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Nocturnal Submissions

Danger Lurks Everywhere

The street lamp is burned out, or maybe it’s just not there. A friendly face, gaunt with brown starlit eyes breaks the surface of shadows and smiles at me. I toggle down my window and pull to a stop. A tall Aztec shemale on long pointy heels. “Mister...
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Κείμενο Scot Sothern
24.10.13

Scot Sothern is a Los Angeles–based photographer and a big prostitute fan. He has been interacting with and photographing hookers since the 1960s, and his images have been widely exhibited in galleries in the US, Canada, and Europe. Scot's pictures evoke such a visceral reaction in the viewer and raise so many questions, we decided to give Scot a regular column aimed at getting the story behind the photo. The idea is simple: we feature an image from Scot’s archive along with his explanation of just exactly what the fuck was going on when he took it. Welcome to Nocturnal Submissions.

The street lamp is burned out, or maybe it’s just not there. A friendly face, gaunt with brown starlit eyes breaks the surface of shadows and smiles at me. I toggle down my window and pull to a stop. A tall Aztec shemale on long pointy heels. “Mister Photographer,” she says. “You wanna see my pussy?”

I’ve talked to her a couple of times before. “Yeah, of course I do, you’re beautiful. I got 40 bucks, all you gotta do is let me take a couple of pictures.”

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

“And show you my pussy.” She is smiling and I’m smiling back; she’d probably gargle a double shot of spunk for 20 bucks but her identity is private property, no pictures.

“Forty dollars will buy you a whole new life. I’ll just park and get out and we can do it here. Won’t take but a minute.”

She laughs and goes smooch smooch at me with her big cherry red lips. “Maybe next time, Hombre. You go find somebody else.” She turns and twerks her butt for three counts and keeps going.

Somebody else is waiting for me at the next corner. She gives me a nod and I snuggle the car to the curb. “I saw you talking to that ho,” she says. “Is that what you want, a girl like that? Cause I don’t have no Tootsie Roll.”

“You’ll do fine,” I tell her. “I just want to take pictures.”

She’s deep brown with a friendly face and a scar on her left cheek. Her eyes are loaded from a low form of chemistry and she looks a little dreamy and out of focus. She gets in the car and we go looking for a background. I go this way then that way around LA potholes and I’m feeling a nice contact high.

I ask her what’s her name and she tells me Kris. I ask her where she’s from and she tells me Washington, DC. I tell her I was in Washington, DC for one night in 1983. I went to a whorehouse.

“That’s all they is in Washington,” she tells me. “Hos and hyenas.”

“You like it here?”

“It’s good enough. I ain’t no movie star, but don’t nobody bother me.”

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

“That’s good. There’s a lot of fuckheads out there.”

“You ain’t telling nothing new to me, mister. When you gonna stop somewhere? We just driving around nowhere.”

“Yeah, OK. Let’s see what’s down this street.”

It’s a one-way. The sidewalks are worn, chipped and crumbled. Trash is strewn about. Sleeping bags stuffed with flesh and bone are wedged into the crevasses attempting to slip through the cracks. My mother told me that her mother used to make fried egg sandwiches for the tramps coming to the door, offering work for food during the great depression of the 1930s. When I was 12, in 1961, I went to a hobo camp, looking for fun. I expected a campfire, guys cooking hotdogs on sticks, pork and beans out of the can. It was just men, stupid with drink and stinking with filth. I gave them money to buy a bottle and share it with me but after the first pull I didn’t want anymore. It wasn’t all that much fun.

I’m not finding a background I like. “You wouldn’t have a room somewhere where we can take pictures, would you?”

“I got a nice clean nest, but we ain’t going there.”

“How come?”

“They a man there. You ever gonna stop or what?”

“Oh, OK. Sure.” I turn into a short alleyway where I get lucky and find a hot red cinderblock wall. I park and ratchet the hand brake.

On the other side of the street a drug salesman in a Dodger’s hat. His pants are falling down and his hoody hangs like a hippie-era muumuu.

Out of the car Kris is radiant with a cocky smile and a good attitude. I make five exposures in different degrees of undress and tell her thanks, that was great, she’s a natural.

A car has slowly advanced up the street to do business with the pusher. A couple of idiots in an old Toyota puffing black exhaust. I wonder what it is they are buying and how much it costs.

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

Back in the car Kris tells me, what with my wrinkly face and cane I maybe shouldn’t be out here picking up hos. People might take advantage of me. I tell her well, yeah, maybe. If I were out playing golf with other guys my age I could get hit in the head with a golf ball; danger lurks everywhere. She says I’m crazy and she wishes she could see the pictures and I tell her not a problem. We sit heads together and watch a slide show on the back of the Nikon. I ask her which one’s her favorite and she likes the one where she’s fully dressed. It takes a few minutes to figure out where we are and find our way back to where we met. When she gets out of the car I give her an extra five bucks for a picture of her on the outside looking in.

At the next corner I stop and roll down my window. My friend at the curb waves at me.

“Hey, Mister Photographer,” she says. “You wanna see my pussy?”

Previously - You Know What?

Scot's first book, Lowlife, was released last year and his memoir, Curb Service, is out now. You can find more information on his website.