Private Parts (book)

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Private Parts
Howard Sterns Private Parts Hardback Cover.JPG
AuthorHoward Stern
Larry Sloman
Cover artistJackie Seow (Design)
Timothy White (Photo)
CountryUnited States
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date
October 7, 1993
Media typeHardcover (1993)
Paperback (1994, 1997)
Followed byMiss America 

Private Parts is the first book written by American radio personality Howard Stern. Released on October 7, 1993 by Simon & Schuster, it is the fastest-selling book in the company's history.[1] It was later adapted into a film in 1997 starring Stern and his radio show staff as themselves.[2] The early chapters are autobiographical, covering Stern's upbringing and early career, while later chapters are more in the style of a memoir, covering recurring themes from his radio show such as sex, flatulence, and celebrities.

Stern's choices for the title were I, Moron, Mein Kampf, and Penis[3] (the last was considered as Stern thought it would lead to the amusing newspaper headline "Howard Stern's Penis is a bestseller") but were refused by the publisher, although Mein Kampf would be used as the title of the book's fifth chapter regarding the beginning of his career.[4][5] They then compromised with the title Private Parts, suggested by Stern's co-host Robin Quivers, which Stern liked as a sexual pun referring to the personal "private parts" of his life with a popular euphemism for genitalia.

The book received mixed reviews from critics, often drawing comparisons to Lenny Bruce's How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. Like Stern's radio show, it received a great deal of opposition due to its content. It is number 86 on the American Library Association's list of the "100 Most Frequently challenged books Between 1990 and 1999."[6] A paperback edition was released in September 1994, where Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, printed a further 2.8 million copies.[7] In late 1995, Stern published a second book called Miss America.[8]

Popular success[edit]

Upon its release, Private Parts quickly became the fastest-selling title in publisher Simon & Schuster's history.[9] The sales were supported by Stern's book signing tour of various cities across the United States, with the largest crowd attendances ever.[10] The success was in spite of mixed reviews and the refusal by several stores to carry the book over objections to its content.[11] The Caldor chain of department stores modified the New York Times Best Seller list which was displayed in stores to remove Private Parts from the top position, moving all subsequent books up one.[11] The inclusion of the book in library lists was also frequently challenged in subsequent years.[6] The book spent five weeks at the top of the non-fiction list from the weeks of October 9 to November 6, 1993 before being displaced by See, I Told You So by Rush Limbaugh.[12] Private Parts spent a total of twenty weeks on the NY Times Best Seller list, hitting the number one spot after a week of its release.[7]

Upbringing and rise to stardom[edit]

In the book's opening acknowledgements Stern thanks his co-author Larry "Ratso" Sloman as well as his staff and family. The first chapter is a story of a male listener of Stern's show masturbating while driving on his way to work to an interview of a woman about her first lesbian sexual encounter. Chapters two through six focus on Stern's upbringing and family. Initially Stern focuses on his birth, parents, sister and family through marriage. He then moves out to focus on his upbringing in Roosevelt, Long Island where he was one of few white boys in a predominantly black neighbourhood.[13] Stern also uses this chapter to relay his thoughts on the topics from the time the book was published such as Spike Lee and his film Malcolm X, and Rodney King and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The fourth chapter deals with Stern's adolescent sexual development including his earliest sexual experiences. He also details his sex life in college and the courtship of his eventual marriage to his wife Alison.

The fifth and sixth chapters deal with Stern's career in radio from childhood interest through his rise to prominence. Stern cites an early interest in radio from the age of five,[14] and his father's assistance and encouragement in growing his early career. His days in college radio are detailed followed by his earliest jobs at radio stations along the East Coast of the United States. He then details his career at radio stations WWWW in Detroit, Michigan, WWDC in Washington, D.C. and finally WNBC in New York City. Stern's conflict with management at various radio stations are relayed, including a rather detailed conflict with WNBC Program Director Kevin Metheny (whom he refers to as Pig Virus).

Stern's show and views[edit]

Chapters seven through eighteen move through a variety of topics beginning with his celebrity interviews. This includes individuals such as Sandi Korn, Bob Hope, Jessica Hahn, Richard Simmons, and Sylvester Stallone and his family. The book then moves into Stern's views on various groups especially the French, the Germans, Filipinos, and "everybody else".[15]

The book then details the Fartman character including the origins, and his appearance on the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. This is followed up by a listing of various regulars on his show referred to as the Wack Pack. Celebrities are revisited as Stern details those who irritate him, such as Oprah Winfrey, Arsenio Hall, and Madonna. Stern follows this up by revisiting his various sexual topics with stories of strippers, nudity, masturbation, and more lesbian sexual encounters.

