From Happy Hooker to Happy Hostess

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frenchglamour80Did you ever take a sneaky peak into your mother’s or grandmother’s hidden stash of literature? If so, you may have come across a copy of Xaviera Hollander’s ‘The Happy Hooker: My own Story’. In the 1970s the autobiography topped the Bestseller charts and sold 13 million copies. Xaviera Hollander, a former Indonesian born Dutch prostitute turned Madam took New York by storm with her honest accounts of her experiences in her own infamous New York Brothel. But it did not stop there, she went on to write a column for Penthouse Magazine titled ‘Call me Madam’ as well as a number of books and even became a theatre producer working in the Netherlands and in Spain. To top it all, for the last 10 years she has been the proud owner of Xaviera’s Happy House  Bed and Breakfast in the elegant  Beethovenstraat neighbourhood, around the corner from De Pijp .

She invited me over to her home and B&B for a chat and a cup of tea to check out her cosy establishment and give me an update on the latest from the world’s most famous Madam. I was somehow not taken back by what I thought was a move to a quieter, wholesome life in a grand, colourful home in a plush area of Amsterdam. ‘I never sit still, I am always re-inventing myself’ she told NPR radio, something the infamous Burlesque MC Shai Shahar brings up in the documentary made about her life ‘Xaviera Hollander: a portrait of a sexual revolutionary’. No matter where life takes her, she always bounces back and starts doing something different with the same energy. I was right that I should have not been surprised by another re-invention of Xaviera, but I was wrong about ‘a quiet life’. She says herself that with running the B&B and taking on the role of The Happy e-Booker as well as writing her forthcoming book ‘Wall Talk’ (an account of her 40 years in the property) she has been busier and happier than ever.

As her adorable dogs and beautiful Siamese cats chill out in the attached living room, she tells me that the decision to run a Bed and Breakfast from her home provided a good way to earn money after she stopped writing for Penthouse Magazine. Her partner at the time saw an advertisement in the paper from a brand new B&B agency looking for people willing to rent out a room or two  to visitors for B&B purposes. ‘Well, since I always let everyone sleep here for free and I have these spare rooms, why should I give someone else a percentage? So I built a small website, started advertising and my name soon began  attracting customers. Just like in the Happy Hooker days, the parallel is very similar, the negotiation process is question, question, offer. But now people bring their own bums. A lot of customers even stop by for an evening with their liaison, for a Cinq a Sept (a 5 to 7 rental)’. Not exclusively however, her home has also welcomed large families, owners with pets, same sex partners and a New York Burlesque group who got free rooms in exchange for a free Burlesque show at her house. The establishment is also a hit amongst mildly physically impaired guests as it is fully equipped with a ramp and an electric chair lift. In addition her place is also conveniently located in walking distance from the the RAI  Congress Centre so it is occasionally flooded by businessmen.

Xaviera and and Schnoofy Fixpuza

Xaviera and and Schnoofy Fixpuza

During our chat I find myself bringing up the Happy Hooker label more than is necessary, but Xaviera is not offended as she understands my drive to do so ‘ The Happy Hooker became a world famous trade name, the Happy Housewife, the Happy Hairdresser etc’, to which I eventually find out are titles she never endorsed when with a sarcastic smile she replies ‘me, the happy housewife?’ and laughs. So it is clear that you will not find her knocking about the kitchen in a messy apron holding on to a ladle. Instead she relies on the help of  Philip, her husband of 7 years, business partner and the talented in-house cook. In fact, the first time they met, her opening line was ‘Can you cook?’. And the rest is history.

Xaviera also holds workshops where she teaches ‘The Art of Love Making’, the do’s and don’t’s of sex. These workshops (a gathering may be a more appropriate word considering the laid back atmosphere she describes) is usually attended by groups of up to 12 people, mostly women. She fills me in on a typical event: ‘ We get a lot of Hen Parties. I first check out what the girls are all about, I get them to tell me how they met their husbands and get them comfortable to be verbal about their experiences. Inevitably sex does come up in conversation even before I start my official talk’. This is followed by wine and a 3 course meal cooked up by Phillip, served in their spacious living room, finely decorated with Indonesian and Mexican  sculptures, original pieces of art, erotic paintings of the classiest type and framed photos of Xaviera. ‘We sometimes even get a couple of the ladies coming back, to stay with their husbands’ she tells me. This is not unusual as The Happy Sleeper often sees guests come and go and come back. Much like regulars which in the end is the point behind Xaviera’s business venture ‘Basically to me the Bed and Breakfast is a place to meet interesting people, to make friends and make connections’.

The room which caught my attention the most was the charming wooden chalet in the back of the Spanish garden, or the ‘lover’s nest’ as she calls it. A painting of Xaviera hangs above the bed; if only it could talk… The Happy Sleeper strikes me as a great option for those escaping the stuffiness and corporate atmosphere of hotels in the centre of Amsterdam, without compromising on a bohemian feel. At Xaviera and Philip’s home you won’t only feel welcome, but you are sure to hear some interesting stories from a woman who is not only ‘a jolly Madam at heart’ but also a ‘people pleaser and a bit of a mother figure’. Certainly all the right ingredients to draw up a very successful path from Happy Hooker to Happy Hostess.

The 'Lover's Nest'

The ‘Lover’s Nest’

 

Sometime in Mid June,   Xaviera will be celebrating her 70th birthday with a bang. Expect live music and a bunch of colourful guests. Join by participating in the event (dance, sing, cook, entertain) or purchase a ticket by contacting Xaviera through her official website.

 

For more info, visit Xaviera’s Official website: http://www.xavierahollander.com

To book a room: http://www.xavierahollander.com/sleeper or email bb@xavierahollander.com

To purchase Xaviera’s book and products: http://www.xavierahollander.com/shop/books-dvd-s-and-cd-s

 

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