Interview: Xaviera Hollander, the Happy Hooker

This entry is part 18 of 21 in the series: Bert's Eye View

Xaviera Hollander is a truly fascinating woman. She was born in Indonesia, of German and Dutch parents and speaks 6 languages.  She has lived an incredibly full life, with a lot of ups and a few downs.  Her stories are filled with an irreverent sense of wit and humor.  She relocated to the U.S. to work as the Dutch ambassador’s secretary in the 1960’s.  During this time, she found that men were happy to shower her with gifts in return for “favors,” in part, due to her highly sensual nature. After a bit of introspection, she began moonlighting as a call girl.  Popular with a wealthy and influential clientele, she earned $1,000 per night. ($6,000 per night is the equivalent today, adjusting for inflation.)

Capitalizing on her lucrative business, she opened Xaviera’s Happy House in a Manhattan high rise at 73rd St. and York Ave.  It quickly became the most exclusive brothel in New York City, and Xaviera was the most famous madame. She operated successfully until 1971 when she became embroiled in a massive police corruption scandal—The Knapp Commission. She was forced to testify or face deportation. She testified and ended up being deported anyway for “moral turpitude.” Apparently, her former johns in high places had no sense of humor …

After being deported, she continued to write.  In 1972, she published her memoir, The Happy Hooker.  It became an overnight sensation, selling over 20 million copies, worldwide. Her no-holds-barred, racy account of the swinging ‘60’s and ‘70’s, unabashedly delved into prostitution, bondage, group sex, bisexuality, and lesbian relationships—subjects that were taboo at the time.

She has written 19 books in total. Her last novel, and possibly her favorite, Child No More, is a memoir of losing her mother with details of their complicated relationship. While some of her books expound on sexual techniques and can be quite informative, she also has a sensitive side and addresses love, relationships, happiness, and profound sadness.

In 1972, a movie profiling her life was made, entitled The Happy Hooker, starring Oscar-nominated actress Lynn Redgrave.  Several other theater and film productions have been made about her life over the years.  Currently, a musical is being developed, with the goal of Broadway.

Have you heard of Call Me Madam? Well, Xaviera wrote for that column for 35 years for Penthouse Magazine—the longest running agony aunt advice column of its kind.



Today, she splits her time between Xaviera’s Happy House, her bed and breakfast in Amsterdam, and Villa Caprice, her villa in Marbella, Spain. She is married to a loving husband, Philip.  She offers sexology workshops and lectures and continues to write. She also brings noteworthy small theater productions to Amsterdam from around the world.

The wisdom and maturity she has gained through the years allows her to view life and relationships at their most realistic and uncomplicated levels.  She generously advises people on how to look at life from the bright side, and how to keep the spark in relationships.  We should be on the lookout for her next advice column for couples.

Q:  Hi Xaviera.  How are things in Amsterdam?

A:  Amsterdam, this winter, had the mildest climate in Northern Europe and could hardly be called “winter”.  Flowers started to bud already in February this year, and people were already flocking to the sunny and warm terraces in Midtown Amsterdam, while in the UK, people were soaked for several months with floods and rain.  Now they are finally learning from the Dutch, who as you know do more than just stick a finger up the little Dutch boy’s bum to stop the dyke from flooding!

Aside: I mentioned that I stole The Happy Hooker out of my parent’s book case when I was 13.  It turns out I wasn’t being sneaky at all—they’ve since told me they knew and thought it was funny.  That was an eye-opener for a 13-year-old kid.  I remember thinking: “Whoa!”  “She did what?  That book was much better than sex education class in the 8th grade.

Q:  Do you have any plans for an e-book re-release?  I know I’d read it again.  That and I think The Happy Hooker’s Guide To Sex: 69 Orgasmic Ways To Pleasure A Woman should be on every Kindle.

A: As it happens, (coincidence you should ask me), I just published two of my favorite books (apart from The Happy Hooker, of course) as an e-book. Let’s get Moving, about my wild times in a quaint, but fun Mexican fishing village south of Acapulco called Zihuatanejo, in Guerrero where I have been “overwintering” for the last 34 years in a great bungalow park called Las Uraccas.

Each cabana was named after an exotic bird. It was a heavenly little paradise close to the beach, with our own palapas, hammocks and great terraces, parrots and squirrels in the trees and great Mexican food.  I went there with, what for years had been the love of my life, John Drummond, a wild Scottish intellectual who, at times, liked his whiskey, beer and wines too much. We had great sex, often up to 3 times a day—all that and he was about 17 years older than me.  We met a few great looking younger couples, at a party in the mountains. We shared some wild adventures with them. And there was the occasional single blondie, often American, looking for a wild lay in the hay.  The book Let’s Get Moving is the follow-up of Happily Hooked.

