Cruising nighttime byways for an adrenaline fix, Scot Sothern first patronized the marketplace of curbside prostitution surfing the prurient whims of a young man. He dove to the murky depths of sexual obsession and resurfaced five years later, shell-shocked and without excuse. While there, trusty Nikon in hand, Scot, a second-generation photographer, made full-frontal X-rated exposures, black and white, filled with pathos and an uncanny realism. The pictures captured the plight of the disenfranchised in America, those forgotten and drug-addicted. Now he is ready to tell the story behind the photographs, the confessions of a befuddled baby-boomer maintaining a slippery connection to propriety while side-tripping into noirish infatuations with those low in life.Curb Service recounts Sothern’s past as a troubled kid in the 1960s who visited two-dollar whorehouses and as an adult in the 1980s is still at it. A photographer who either can’t get a break or blows it when one comes his way, Scot wants to hold onto jobs, wives, and relationships; he tries to be a good father to the son he loves. Yet he continues picking up street prostitutes, photographing them, having sex with them, living moments of their lives and watching them fade away in a culture that deems them criminal and expendable. It was only a few years ago that Scot’s photography started to receive notice – by influential Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles – which led to the publication of Lowlife, a photo book, by Stanley Barker in the UK and soon by powerhouse in Brooklyn. His work has since been exhibited world-wide including shows in London, Los Angeles, and Ottawa.
Scot Sothern is the real thing. This is damn good writing.
Armed with a camera and a gift for words, Scot Sothern crept into the darker corners of life and subjected himself to what J.M. Barrie called ’a long lesson in humility.’ The result is a masterful memoir, full of truth-telling, ugliness, beauty, tragedy, and humor. Curb Service is brave, funny, and heartwarming in ways you can’t see coming.
Scot Sothern has taken his camera into a world that only a microscopic fraction of the human population knows exists. Sothern is not a mere voyeur, he wades deeply into zones most never will and renders his subjects with dignity and compassion. Lowlife is a moving and compelling piece of work.
Lowlife is brutal stuff. A vicious slice of the American pie. A camera lucida of la bas, as the French say. It doesn’t get much further down and straight to the being than this. A cautionary series of tales that’s seguro.