Scot Sothern’s Intimate Portraits of Prostitutes [NSFW]

Streetwalkers and addicts with “desperation-induced madness” in their eyes, stripping and posing in motels, alleyways, and squats, all to make a few bucks — these are the illustrated pages of Scot Sothern’s diary, recalling each exchange in detail. Surely, with his writerly instincts, he gravitated toward them with a similar rush. Since leaving school and home at seventeen, Sothern “hustled” as a photographer, from shooting memento pics in a tourist trap-cave in Missouri to making industrial training films in Saudi Arabia, but it was the series Lowlife that was illuminating, both as a gritty view into the reality of disfranchised Americans and deadpan commentary on human commerce. He is a modern day E.J. Bellocq, but instead of sitting in a 1912 New Orleans brothel, he cruised the streets of Southern California in the late ’80s, armed with a Nikon, a flash and a cynical savior complex.

“This woman is already dead so I photograph her ghost,” he writes. “She is one of the many; here in sunny Hollywood, California, murdered by life without the slimmest of a chance. I give her fifteen dollars even though she only asks for ten. The extra five includes my last dollar. That’s my donation. I’m down among the lepers and I just gave away my last dollar. I’m a fucking saint. I’m the patron saint of whores.” His solo show Lowlife: Photographs and Literary Vignettes by Scot Sothern is on view through December 3 at New York’s DRKRM Gallery; click through for a preview of the work that will be on display.


Photo credit: Scot Sothern