By using an inside-out approach to record the lives of thirteen working girls from Kings Cross, Cruising provides a very immediate and visceral experience of their everyday realities, shocking truths and relentless dreaming.
The photo journalistic approach reveals a confronting physicality that comes with intimacy at a price, while the Kings Cross’ streetscapes are taken through dirty car windows and isolates the “objectified” in what seems a dangerously surreal world.
What is truly revealing about this project is the endearing commentary from the participants, their insights allow the viewer to connect with a familiar truth – a sad yet cathartic realisation that their dreams that keep them sane and, like all of us, it’s their familiar contradictions that define them.
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Where do you want to live?
What are you meant to do with a bag of cocaine?
No, I was molested by a family member, it was my brother.
– Did that turn you to drugs? Nah not at all – I mean, I do a bit of coke here and there. I don’t even forgive him because he’s my brother, but like umm, I hate him with a passion, but I accept it happened, and you can’t move on unless you put it behind you.
Further into the conversation while taking photos I asked Shelly if she was an addict and she promptly answered.
Not to make my staring obvious, I drew attention to a poor quality tattoo that read ‘mum’ located amongst the track marks on her wrist.
– That’s a nice tat. Yeah, and they’re tracks. Shelly confirmed with obvious discomfort. I shoot up coke, I mean… guys come in here with bags of coke, what are you meant to do?
What is your favourite colour?
The questionnaire and the sliced apple.
I’m doing a quiz, do you mind doing it? Just answer ten simple questions for 20 bucks, I asked. “Are our arses too fat for your photos?” Sam replied. Sam obliged and grabbed my book with the ten personality questions from me as we stood at the regular rendezvous point for working girls working for a brothel. I heard a voice over my shoulder call to me “Hey, can I do it too?” It was another working girl, Lexy.
– Yeah, it won’t take long.
“What’s it for?”
I explained to Lexy my project and the simplicity of the questions. “No one’s going to tell the truth, they can just lie… we’re all fucked up here. That’s the truth. What are the questions?” – Really simple, like what’s your favourite colour, favourite word… “That’s easy, mine’s – fuck off!” I loved Lexy instantly, she resisted to make eye contact as we spoke, keeping her defence strong. I couldn’t wait to read her answers. Full of fire, disdain, and arrogance.
– I haven’t seen you before.
“I’ve been up here far too long, longer than these girls.”
We were interrupted by a very short elderly man of Mediterranean appearance approaching Lexy for her services. I didn’t hear his questions. Lexy promptly replied to the man with no warmth. One sixty five for half-an-hour, three eighty for an hour.
– Sorry, I don’t mean to get in your way with your clients.
He wasn’t a client, he was a pervert.
– What’s the difference?
Lexy smiles, “A pervert speaks to you like this” Lexy aggressively leans into me while staring at my chest implying if I was to have breast – ‘How much?’ Sam only answered two of ten questions and passed the book onto Lexy.
What are you doing? Natalya asked. I had noticed while speaking to Lexy, four other working girls paying close attention to my presence. Rosey, Annie Smith, Natalya and Cathy.
The questionnaire book was passed around amongst the girls while I stood beside Cathy with our backs up against a black roller door. Myself observing the crowd, Cathy eyeing potential customers. Cathy, who previously told me to fuck off the week prior when I approached her to write in my book, was incredibly warm and responsive on this particular night. Cathy claims to be a former heroin addict, who has back to kings cross for the cash to support her child.
The book had made it’s way to Rosey, a tiny Japanese working girl. Rosey needed my help to write in the book as she was holding a coffee and cigarette in one hand. While holding her coffee, I hear “hey, want a piece of apple” Natalya outreached her arm holding a plastic container with a sliced apple and pear inside. It was a kind gesture that I happily accepted.
We continued to share tales and a sliced apple.