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Terence Sellers was born in 1952 to Robert and Gloria Sellers in Washington, D.C.. From 1970-1973 she attended St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the Classical Studies department but did not complete her degree. She earned a BA in forensic psychology at John Jay College in New York City in 1986.
In 1973 Sellers moved to New York City intending to pursue a career in writing and dance. Shortly after moving to New York she formed friendships with artists and writers including Anya Phillips, Kathy Acker, Duncan Smith, Victor Bockris, Carl Apfelschnitt, Jimmy De Sana and Duncan Hannah, many of which resulted in collaborations. For example, Sellers and Hannah worked on several projects together, including Amos Poe's 1978 film The Foreigner. Around the same time Sellers worked with photographer Jimmy De Sana on a series of 32 photographs entitled "The Dungeon Series". The original intent of the project was to use the photographs in Sellers' then unpublished work The Correct Sadist. However, after the work was complete De Sana and William S. Burroughs used the photographs to illustrate their own book project, Submission.
As a prolific writer, Sellers kept daily journals, maintained close correspondence with friends, family and colleagues, wrote a large volume of short stories and worked on several manuscripts. She was an early contributor to BOMB Magazine, X Magazine, Vacation and other publications devoted to New York's Downtown art, music, film and literary scene.
Most of Sellers' writing is on the subject of sadomasochism. While her work as a professional dominatrix and her fascination with violence, self-punishment, the occult, and psychoanalysis has given shape to much of her writing, her literary influences include Baudelaire, Dostoevsky, and the French surrealists.
Sellers' most famous work is a novel called the The Correct Sadist: The Memoirs of Angel Stern. It is written as a collection of short "case studies" relating to themes of sexual dominance and submission, bondage and discipline, and fetishism. Originally published by iKoo-Buchverlg in Berlin in 1981 as Der korrekte Sadismus, Sellers self-published the work in English under Vitriol Publications in 1983. In 1985, Grove Press contracted the novel and Barney Rosset handled its publication. It is also published in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
Sellers' other published novels include The Obsession, and Dungeon Evidence: The Correct Sadist II. Excerpts from other manuscripts such as The Degenerate, Most Ill of All and One Decadent Life have appeared in a wide range of publications in several languages. Sellers participated in events such as The Times Square Show (1980) and has read her work throughout the US, Europe and Canada. Although Sellers did not achieve the name recognition and literary success of some of her contemporaries, she was an important and influential member of the Downtown scene.
- Guide to the Terence Sellers papers
- Latzky, Eric, Ira Silverberg and Amy Scholder, "High Risk: An Anthology of Forbidden Writings" in Bomb Magazine No 35. spring 1991. 32-34.
- "How to Shoot a Crime: a film a crime a city." LA, CA [Los Angeles, Calif.] : Chris Kraus/Lonely Girl Films, [©2000?]