Sex and Sex Work on TV and Film: an Escort’s Picks
Due to illness I’ve been on the couch a lot this month and I’ve been using the time to catch up on some great sex-work-related cinema and TV.
Sex work and escorting are great subjects for film because they deal directly with our sexual culture and our attitudes towards sexual expression. However it’s a bit of a struggle sometimes finding stuff that doesn’t portray sex workers in a really negative light (eg Breaking Bad) or perpetuate laughable stereotypes (Pretty Woman).
Fortunately all is not lost – although there’s nothing out there that is precisely factual, it is possible to find some TV viewing that actually enlightens or entertains without trying to convince you that all hookers wear cutoff denim shorts and thigh-high boots. Here are my personal favourites.
Satisfaction (TV Series, 2007-10)
Club 232, a luxury bordello in Melbourne, is the setting for this fun and debaucherous series. To really enjoy this show you have to overlook some factual innacuracies - the girls in this show borrow expensive dresses from the management and spend hours sipping cocktails with clients in luxurious salons that are pretty much nothing like the rooms in an actual brothel. What I really enjoy about this series is the characters. The workers come from all walks of life but are without exception independent, business-minded women who take their work seriously. Even when things get a bit overdramatic in true TV drama style, I still love following these ladies' lives.
Confessions of a London Call-Girl (TV Series, 2007-11)
This English series is based on the popular diary of the anonymous sex worker known only as Belle de Jour. The original book was accessible and witty, and the producers have continued on in this style. Belle's life is over-exaggerated and glamorous – you never see her with a client who is unattractive – but still has a core of pragmatism about the sex industry that is refreshing. She talks directly to the viewer about her trials and tribulations with a lot of dry English humour. The only thing I don’t enjoy about the series is that she is continually dogged by bad luck in romantic relationships – the show seems to blame her work, but I tend more towards thinking that her main romantic choice is a huge douchebag.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Who doesn't like classic musical films? Especially ones that have singing, dancing ladies of the night, Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds? The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is an incredible film - a highly underrated escapade filled with sex-positivity and ridiculous songs. It's set in Texas, 1910, where a cheerful Texas bordello is targeted for closure by a local TV preacher. The brothel madam and the town sheriff band together to try and save the historic establishment. This movie is ridiculous, but it's also fantastic. The Texas brothel is a local institution and the whole town comes out in its support, leading to some hilarious standoffs between locals and southern religious extremists. A touch of classic romance and some famous tunes add the final touches.
Scarlet Road (Documentary, 2011)
Scarlet Road is an Australian documentary that follows the extraordinary work of sex worker, Rachel Wotton. Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression and the rights of sex workers, she specializes in a long over-looked clientèle - people with disability. Rachel's clients are the real stars of this film. They are incredibly vulnerable and yet they manage to share with the viewer some of their most private and awkward moments. The stuggles they have to go through just to have some small intimacy make me feel very priveleged If you're interested in seeing this film, please see http://www.scarletroad.com.au/trailer/ for more information. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Those are my top four picks! If you have any other suggestions for me, please feel free to get in touch... I'm always looking to add to my collection.