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Curb Service: A Memoir

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Overview

Cruising nighttime byways for an adrenaline fix, Scot Sothern first patronized the marketplace of curbside prostitution surfing the prurient whims of a young man. He dove to the murky depths of sexual obsession and resurfaced five years later, shell-shocked and without excuse. While there, trusty Nikon in hand, Scot, a second-generation photographer, made full-frontal X-rated exposures, black and white, filled with pathos and an uncanny realism. The pictures captured the plight of the disenfranchised in America, ...

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Curb Service: A Memoir

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Overview

Cruising nighttime byways for an adrenaline fix, Scot Sothern first patronized the marketplace of curbside prostitution surfing the prurient whims of a young man. He dove to the murky depths of sexual obsession and resurfaced five years later, shell-shocked and without excuse. While there, trusty Nikon in hand, Scot, a second-generation photographer, made full-frontal X-rated exposures, black and white, filled with pathos and an uncanny realism. The pictures captured the plight of the disenfranchised in America, those forgotten and drug-addicted. Now he is ready to tell the story behind the photographs, the confessions of a befuddled baby-boomer maintaining a slippery connection to propriety while side-tripping into noirish infatuations with those low in life.

Curb Service recounts Sothern’s past as a troubled kid in the 1960s who visited two-dollar whorehouses and as an adult in the 1980s is still at it. A photographer who either can’t get a break or blows it when one comes his way, Scot wants to hold onto jobs, wives, and relationships; he tries to be a good father to the son he loves. Yet he continues picking up street prostitutes, photographing them, having sex with them, living moments of their lives and watching them fade away in a culture that deems them criminal and expendable.

It was only a few years ago that Scot’s photography started to receive notice – by influential Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles – which led to the publication of Lowlife, a photo book, by Stanley Barker in the UK and soon by powerhouse in Brooklyn. His work has since been exhibited world-wide including shows in London, Los Angeles, and Ottawa.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Curb Service

"Sothern daringly invites readers to sit bedside while he spends dingy afternoons in dusty motel rooms with streetwalkers, crack pipes, empty promises and his trusty camera, recording flashes of desperate women addled by drug abuse and hopelessness... A relentlessly gritty, cheerless portrait of a talented niche artisan." —Kirkus

"Scot Sothern is the real thing. This is damn good writing.” —Dan Fante

“Armed with a camera and a gift for words, Scot Sothern crept into the darker corners of life and subjected himself to what J.M. Barrie called 'a long lesson in humility.' The result is a masterful memoir, full of truth-telling, ugliness, beauty, tragedy, and humor. Curb Service is brave, funny, and heartwarming in ways you can't see coming.” —Bill Fitzhugh, author of Pest Control

Praise for Lowlife

“Scot Sothern has taken his camera into a world that only a microscopic fraction of the human population knows exists. Sothern is not a mere voyeur, he wades deeply into zones most never will and renders his subjects with dignity and compassion. Lowlife is a moving and compelling piece of work.” —Henry Rollins

"Lowlife is brutal stuff. A vicious slice of the American pie. A camera lucida of la bas, as the French say. It doesn't get much further down and straight to the being than this. A cautionary series of tales that's seguro." —Barry Gifford

Kirkus Reviews
A cult photographer's raw, rugged life in words and images. Sothern, notorious for his colorless, voyeuristic and often brutal images of Los Angeles prostitutes and the homeless, reveals the stories behind his photographs and offers a glimpse into a life of hardships and addictions that thoroughly challenged him. His prone portraitures are the result of years spent propositioning all manner of ladies of the evening, from a Mexican prostitute to a preop transvestite who resembled "Pocahontas," with "boy parts hanging around, waiting for the guillotine." The book's sections, decorated with snapshots from the author's distinctive photographic oeuvre, skitter from the 1990s back to the '80s to find Sothern establishing himself as both a commercial photographer and a budding "artist," while an affinity for ephemeral dalliances with prostitutes and escorts were the true formative experiences that molded his dark alter ego. Brief sketches of his father, a former pro photographer embarking on a fourth marriage, are braided into a whirlwind of booze, dope, blackouts and countless trysts spent photographing the desperate girls whose images front each chapter. Sothern's grim narrative is hardly a sunny affair; it volleys among chronicles of short, custodial weekends with his son, bouts of acrimonious sparring with his ex-wife, Sylvia, the downtrodden women he captures with his lens, hospitalized illnesses and debt collectors. He daringly invites readers to sit bedside while he spends dingy afternoons in dusty motel rooms with streetwalkers, crack pipes, empty promises and his trusty camera, recording flashes of desperate women addled by drug abuse and hopelessness. Only in the memoir's final pages does Sothern begin to reap long-overdue recognition for his "tastefully dirty" body of work. A relentlessly gritty, cheerless portrait of a talented niche artisan.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593765200
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/16/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 500,677
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Scot Sothern spent forty unsettled years hustling freelance photography. Scot worked in department stores, churches, bowling alleys, sports events, and high school proms. He worked in a cave at a tourist-trap in Missouri, making and selling photo mementos. Traveling with a portable studio, he made and sold children's portraits and novelties–photo buttons and key-chain viewers. Scot shot model's portfolios, head-shots, and nude magazine layouts. He spent three years in Tallahassee, Florida, with a photography studio, three seasons with a high school yearbook studio in Los Angeles, and has been employed in three different cities as a darkroom technician. Forced into commercial retirement by the crippling byproduct of a motorcycle mishap, Scot now writes books and has continued making photographs.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2013

    Scot Sothern takes us on a ride through the dark alleys, seedy m

    Scot Sothern takes us on a ride through the dark alleys, seedy motels and backstreets of 1980's and 1990's Los Angeles. The reader visualizes as Scot recounts his memoir with his Nikon and Vivitar flash by his side. An extraordinary artist and writer whose recognizition is long overdue. I also recomend the photo book "Lowlife" by Scot Sothern

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