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Nocturnal Submissions

Nasty All Over

Turning onto Wilde Street from South Central Avenue, the surface is crackled like red veins across an alcoholic’s nose. Only a single block long, Wilde looks nothing more than mundane in the daylight image on Google Maps, but at five AM in the dark...
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Κείμενο Scot Sothern
13.5.13

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.

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Turning onto Wilde Street from South Central Avenue, the surface is crackled like red veins across an alcoholic’s nose. Only a single block long, Wilde looks nothing more than mundane in the daylight image on Google Maps, but at five AM in the dark outskirts of my low beams, desperate silhouettes stumble about, forever in decline. A couple of brain-dead hoodlums walk out in front of me, daring me to run them over and when I nearly do one of them slaps the hindquarters of my car like he’s teaching me a lesson. I stop at the corner across from the American Fish building and hear semitrucks idling. A woman at the curb soliciting one last smoky blast before sunup looks to me with hope. I give her a nod and she climbs in. She’s got a face that’s made for taking a punch. Most of her teeth are missing, and the ones remaining look like pieces of gravel. She’s not working to pay the rent, and she’s not working to pay a pimp—she just needs to get high and is ready to do whatever is necessary.

I tell her 15 bucks; I want to take her picture.

She asks me if I want nasty pictures and then cackles like a voodoo queen. I tell her absolutely, and does she know a good place to go? She says right here is as good a place as any, and can I make it $20 instead of $15? I’m not comfortable here, so I tell her $20 is not a problem, but I’m going to drive around a bit, find a good background. “I’m Scot, what’s your name?”

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“Gwendolyn, but everbuddy calls me Gwen. I been in San Pedro and just come up here. Everbuddy in San Pedro jus' wants to do smack all the time, so I come up here.”

“You don’t like junkies?”

“Hey, I got nothin’ against nobody. Live and let live, fuck yeah, that’s me. Just like I say what I say. I like meth. You like meth?”

“It’s been a while. I think it would make my neck and shoulders hurt.”

“You like smack?”

“I do, but I don’t make a habit of it.”

“It’s no fuckin’ good is what I always say.”

“Yeah, well.”

I find a parking lot behind a factory. A two-tone wall next to a loading dock. I park in the dark and damper the ignition. We climb out of the car and I give her the money.

“Nasty, nasty pictures,” she cackles again. “Five more and I’ll be fuckin’ nasty like nobody knows.” I give her another five, my last, and check my camera settings. I direct her to the wall where she exposes her tits and wags her tongue while I make a couple of flash exposures. I grip my cane with both hands to get down on my knees to get the angle I want, and tell her to squat for a shot.

“Fuck yeah,” she says. Now you get nasty all over.”

She squats and pulls up the hem of her short dress and she’s not wearing panties. It’s all in darkness and shadow but the strobe light exposes her shaved mons; her genitalia looks like someone chewed 20 pieces of Bazooka Joe bubble gum then stuck the wad between her legs. I got the shot but I don’t like it, it’s somehow too nasty, even for me. Four yards or so from Gwen’s left, a metal door rattles as someone from inside opens it and comes outside. A guy about my age in a gray uniform steps out with a couple bags of trash, notices me and Gwen, then yelps like he’s seen a ghost.

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I’m startled as well and already off balance, I lose my footing and roll like a kicked-over turtle. Gwen looks at the guy, who looks like his white hair might stand on end, then at me, holding up my camera outfit like I’m under water and trying to keep it dry. She cackles like a witch passing by on a broom, and I’m glad she finds it funny—I figure she can use a laugh. The guy takes a deep breath then tells us we have no business here so just go on and get. He reaches down and gets a clump of dirt and weed and throws it at me, like he’s chasing off a hungry dog. He turns tail back inside closing the door and throwing the bolt.

“Fuck yeah,” says Gwen. “That old cocksucker’s got no respect.”

“Yeah, well,” I say. “I don’t mind.”

Previously - Goodbye, So-Long, Motherfucker

Scot’s first book, Lowlife, was released last year. You can find more information on his website.