In the years following the success of her memoir The Happy Hooker and the launch of its film franchise, Xaviera Hollander dabbled fairly widely in merchandising the “Happy Hooker” name. She can hardly be blamed, it’s such a catchy phrase that it’s been cheekily co-opted by everyone from crochet hobbyists to fishermen. Hollander has been involved in drama production, written a long-running advice column (and penned plenty of sex-advice books), and she even had a Happy Hooker board game.
Lest you think I was kidding about that, here you go.
Hollander produced a kitsch artifact holy grail with her 1973 LP Xaviera! It’s mostly a spoken-word album, with tracks featuring Hollander detailing her philosophies regarding sex generally and prostitution specifically. There are a few tracks that are basically dramatizations of trysts, but the real money-shot here (sorry) is Hollander’s bonkers cover of the Beatles’ classic “Michelle.” It’s been a mix-CD staple of mine since I found it years ago on April Winchell’s old MP3 page (it’s not on her current page, but don’t let that stop you from heading there anyway to revel in all the marvelously bizarre delights contained therein), and it could not be more out of place, either on that LP, or on planet freakin’ Earth.
I don’t want to mislead, this isn’t anything like full on Mrs. Miller-level self-deuded badness. But it’s still pretty out there, and bad in a way and to a degree that make it truly compelling. At no time is the song ever actually “sung”—it’s moaned in a breathy, overwrought “Happy Birthday Mr. President” way that often out-camps most intentional campifications of sexuality. And when the most famous prostitute on Earth moans “I want you, I want you, I WANT YOU,” should it not maybe feel more believable? Fittingly, the track ended up on the Golden Throats 4: Celebrities Butcher the Beatles compilation, and as far as I know, it would be another ten years before Hollander endeavored to sing on an LP again, for the Dutch-only release Happily Hooked. (See what I mean about that branding? That shit is durable.) And even on that album—or at least the part of it that my DM colleague Amber Frost found—she still basically just talks over music. Not that exceptional singing is the reason you listen to it anyway, it’s all in good fun.
One last trivia nugget for the trainspotters: the Xaviera! LP contains a “special guest” credit to the rockabilly pioneer Ronnie Hawkins, who, apart from his own musical contributions, assembled the musicians who would come to be known as The Band. Whether his guest appearance is as the guitar player on “Michelle,” or as a male voice in one of the performances, or both, I couldn’t say.
Xaviera Hollander, “Michelle”