Of all the bars that Grant Stoddard has been to, he remembers only a handful.
Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern, the divey haunt on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, is one of them.
No sooner had the former sex columnist for Nerve.com sat down with his oversized Styrofoam cup of beer than a regular perched at the bar spotted him.
“Hey! You’re that guy! Do you still do all that weird sex s—t?”
Stoddard grinned, looking slightly embarrassed, and replied, “It’s funny you mention it, that’s actually why I’m here.”
After spending three years at Nerve, which has been publishing personals and porn since 1997, Stoddard has written a memoir, “Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert,” spilling the beans about his time as a professional stud.
Despite the sometimes-shocking “sexploits” outlined in his book, Stoddard claims to be a hopeless romantic. He moved to the United States from his native England in 1998 to chase a Jersey girl who had stolen his heart.
When things ended badly, Stoddard picked up the pieces and brought them to Brooklyn, moving to Kensington briefly before settling down in Williamsburg. The living situation was far from ideal.
“It made my hatred of hippies much more acute,” he said, citing an unfortunate situation where “an acid dropout girl stole our flat mate’s laptop for money to follow Phish on tour.”
Barely able to make ends meet, Stoddard worked shrink-wrapping CDs in a warehouse. “I spent most of my time appreciating the art of loafing,” he said, recalling the drudgery. “I structured my days around how to accomplish doing absolutely nothing.”
After a few months kicking around, Stoddard learned that he was facing deportation. To earn a work visa, he entered a trivia contest on Nerve with questions such as “What is the one area that engorges with blood other than the genitals during sexual arousal?” (Answer? The nose!) He ended up getting lucky. Literally.
As winner of the contest, he was awarded the grand prize: one passionate night with a married Nerve columnist. “I guess I didn’t do too badly,” he said, because with a good word from her at Nerve, he scored again — landing a paid internship with the site.
Stoddard began writing comical columns with titles like “I Did It For Science,” and made a name for himself by doing absolutely anything to get his next story.
“Like most writers, I procrastinated,” Stoddard told us “While I was living in Williamsburg, I was given an assignment to take five drugs, on five separate occasions and have sex under the influence. Of course, I put it off until the last weekend and ingested all five in a 36-hour period. I could still perform, but I was a mess. I had a boner that wouldn’t go away for days.”
For other stories, he had sex on the subway, played bridge in the nude, attended an S&M retreat in West Virginia as an undercover sadomasochist, and took part in a number of out-there orgies, including one celeb-filled romp at the Chelsea Hotel.
Ever the gentleman, he declined name names.
It isn’t surprising that Stoddard became a bit of a workaholic. In fact, one evening he decided to bring a girlfriend to an after-work event. Fearing that the details of their destination would scare her off, he decided to refer to the upcoming orgy as “raunchy party,” and hope for the best.
While he was standing across the room at the buffet table, munching on corn chips, a quick glance across the room revealed something unexpected. His formerly buttoned-up date completely unbuttoned and enjoying the company of a number of other partygoers. His conclusion? “People will do anything if you just ask them to.”
Stoddard continued working at Nerve until 2003. He left to pursue other options and work on his memoir, but insists that he looks fondly upon his tenure as a sex columnist.
Despite his adventures, Stoddard maintains that he’s nothing but a shy guy who was caught in extraordinary circumstances. “I’m very shy and very cautious. ‘Working Stiff’ is about how I was not the right person to be doing this. [Maybe I was] from a comedy standpoint, but from a sexual standpoint — no.”
Working Stiff: An excerpt
I’d first heard of Leather Camp during a Nerve.com editorial meeting.
Leather Camp is a five-day retreat in which extremely kinky people from the United States and abroad get together and enact their wildest fantasies. The idea was that I would attend and report back on the scene. Should anyone ask, I was to tell them that I was attracted to BDSM and thought that Leather Camp would be a good way to find out what worked for me.
I had already delved into some BDSM-type activity in my column before now: I’d been shrink-wrapped in latex, infantilized by a dominatrix, and had seven shades of s—t beaten out of me by a female wrestler…
A portion of the Leather Camp Web site dealt with travel arrangements and carpooling. I ended up getting a ride with a guy called Manflesh. I traveled to Brighton Beach to meet up with him at his parents’ home.
Manflesh was red-haired, soft-spoken, and in his mid-20s. He had borrowed his parents’ vehicle for Leather Camp: a large silver minivan with a large disabled sticker on the back and a mechanism for getting wheelchairs in and out.
“For a minivan, this thing can really move,” he assured me, then faithfully observed the speed limit the whole way down past the Mason-Dixon line.
As we headed closer to camp, the clouds cleared. In the final mile of our journey, we passed through a quaint little village that listed the times of services on its welcome sign. There I was, driving in with a man who made the Marquis de Sade look like Pat Boone. Did Littlebrooke’s residents know that 400 more of us were on the way?
We slowly pulled up the gravel driveway to the checkpoint, where two 50-year-old women in stars-and-stripes T-shirts checked our credentials.
“We gotta check that you ain’t vanilla!” one of them yelled, laughing.
After three hours with Manflesh, I was feeling more vanilla than at any point in my life.
About 25 yards from our car was a 50-year-old man dressed as a little girl, with a bright red wig, pink dress, white knee-high socks, and Mary Jane shoes. He looked like a dry-cured Strawberry Shortcake.
He skipped along the dirt road before hopping into a buggy and taking the reins.
— from “Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert” by Grant Stoddard (Harper Perennial, Jan. 2007)
“Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert,” is available at Barnes & Noble (267 Seventh Ave. at Sixth Street in Park Slope), Vox Pop (1022 Cortelyou Rd. at Coney Island Avenue in Flatbush) and Babbo’s Books (242 Prospect Park West at Windsor Place in Windsor Terrace).