Text by K. Cecchini
Sex can be a taboo conversation as it is…so how do you get people to open up about their experiences in a sex industry fraught with illicit activities, shame, denial and fear?
Director Jane Wells shared a bit of her approach and experiences in interviewing prostitutes and pimps for the documentary, Tricked.
3generations tells vulnerable people’s stories by encouraging them to tell their own stories. Allowing folks to be the “authors of their story” along with maintaining ongoing relationships has helped the nonprofit to build trust and mitigate exploitation.
For instance, Wells has known Danielle, a former sex trafficking victim, and her family for 5 years. In Tricked, Danielle details her experiences from the time she was trapped into the life by a man who had “boyfriended” her into it just after she started college. She explains that 2 weeks after the man had wined and dined her, “he pulled (her) into an alley and beat the shit out of (her) and said ‘get in the f…ing car and make my f…ing money'”.
“It’s like being raped over and over and over”.
Because of the relationships 3generations builds, Danielle willingly engages 3generations’ mission, “HEAR THEIR STORIES, DEMAND CHANGE”.
One of the film’s anti-heroes allows himself to be taped face on, “We can duck the question, but all women are either a prostitute or a whore”. The pimp goes on to draw a simple line between those who engage in sex for money and those who engage for free.
Whether they conceal their identify or not, the pimps profiled in Tricked are forthcoming.
They speak frankly about how they seek out women for their trade or the price of “pussy”. A Chicago pimp is so bold as to reframe his work with his prostitutes, “I just considers myself as a good person to these girls…cuz I’m gonna help with their babies, I’m gonna help these girls out with so much stuff you wouldn’t believe”.
Although Wells admits to some bias in editing footage on the pimps, yet, in allowing them to also be “the authors of their story”, 3generations enables us the opportunity to hear what is implied in many of their circumstances. Though Wells does not excuse their crimes, she does recognize that many of them have carved their existence out of poverty and a lack of opportunity.
I believe she would agree that she was surprised in the “compassion” she found for these disenfranchised men.
Speaking to one pimp, a man of color, off-camera, Wells casually asked him if he felt good that there was an African-American President in the White House. He looked at her and told her he doesn’t vote. As a Brit, Wells was not aware that convicted felons in the States are officially barred from the democratic process that we take for granted. “That’s tragic,” she lamented. And, so, the “Obama presidency means nothing to his daily existence”.
An “Endless Sequence of Story”
3generations even finds dimension within the antagonists in their documentation, and, many other narratives beyond each film.
“There are many, many other stories in a film like Tricked,” Wells told me; it’s an “endless sequence of story that I think needs to be told.”
In fact, 3generations has already shared the next story, Native Silence, which focuses on the “legacy of forced adoption on Native American children, torn from their tribal communities and placed in foster care and boarding schools”.
Whatever their subject they document from here, 3generations will be sure to help break the silence and “demand change”.
3generations is a non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the story of survivors through film “…as an act of healing and a call to action”.
“3generations.” 3generations. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
“Wells, Jane”. Telephone interview. 28 Aug. 2014.