[ EPF 2014 FINALIST ]
ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
I met Eden while working on a project about strippers in San Francisco, CA. She had just flown into the city to live out her fantasy of becoming an exotic dancer. Baby, a slightly older dancer and prostitute, was one of the first people Eden met at the strip club and after two years of friendship, decided to put herself in Baby’s hands. She became her pimp and taught her the ins and outs of escorting. Eden was eventually caught by an undercover task force. It was her third arrest in the state and was now facing jail time. The recent events had shaken her up but she felt she had learned enough “game” to become independent and left Baby. Before her court date, I accompanied Eden to Lancaster, VA where she visited her mother and for the first time openly discussed her work as an escort.
For hours she questioned her motivations, safety, and her over all well being but ultimately she disapproved of her daughter’s choice. Her court hearing was in Annapolis, MA and despite her previous arrests, the judge let her off with a $300 fine. A few hours later, we found ourselves in an undisclosed hotel room. Candles lit, curtains shut, clothes off. With the grant, I’d like to continue to tell Eden’s story by photographing her every day life. This would be in collaboration with Eden using her journal entries to create a more dynamic story. While I began this project to document the world of prostitution and to initiate dialogue on issues that apply to every women such as self-identity and female chauvinism, I feel that this project is ultimately about a woman’s struggle to find herself.
“Nobody IS what they DO, but whatever we do becomes a part of us. I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an artist, and a provider of sex in exchange for money. Although I set aside pieces of myself to protect them, I do not disappear. The daughter, sister, friend, and artist that I am outside of work will always carry around the memories and lessons I’ve gained.” – Eden, 21
Alicia Vera is a documentary photographer based in Mexico City. She studied at the Academy of Art University, attended the VII workshop taught by Ashley Gilbertson in Queretaro, Mexico, Day of the Dead Workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico taught by David Alan Harvey, and is an Eddie Adams Workshop XXIII alumni.