California, 1986–When I pulled off the freeway into San Diego, I had a single twenty dollar bill in my wallet. My car, a 1973 Toyota station wagon, rattled my teeth and died in idle. At stops I had to divide my right foot: heel on the brake, toes revving the accelerator. I had barely enough gas to get back to Los Angeles. See more after the jump....
On El Cajon Boulevard I drove slowly and studied the street walkers. In their eyes I could see desperation-induced madness, premature death. In my eyes they could see my craving for the nasty little secret I kept from friends and family. I could give my twenty dollars to any one of these women. I could buy a quick sex fix and she could buy enough crack to put a smile on her face for an hour or so.
In the passenger seat, belted and buckled, frail and beautiful, my four-year-old son, Dashiell, slept curled around his best friend, a pillow-sized stuffed facsimile of Hulk Hogan. It was Sunday night and my weekend with my little boy was over.
When we arrived at his mother's house, Dash awoke. He cried and clung tightly, arms around my neck. He didn't want me to go. His mother Sylvia, my ex-wife, was happy to see me go, but first she wanted money. I made lame excuses. She called me a jerk and pried our son from my embrace. I took my twenty dollars and drove back to El Cajon Boulevard.
Cruising nighttime byways for an adrenaline high, Scot Sothern first patronized the marketplace of curbside prostitution on a prurient whim. Diving to the murky depths of sexual obsession he resurfaced five years later, shell shocked, and without excuse. While there, trusty Nikon in hand, Scot snapped what he saw: full-frontal X-rated realities, fine-art documents, black and white, pathos and pizzazz.
LOWLIFE is an illustrated diary of dysfunction; the confessions of a befuddled baby-boomer maintaining a precarious connection to propriety and fatherhood while side-tripping into noirish infatuations. These stories and images, shot mostly in Southern California between 1986 and 1990 record the existence of the many disenfranchised Americans, men and women, hawking body and soul for the price of a Big Mac and a fix, struggling in a culture that deems them criminal and expendable.
On view starting November 5 (on view until December 3) at the Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles presents Lowlife Photographs and Literary Vignettes by Scot Sothern with an opening night book signing of Lowlife the book, a limited edition monograph published by Stanley Barker UK now publishing.