No Dude, That Stripper is Totally Into You: ‘I Date a Hooker’ by Jeff Fischer

             If you need to kill a weekday evening, I can’t recommend highly enough Chapo Traphouse co-host Felix Biderman’s excellent documentary, Fighting in the Age of Loneliness. It’s a fascinating history of the sport of MMA. It’s both a history of the sport as a whole and a philosophical discussion on sanctioned violence as an outlet for the aggression of disaffected young men. It paints the modern world as a neoliberal hell-scape, where workers are ground down in profits’ holy name and any sense of personal achievement or meaning is undone by the constant commodification of every single aspect of human life. You can’t live a good life without money, and that’s getting harder and harder for a lot of people as technology takes away our senses of purpose and connection.

            Watch the whole thing here, it’s incredible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oNB6tlSZ2A&list=PLUXSZMIiUfFRSunlJERh9k1RFNnGGhnzG

            This disaffection is not new. It didn’t start with Trump and Covid-19 or Instagram and Twitter. It will be around long after both are a distant memory. You can see early instances of it in films like Taxi Driver where Travis Bickle takes Betsy on a date that starts in a diner and ends in a porno theater. Bickle, isolated from others by insomnia and anesthetized by porn and aimless rage can’t see how upsetting this choice is. He’s actually infuriated by her refusal to see him again to the point that he angrily confronts her at her work. The whole incident serves as the beginning of Bickles’ descent into a Mohawk-ed rampage at the end of the film. Films like The King of Comedy, Joker, or Cuck all portray these men as one tragedy away from violence. One bad date or refused advance away from a shooting spree. Society refuses to acknowledge their suffering, so they’re “forced” to violently project their pain onto the first person they deem “worthy” of their punishment.

            Every time some form of spree killing occurs, especially when committed by angry young men, the question that’s brought up is how can they can be steered away from violent ends? Conservative pundits love to claim America isn’t treating the mental illnesses plaguing our young people. Though true, they couldn’t give a goddamn about anyone’s mental health. It’s a smoke screen to steer society’s conversation away from the gun control debate. Universal healthcare would provide the treatment they claim is needed, but Christ forbid anything like it ever be applied for fear that the sickest among us (who through coincidence happen to be among our poorest) get some help.

            This book in a sense offers some sort of way out to this death spiral our society seems to find itself in. The commodified solution to a world that tore down any sense of family or community we have in favor of Amazon deliveries and LinkedIn profiles. If angry young men can’t get a date, maybe they can buy one. This is the central premise of Jeff Fischer’s I Date a Hooker.

The Story:

            Overall, this book is very short and there’s not a ton to it. A guy takes six prostitutes out on dates, writes a few paragraphs about the experience with pictures added. The descriptions of each date don’t go far beyond what they did and the author’s brief description of each girls’ backstory and looks. The girls he sees run the gamut. Some are in their twenties, some are almost fifty. Some are married, some are recent immigrants, some have been sex workers most of their lives.

            There are no unseen twists or turns to these stories. The dates happen at race tracks, gun ranges, art galleries, etc. Sometimes he seals the deal, other times he claims he doesn’t. He doesn’t seem to be anything but courteous to the girls he brings on dates, though not enough details are given to truly assess how each date went. The photos seem obviously staged and the only perspective we are given is of the customer, never the worker. This book is fascinating in a roadside spectacle sort of way. We as the audience view him the way he views his dates. As something to be gawked at, noting their every move in the situation he’s placed them in and being titillated by it. The author claims his first time was with a hooker and ever since, that is who he prefers to date. It’s fascinating to imagine the psyche behind this particular kink, but that psyche is never given a chance to emerge. We just get a few sentences about “hot bodies and sexy thigh highs” and a couple of pictures. Also, this guy looks exactly how you think he looks. Skinny, with bad Kurt Cobain hair, poorly fitting suits and a love of fedoras common to every scrub that thinks himself a pick-up artist.

            All in all, this book is not good. It’s not well written and the amount of time it takes to read it barely makes it worth buying. You wrote longer English papers in high school. Throughout the opening and closing of the book, the author relates how he respects sex workers. How he sees them as people when others do not. An admirable attitude to be sure, but his own writing betrays something less noble. He’s a man who gets off on being seen with a woman. He wants us all to know he’s getting some. A particularly telling date involves the author going to the race track with what he thinks is a “really clean post op tranny” and how he’s excited by the attention he believes himself to be getting from those around him that think he’s on a date with a trans woman. He’s aiming to be respectful, but it feels gross. It’s the logical conclusion to human interaction in Felix’s Biederman’s “loneliest time” in history, be it fighting or loving. Skin deep interactions based around money that satisfy nothing beyond are most meaningless desires.

            The dates we see are commodified exchanges in a society that values little else beyond that commodification. The charm or romance he sees in these dates does not exist in anything but his head and the photos in this book. Maybe the sex workers he’s with view him as a loyal customer. Perhaps they care about him in the way a bartender somewhat cares about his more eccentric barflies. We’ll never know though, as this work that claims to hold sex workers in high regard doesn’t respect them enough to let them actually speak. Once the exchange of money is over, they disappear totally from the book and the author’s attention.

Quote of the Story:

“In the end, I treat hookers with the respect they deserve. I like broken wing birds.” –Jeff Fischer

Keep or Donate?:

Donate it of you have it, but you can skip this one. It takes like 15 minutes to read and you’re better off doing most anything else. Learn something in that 15 minutes, this book won’t teach you anything.

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