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Nocturnal Submissions

Fuckin' Nothing

I'm unlocking my car door when a hooker materializes like a broken fairy princess, looking like she’s been kicked to all corners of the kingdom. I smile at her but she doesn’t smile back. She has a loud voice. "You lookin’ for something, White Bread?"
SS
Κείμενο Scot Sothern
15.7.13

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.

1986. Somewhere south of LA, north of Long Beach, I stop at a dumpy mini-market for a pack of Kools and a cold beer in a brown paper bag. Back in the parking lot a wine-happy tramp is leaning on my Camaro, begging alms for the poor and another bottle. I give him a pocketful of change and a paper single. He god-blesses and I tell him to keep his god to himself, I’m not interested.

I'm unlocking my car door when a hooker materializes like a broken fairy princess, looking like she’s been kicked to all corners of the kingdom. I smile at her but she doesn’t smile back. She has a loud voice. "You lookin’ for something, White Bread?"

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

No one has ever called me White Bread before and it kind of makes me chuckle. "I don't know. Maybe. What you got?"

"You wanna date?"

"Sure. You got a place?"

She points to a swayback hotel across the street and tells me $7 for the room and $20 for her.

"I wanna take your picture. OK?"

"I ain't fuckin with no freaks."

"No freak stuff. A couple of pictures and I'm gone."

Pictures for $20 is a better deal than the usual sperm smoothie so she tells me yeah, sure, show me the money. I give her two tens and collect my camera gear.  Across the street at the hotel I sign in and give seven bucks to the underachiever at the counter. Up four flights to a room that smells like sour milk. She undresses while I load a roll of Tri-X and slide the flash into the hotshoe.

"Motherfuckers out there," she tells me. "All motherfuckers. Think they can fuck with me. Don’t nobody fuck with me. I'm from Detroit and that’s where I’m going back. Don’t nobody be fuckin’ with me."

“Fine with me. You miss Detroit?”

“What are you fuckin’ saying? Am I Miss Detroit? What the fuck that supposed to mean?” Her head seems to be swelling.

“No, no. I didn’t mean are you like Miss Detroit. I was asking if you missed it. Detroit.”

"What the fuck you care, White Bread? You don't know nothing. Fuckin’ nothing is what you know."

I admit I know fucking nothing and apologize for all the times in my life when I was an asshole. I close the camera back, advance three frames and turn on the flash. "OK, how about you stand up on the bed? Let me get a couple of shots."

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

She looks at me like I'm the source of the thick stink. "I tell you when I'm ready. I don't go jump and yessir for no $20 from some biddy-dick motherfucker who’s gonna jack-off all over pictures of my naked ass."

"Hey that’s fine, let’s chill. You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do but I did pay for some pictures, and you’re already naked."

She sits on the edge of the bed, looks at the floor and goes silent so I take a picture. She turns slowly and looks at me and I take another picture.

She says, “What kind of car you got?”

“My car?”

“That’s what I said, what kind of motherfucking car you got?”

“It’s a Camaro.”

“Your daddy buy you that car, give you that money you just throw around make fun of whores?”

I tell her I’ve been on my own for 20 years and nobody buys me anything. I tell her I’m four payments behind on the Camaro and my insurance has lapsed. I tell her I’m not making fun of anyone. She tells me poor poor biddy-dick White Bread don’t got insurance, she tells me she’s gonna cry for me all motherfucking night long. I look at her and then I look at me and then I tell her yeah, well, you’re right, all I know is fuckin’ nothing. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

She laughs and calls me a dumbass. “Fuck this shit," she rummages about in her canvas purse until she finds what she is looking for. She looks at me and says, "What are you lookin’ at?"

"Let's take a couple more pictures and I can go home and you can do whatever you want to do."

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

She gives me a long studied look, then gets up, takes her bag, and goes into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

I figure she's getting high and wish I was in there with her, ingesting a share of whatever it is. I stand and look into a full-length mirror, hung sideways and tilted down. My reflection isn't there. An old tv with tin-foil elephant ears wrapped around the rabbit ears is bolted to a metal stand coming out of the wall above the mirror. I turn it on and flip through the channels and watch a few minutes of The Cosby Show.

Miss Detroit returns from the bathroom and goes back to her spot on the bed. Her eyes have lost their focus and her body seems to be melting.  Her attitude remains intact. She says, "You still here?"

"Yeah, I’m still here. We're going to take some more pictures, remember?"

“You got your pictures, go on home. Leave me alone.”

She’s right, I did get a couple of shots and there is no good reason to still be here; it’s not all that much fun. “Yeah, all right.”

I’m putting my Nikon and flash into my backpack and Bill Cosby is talking to his teenage son about girls. He makes a quiet joke and the hooker laughs along with the canned laughter.

Previously - The Royal Portrait

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.