If there's one thing that makes some people squirm more than the idea of a functional, happy sex worker it's the frank discussion of disabled sexuality. And award-winning Australian director Catherine Scott has set out to demystify both in her new documentary, Scarlet Road: A Sex Worker's Journey.
Dispelling the notion that all working women are either glamorous nymphs or damaged goods in need of salvation, the doco follows the life of self-described "whore" Rachel Wotton –- an attractive, articulate (gasp!) and down-to-earth woman. Making her even more intriguing is the fact she deals almost exclusively with disabled clients.
We meet guys like Mark Manitta, who has been seeing Rachel for seven years after cerebral palsy left him confined to a wheelchair, and multiple sclerosis sufferer John Blades who sadly passed away just days before it went to air. Both discuss the vital role that women like Rachel play in their lives. "People do not understand the difference that sex makes," said Mark. "Part of having cerebral palsy is spasticity and muscle spasms. I need sex all the time to make my muscles relax. And I like sex."
An active member of Scarlet Alliance –- the Australian Sex Workers' Association -– Rachel's passion for advocacy extends beyond those employed in the industry to include her clients and their families; with some of the most heart-warming moments occurring when mothers discuss the desire for their sons to have an active sex life.
"Part of my reason for doing the film was to wipe away the 'us and them' mentality,'' said Rachel. "We're all one car accident away from being in the same position as these guys. Tomorrow we could all wake up out of coma and not be able to eat let alone have sex or touch ourselves. What I say to people is imagine the next time you go to have sex or masturbate having to call your mum and have her organise it all for you."
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Sexual healing [SMH]
Scarlet Road: A Sex Worker's Journey [SBS]
Scarlet Road [Paradigm Pictures]