Other e-books include the cute and handy illustrated booklet Sex: 69 Orgasmic Ways To Pleasure A Woman, which is full of great sex advice and tips on how to become a terrific lover.  This booklet (with a sexy red cover) is based on 35 years of sex advice I have given in Penthouse Magazine under the title Call me Madam. About 11 years ago, I got my walking papers from Penthouse, soon after Bob Guccione walked out of his own office. I had been the  longest running sex agony aunt ever in a monthly girly magazine, I used to live in London  with Guccione and his then new wife (ex-stripper) Kathy Keeton, and we all had a lot of fun. Especially when he opened Penthouse Clubs, one after another. Bob was always in competition with Hugh Hefner and Playboy Magazine.

Q: I’m sure you were upset when you were deported.  Awhile ago, you mentioned that you were having problems getting into the U.S. to work on your Broadway show.  How many  years has it been since you have not been allowed to enter the United States?

A: 28 years. Until TV and radio host, Larry King sponsored me and took care of the legal bills to get me back, and on his show. He was kindhearted and almost overly protective toward me with the callers, who asked me all kinds of questions.  Little did he know how much I like controversy!  The Larry King interview had very high ratings. During the show, I promoted my new favorite (18th) book CHILD NO MORE. Shortly after the show, I secured a visa to the USA for the coming 5 years. 28 years earlier, after getting kicked out of the USA for running a brothel and procuring call girls, I realized one thing about the USA: IN THE USA YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH MURDER, BUT NOT WITH SEX. (I’m hinting towards O.J Simpson, who finally did get done in. To tell you the truth I was more glad than upset to get the hell out of the USA, that’s how fed up I was with all those crooked cops in Manhattan. I craved freedom again. “

Q: How is your bed and breakfast doing in Amsterdam:  Xaviera’s Happy House? Do you have any suggestions of things to do while visiting Amsterdam?

A:  Do you mean the most bohemian and colorful, semi-erotic, tinted bed and breakfast you will ever find in the world? The perfect hideaway for lovers, especially our renewed and enlarged Garden Chalet with a magnificent double shower, where two lovers can easily “fool around” before diving between the sheets of the enormous king size bed. To answer your question, we are getting very busy all of a sudden, what with  the dead months of winter behind us. It has been spring-like weather since February — with tourists flocking especially to Amsterdam—#2 fun city in the world.

Tulip fields in March and April, in the so-called Keukenhof, where thousands of tourists flock;  our various massive worldwide known congresses, around the corner from my house at the RAI congress center;  wild holidays like the King’s birthday, April 26 when  everybody dresses in orange and  the entire country goes crazy. Kids under 18 are not allowed to buy liquor anymore.  A step taken to avoid crazy binge drinkers. They still drink, but it’s confined to private parties.



Then there is the world famous GAY PRIDE day in August,  when all the gay boys and girls let it all hang out (with minutely covered private parts).  Even the predominantly gay police force (the so called boys and girls in blue), appear on their special boats, but never as naked as some others … Then there is the famous Holland Festival for a week in June  with culture lovers  seeking a stay over at the  Xaviera’s Happy House or any of the dozen other places my man Philip and I represent:  www.xavierahollander.com/sleeper or simply visit Absolute Amsterdam. Year round, people of all ages, but mostly between 25 and 50, flock to Amsterdam to attend enormous rock concerts, kinky S&M fetish parties, and to watch burlesque shows and visit the red light district. Of course, there is the recently reopened Rijks Museum. After 10 year’s restoration work, it’s a museum you don’t ant to miss.  The  Museum of Contemporary Art, is a worthwile visit as well.

Q:  I checked out your Villa Caprice on your website.  It looks like a very cool place to be …

A: Cool is not really the right word for a steamy place like Southern Spain … Villa Caprice is in Marbella, Spain. Occasionally, I go there with my man and friends, when the heat is over. There are only a few tourists  in May or September.   The Marbella weather is the best in the world. The rest of the year, the villa is for rent for my own friends or fans or via booking agents. The house is spacious and can sleep up to 12 people with 3 different bathrooms and two big kitchens. And, lots of terraces and seating or lounging place for all guests.

You can frolic around in the immense pool in the nude, walk to the beach in ten minutes, hike into the mountains just around the corner, or take a car and go to spectacular places like Cordoba, Seville,  Granada , Morocco, or Gibraltar. In almost every quaint Spanish village there are interesting and colorful  street markets full of interesting locally made things you may want to pick up to take home. “

Q:  How is the theater production company? You travel quite a bit to find productions to tour with, correct?

