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Good Girls on Bad Drugs

M M Braunstein | Connecticut (New London, Norwich, Willimantic, Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods casinos), United States

Organization: www.GoodGirlsOnBadDrugs.com

SHANNA, Connecticut Inmate Number 291-860. Addicted to heroin & crack. 2 children. Photo’d Oct 2015 at age 30, posed for the cover photo for the book GOOD GIRLS on BAD DRUGS. Shanna is a subject of its chapter 4, “Lady Luck: The Escorts’ Guide to the Casinos.”


Quote from her internet escort ad: “TALL BLONDE BARBIE GIRL. Hey fellas tall sexy blonde bombshell boss lady in town close by both casinos providing safe incall close to Mohegan Sun and willing to travel for outcall no black men generous gentlemen only no explicit talk no block calls 860 574 XXXX. Poster’s age: 23.”


Quote: “This tricking has affected me tremendously. I do not enjoy sex at all, I dread doing it. I don’t even want to be touched. It’s changed me. It gives me anger against men, because you see how many scumbags and dirt bags are out there that have absolutely no respect for you. It makes me start to cry. I can’t believe I’m stooping this low.”

Street photography of crack and heroin addicted prostitutes of the three small cities neighboring Connecticut's two casinos. In the War on Drugs, these are our civilian casualties.

These 50 streetwalkers and internet escorts are selected from a portfolio of 144 different sex workers whose lives are ruined by drug addiction and doomed by drug prohibition. So 94 more portraits remain to potentially ruin your day.

At ease in a front passenger seat of a car, her familiar workplace, she stares out boldly and frankly. With few years left to live, she has little left to hide. Makeup poorly conceals blemishes and abscesses, when flash illuminates flesh. Hair and sleeves barely cover pockmarks and track marks, when photography memorializes tragedy.

Note that among these photos of prostitution and addiction are 3 strangled streetwalkers murdered by johns. Another was an accessory to 2 other murders. Another committed vehicular manslaughter. 2 fatally overdosed on heroin. 2 died from AIDS. Another robbed 6 banks in 6 successive days.

www.GoodGirlsOnBadDrugs.com

Prostitution and addiction. Whores and drugs. Not all prostitutes are addicts, and only some prostitutes become streetwalkers. But all streetwalkers are hooked.

It is easy to condemn and demonize these girls, whereas it requires effort to try to understand and humanize them. Once you hear their tragic life stories, you can no longer regard them as criminals or monsters or demons. The demons may or may not lurk in the drugs they use. But demons surely reside in our fears of the drugs we do not use and therefore do not know.

As a chronic addict, upon hitting the streets she usually comes with a four- or five-year expiration date stamped on her forehead. Knowing or hoping her days are numbered, she recites her life story as though dictating her last testament. And when she willingly poses for photos, it is as though for her high school yearbook, so we her classmates might commemorate her.

At ease in a front passenger seat, her familiar workplace, she stares out boldly and frankly. With few years left to live, she has little left to hide. Makeup poorly conceals blemishes and abscesses, when flash illuminates flesh. Hair and sleeves barely cover pockmarks and track marks, when photography memorializes tragedy.

Patrolling the streets of the three small cities of Connecticut’s casino country, they gamble with their lives. Theirs are stories of professional addicts, not of professional prostitutes. As IV drug users, many of them now are dead from hepatitis or OD or AIDS. As sex workers, three were murdered. The funeral procession seems endless, so this chronicle too eludes closure. Most books have conclusions, but some just close. Most lives have endings, but these girls’ lives just end.

www.GoodGirlsOnBadDrugs.com

 

This photography project illustrates and accompanies a literary project, a book titled GOOD GIRLS on BAD DRUGS, to be published late fall 2017. These are true stories about some guys’ lust for sex and some gals’ love of drugs. So these are modern love stories.

Set among two mega-casinos and their three outlying small cities, Good Girls on Bad Drugs chronicles the lives of young drug addicts who support their habits by streetwalking and internet escorting. In interviews and jailhouse journals, they openly confess to their sex and drug crimes.

I did not choose to write this book, it chose me. For 26 years, I lived in a house upon whose long, secluded driveway streetwalkers conducted their nocturnal activities. For ten of those years, I recorded interviews with 120 sex workers, photographed 144, and met 200 more. Paralyzed below the waist, I was shut out from their sexual services. So instead of their customer, I became their confidant.

Reprieved from their usual carnal commerce, the girls willingly told their tragic tales. While others are woven into their stories, I shine a spotlight upon 18 lives. One chapter, one life. And sometimes one death.

Of several who already have fatally overdosed, including during the current opioid epidemic, one was a 17-year-old internet escort. Three were murdered by johns. Another was an accessory to two other murders. Another committed vehicular manslaughter. Another, after her prison break, was hunted in two states. Another robbed six banks in three states in six consecutive days.

Imagine if Robert Kolker, the author of the 2013 NY Times bestselling Lost Girls, had the opportunity to interview and photograph those five Long Island Craigslist escorts before they were murdered. That is precisely what I did with three strangled streetwalkers. When my photos of all three and the serial bank robber were published in newspapers and broadcast on network TV, interviewer became interviewee. But this book is about their stories, not mine.

www.GoodGirlsOnBadDrugs.com

I welcome your email on the Contact webpage at:

www.GoodGirlsOnBadDrugs.com

NOTES on the CAPTIONS

NAMES all are real, not nicknames or pseudonyms, and were confirmed in crime logs, inmate lists, court dockets, or death certificates.

CONNECTICUT INMATE NUMBERS attest to the rites of prison passage common to most drug-addicted sex workers. Indeed, every girl portrayed here is a current or former inmate of York Correctional Institution for Women. Numbers are published online only during the inmate’s incarceration. Any name not appended with a Connecticut Inmate Number does not mean that she was never incarcerated, but rather that she was not imprisoned during the research for this project.

ADDICTIONS to coke, crack, and heroin are the attributes that most clearly define their lives. Though unstated, all are also addicted to nicotine.

CHILDREN all are in foster care or adopted out. For the few whose number of children is unknown, that is stated. While their children may not concern us as viewers, it is important to them as mothers. Want to make these mothers cry? Ask them about their children.

YEAR photo’d ranges primarily from 1997 to 2007, during which I photo’d 144 different women, some several times over the course of several years. Because a gross 144 was enough, after 2008 I photo’d only those I had already photo’d earlier in order chronicle their “before” and “after.” The notable exception was Shanna who, as a “cover girl,” was first photo’d in 2015.

AGE, or rather aging, is severely accelerated by life on the streets, of which drug use and sex work are two defining elements. All ages as stated here were confirmed by crime logs, inmate lists, and death certificates.

QUOTES are the women’s own words, recorded on audiotape. I transcribed the tapes, then edited their stories. I never added any text, but I did do much shuffling and much deleting. “Like, umm, you know what I’m saying?”

www.GoodGirlsOnBadDrugs.com

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