About this project
*Video Contains Explicit Language*
On Christmas Day of 2003, a man was found shot on the campus of Johnson & Wales. Propped up against a chain link fence, it was clear his murder was a message to others. But he wasn't a student; this man was a hustler, one of the many men who sell themselves on the streets of Providence everyday. Despite the gruesome nature of his death, Roy Weber's murder has never been solved.
More Information about Roy Weber: http://www.royweber.com/index.html
There are many men who roam the streets of Providence, Rhode Island who remain unseen – unless you are looking. Invisible delves into the world of male prostitution through interviews with the men who live the life. These men live in two worlds: one at home, where they are fathers and husbands, and one in the adult bookstores, where they are addicts and hustlers. Many find themselves trapped in a cycle of addiction and incarceration that leaves little room for escape. What drives a man toward this lifestyle, and why is this phenomenon so overlooked? Invisible explores these questions by looking at masculinity, sex, poverty, drug abuse, and the city where it all happens: Providence, RI.
Wrapped up in it all is Richard Holcomb, founder of the outreach program Project Weber. A former hustler himself, Rich now finds himself on the same street corners he used to live on, reaching out to those who still sell themselves. Though a town like Providence is known for its progressive social attitude, Rich has found that advocating for health and human services for sex workers is more often met with disgust rather than compassion. Despite this, Rich soldiers on with his outreach bag and the memory of those who were lost to the streets.
While this is a really important project for the community of Providence, RI, we are not just focused on issues concerning New England.
We are exploring these issues in New York and San Francisco as well as Montreal and Prague if and only if this campaign is successful!
Through the film we're exploring a vast range of topics, including:
-What does drug addiction mean for this population?
-What is masculinity?
-What does it mean to be a "straight" male in 21st century America?
With your help and the funds we raise through this kickstarter campaign, we'll be able to tell the story of these men (and undoubtedly, many others) in the manner it deserves. Help us get there! You support is appreciated on our end, and you'd be helping raise awareness of a population that is INVISIBLE.
Thanks for your time and effort and we can't wait to move forward with the film.
MORE INFORMATION ON PROJECT WEBER:
Edge Boston: Former Male Prostitute Helps Hustlers Leave R.I. Streets
Edge San Francisco: Do HIV/AIDS Service Organizations Effectively Reach Male Sex Workers?
Anchor Online: Male prostitution in Providence
Project Weber Facebook:
Rich Holcomb Wikipedia:
With over 50 hours of interviews and on-the-street footage gathered already, Invisible provides an uncompromising look at the world of male prostitution. As production continues into the summer, we will continue to interrogate the causes of this lifestyle as well as the misconceptions about what a male prostitute really is. With these men being one of the highest risk groups for HIV infection, can the public really let this population continue to go unnoticed?
At the start, we didn’t! Invisible traces its origins to another production, The Other Pill, a documentary about PEP, a morning-pill that protects users from HIV. Over the course of that production, we became aware of the population of male sex workers in Providence and the struggles with sexual identity and drug addiction they go through every day. After talking to a few of men, we realized that the popular conception of who these guys were was largely unfounded. Most of these men identify as heterosexual and do not want to continue in the lifestyle, but find that traditional routes out of drug addiction and prostitution are not suited to confront the taboos that go along with being a male sex worker. We realized that the public hasn’t discussed many of these issues and we felt that it was our duty as documentary filmmakers to bring to light the truth about this lifestyle.
Early in the process we reached out to Project Weber, a local outreach program whose goal is to get these men protected against sexually transmitted diseases and to provide outlets for these men to seek treatment for their substance abuse. Its founder, Rich Holcomb, has acted as a liaison between the production and the sex worker population, and has provided invaluable insight on how we approach individuals for the film. With his help we’ve been able to talk to over 20 current and former male sex workers to date.
We approach the hustlers much in the same way that hospitals and outreach programs do. We rely on the willingness of the subjects themselves to speak with us. We never coerce our subjects to speak with us or to put themselves at risk for the sake of production. While many health studies provide monetary compensation, we have rely on gift cards and other indirect compensation to ensure that we are not contributing to the lifestyle. Many of the men express a willingness to talk to us without compensation.
Rhode Island has a long history of being a sexually progressive state, but with all the good that comes with that there is also a negative element. Up until 2009 a loophole in state law allowed indoor prostitution. This created a culture of prostitution that continues today despite changes in state statutes. Other films have addressed this issue by focusing on massage parlors and spas, but none so far have looked at street “hustling” or the issues surrounding male sex work.
100% of the funds raised will go directly back into production. Our goal is to continue production through the summer of 2012 and in order to do that we need to be able to upkeep our equipment, maintain the crew, and pay for certain research materials. The summer months are when the sex workers are most active, and in order to tell this story completely we need to continue production through September.
Also with a portion of the funds we hope to travel to other cities in the United States that have begun similar outreach programs for male sex workers. Boston, New York, and San Francisco all have outreach programs for sex workers with experts on the topic. By traveling to these places will be able to present a complete picture not only of the struggles of sex workers, but how the public is addressing the issue in different localities in the US.
In addition, we are hoping to speak with experts around the globe, including representatives of Project Sance and Project Rezo, outreach programs similar to Project Weber based in the Czech Republic and Canada respectively that has gained substantial support by local health officials. We hope to illustrate the differences between how these two countries and the United States address the issues surrounding male sex work.
Lastly, we hope that a portion of the funds raised will go into post-production costs like editing, color correction, and sound mixing. We want to present a film that this topic deserves, and every bit we are able to raise will ensure we are able to do that.
I can’t contribute to the Kickstarter, but I’d like to help. How can I make sure Invisible gets made?
Spread the word! Already we’ve been blown away by the support that’s already come from health care professionals and community figures, but in order to ensure Invisible is successful we need to reach out to the public at large. Link our Kickstarter campaign to your Facebook or any other social media website! Also like our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/invisibledocumentary) to show your support!
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