Ext: From high overhead, we see the frozen Russian landscape slip beneath us as our flight takes off for Asia.
A cacophony of sounds and voices.
We wade through the maddening crowds. The boys for sale are almost invisible.
Almost is the operant idea here.
We see them set against the heterosexual landscape even as it melts like ice. We see the hookers waiting. We see a landscape saturated with the quid pro quo of sex. We see the bare bones of survival. Everything around them flashes with a contrived beat and a forced light.
Smokin’ heroin. Chasing dragons. They are only there. The men who seek them out know where to look. Knowing how to blend in, too.
It is the year of the hyena. It is always the year of the hyena. It is the planet of hyenas.
There is the stereotypical tragedy of a lost childhood. But it’s about more than that. The loss is the loss of life itself.
What does homelessness mean. What does survival sex mean. What does abandonment mean.
We see them talking about what they want. They want to be loved. They want to be wanted.
I find this an almost stunning commonality. “I want someone to love me.”
You think they are so hardened.
We are ALL wrong about so many things.
How hardened they really are — beyond exterior assumptions — is one of those things we are so wrong, wrong, wrong about. Survival is a journey, too. But there is more to life than merely surviving it.
And they know that. If you took the time to travel like a tourist beyond the realm of exploitation; if you were to know any of them, any of them, you would discover that they know that. They know who and what they are. And they also know that there is so much more to life, and they are doing their best to hang tightly to what constitutes a life where hope is almost always just outside their outstretched reach. And ours.
timothée barrus/ desire inside the gliding skull
at the core of the thing we have the individual/
you; solo, the secret in the knots of blood/
small wonder, eyes with hallows where the wars go in/
culture wars to dress the dead, the body is a wretch/
it covers grief and sin/
only in an instant, one shadow that flows to the rhythm and servitude of the species/
a rootless dream, you, throbbing like the night around me/
gnashes its teeth/
with a bloody grin/
there are those who say the past of old men hacks and cuts away at time/
your sunless bones risen from the earth in secret, the ripening of rivers listening and remembering the pain like dust upon our faces/
touching toward the dark emptiness of self/
your ominous wings and fatal weeping i have your answer/
existence burning away your impotence/
building tombs of avid pour/
those long nights of swimming through regret slash/
we lived them and the stake; drifting back, the wind died down/
as all our old lovers have/
into my rippled youth/
pushing through an eternity of release and mutilation/
WARNING: Explicit Imagery and Colloquial Language
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
I have never met one kid who did not hate the tricks who fucked them. The number of children on the planet who turn tricks to survive is in the millions. I have never met a sexworker, adult or child, who did not either have a history of abuse, or wasn't being abused as they worked the street. If someone else wasn't abusing them, they were abusing themselves. Prostitution is just one turn of the social screw that is physical and sexual abuse.
Dear Tim Barrus,
Question? If I sent you a video I made where I showed you my life, would you be willing to post it, if you wanted to post it, with no writing, and no real name? I only want to use my fake name. I am the tourist, and the video I made of my life is called tourism.
"Survival Sex" by Tim Barrus (Director, Show Me Your Life; Founder, Cinemateque Films)
As Show Me Your Life proceeds, there are challenges.
I wasn’t sure exactly how SMYL would reflect the world, but I was convinced it would.
It’s not enough to simply post videos. That is not what I do.
There are elements to the construction of SMYL that can be articulated because the dynamics here, too, go to transparency and the state of the world’s children — especially children at risk.
I do not want to name the country. I am afraid that doing so would just make the kids there run. Faster than they’re already running.
It’s a country where Americans go to have sex with children. The children are destitute, mostly homeless, and the majority of them have no parents because their parents are either dead, or they have abandoned their children.
The UN estimates that the numbers of children involved here is in the hundreds of thousands. Many of the children are illegal immigrants. That term has a bad connotation to Americans. But these are not Hispanic children. They’re Asian, and immigrants arrive in its capitol city by the hundreds of thousands every year. The surrounding countries are even more desperate than the country the illegals flee to in so many numbers.
How can there be so many children doing sex work but no one knows much about it.
There has been reporting. It is miniscule. Last year, thirty-thousand people died there of AIDS.
Young boys engaged in survival sex on the streets do not use protection. Most are under the age of thirteen. Many are ten and eleven and prepubescent.
When questioned, most have no idea what HIV is.
American tourists pay them for sex.
Many are HIV positive and still sexually active.
Just this week alone, I was explaining to an American teacher who travels to this country and who volunteers his time working with kids, that such children live lives at risk not just for disease, but are at risk for violence as well.
The teacher immediately pulled out of SMYL. Wanted nothing to do us.
It does stun me (it shouldn’t) when people run that hard.
I have sent cameras to teachers all over the world. It has not been productive. They either want to make the videos themselves or they run.
I am interested in videos made by the children.
Kavi is eleven. He’s been doing survival sex tourism for about a year. He was excited to receive a camera. He had Internet access.
It turned out that the Internet access was through an ex-pat trick. We did not know this. Kavi was caught attempting to upload images he had taken that did, indeed, show his life.
They also showed the trick.
Kavi did not understand the danger this put him in.
He has disappeared.
I am in the process of putting together some video images of his life that I know to be relevant.
We are hoping to hear from Kavi again.
But we will not be encouraging him to film his life. It gets very dark out there. Many Americans (always male) scoff at me, and they play hater/ridicule games when I talk about the dangers to children. Game over, haters.
Americans, too, are the source of the affluence that keeps the sex trade alive.