Paying for It by Chester BrownA CONTEMPORARY DEFENSE OF THE WORLDS OLDEST PROFESSION
Chester Brown has never shied away from tackling controversial subjects in his work. In his 1992 book, The Playboy, he explored his personal history with pornography. His bestselling 2003 graphic novel, Louis Riel, was a biographical examination of an extreme political figure. The book won wide acclaim and cemented Browns reputation as a true innovator.
Paying for It is a natural progression for Brown as it combines the personal and sexual aspects of his autobiographical work with the polemical drive of Louis Riel. Brown calmly lays out the facts of how he became not only a willing participant in but a vocal proponent of one of the worlds most hot-button topics—prostitution. While this may appear overly sensational and just plain implausible to some, Browns story stands for itself. Paying for It offers an entirely contemporary exploration of sex work—from the timid john who rides his bike to his escorts, wonders how to tip so as not to offend, and reads Dan Savage for advice, to the modern-day transactions complete with online reviews, seemingly willing participants, and clean apartments devoid of clichéd street corners, drugs, or pimps.
Complete with a surprise ending, Paying for It provides endless debate and conversation about sex work and will be the most talkedabout graphic novel of 2011.
A John’s Story
To be a known john is to be trailed by shame and stigma, at least in the United States and Canada. There are millions of johns, but for one to come out voluntarily — with honesty, integrity and pride — is indeed rare. To ascertain if any other such brave johns had slipped my mind, I surveyed a few of my older prostitute friends. Today, I might count Charlie Sheen. Brown, whose previous work includes a comic-strip biography of the 19th-century Canadian revolutionary Louis Riel, begins his story in the summer of , when his live-in girlfriend, Sook-Yin, confesses she has fallen for another guy. She also still wants to live with Chester. He and his girlfriend transition to being friends and housemates.
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Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe. North, , quimbys. The quote, from Paying for It Drawn and Quarterly , Chester Brown's new graphic memoir about his experiences with prostitutes, is odd—not so much for what it says as for what it doesn't say. Throughout the book, Brown sets himself firmly against romantic love and marriage, and hypes the commercial approach as best not just for him but for everybody. But how does that make sex holy? Or, to put it another way, if it isn't love that makes fucking sacred, what does?