“An Interest in Women”

If you have a spare ten minutes, this is a fascinating historical portrait  about the New Orleans Red Light District (known as Storyville) and two brothers, a priest and a photographer, who were immersed in it:

By Michael Pasquier over at Killing the Buddha


2 Responses to “An Interest in Women”

  1. Millicent says:

    Crazy coincidence! Not an hour ago I was having lunch with a friend and telling her she needed to read about Bellocq’s photographs. I couldn’t remember his name–it’s been six years since I thought about him.

    What a good piece. I especially like this line: “the line dividing the sacred from the profane was not bright.”

    I also love this treatment of Bellocq, from Ondaatje’s “Coming Through Slaughter,” which is all about Buddy Bolden, Bellocq, and Storyville:

    “89 plates survive. Look at the pictures. Imagine the mis-shapen man who moved round the room, his grace as he swivelled round his tripod, the casual shot of the dresser that holds the photograph of the whore’s baby that she gave away, the plaster Christ on the wall. Compare Christ’s hands holding the metal spikes to the badly sewn appendix scar of the thirty year old naked woman he photographed when she returned to the room—unaware that he had already photographer her baby and her dresser and her crucifix and her rug. She’s now offering grotesque poses for an extra dollar and Bellocq grim and quiet saying No, just stand there against the wall there that one, no keep the petticoat on this time. One snap to quickly catch her scorning him and then waiting, waiting for minutes so she would become self-conscious towards him and the camera and her status, embarrassed at just her naked arms and neck and remembers for the first time in a long while the roads she imagined she could take as a child. And he photographed that.

    • Carla Fran says:

      The synchronicity here is delightful!

      Ondaatje can really show off a sentence fragment in its best light.

      Also, Killing the Buddha is a great website for conversations on faith. I found it from reading Peter Manseau’s book on holy relics. He is one of the founding editors of the site.

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