And it’s not porn. Far from it.
Kristen DiAngelo (the film’s creator, executive producer and a sex industry worker since her teens) worked with director James Johnson to bring about a frank documentary about the women who work in the American sex industry: how they got there, the dangers they face, and how they deal with societal (and family) judgments.
“We decided there was a huge need for a realistic education about who we are and what this world’s really like,” DiAngelo said. “That’s when we decided to do a real documentary, something that isn’t salacious, something that’s really informative about what our lives are like, that it’s not black and white.”
American Courtesans looks at the lives of nearly a dozen American sex workers in extremely frank fashion, with some stories sexy, some sad, and some frightening. Truth was what DiAngelo was aiming for, and that’s what she ended up with, she said.
The women who chose to go on camera about their work received threats — by people outside and within the sex industry — for offering their viewpoint, according to DiAngelo. “It became very heavy,” she said. “It was important I moved the women through the fear the quickest way I could.”
That meant a quick production schedule, last-minute flights for interviews and a lot of trust that the women’s stories would be told with respect, with a mainstream intention in mind.
Some of the 11 women profiled were friends of DiAngelo, others were long-time colleagues, some were complete strangers, she said. “I had a lot that turned me down, but once they found out who we had on board — big names in our world — the support we started getting was crazy,” DiAngelo said.
|Tamsen Crown on camera in American Courtesans|
That included support from colleagues in Australia and the United Kingdom, where prostitution is largely legalized. “We’re just a little perocial here,” she said.
Out on DVD and Blu-ray from first-time producer/distributor Centex Enterprises on July 12, the film also saw a major VOD release via major cable outlets, including Comcast, Time Warner and Cox.
“We had the opportunity to release it theatrically, but just as much as we have supporters, we have haters,” DiAngelo said. “It didn’t matter if they saw the film, it’s just the subject matter. I was afraid we would get some really conservative reviews right out of theatrical, and my promise was to protect these women every way I could. Our audience is more eclectic, VOD, the modern age.”
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