Stern then returns to the familiar topic of celebrities, this time detailing feuds he has had with people such as the musical group Bon Jovi, Sam Kinison, Magic Johnson, and a physical altercation with Elaine Boosler at the Grammy Awards. Stern revisits homosexuality once again, this detail his musings on gay men. He then goes into comedy as he lists various comedians of the day and gives his opinion, including show regulars Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay. Lesbianism is revisited for the last time as another lesbian sex story is relayed. The seventeenth chapter details his interviews conducted by staff members Gary Dell'Abate and "Stuttering John" Melendez. The last chapter is reserved for Stern's critics and their efforts to have his show prohibited, and his response to them. An afterword is written by two psychologists who analyze Stern's personality and provide their professional opinion of the man.


Stern's venture into literature drew much of the same criticism as his radio show. Private Parts drew favorable comparisons to Lenny Bruce and his book How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, but it was also characterized as nothing more than an extension of his radio show with little more to offer. Stern was praised for his populist message and attracting a group of people who normally do not read either by choice or for lack of ability. Another frequent criticism was that the material was juvenile, with little more to offer than stories of "breasts, behinds, penises, masturbation, defecation, and the expulsion of gas".[10]

Comparisons to Lenny Bruce[edit]

The book frequently drew comparisons to Lenny Bruce's 1965 autobiography How to Talk Dirty and Influence People.[16] In some instances the comparison was favorable, citing Stern's as the best book by a comedian since Bruce's.[17] Others felt Stern fell short of the mark, or at least not influencing people as suggested by his ratings in certain radio markets.[18]

Extension of radio show[edit]

As the host of a highly rated radio show, the comparison between the book and his radio show was inevitable. The radio show was often the starting point from which the reviewer based their opinion of the book.[19] Sometimes the praise for the book came in spite of the critic's distaste for the show,[10] but often it was used to damn the book as nothing more than a collection of radio show highlights in print, but in more explicit detail.[20] Critics would sometimes qualify that they could not adequately relay the stories because of their papers' editorial standards.[10]

Mass appeal[edit]

With the considerable audience from his radio show, Stern was able to sell the first printing of his book within hours of its release.[21] This was in spite of a perception of Stern's listeners who were considered to not be given to reading books, or even illiterate.[22] The strong sales were seen as reflection of his populist appeal to a middle-class white male demographic who compose a large part of the fan base of his show.[23] The main reason given for his appeal at the time was as backlash from a push towards what was considered political correctness.[24]


Another frequent observation about the book was that it was juvenile both in its topics and layout. This included being compared to a comic book for its heavy use of pictures and varying fonts.[25] Margo Jefferson of the New York Times enjoyed the way it broke up the book, as this allowed readers to read the passages out of sequence.[26] The reliance on stories of body parts, functions, and human sexuality were also cited as a reason for what constituted the entirety of the book, and were not seen as compelling to some readers.[27] In one instance the review was given by a high school student.[28]


  • Stern, Howard (1993), Private Parts (1st edition - Hardcover), New York: Simon & Schuster (Published on October 7, 1993), ISBN 978-0-671-88016-3, OCLC 28968496
  • Stern, Howard (1994), Private Parts (2nd edition - Mass Market Paperback), New York: Simon & Schuster (Published on October 1, 1993), ISBN 978-0-671-51043-5
  • Stern, Howard (1997), Private Parts (3rd edition - Mass Market Paperback - 1997 Motion Picture), New York: Simon & Schuster (Published on March 1, 1997), ISBN 978-0-671-00944-1


  • Thomas, Betty (Director) (1997, March 7), Private Parts [Motion picture], United States: Paramount Pictures
  • Stern, Howard (1997), Private Parts. Das Buch zum Film mit Howard Stern in der Hauptrolle [Private parts. The book to the film with Howard Stern in the main role], Munich: Goldmann Wilhelm GmbH, ISBN 978-3-442-44022-1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Stern 1993; Bark 1993)
  2. ^ (Thomas 1997)
  3. ^ Fink, Mitchell (August 30, 1993). "The Insider". People Magazine, Vol. 40. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
  4. ^ Mercer, Mark (2001-05-11). "For The Week Of 5/7/2001 to 5/11/2001". Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  5. ^ Mercer, Mark (2001-05-11). "For the week of 12/03/2007 to 12/07/2007". Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  6. ^ a b "100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999" American Library Association. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b Carter, Bill (2004-10-11). "Where Some See Just a Shock Jock, Sirius Sees a Top Pitchman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  8. ^ (Stern 1995)
  9. ^ (Bark 1993)
  10. ^ a b c d (Goodman 1993)
  11. ^ a b (Barron 1993)
  12. ^ (New York Times Oct 1993, Nov 1993)
  13. ^ (Stern 1993, p. 63)
  14. ^ (Stern 1993, p. 111)
  15. ^ (Stern 1993, p. 230)
  16. ^ (Goodman 1993; Jefferson 1993; Saracino 1994; Gleiberman 1993)
  17. ^ (Santiago 1993)
  18. ^ (Kening 1993)
  19. ^ (Saracino 1994; Greto 1993)
  20. ^ (Kening 1993; Freeman 1993; Naudi 1993; Cobb 1993)
  21. ^ (Mills 1993)
  22. ^ (Macintyre 1993; Roeper 1993)
  23. ^ (Macintyre 1993; Greto 1993; Gardner 1994)
  24. ^ (Goodman 1993; Jefferson 1993; Macintyre 1993; Greto 1993)
  25. ^ (Goodman 1993; Jefferson 1993; Pintarich 1993)
  26. ^ (Jefferson 1993)
  27. ^ (Kening 1993; Naudi 1993)
  28. ^ (Saracino 1994)


