FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

Nocturnal Submissions

The Whore On the Floor

In a brothel in the back of a Tijuana bar I find a room with a checkerboard floor and dead-center double-bed that looks like it was designed by Stanley Kubrick. The whore standing outside of it smiles at me. “You want pussy?”
SS
Κείμενο Scot Sothern
9.9.13

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.

It’s 1987 and I’m somewhere in Tijuana, Mexico. A cantina, where the lights are low. I have three empty shots of tequila and a half glass of beer in front of me. There is a grinning man at the table next to mine and a whore under the table giving him a Tijuana slurppy, bobbing her head like she’s keeping time with Zeppelin’sCommunication Breakdown. He looks at me and grins like all the world is a happy place. Except for the bartender, we’re the only people in the dump. I light a cigarette and close my eyes for a while then open my eyes to find another whore standing in front of me. She’s a shemale senorita with a pug nose and bright white teeth and she sits in the chair next to mine and puts her hand on my thigh. She’s cute with an unfortunate patch of acne on her forehead and a smokey voice that sounds like it hurts. She tells me she loves me and her breath smells like Juicy Fruit Gum. Her hand crawls up to my crotch and rummages around for my dick, which has had too much to drink. I’m trying to think of something to say when the bartender appears with a fresh shot of tequila and a beer, a glass of something clear and bubbly for my date. She drinks it down in two gulps and the bartender tells me I owe him $57.

I tell him yeah, sure, no problem. Will he take a check? I don’t think he knows what I said but he knows I didn’t say OK, I’m gonna pay your outrageous fucking prices. In pidgin Spanglish he explains how my date just drank down a glass of expensive French champagne. I tell him I thought it was Mountain Dew and didn’t order her drink, nor is she on my tab, so how about if I just get up and walk the fuck out of here and keep all my money. I take the tequila shot, toss it back and swallow it hard for punctuation. The bartender tells me there is a cop outside the front door and if I try to walk out on the check I’ll likely lose all my money and go to jail. I don’t think there is really a cop outside but I don’t know for sure so I ask him if he’ll take $20 instead of the $57. He says $30, then I say $25, which he takes and walks back behind the bar.

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

I’ve been in Tijuana since last night or maybe the night before and I’ve got about $50 of the $200 I came with. The shemale senorita has her tongue in my ear. I offer her 20 American pesos if we can go somewhere and take her picture.

She tells me I’ll need another $10 for the room and I need to pay her now. I give her $30 and she tells me she’ll be right back, she needs to check and see if there is an open room and points toward a door on the black back wall. I tell her that’s fine I’ll go with her. She says no no no no, she has to check the room by herself, and then she’s up and moving quickly, telling me she’ll be back, one momento. I’ve been smoking dope and drinking for at least 24 hours and I’m not as quick as I should be. I watch her open the door and go out and I know she’s gone for good. The bartender snorts out a couple of laughs but I don’t mind; I like the sound of laughter, even when it’s bitter. I sling my backpack over my shoulder, pick up my beer, walk to the back door, open it, and go through to see what’s on the other side.

A hallway, six rooms, three on each side, a door at the back still reverberating the slam from my senorita’s escape. All three doors on the right are closed. All three doors on the left are open. Three partially naked whores display their wares and hope for someone, one good man, to save them from this life of cheap servitude, on their backs and under tables. I wish I could be that one good man, but I’m not. I’m walking past the last room before the previous one registers in my altercated brain. I turn and go back. It’s a room that looks like it was designed by Stanley Kubrick. A checkerboard floor and a dead-center double-bed. The whore smiles at me. “You want pussy?”

ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΗ

“I want your picture.”

“No comprendo.”

I take out my Nikon. “Picture of you. You know? Fotografía.”

“Thirty dollars.”

I take out my wallet; it’s got $18 in it, I’ll need a fresh pack of Kool Kings, and at least five bucks of gas to get me back to Los Angeles. “Ten dollars, one quick picture, uno, muy rápido.”

She won’t take less than $15, which means I can still buy cigarettes but will have to stop in La Jolla and bum gas money from a friend to get back to LA. She takes my money and then takes off her clothes and poses herself on the bed. In my backpack I have a featureless white mask I found on a table at McDonald’s in San Ysidro, on the way here, yesterday, or the day before. The mask exists solely for this precise moment. She puts it on and I make three exposures then tell her muchas gracias. I leave the mask; I don’t need it anymore. I walk back into the bar and the whore on the floor is no longer there. I walk out the front door and a fat cop trying to take a vertical nap against the doorframe tells me, “Adiós, amigo.”

Previously - Sunset and Vine

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.