Monday, October 5, 2009

Art, Madness, and Sex Work: An Interview With Director Karen Gehres

In “Begging Naked” Karen Gehres documents her friend Elise, a painter and sculptor and former Times Square stripper, as she succumbs to mental illness and homelessness. What struck me most about this little gem of a film was that it isn't just another journalistic investigation of a crazy artist, but a beautiful, selfless call to save a friend's life and art, rather than a calling card for the filmmaker. (Even the photo montage of Elise through the years at the end, which also sums up in title cards that most of her creations were salvaged and reside in a Brooklyn warehouse, that she's been living in Central Park since her eviction five years ago—and that she continues to work on her art—is astounding in its compassion and humility.) I spoke with director Gehres a few weeks before the award-winning doc's latest screening at the Women Make Waves Film Festival in Taipei.

To read the interview visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.

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