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GLITTERATI MAGAZINE COVER PHOTOGRAPH PETTER KARLSTR├śM

07.09 For years I have been obsessed with woman's issues and was photographing the sexually abused in Madison, Wisconsin. These were women who had managed to move on with their lives, hold down jobs and were in reasonably stable relation-ships. One day when driving down Williamson St. I saw a woman standing at the side of the road looking lost and very alone. I stopped to see if she needed help and it turned out she was a Call Girl. This excited, fascinated and somewhat frightened me because I was not sure how to react or think other than knowing I needed to photograph her. I had just shaved my head and was feeling extremely raw and vulnerable which she picked up on within the first few minutes. Her understanding and acceptance put me at ease and allowed the bond between us to be powerful and oddly immediate. Words flowed like a flooded river, fast, loud and with great intensity. Words that confirmed we shared many of the same feelings about our bod-ies, our sexuality and the pain encountered. I was thrilled almost speechless when she announced she had always wanted to do pictures! Later that night we talked and I was invited to her motel ( and reminded to bring my camera). Yet after agreeing to meet I backed out at the last minute, terrified by the man staying with her. Sadly, I never saw or spoke to her again. The experience so pissed me off, I swore to never again be intimidated by any situation. I recently spent 5 years on the streets of NYC first befriend-ing then taking pictures of working girls on the lower east side, some of whom are portrayed above. This experience has been more powerful then I could ever have imagined with deep and loving relationships formed as well as personally meaningful images made. Currently, I am working on a screen play about Brigitte Har-ris. I contacted her after reading an article in the Village Voice. The abuse she suffered reminded me of another important in-fluence, the life of and subsequent movie of Aileen Wuornos. Both had experienced horrific physical and sexual abuse and ended up killing their perpetrators; Aileen, the men she en-countered during prostitution, Brigitte, her father. I contacted Brigitte in prison and described how profoundly moved I was by her story and how nec-essary it was to present this information to the widest audience. We are in the process now of assembling details and awaiting her trial. Becoming involved with Brigitte encouraged me to explore the idea of making a documentary film about the woman I earlier photographed with the Photos and Words by Sebrina Fassbender