Girls on film
How one man takes the city's prostitutes and gives them their 15 minutes of fame
Published: July 3, 2012
He first had sex with a hooker when he was 18. He's been with hundreds of them since. And he's put a video of nearly every one of those hookups on his website.
"I just like bad girls," says the 36-year-old Detroiter who goes by the name John Juan, the persona behind foulfowl.com. "I've always liked bad girls. The temptation has just always drawn me in, and finally when I got up the courage to do it, I enjoyed it."
For a decade now, he's shot video not just of himself having sex with prostitutes, but also interviews with them talking openly, often enthusiastically, about their lives as street hookers in Detroit. They share vivid stories about their arrests, their addictions and their customers — the ones who've raped them, the ones they've robbed with knives or guns, the ones who show up with wives who want to watch, even the one man who pays for their services, takes them to a motel, ties them up and shouts Bible verses at them.
Many of the women he films are weathered and aged by drugs and sickness and thousands and thousands of johns. Some of the site's subscribers, particularly those from Europe and Asia, ask him to find the most haggard prostitutes possible, and he gleefully complies. "Two nickels are better than a dime, and 10 pennies are even better," his website's motto once declared.
He's chronicled hundreds of them — emaciated ones, obese ones, a few visibly pregnant ones. Some are toothless, some have open sores on their skin, some are covered in scars. Some admit reusing condoms, or having diseases; others shoot up heroin or smoke crack in front of him. The settings are seedy motels, vacant buildings, dirty apartments, weedy alleys, even the backseat of a stripped-out stolen car once.
The hookers he finds have sex with him for just a dollar or two, or for a ride somewhere. Once it was for some chicken wings, another time it was for some hair gel. One took two Newports as payment.
But his site, he says, is about more than sex.
"It's the stories more than anything else," he says. "The stories are a huge turn-on, just the stories they tell me from the streets, about different tricks or whatever. It's just amazing to hear them. You never know what you're going to get. Seriously."
He started a decade ago with a disposable camera, cheap server space and some very willing subjects.
Back then he was a college graduate working in the financing department for one of the domestic auto companies, and this was just a nighttime pursuit — half for personal pleasure, half as Web experiment. But his hits grew exponentially and he was able to start charging for access, and, despite being laid off a few years ago, he claims he makes more money now from the website — which costs about $20 for basic access — than he ever did at his day job. "I'm looking to be the ghetto Larry Flynt," he says.
He writes a short story for each video, sometimes in slang, sometimes using sarcasm or irony. "This post is brought to you from an undisclosed dopehouse," one story begins, like an old pulp novel.
Others are pure street talk. "I was rollin' through the projects the other day, like I alwayz do cause thatz where the foulest bitches be," a post starts off.
Occasionally he offers tips to johns, like how to avoid infections. "When a woman hands you a condom, she probably has something. Although they could care less about you, they don't want to give it to you and have you coming back lookin' for they ass."
Sometimes he takes them on dates just for the experience. "Thirty minutes later when she got to the mall, I said, 'Happy Valentines day, baby, go 'head and get anything in the mall that you want, as long as it's from the foodcourt.' So she grabbed her a shrimp fried rice meal from China King ($7.43, tax included)."
Almost none of the prostitutes objects to being filmed, he says. "They're pretty open because they see me all the time and they know what I do. You gotta think about this too — they're standing on the corner, everybody can see you, so being on the Internet doesn't even embarrass you or anything."
People have told him that he's sick, that he's exploiting the desperate, that his days are numbered. "I used to get assholes that said that — you're taking advantage of the women and I hope you die, you should have AIDS, just all kinds of crazy stuff." His defense is that he's just filming what these women are doing anyway, and compares them to professional porn stars.
"They're no different than the girls in Hollywood," he says. "They're looking to make money. A lot of the girls in Hollywood do drugs, a lot of the girls on the streets do drugs. So what makes me any different than a producer in Hollywood? They're gonna do whatever they can to make money anyways. I'm not harming anyone."
Besides the moral misgivings, most just ask how he can have sex with such messed-up women. That only motivates him.
"Now that I've got the audience it's kind of like just trying to keep them satisfied and keep them going," he says. "I think the turn-on was having people look in and say, 'This guy must be crazy — the girls are just terrible. How can he do that with them?'"
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