A stunning follow-up to Carmen Aguirre's bestselling and Canada Reads-winning first book, Something Fierce. Mexican Hooker #1 is a powerful, heartfelt and grippingly honest memoir of finding meaning in life and one's voice as an artist, and of developing the strength to confront and overcome a childhood trauma.
Carmen Aguirre has lived many lives, all of them to the full. At age six she was a Chilean refugee adjusting to life as a Latina in North America. At eighteen she was a revolutionary dissident married to a generous-hearted man she couldn't fully love. In her early twenties she fought to find her voice as an actress and to break away from the stereotypical roles thrust upon her--Housekeeper, Hotel Maid, Mexican Hooker #1--all the while navigating the complex paths of lust and heartbreak. As she grew in her career, Aguirre became a writer, a director, an actress, and then a mother, but alongside her many multi-faceted identities was another that was unbearable to embrace yet impossible to escape; that of the thirteen-year-old girl attacked by one of Canada's most feared rapists. Thirty-three years after the assault, Aguirre decided it was time to meet the man who changed her life.
Fierce, funny and enlightening, Aguirre interweaves her account of coming to grips with the attack that shook her world with a host of stories of life and love. From her passionate but explosive relationship with a gorgeous Argentinian basketball player to the all-consuming days at drama school in Vancouver; from the end of the Chilean revolutionary dream to life among the Chicano theatre scene of Los Angeles; from the child who was made the victim of a terrible crime to the artist who found the courage to face her assailant, Aguirre tells a story of strength and survival that will leave you speechless.
CARMEN AGUIRRE is a Vancouver-based writer and theatre artist who has worked extensively in North and South America. She has written or co-written twenty plays, including The Refugee Hotel, which was nominated for a 2010 Dora Mavor Moore Award for best new play. Her most recent one-woman show is Blue Box. Aguirre has sixty film, TV and stage acting credits, including lead roles in the Showcase series Endgame and Quinceañera, winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Something Fierce won Canada Reads in 2012, was a finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize, and was a #1 national bestseller.
Finalist for the 2017 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (BC Book Awards)
“In her pursuit of art in the everyday, in Vancouver’s basement theatre scene though also her own marvellous writing so much in evidence here, Aguirre finds expression but also a way forward—examining her own behaviour ruthlessly, discovering kinship with First Nations, and using the sum of these experiences to transcend the violence of a rape that might have ruined any other child. This is extraordinary and, often unexpectedly, beautiful reading.” —Noah Richler, author of This Is My Country, What’s Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada and What We Talk About When We Talk About War
“What a bold, brave, and wise artist Carmen Aguirre is. Despite some soul-crushing experiences in her past, she’s written a memoir that’s life-affirming, awe-inspiring, and even wickedly funny in parts. Mexican Hooker #1 has a lot to teach us about the ways of the world.” —Neil Smith, author of Boo
“This book roars with a kind of courage one rarely witnesses in this world. It is a harrowing read, horrific yet unexpectedly—almost impossibly—tender. Carmen Aguirre will show you what compassion truly looks like. And the final few pages will leave you gobsmacked.” —Alison Wearing, author of Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter and Honeymoon in Purdah
“How many shocks can the body and mind endure? Carmen Aguirre has a courage and love of life that feeds her writing. Each valuable day is of interest to her. But again, how much pain can be absorbed without the mind detaching? I read all Aguirre’s work with fascination and a kind of awe, but Mexican Hooker #1 takes us further inside. The shocks are hitting us as we read.” —Heather Mallick
“[P]rofoundly intimate. . . . Never less than mesmerizing.” —Maclean’s
“Yes, this is a book that draws tears, but Aguirre is a merciful dramatist at heart, and so she works to move through events rather than leaving us mired in past wounds. Her powerful heart and appetite for experience ensures that the story, despite being one of trauma recovery, never feels maudlin or torturous. Mexican Hooker #1 is more than brave—it is dauntless, and Aguirre’s telling of it, even in its devastating moments, accomplishes what she set out to do: integrate it all in order to bare her true self.” —Naomi Skwarna, National Post
“Heart-stopping and indelibly beautiful, the story Aguirre tells is exquisite and excruciating, honest and unbelievably courageous.” —Vancouver Sun
“Mexican Hooker #1: And My Other Roles Since The Revolution picks up where her celebrated memoir Something Fierce left off. Loaded with hard lessons and painful memories, the book revisits everything from broken oaths of silence to a face-to-face conversation with the man who raped her.” —CBC Radio
“Mexican Hooker #1 is more than just a single story and a reminder that there’s much more to this woman than her past as a teenage revolutionary or rape survivor.” —Sue Carter, Metro (Toronto)
“[Mexican Hooker #1] is funny—in spite of the raw, horrific subject matter at its heart.” —Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail
“In her sharply funny, deeply passionate voice, Aguirre tells stories from her many lives—refugee, revolutionary dissident, drama student, director, mother and sexual assault survivor.” —CBC Books
“Mexican Hooker #1 is open and raw, like Aguirre’s life. Once started, I could not put it down. . . . I admire her courage and vulnerability, and envy her ability to bring such overwhelming emotion and disquieting memories to the page.” —Quill & Quire
“[A]n incredibly effective and beautiful memoir.” —Room
“[Mexican Hooker #1 is] an engaging, terrific read. It’s no wonder that drama infuses every aspect of Carmen Aguirre’s life as she’s an actor and playwright, but once you factor in revolutionary, things get ramped up to a frantic level. . . . Stylistically the book is raw and vibrant, bursting with energy. Sex and love are examined candidly. Aguirre doesn’t cut herself any slack and is utterly fearless, it appears, in revealing her desires and her mistakes. And sometimes her sexual escapades are just downright hilarious. . . . Mexican Hooker #1 works on many engaging levels. And what is terrific is that while it reveals many details of Aguirre’s life, in particular her coming to grips with how the rape affected her, there’s no doubt enough unwritten material to comprise another volume sometime in the future.” —The Vancouver Sun
“[Something Fierce] is a book that all but demanded a sequel. Now we have it, and Mexican Hooker #1 and My Other Roles Since the Revolution appears set to make its conversation-starting predecessor look like a mere warm-up.” —The Gazette