What does Belle de Jour miss most about being a call girl? Taxi rides as tax deductions!
That’s just one tantalizing tidbit about the always fabulous Belle de Jour, whose real name is Brooke Magnanti. Yesterday, the celebrated British erotic author took part in a live “Twitterview” from Waterstones, the U.K.’s largest bookstore.
Last year, Belle step out from behind her famous pen name and revealed her identity. Brooke, of Bristol, England, is a noted scientist whose specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and had worked at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health as part of a team that researched the potential effects on babies of their mothers' exposure to toxic chemicals.
Sadly, the state of science project funding in the U.K. is so problematic that Brooke announced last week she was leaving the field, noting that a close friend was even forced to leave the country to take a science job in the U.S.
From 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a high-class call girl for a London escort service. She has written an award-winning blog and several bestselling books based on her experiences as a high-end call-girl in the sex industry. Her writing also formed the basis of the TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, now in its third season on Showtime, and starring Billie Piper in the title role of “Belle.”
Recently, Brooke took a hiatus from penning new entries for her award-winning blog (where she says simply, “Belle de Jour is the pen name of Brooke Magnanti, a UK-based writer and science researcher. Interests: whisky, taphonomy, PGP encryption), and from commenting extensively on Twitter, or other social media outlets.
That’s why it was really great for us fans to participate in the Twitterview with her. Brooke’s famous wit and trademark humor continues to delight. I would like to thank Brooke and Waterstones for putting the event together, and again hats off to the bookseller for providing a transcript of the complete Twitterview, which appears in its entirety below, or read it directly on its website:
Belle de Jour Twinterview transcript with @Waterstones on Thursday 14th October
by Waterstone's on Friday, October 15, 2010 at 11:49am
The exclusive Twinterview transcript with Brooke Magnanti, author of Belle de Jour's Guide to Men, compiled for your pleasure.
Question: #bdj What were your thoughts on the TV show with Billie Piper based on your diaries?? From @Danbo12
Answer: The series was very good and I really admire Billie as an actress – she's nothing like me! #bdj
Question: #bdj What helps you to concentrate when writing? From @goriami
Answer: Sadly I'm one of those people who works to a schedule – strictly 1,000 publishable words a day...#bdj
Question: #bdj How do the men at your University work place react to you now that your identity is no longer secret? From @LevertonWrites
Answer: #bdj Luckily everyone I work with is a woman...and they're all Christians!
Question: #bdj You have the ability to build your ideal man, what are the key components? From @LevertonWrites
Answer: #bdj Bill Murray's sense of humour – looks like Luke Wilson – drinks like Jack Daniel...
Question: #bdj On the whole has having your identity public knowledge been a positive or negative experience? From @LevertonWrites
Answer: On the whole it's been positive but only because nobody recognises me... #bdj
Question: I have a question for Belle! Does the level of academic attainment (in a man) affect, ahem, 'performance'? #bdj From @dotterel
Answer: #bdj I wouldn't say it affects performance – but academic attainment is very attractive – does my PhD look big in this?
Comment: @loquax You wouldn't realise it, @loquax but I used to be on your website – I won a rice cooker #bdj
Question: I have a question for Belle! Would you encourage others, living a "secret life" to get it out into the open ? #bdj From @Daisybeebee
Answer: #bdj Tough one...You have to balance the effect it will have on your life v the relief of getting it off your chest. :-)
Question: #bdj You quit the escort business in 2004. What kind of work are you doing now? Xxx From @gidders1
Answer: I'm a neurodevelopmental toxicologist – which has to be, quite possibly, the sexiest occupation going #bdj
Question: #bdj What has been your greatest achievement? X From @McLeanAmy
Answer: #bdj Winning a pub quiz tie-break with a question about Yul Brynner (Greatest achievement) xxx
Question: #bdj You mentioned "The Mr." are you married now? Or is he a boyfriend? Give us a little info on your man. From @OtotheBeirne
Answer: He first attracted me by name-dropping Bill Murray in an email – It's in the book.
Question: Sartre or Camu? #bdj From @C_Ballinger
Answer: Hi Chas – Sartre but you knew that anyway :-)
Question: #bdj You said you are leaving science, are you going to write full time? Why the decision to leave science?
