Los Angeles Book Festivals.[8][9]


  • Satchel Sez: The Wit, Wisdom & World of Leroy "Satchel" Paige (with Arielle Eckstut)(Crown/Random House, 2001)
  • Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent (ReganBooks/HarperCollins, 2002)
  • Zelfportret van een Jongenshoer (De Kern Baarn, 2002)
  • Gwen Is So Wet and Honeymoon in Five-Minute Erotica (Running Press, 2003)
  • Pollo(Astarte, 2004)
  • Callboy (Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verla, 2004)
  • Mlado Meso (Celeber, 2005)
  • Ubinoyka(Red Fish, 2005)
  • Putting Your Passion Into Print: Get Your Book Published Successfully! (with Arielle Eckstut)(Workman Publishing, 2005)
  • Confessions of a Sex Maniac in San Francisco Noir (Akashic, 2005)
  • Unzipped (Canongate Books Ltd, 2005)
  • Travis & Freddy's Adventures in Vegas (written under the name Henry Johnson) (Dutton/Penguin, April, 2006)
  • Master of Ceremonies: A True Story of Love, Murder, Roller Skates and Chippendales (Grove Atlantic, 2008)
  • Un Pollastro a Hollywood (Adelphi, 2008)
  • Hos, Hookers, Call-Girls, and Rent Boys: Prostitutes Writing on Life, Love, Work, Sex, and Money (with RJ Martin, Jr.)(Skull Press, 2009)
  • The Glorious World Cup: A Fanatic's Guide (PAL, Penguin, 2010)
  • The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published (with Arielle Eckstut)(Workman, 2010)
  • Confessions of a Sex Maniac (Kismet, 2011)
  • The Hobbyist (written as King Starr)(Battered Suitcase Press, 2013)
  • Mort Morte (Vagabondage Press, 2013)
  • What Are They Thinking? (with Arielle Eckstut, Dr. Aaron White, & Dr. Scott Swartzwelder, Norton, 2013)
  • Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing About Each Other (with RJ Martin, Jr.)(Soft Skull, 2013)
  • Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent, 10 Year Anniversary Edition (Soft Skull, 2013)


  1. ^ Q&A with David Henry Sterry, author of Master of Ceremonies; Nerve.com, Retrieved on 2009-03-15
  2. ^ Maurer, Daniel; GRILLING THE CHICKEN: Q&A WITH DAVID STERRY, FORMER RENT BOY; Blacktable.com 2005-12-01; Retrieved on 2009-03-15
  3. ^ "Book Review". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Sex Worker Literati". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "David Henry Sterry". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "What's Major League Soccer Without Beckham?". Npr.org. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Who To Watch (North Korea?!) In The World Cup". Npr.org. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Ben Pitchapalooza". Mylitv.com. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 

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