  1. Bark, Ed (October 20, 1993), Stern's 'Private Parts' Tops Limbaugh's Mark, Wichita Eagle, p. 4C, retrieved 2007-02-06
  2. Barron, James (November 12, 1993), "Stores Shy Away From Book Written by Radio Personality", The New York Times
  3. Cobb, Nathan (October 26, 1993), "Howard Stern: Between the Covers From shock radio to TV and now with a best-selling book, his parts are rarely private [Review of the book Private Parts]", Boston Globe, p. 53
  4. Freeman (November 7, 1993), "Stern is sheerly up to usual smut, smugness [Review of the book Private Parts]", The San Diego Union - Tribune, pp. Books.3
  5. Gardner, James (February 7, 1994), "Private Parts [Review of the book Private Parts]", National Review
  6. Githens, Lauri (October 26, 1993), "Mr. Outrageous Howard Stern In Print; Talking Dirty, Selling Big [Review of the book Private Parts]", Buffalo News, pp. C1
  7. Gleiberman, Owen (October 22, 1993), "Exposing Himself [Review of the book Private Parts]", Entertainment Weekly, retrieved February 16, 2008
  8. Goodman, Walter (November 14, 1993), "Stern's Complaint [Review of the book Private Parts]", The New York Times
  9. Greto, Victor (October 31, 1993), "Stern bares his soul and more / 'Shock jock' just trying to be honest' [Review of the book Private Parts]", The Gazette, Colorado Springs, pp. B16
  10. Jefferson, Margo (November 24, 1993), "Books of The Times; Experts in the Comedy of Self-Love [Review of the books Private Parts and Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut Misadventures in the Counterculture]", The New York Times
  11. Kening, Dan (November 12, 1993), "Not Much Between The Covers of 'Private Parts' [Review of the book Private Parts]", Chicago Tribune, p. 3
  12. Macintyre, Ben (November 4, 1993), "A champion of the people? [Review of the book Private Parts]", The Times
  13. Mills, Joshua (October 24, 1993), "He Keeps Giving New Meaning to Gross Revenue [Review of the book Private Parts]", The New York Times, retrieved 2008-02-16
  14. Naudi, Jack (November 7, 1993), "Even sex grows tedious in Stern autobiography [Review of the book Private Parts]", The Grand Rapids Press, pp. K.11
  15. New York Times (October 24, 1993), "BEST SELLERS: October 24, 1993", The New York Times
  16. New York Times (November 21, 1993), "BEST SELLERS: November 21, 1993", The New York Times
  17. Pintarich, Paul (October 29, 1993), "There's Very Little Wisdom Mixed with Howard Stern's Wit [Review of the book Private Parts]", The Oregonian, pp. E08
  18. Roeper, Richard (November 11, 1993), "People Who Read Books Becoming a Rare Breed [Review of the book Private Parts]", Chicago Sun-Times, p. 11
  19. Santiago (October 25, 1993), "Howard Stern - Raw, Funny and Real [Review of the book Private Parts]", The Plain Dealer, pp. 10D
  20. Saracino, Chris (January 1, 1994), "Shock or schlock? Is Howard Stern for real? Maybe we shouldn't even care [Review of the book Private Parts]", The Ottawa Citizen, pp. B5
  21. Stern, Howard (October 15, 1993), Private Parts (1st ed.), New York: Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0-671-88016-3, OCLC 28968496
  22. Stern, Howard (March 1995), Miss America (1st ed.), New York: HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-06-039167-6, OCLC 33432817
  23. Thomas, Betty (Director) (March 7, 1997), Private Parts [Motion picture], United States: Paramount Pictures

External links[edit]