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NakedTruth-banner“I went through my teenage years believing I was this broken person who didn’t deserve to be treated well,” says Justin Hernandez, the writer of NakedinNewYorkCity.com, a blog that chronicles his dating life in the Big Apple. “Sadly, I carried that mentality into my twenties and most of my thirties. It took me a long time to deprogram myself and understand my worth.”

NakedTruth-banner“I went through my teenage years believing I was this broken person who didn’t deserve to be treated well,” says Justin Hernandez, the writer of NakedinNewYorkCity.com, a blog that chronicles his dating life in the Big Apple. “Sadly, I carried that mentality into my twenties and most of my thirties. It took me a long time to deprogram myself and understand my worth.”

Hernandez admits to bedding over five hundred men – and that’s only one of the shocking truths he reveals in Inside the Vortex, his debut memoir available at bookstores this month.  It’s a riveting coming of age story in which he recounts how early years of abuse and neglect led to addiction, stripping, and eventually, selling his body.

Why did you decide to reveal your personal story in Inside the Vortex?

It wouldn’t have been an authentic memoir if I didn’t reveal all the ugly and naked truths. Some of my past is embarrassing and cringe-worthy, but as they say: the truth shall set you free. It definitely did for me.

Do you fear being judged by your past?

I don’t fear being judged anymore.  In fact, I have found empowerment from my past. I have peace of mind today.  I’m genuinely happy, and I’m pursuing something I am very passionate about – being an author.

Looking back, what was the first step that led to selling your body?

When I began stripping, the money became an aphrodisiac. I literally went home one night after performing, laid the money out on the floor, and rolled around in it. I felt high from the cash.  In the beginning, it didn’t really register with me that I was escorting. To me, escorts hung out in back alleys or placed ads in local gay rags. I was performing at a strip club and it was common for strippers to conduct private parties with patrons. It just seemed a no-brainer at the time. I was on autopilot.

You write about being raped by your stepfather as a child.

My stepfather broke my spirit with years of physical and verbal abuse so that there was no way I could fight him off once he began molesting me.

What kind of impact did the rape have on your perception of sex and relationships? 

I wanted someone to want me so much that it would make me want and value myself. I didn’t understand that there was this huge void that had been created from the abuse I endured. I simply thought that a sexual and romantic partner completed you. Of course, this led to many episodes with all the wrong types of guys – and in some cases, in the wrong types of places.

NakedTruth-pic1How did you get the name J Boogie?

I didn’t want the guys in the strip club to know the real me. I became J-Boogie, a guy that was there to have fun and to listen to them.  They didn’t need to know anything else.

The men weren’t interested in knowing the real Justin Hernandez?  

One thing I discovered quickly was that these guys who were paying for sex wanted to feel important. How do you make someone feel important? By keeping the spotlight on them. I made them feel special by expressing an interest and engaging them into talking about their lives. I think any successful working boy knows this is a key factor in making a client happy.

When stripping, and then eventually escorting, did you ever stop and think ‘this is beneath me’?  

Not really.  Looking back, it’s crazy how it went from zero to sixty and I never had that moment where I questioned it or said, “What are you doing?”

Do you think maybe you were punishing yourself by selling your body?

Most experts would say that all addicts are punishing themselves on some subconscious level.  Still, I don’t think I ever viewed the stripping or escorting as punishment. I wasn’t the guy who, after an encounter, is sobbing in the shower as the water washes away his whore-ness.  That was never me.

How did you turn things around for yourself?

I left the business. But, like anyone who tries to give up something cold turkey, I stumbled back into it a few times. I was always able to rationalize a return to the business. The last time I danced, I looked around at some of the guys who had been in the business longer than me, and I realized they had no back-up plan. This was it for them. I didn’t want to fall into that trap.

Where do you go from here?

In my twenties and most of my thirties, I was always on the fast road and could never sit still for very long.  I’ve grown more insightful and less impulsive through the years. I’m comfortable in my own skin today I’m enjoying my journey of self-awareness and enlightenment.

Do you worry you may fall back into your addictive behaviors?

I have a grasp on my addictions, but I also realize life can throw some crazy curve balls. Whatever happens in the future, good or bad, I can only hope that I become a better person from the experiences. 

Inside the Vortex by Justin Hernandez is available digitally and in paperback on Amazon.com, iBookstore.com and BarnesandNoble.com this month.

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