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American Courtesans: Sex Work Documentary Heating Up The Screen

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On the heels of the release of Public Sex, Private Lives, another documentary offering a perspective on the real lives of sex workers is being released today. Kristin DiAngelo’s  American Courtesans explores the experiences of modern day escorts in America, allowing a variety of escorts to speak for themselves as to how they got involved in the sex industry, the struggles they have faced, and why they stay.

According to the American Courtesans' website, the film “address[es] the stereotyping and social stigma attached to this profession and what it has cost [escorts],” as well as offering a comprehensive view of escorts through the eyes of all the people they come into contact with, from their clients to their children.

The media portrayal of sex workers often oscillates between two extremes: The low-income desperate woman, often associated with drugs, violence, and victimization, and the “happy hooker,” a glamorized high-income earner who is so empowered by her work, nary a terrible work experience in her sex industry history.

Sex workers who make an effort to define their complex experiences are often dismissed, or told that they aren’t representative enough, because they are one person versus the invisible mass. According to the bios of the courtesans featured in this film, this group of sex workers has had a diverse array of experiences. Their lives range from well-educated and well-off women to low-income teenage mothers who joined the industry to escape poverty, and it seems like the film may explore the reality that there is no one “typical” sex worker.

Films like this are huge for the sex worker advocacy movement, and the more air-time they can get, the better. Supporting sex worker voices is vital to allowing us to break down the stigmatized views of our work and ourselves. Sex workers need to be able to be seen as full, individual people, who have a wide variety of experiences. In the words of Chimamanda Adichie, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

If you are a sex worker or consider yourself an ally, you know how important it is for us to boost each others’ voices, even when they aren’t always representative of our own experiences. We deserve to have our complex feelings and nuanced lives acknowledged.

Support this film by rating it on IMDB, buying the film, and spreading the word. The film is being released on a variety of platforms, from Amazon Play, to Xfinity, to Comcast. Best of all, as of today you will be able to download and rate the film on iTunes to help it get more buzz; the more attention it gets the more likely iTunes is to promote it, which would be huge for the film. This is especially vital right now; the film needs to be highly ranked for its opening weekend so don’t wait! Buy the film from iTunes as soon as its released on July 12th, 2013 (that’s today!).

Watch the trailer, and follow Kristin DiAngelo on Twitter or Facebook for updates.


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