This past Thursday night (29th May 2014) Channel 4 aired a documentary exploring the lives of three ‘mature’ and ‘experienced’ female prostitutes; Sophie 57, Beverly 64 and Shelia 84. While at times it made for uncomfortable viewing and is not for the faint-hearted, the documentary gave a rare insight into senior sex work and was uplifting in it’s own peculiar way.
When I initially saw the documentary advertised I thought ‘oh here we go again!’, on the surface it looked like nothing more than the standard Channel 4 documentary exploiting yet another pocket of human oddity that would be beamed onto our screens to provoke disgust and shock, in an overly voyeuristic manner. Other Channel 4 productions being titles such as ‘Dogging Tales’, ‘Three Wives, One Husband’ and ‘The Town That Caught Tourette’s’. But actually it was much more than that, it was sensitive and delicate, you really warmed to these ‘pacemaker-prostitutes’ and it made you question if it was all the wrong for a 80 something year old to prefer knee high suspenders to knitting?
Director Charlie Russell provided us with three realistically gritty profiles of elderly escorts, it was interesting to note that the women featured in his documentary were primarily motivated not by financial gain but by enjoyment and pleasure. Sophie, Beverly and Shelia viewed their current profession as empowering, when most people their age would be happy to sit at home with their cats and watch a Coronation Street omnibus these ladies were not, they didn’t see themselves in the twilight of the lives but in fact as sexually active independent woman who understand the men of all ages, particularly young men, viewed them as sexy and seductive.
This revelation of sexual enjoyment for senior citizens is something that should encourage deeper, psychological discussion about our values and stereotypes as a society. While we aren’t used to a 84 year old detailing bathroom activities such as ‘watersports‘ and a ‘golden shower‘, I’ll leave that to your imagination, I believe this documentary will force us to discuss these issues and readjust what we view as the norm for a pensioner. We are constantly bombarded with sanitised and gorgeous images of a sexual nature through TV, film, advertising and even pornography so yes these portraits of elderly prostitutes may at first be odd and alarming but in fact they are no different to you and me, sex is sex, everyone does it even the over 60s.
In closing, these women had been through a lot, whether they had been left penniless by a gambling addicted husband, disowned by their family or had their new found profession splashed across the front pages of the tabloid press they should be left to do what they want. They shouldn’t be harassed and demonised, they aren’t causing anyone any harm in fact quite the opposite, pleasure. These women weren’t forced into prostitution they have selected this new occupation out of pure choice, they love sex and enjoy what they do.
Why ever not for goodness sake? I mean I wouldn’t personally indulge in this sort of thing but good luck to them. Sophie, Beverly and Shelia all had a certain spark in their eye, and I say to them ‘You go girls!’
Channel 4 Thursday 29th 10pm – The programme can be found on 4oD here.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below. Is what these woman are doing completely fine? Or is it disgusting? Should they have some sort of discretion with there clients, in terms of married men? How would you feel if your Grandma became an escort? Is it safe? And should prostitution be legalised, and more safeguards put up for these women?