March 20, 2008 / 2:00 AM / 10 years ago

U.S. denies entry to British sex and drugs memoir writer

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Controversial British author Sebastian Horsley was denied entrance into the United States as he arrived to promote his memoir of drug addiction, sex and his dysfunctional family, his publisher said on Wednesday.

Seale Ballenger, spokesman for HarperCollins Publishers, said Horsley was stopped by immigration officials at New York’s Newark airport after flying in from London on Tuesday to promote his latest book “Dandy in the Underworld.”

He said the flamboyant writer, wearing a top hat, three-piece suit and painted finger nails, was accused of “moral turpitude” in connection with his former drug use, pro-prostitution stance and controversial self-crucifixion in the Philippines in 2000.

Horsley, 45, claims to have slept with more than 1,000 prostitutes, worked as a male escort and been in and out of rehab to treat drug addiction, with video interviews of him talking about his drug use and sex life posted on the Internet.

“He is very honest about his life. That is who Sebastian is,” Ballenger told Reuters from a party in New York that was meant to be the U.S. launch for the book but ended up being a rally for support to bring the author back to the United States.

Ballenger said after several hours of questioning by immigration officials, Horsley was put on a plane and returned to London.

No one from the New York office of United States Customs and Border Protection was immediately available to comment.

The New York Times quoted a customs spokeswoman, Lucille Cirillo, as saying she could not comment on individual cases.

But in an e-mail to the newspaper she explained that under a waiver program that allows British citizens to enter the United States without a visa, “travelers who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (which includes controlled-substance violations) or admit to previously having a drug addiction are not admissible.”

Publisher Carrie Kania, from the HarperCollins’ unit Harper Perennial that published the book in the United States, said she found it hard to understand why Horsley would be denied entrance into the U.S. for “his notoriety.”

“It is unfortunate that his voice, in person, is being stifled,” she said in a statement.

“Sebastian has written a cautionary tale of a life lived vividly ... an unapologetic, honest, funny and torturous book. Sebastian’s memoir is about choice, some conventional, some unconventional.”

Horsley’s memoir was published last September in Britain with reviewers calling it both amusing and revolting.

Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, editing by Todd Eastham

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