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All 56 collected letters from writer and escort Charlotte Shane's ephemeral email project about sex, love, and money.
All 56 collected letters from writer and escort Charlotte Shane's ephemeral email project about sex, love, and money.
All 56 collected letters from writer and escort Charlotte Shane's ephemeral email project about sex, love, and money.
626 backers pledged $27,842 to help bring this project to life.

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Prostitute Laundry

$27,842

626

What Is Prostitute Laundry? 

In February of 2014, I began using Tiny Letter's email service to send out accounts of the most preoccupying aspects of my life: the struggles of my primary relationship, my paid and unpaid encounters with other men, my conflicted attitude regarding my body, and more. I chose not to create an archive as I went along, so only those subscribed could read the most recent letter. What resulted was a meditative serial memoir in which each entry stood alone but meant more to those who'd read what came before.  

In the months that followed, readership grew from 70 to over 4500. The project has since received attention from outlets like NPR, NYMag, and The Washington Post. The video above features longtime readers describing what the content is like. Here's a sample letter for further reference: 

What will the book be like? 

These 56 letters constitute over 110,000 words—a respectable amount of reading material. They'll be collected into a durable, friendly-feeling soft cover that, like jeans and white sneakers, will look better with wear. (In other words, you can throw it into your backpack with abandon and not hesitate to carry it with you throughout your day.) 

I want this book to have the physical features of my favorite books: to fit comfortably in a single hand, with margins wide enough for succinct notes, made of paper that gives just the right amount underneath a pen or pencil. It won't be a hardback because I think hardbacks, for close reading purposes, are godawful. I'm sorry but that's how I feel.  

What are the other rewards? 

My earliest personal writing took place on blogs. The most recent blog, which spanned 2009 to 2013, appeared under the URL Nightmare Brunette. The Atlantic once called it "worth a read," a ringing endorsement if there ever was one. You can find some other opinions and descriptions of it here and here. You can see samples of the blog entries here. It's very similar to the Prostitute Laundry letters, albeit written when I was younger, gentler, and more interested in my (sex) work. Altogether, there are over 100 entries making up more than 150,000 words. It's a real book-length book! And if you liked Prostitute Laundry, you will almost certainly enjoy the blog entries too. Bound, this book will resemble PL in terms of being a lovingly crafted paperback.   

"The Cord" was my longest and most remarked upon letter. I'd hate to spoil what it contains, but one of the (representative) replies was,"this made me believe in love again." The other person who figures most prominently in the story besides myself happens to be a spectacularly gifted illustrator, so his drawings will sprawl across the pages alongside my text. The end result will be a tender, intimate depiction of two people exploring the start an uncommonly profound connection. Here's an idea of what it will look like:

Huge thanks to: Bijan Stephen, Ethan Chiel, Martha Burzynski, Hayley Anthony, Joe Macaré, Abby Koski, Alana Massey, Marian Bull, Heidi DeRuiter, David Grossman, Natalie Coley, and others for their help with the video!

Risks and challenges

If the project is successful, I am going to work very, very hard to turn around the printing so that many if not all backers will receive their rewards in time for the holiday season. The most time-consuming part—actually writing the books—is already done! Max and I will work on editing and design furiously while your donations are coming in, and put a rush on the resulting order if the project is funded. We'll update you with further details once we're certain the books will be a reality.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    READ A LITTLE: Receive notification of all project updates (which will be good, and include music) as well as my gratitude.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    READ MORE: A first edition copy of the book, guaranteed to get you side-eyed if you're reading it in public.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    READ MORE WITH A FRIEND: 2 copies of the first edition so you can give one to a friend or progressive family member. One copy will be signed, but you don't have to tell your friend you kept that one for yourself.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    READ MORE WHILE FAMOUS: a signed first edition as well as your name listed in the acknowledgments, so people far and wide will learn of your generosity and good taste.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    READ MORE WITH A FRIEND WHILE FAMOUS: a signed copy of the book, your name in the acknowledgments, and *another* copy of the book that you can give away to someone who will notice your name in the acknowledgements. A true power move.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    READ A LOT: a signed first edition of Prostitute Laundry, a second unsigned copy, and a book of my multi-year blog Nightmare Brunette, which is no longer available online. For the diehard Charlotte completionist.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    READ A LOT WITH A FRIEND: two signed copies of Prostitute Laundry and two copies of Nightmare Brunette. Whoever gets the extras will feel so lucky! ....Or are you hoarding them all for yourself?

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    READ THE MOST: A signed first edition of Prostitute Laundry, an unsigned PL for loaning out to friends, a copy of Nightmare Brunette, and a jointly signed limited edition, beautifully bound, Max-illustrated treatment of "The Cord," the nearly 6000 word letter that elicited more replies (and tears) than any other.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    YOU'RE A BALLER: two signed first editions of PL, two copies of NB, a jointly signed copy of "The Cord," mention in the PL acknowledgments, and a 30 minute phone/skype/gchat convo with me about whatever's on your mind. (Sorry, no video chatting for anonymity reasons.)

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $650 or more About $650

    SO MANY THINGS: two signed first editions of PL, two copies of NB, a jointly signed copy of "The Cord," mention in the PL acknowledgments, and a 60 minute phone/skype/gchat convo with me about whatever's on your mind. (Sorry, no video chatting for anonymity reasons.)

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    Pledge $850 or more About $850

    I AM SPEECHLESS: But not literally. Because if you donate this much, I have to make sure you receive two signed copies of PL, two copies of NB, a jointly signed copy of "The Cord," mention in the PL acknowledgements, a 90 minute chat with me (sans-video), and an audio recording of me reading your favorite Prostitute Laundry letter. Phew!

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Funding period

- (25 days)