Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Working Boy: Premier New York City Sex Columnist Grant Stoddard Explored America's Sexual Underworld and Lived to Tell about It

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Working Boy: Premier New York City Sex Columnist Grant Stoddard Explored America's Sexual Underworld and Lived to Tell about It

Article excerpt

"I was shrink-wrapped in latex by a dominatrix. A 55-year-old woman was rubbing ice on my balls through the latex. I didn't want to do this. I was convinced I was going to die," says Grant Stoddard, the author of Working Stiff." The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert (Harper Perennial, $12.95) and self-proclaimed romantic at heart, via phone from his home in Manhattan, the milieu for his sexcursions as a columnist at Nerve.com.

Stoddard, who's 30, stands out among Manhattan media wunderkinds as being smart, sexy, and funny while never pandering to his audience. He's been given a podium in numerous publications, including Men's Health, Glamour, British GQ, and New York magazine (where his piece on people who shroud themselves in plastic wrap or have stopped having sex altogether to avoid sexually transmitted diseases is a must-read).

I was expecting a sort of Johnny Knoxville of literary sex before I read Working Stiff. But moments into it, I realized that Stoddard has written one of the best works of creative nonfiction since Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and he should be very proud of himself. Instead, he comes off as a man full of vulnerability, and his postmodern erotic/neurotic story is an offspring of literary heroes Isadora Wing and Alex Portnoy.

It all started when Stoddard was 23 and an intern at Nerve.com. His visa was nearing expiration, so to avoid being sent home to London he took an assignment to write about having sex with a life-size doll, a gig that led to his now-in famous column "I Did It for Science."

Stoddard upholds the standards of traditional reporters--even when he recounts urinating on a masturbating man, his undercover assignment at the "no press allowed" bondage and S/M camp Leather Retreat in northern Maryland--he will do (almost) anything for the story.

It may appear to be shock sensationalism on the surface, but when you read more closely you begin to realize Stoddard is one of the very few writers of his generation whose voice is more vulnerable than glib and disconnected. He rips off his bandage and shows you the bloody mess he is. At the conclusion of his stint at the camp, he is not afraid to admit, "If you want to know the truth, I almost had a little cry."

And he has his limits: "'Would you have sex with an animal?' my editor asked me when I was stranded in a ranch in California and he was about to cut off the column. I told him, 'No. I'm not prepared for that.'"

Stoddard, who is straight, was up for some gay experiences. "I had a good night," he recalls fondly. …

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