Ten Reasons We Love Sarah Katherine Lewis
Photo: Mary Paynter Sherwin
It’s easy to fall for the charms of this queer author, online advice columnist and 10-year sex work veteran. Her 2006 sex work memoir, Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire, and her 2008 essay-and-recipe collection, Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad for Me, reveal Lewis to be funny, fearless and über-intelligent—but with a rare sincerity and vulnerability that make her all the more appealing. Here’s what we love most about her:
1. Her rocker chick style. With hot, girly curves, arms adorned in ink and hair that occasionally changes color, Lewis is a self-described “chubby tattooed metalhead”. When choosing a “sexy” costume for an office holiday party, Lewis rejected the traditional and opted to go as Axl Rose. She wanted to get in touch with “the kind of sexy that lives in my pussy and lower gut,” she explained. “[It was] more about the hot thrum I felt inside than the way I looked on the outside.” Hot.
2. In a world that praises ascetic women, she’s an unashamed hedonist. Lewis loves the things society tells women they shouldn’t. “I tend to want what I want, and I tend to actively strive and achieve what I want,” she says.
3. She has a rare, unparalleled gift for writing about meat. I knew Lewis was special when I, a lifelong veggie, found myself salivating over her meat descriptions throughout Sex and Bacon. Whale meat, she says, “was like eating every swimming, crawling creature in the ocean, inhaling krill through gritted teeth. It was like eating the ocean itself.” The book’s smattering of recipes morph into wildly sensual, visceral and erotic experiences. And she has this to say about bacon: “Each strip’s fatty section swelled and curled coyly in the pan, making seductive popping noises. Shhhhhhh, the bacon whispered, promising discretion.”
4. She’s teaching 20,000 people how to have hotter sex. Lewis writes the popular Ask Sarah advice column on www.XToysUSA.com. “People send in their sex questions and I get to write a sassy column,” she says. Besides offering intelligent, open-minded advice to people of every orientation, Ask Sarah is often hysterically funny and even a little flirtatious—watch out, Dan Savage.
5. She’s also teaching women around the country how to love the way they look. A year after its publication, Lewis is still touring for Sex and Bacon, but rather than a straight-up promotional tour, it’s evolved into workshops at colleges on body image, feminism and desire. (www.sexandbacon.com)
6. She has a killer vocabulary, which is super-sexy. Lewis is unmistakably clever but never comes off as pretentious, punctuating her sassy smarts with swear words—kind of like a bad-ass brainiac older sister who used to cut class all the time and still got straight A’s.
7. As a shameless, nonironic, hardcore Britney Spears fan, she calls out the misogynistic mainstream media. Lewis makes a compelling argument for the Mouseketeer turned tabloid disaster as a feminist icon. “Britney is female appetite. Britney wants. She wants food and sex and love and trashy, sexy no-account boys.” Lewis says the essay, which discusses body image, desire and prescribed roles for women, often brings her audiences to tears.
8. She’s ready to age gracefully. As Lewis approaches 40, she says you couldn’t pay her to live through her 20s again. “Women in their 40s and above are incredibly attractive to me,” she admits. “They’re interesting and smart and not overly concerned with what people think about them. They have a wealth of life experience. If you go out to dinner and talk, you know they’ll be interesting.”
9. She’s real, relatable and sensitive. Lewis admits that the work of a memoirist can sometimes get scary. “You open yourself up to judgment, and I wish I could sit here and be totally cool about it and be like, ‘I don’t care what people think about me...if they don’t like me, they can fuck off!’...But that is not me,” she says. “When people are mean about stuff that I’ve admitted, it hurts my feelings.”
10. She’s on her way to making a film about the sex industry—one that’s actually realistic and relevant. Lewis is in the process of turning Indecent into a screenplay, hoping to cast “some unknown, surly chubby girl” in the lead role. “For the screenplay, I’m really resisting the idea of showing the actress nude or being sexual, because that’s really exploitative. I want to turn the gaze back on the clients, which has always been my experience,” she explains.