A:  I have a great love of the theater, especially one or two man or woman shows.  To hold the attention of an audience takes incredible writing and acting talent. The last great bestselling one woman show was called  STRIPPED …  about the life and times of a true and seasoned, bright stripper. I produced the one hour, one woman show in a theater festival in Dubrovnik, Croatia with great success.  The play also toured in Amsterdam and Marbella.  I’m considering working on a UK version of the first play I produced in Holland, 15 years ago.   It is a Russian play called MOSCOW PETUSHKI, about a Russian drunk philosopher who gets stuck on a train between Moscow and Petushki. The Polish Actor Jacek Zawadzki  did the show both in Polish as well as in English in Holland when I organized an entire  Polish public at my own house theater.

Q: So, you’re doing a lecture tour, running your B&B (Happy House in Amsterdam) and have your Villa Caprice in Marbella. You host seminars and symposiums, write, produce theater, and travel to find talent. You handle your website and merchandising of your books and CD’s.  HOW do you keep this all straight?  Are you Superwoman or what?  Do you ever sleep?

A:  I am a total insomniac, and each hour I don’t sleep, I am at work, usually on the computer.  I need no more than 4 to 5 hours sleep.  I keep up with all this while I am still reasonably fit.  I don’t drink any alcohol, don’t smoke cigarettes and gave up smoking Marijuana years ago. Basically, I am a  chocolate, cookies, licorice and flower girl.

Q:  Do you think a brothel like Xaviera’s Happy House could work today in New York?

A:  NO AND THAT ENTIRE  SUBJECT right now is about the furthest thing on my mind.  Sorry to say, yet I am  very much up to date with the changing laws worldwide, and just did a major documentary about women, all over the USA, Canada, and Holland. in the sex industry—Pay For Play from Canada.

As I become more mature, my life experiences are leading me in a different direction.  I’m now looking at options for a syndicated advice column for couples. It will be focused on how to look at life from the bright side and make changes before relationships blow up like some enormous eruption of Vesuvius …  Even if couples have to break up there are ways to soften the blows.  If you are in a brand new relationship, I can teach you how to avoid the potholes and keep things fresh and exciting without necessarily having anyone turn into a Barbie or Ken doll.

Q:  You have told me that Philip is the love of your life and soul mate. How did that happen?

A:  I am glad that I am not a young girl anymore who has to make up her mind what she wants to be when she grows up. I am happy I hooked the love of my life about 10 years ago at my own birthday party.  He treats me like a lady with a good dose of  humor and basically  knows all  my needs; be this a fine pot of  fruity tea and lemon or ginger in the morning or some  sickly sweet pancakes and raisins, with  powdered  sugar and  whipped cream and not to forget ice cream once a week at night!!

He is a terrific cook and in fact, the first sentence I spoke to him when we met in my own garden was:  ‘Hey Philip, can you COOK?’  THE ICE WAS INSTANTLY BROKEN.  He is a multifaceted diamond this man, 10 years my junior.  He used to be a jeweler and limousine driver for some very wealthy Russians, a bookkeeper (for me now) and a private detective … (which makes it impossible for me to cheat as he smells it  before I could even think of cheating) .  He is very jealous and does not like me to fool around at all. Although, we both love to  embrace very big breasted women like my year-long friend  the porn star ANNIE SPRINKLE . Philip, now  just 60, is in great shape and, like his sweet parents (both still very much alive in their mid-eighties), he has a thick mop of curly white hair.

We love to go swimming at least once a week but if he begs me to go for a long walk, I usually decline.  My favorite space in the house is a most comfortable ergonomic Miller office chair, where I can be found until the early morning hours—skyping, typing, calling and facebooking—NOW I have just launched two books of mine on ebook  versions and this week I will start a welcome to my readers  campaign to start TWITTERING and  promote these books  SUPERSEX  and  LETS GET MOVING.  (about my wild adventures in Mexico many moons ago).

The only place we argue in is in the car, as there,  Philip’s macho mentality cannot be suppressed by my screams or kind requests  to slow down . … His name in Dutch is de Haan … the cock, and for sure he is a real MR MACHO COCK ON THE ROAD.

Q:  Xie, thanks for the chat, and please keep us posted on where to find your writing and column.

A:  I will and the same to you!





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Bert Woodson

Bert Woodson currently lives on Florida’s Gulf Coast in Cortez, with his Rhodesian Ridgeback, Colt, and Colt’s kitty Woof. (Yes, he named him.)