Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Belle de Jour Talks GEEKS!

Are you a geek? If so, are you ashamed? Well, let beloved Belle de Jour encourage you to embrace who you really are.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Belle de Jour had been the nom de plume of a celebrated British author, who was also a London call girl for two years.

Last year, Belle revealed she is Dr. Brooke Magnanti, of Bristol, England, a respected scientist. Brooke’s specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. She is currently part of a team researching the potential effects on babies of their mothers' exposure to toxic chemicals.

But from 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a prostitute via a London escort agency; she started blogging as Belle de Jour — after the Buñuel film starring Catherine Deneuve as a well-to-do housewife who has sex for money because she’s bored — shortly into her career as a call girl, after an incident she thought funny enough to write down.

She charged £300 an hour for her services, of which she got £200. The average appointment lasted two hours; she saw clients two or three times a week, “sometimes less, sometimes a great deal more,” she has said.

Before I spotlight her current post, I would like to share my personal feelings about the good doctor. I have supported, rooted for, and always cheered Brooke since her blog first hit the Internet in 2003. Over the years, her writing has touched me many times and in personal and profound ways. I find her unforgettable. She can bring me to tears in one paragraph, then make me laugh loudly in the next. She has caused me to consider life in a different way, challenging stereotypes I didn’t even know I held or employed.

Since she disclosed her identity, she has had the freedom to pen a variety of topics that are far afield from erotica. I say, BRAVO! The world needs real writers of depth and quality, and that IS Brooke Magnanti.

It is absolutely true that she has written the best erotic-themed posts and books that I have ever read. But she is so much more. When you read today’s post, you will feel her originality, the importance of her voice. She should not be dismissed, or type cast because of that famous blog, but given the respect that she is due.

Ironically, it is this very talent that has caused some in the “literature” world to reject her. I think they are threatened, because her complexity is impossible to capture or ignore. She is a feminist who likes men; she was an escort who became a respected scientist; she is witty, educated, but can also be earthy when it’s least expected. And, best of all, she is unapologetic.

So, whether she likes it or not, she is one of my role models – a woman who lives her life on her own terms. It is that core power of her's that is wonderfully illustrated in today’s post. Read that post here in full, or directly at her blog, then do yourself a favor and check out all of her wonderful books:

mercredi, mars 10

For a long time, I've been a geek about, well, loads of things (the paintings of Van Dyck, for example). I'm also a dork by temperament and a nerd by trade. I also am mystified at geek being appropriated into coolness, hipness, and trendiness.

The prominence of the word geek in current parlance has me torn. On the one hand, it's nice it's no longer an insult. But on the other hand, as someone who has been uncool from approximately conception, it's a head-scratcher. I don't get hipsters and don't especially want to.

So to misquote Justin Timberlake, I'm bringing geeky back, yeah. Here are some real-geek-spotting tips:

9. Real geeks don't need a press release to tell them what to like. I love Apple as much as the next girl but well-designed, widely popular, mass-marketed entertainment devices are not geek. Fact.

8. Real geeks aren't only focussed in technology areas. If you know someone who can discern tulipwood from kingwood at thirty paces, then that my friend is a geek and it don't matter what fucking phone he owns.

7. Geek isn't necessarily holding qualifications, but it is intellectually rigourous. If you can wing it with half an hour on Wikipedia, it's not geek.

6. Real geeks don't care what's next, because that would imply caring what other people think. The process of deciding whether or not you care what other people think is inherently not-geek.

5. Real geeks know that to a man who only has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, but they will probably try to turn a screw with a hammer anyway.

4. If real geeks had to do it all over again, they would do it all over again. Apart maybe from the ramen bit.

3. Real geeks can't stop doing and thinking what they're doing and thinking. Remuneration for it does not really enter the equation and holidays do not switch it off.

2. Irony is not a part of a geek's worldview. If you like dodecahedral dice and polyester shirts, you like them without inverted commas. And real geeks don't give a shit what comic books you read.

1. A real geek is either fully aware of his geekiness or shockingly unaware of it. There really isn't an in-between, but these two states can exist together.

0. Examples: Springer-Verlag, Samuel French, and Loeb Classical are geek; Penguin is not. Burda is geek, McCall's is not. Dallas Dhu is geek, Benromach is not. Juggalo is geek now, emo isn't geek anymore. Trapeze was never for geeks and diabolos are never not. Invented a new way to yo-yo? You're a geek.

Addendum: I don't hate iPhones and Benromach is one of my favourite whiskies. When people discover things that used to be niche interests, it makes me happy. Do what you do, and like what you like, and be real about it. But when people ape liking things and then leave them for the Next Big Thing (um, cigars in the mid 90s anyone?), that's just dumb.


We will be blessed with a new book, Belle de Jour’s Guide to Women, expected to be published in May. Her other books are Belle de Jour’s Guide to Men, 2009; Belle’s Bits, 2009; The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, September 2005; The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl, May 2007; and Playing the Game, June 2009. All of them are worth reading and re-reading – trust me! Several of the books have yet to be published in the U.S., so the easiest way to obtain them is to go to Amazon's U.K. division, where they are all available.

Her writing has been so popular that it became the basis for the international hit TV series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper. It can be seen on Showtime in the U.S., and the first two seasons are available on DVD. The third season premiered last month, and was previewed by an entertaining special 30-minute interview of Brooke by Billie.

— The Curator

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