Answer: #bdj There are so few jobs going I felt bad taking one from someone else when I could get on as a writer...#scienceisvital (Twitter search hash tag)
Question: #bdj Billy played you in the TV adaptation who would you like to play you if your story was made into a film?
Answer: #bdj Definitely still Billie, but only if she does a musical number with Bill Murray...
Question: #bdj so.... What is it that men really want??? ( guide to men) From @gidders
Answer: #bdj That's in the book – It starts at the bottom of page 185.
Question: What are your future novel writing plans? Do you plan to write any fiction? #bdj From @emmajanedavies
Answer: #bdj I have both fiction and non-fiction in the pipeline -- stay tuned...
Question: #bdj Where will you be and what will you be doing / have completed when you think "I've made it"? From @LeonBaloo
Answer: Having done all the Munros in under a year, not going to happen, therefore, never any excuse #bdj
Question: #bdj Do men have more flaws than women, or are they just different ones?
Answer: Just different ones – the trick is not to take any of it too seriously. #bdj
Question: Pigs in baskets...discuss. Or was it a suitcase? :P #bdj From @C_Ballinger
Answer: #bdj It was a pig in a basket, and a lady in a suitcase...
Question: What do you miss most about your career as a Call Girl? #bdj From @JoMarieOReilly
Answer: Taxi rides as tax deductions ;-b #bdj
Question: In the guide to men does it explain man's inability to admit they're clueless in bed? #bdj From @SarahMayPhilo
Answer: #bdj Honey, who are you sleeping with? Not Bill Murray I hope? (Jesus, I hope he isn't on Twitter...)
Question: Is Belle considering doing the reverse, a book for men on women? From @Whemever
Answer: #bdj We've discussed it – watch this space.
Question: #bdj - http://bit.ly/bcUglU Love the book and TV Do you think Billie Piper was a brilliant choice for Belle on TV ??? From @paulinepppp
Answer: #bdj Yes, brilliant – doesn't hurt that she's about 15,000 x more hot than I am...
Question: Would you come back to read a play I'm writing? Oh and what is your fav cheese? :P #bdj From @C_Ballinger
Answer: Why a play and not children's books? Also – right now – Stilton x #bdj
Question: #bdj Your place or mine? From @BarrieCrampton
Answer: #bdj Is there a convenient Premier Inn somewhere in the middle?
Question: #bdj Can men be classified into groups? If so, could you say how many groups? From @lorcafan
Answer: This is in the book – see chapter 2 –
Question: Have you had to interact with a former "client" in the context of your current career? If so, how did you deal with it? #bdj From @montrose77
Answer: #bdj Are you saying we've met before? Apart from when you bought me whisky?
Question: #bdj What's the strangest request you have ever had from a man and did you do it? From @xMizzCrawleyx
Answer: So strange it appalled the show's producers – And hell yes I did!
Question: #bdj As it is the season what will be your Halloween costume this year? From @TinaMories
Answer: Yul Brynner – bald cap and all! #bdj
Question: #bdj Do you think you will ever find the right man? From @WardAndre
Answer: Found him – he's locked in the closet right now! #bdj
Question: #bdj Why did you pick the name 'Belle'? Was there any special reason? X From @McLeanAmy
Answer: #bdj Why I picked Belle? – Because to the certified blind I look like Catherine Deneuve... ;-b
Question: #bdj Could you give us stalwart fans a bit more detail about your upcoming book? Xx From @ehornaday
Answer: Hi, Em – All good things come to those who wait...#bdj
Question: Do you have any opinions on land wars in Asia? #bdj From @GenPegg
Answer: #bdj Never get involved. #princessbride
Question: Any tips on how to survive the coming zombie apocalypse? #bdj From @GenPegg
Answer: #bdj Stay away from cities. If you survive, I'll be at the Black Isle Brewery 2pm any Tuesday – look for the flare gun.
Question: #bdj Have clients ever given you unusual gifts? x
Answer: #bdj Unusual gifts – silver bubble blower shaped like a champagne bottle...I still have it.
@MsPurplePixie #bdj Has anyone ever had a "normal" relationship? ;-b
Thanks everyone for the questions -- off for a glass of whisky with Bill Murray -- cheers! xxx #bdj
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Brooke's other books are Belle’s Best 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. Everything that Brooke has written is worth reading. I can’t wait for more!
Also, check out Brooke’s op-ed articles on a variety of topics including reforming libel law in Britain.
— The Curator