I was born and raised in rural West Virginia. Very rural. Like, no stoplights rural. Like, you could see a McDonald’s off in the distance, but the Ohio River stands between you and a Big Mac rural. The bridge to get across that river was a twenty-minute drive. I realized I was gay in that tiny town with no McDonald’s. I wrote about it in my debut memoir, Pretty Baby.
We’ve all got stories to tell about the people we’ve been, and the people we want to become. Because I want to help people tell their own stories, I became a professor and a writing coach. I teach in the Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where I completed my PhD in 2016.
In my classrooms, I focus on empowering writers—particularly those from marginalized communities—to join me in valuing ourselves as sites of knowledge. Over a decade teaching, my students have consistently turned in work that challenges the genre conventions of the forms we study. Conventions are established by those who—unlike many of these students—benefit from the systems of power that we wish to critique on the page. I encourage all writers to look for ways that their own experiences of storytelling and narrative arc, for instance, might come into conflict with received lessons of literary craft, and to write into those conflicts as the places where innovation is possible.
In addition to being an author and a teacher, I’ve also worked as an authenticity consultant, a barista, a phone sex operator, and an editor. I edited the acclaimed anthology We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival. I’m most proud of that one.
If you’d like to talk about a story you’re telling, be it film/tv or memoir of your own, reach out to discuss my consultation rates. I’m available to discuss authenticity in the realms of sex work, BDSM, and LGBTQ communities.
Now, I live in Los Angeles.
Chris Belcher is a writer, professor, and former sex worker. She’s the author of Pretty Baby (Avid Reader Press 2022). She completed a PhD in English at the University of Southern California, where she is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies and in the Writing Program. Under her working name, Natalie West, she edited the acclaimed anthology We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival. She lives in Los Angeles.