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American Courtesans is a feature documentary that takes you into the lives of American sex workers. These women discuss with you candidly what brought them to the doors of the sex trade, what they found when they got there, and why they stayed. Follow eleven sex workers through the streets, massage parlors, brothels, and strip clubs to the high rises in New York and the bell captains in Las Vegas. This is a story, a different kind of American story that will leave you speechless. Written by
When one looks for documentaries about the sex industry or what it's like to be a sex worker, usually they find something done by outsiders (ie. reporters, investigative journalists, and so on), but American Courtesans breaks this trend. It is a heartfelt, provocative, moving and revealing documentary comprised primarily of interviews with workers in the sex trade, in their own voices. The viewer is taken into the lives of those in the sex trade, as they reveal the intricate details of their lives from births, through childhood, and into their adult years. Keenly aware of the stereotype that those in the sex trade are forced or coerced into entering their profession, all of the interviewees demand that their decision to enter the sex industry was just that, a decision. It is a decision based on their past and present constraints. This film, in part, helps one understand some of these constraints.
At times, the narratives are tragic and incredibly moving, as some of the interviews reveal some dark memories of assault and violence. My heart nearly broke as one Kristen DiAngelo (the producer of the film) bravely tells, in tears and in great detail, how she was the victim of violent assault. But her story does not end there; DiAngelo later reveals the steps she took to cope with her traumatic past, and empower herself. At other times, the stories take a surprisingly humorous turn. Indeed, one can't help but conclude that these lives are not simply defined by tragedy, but also triumph, humor, resilience and compassion.
American Courtesans is a film that reveals the striking details of those in the sex trade. It traverses the terrain of their lives, and gives a human face to the industry. At the same time, it reveals the diversity in backgrounds, histories, and perspectives of the participants. I enjoyed the film for it's candidness and the remarkable courage these women had for agreeing to be interviewed for the film. As such, I would recommend this movie to any person interested in knowing the stories and lives of some of those in the sex trade. All in all it is a great documentary.
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