Archive for the ‘Working Girls In Books And Movies’ Category

Hearts Of Gold

“There are no hookers with hearts of gold”, writes John D. MacDonald. “Just lazy, greedy, dull-minded girls whose greatest joys are the clothing rack and the mirror and the makeup table.” This may have been the case in the Florida he knew, and it may be the case in the USA generally, though I doubt […]

Unreal By Decree

Whenever a film features a prostitute, whether as protagonist or in a minor role, one thing is certain: at least one reviewer will pronounce the portrayal “unrealistic”. He or she will ring the changes on “hookers aren’t really like that”. Not only does such a dismissal seem to imply that there is only one single […]

Case Study: Pygmalion/My Fair Lady

In some ages authors write openly about prostitution, in other ages they write in a code to which future readers lack the key. For example, we all remember Eliza Doolittle insisting on her respectability, and yet it is highly improbable that in 1912 a young Covent Garden flower-seller was not a prostitute, at least part-time […]

Case Study: Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman has been fiercely criticised for its romanticisation of prostitution, and for allegedly persuading young girls that hooking is a good way to meet their fairy-tale prince. It is very true that the film stays well clear of issues of pimps, drugs and violence, that the character is too gentle and perhaps too attractive […]

Case Study: Sin City

One of the high-points of Sin City for male audiences – I’m not sure whether there is a female audience for this film – is the Clive Owen character’s social call on the prostitutes of Old Town. Rosario Dawson is always wonderful to look at, of course, but I become distracted by wondering why, possessed […]

Case Study: Klute

One of the most realistic portraits of a call-girl in cinematic history is Jane Fonda’s Bree Daniels in the misnamed Klute. She is the polar opposite of a bimbo sex-bomb; we see her mostly in ordinary clothes, reading in bed in her PJs and doing the housework. She is neither a very good person nor […]

Case Study: Jamón, Jamón

The mother of the female lead works in a small roadside brothel in a dusty part of Spain. All the clubes de autovia that I have seen or heard of, however, have been beside motorways, sometimes with complex slip-road systems. A sex bar beside this mere two-lane highway, albeit one heavily trafficked by huge container […]

Case Study: Dirty Pretty Things

Of Sophie Okonedo’s hotel prostitute, one reviewer says that she is “too good to be true”. The argument seems to be that a “whore with a heart of gold” is a literary cliché who cannot exist in reality. Inasmuch as that cliché generally concerns the dealings of prostitutes with their clients, it is not relevant […]

Case Study: The Truman Show

Just how weird the Americans are about commercial sex is shown in The Truman Show, which does not seem to feature prostitution at all – unless you think about it. For critics have nervously asked whether the Jim Carrey character enjoys marital relations with the woman he considers his wife, and whom he later finds […]

Case Study: Eyes Wide Shut

It has been objected that Bill Harford is unrealistically ignorant of the world of commercial sex, but this argument is false; it is totally credible that he has no idea of what it is like to have to pay for it. He is, after all, a handsome doctor. This may be why he is shown […]