She was a living painting hanging above a gloomy stone staircase. A bit of sexual theater.
This anonymous sex worker, erotic dancer, or model earned her daily bread quietly contorting amid those bonfire colors. Behind her, other darker shadows danced like black flames. But down those dark stairs, a second woman wore tight jeans, knee-high boots, a long leather topcoat, and (to perhaps preserve anonymity) a distorted white face mask.
She beckoned me to descend. But when Kate appeared by my side, my new friend made a subtle gesture that meant “Ah well… C’est la vie.”
We already knew that the area around Paris’s Moulin Rouge had long been tres risqué. But in the fall of 2009, as we walked toward that iconic Red Windmill, we passed shops whose gaudy neon signs blared “Sex Shop”... “Sex Shoppe”… “Le Sex Shop”… and (more creatively) “Sexodrome.”
And then we arrived at this place. I dare not repeat what its signs said at the bottom of those stairs. But above them, this picture-framed vignette was beautifully, sadly, surreal.
–Dave Powell is a Westford, Mass., writer and avid amateur photographer.
Don’t forget, if you’re already a contributor to 35mmc, and fancy submitting a one-shot story, please feel free to upload at your leisure – Hamish
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