Silverthorne Jeffrey

Boystown, The Perfume of Desire

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  • Lars Schwander (2009)
  • Bilingual (French and English)
  • 112 pages
  • Photographs: Jeffrey Silverthorne
  • Text: Anne Biroleau-Lemagn and Jon Hendricks
  • ISBN 978-8791529160

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In Nuevo Laredo, just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, complexes of sex clubs called Boystowns cater to American men, and a few Mexicans, who wish to watch women take off their clothes and perhaps to pay for sex with one of them. Photographer Jeffrey Silverthorne (born 1946), who has in the past made photographs of landscapes, still lifes, portraits of transvestites and of dead bodies in a morgue, photographed the women who sell their bodies nightly in the Mexican establishments for wages that far exceed what they could earn in the local maquiladoras. Lurid and unsettling, Boystown: The Perfume of Desire presents 56 color and 34 black-and-white images.

"On a simplistic and juvenile level," Silverthorne writes, "a Boystown is a celebration of life, a candy store of flesh, with any psychological or medical consequences deferred. On an adult level, Boystown is a direct observation of a spiritual poverty and economic failure that both countries and cultures share."