'Fading Gigolo' Director John Turturro Touts 'Positive Sides' of Prostitution
Discussing his Wood Allen-starring romantic comedy, Turturro said, "People sometimes go to [sex workers] for reasons beyond just sexual contact … and sometimes they are truly helped."
John Turturro, the writer, director and star of Fading Gigolo, shared some of the research and thinking on the nature of sex work that informed his hit indie comedy co-starring Woody Allen.
Speaking with sex writer Karley Sciortino for an interview with the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, Turturro said: "I think there are positive things about what sex workers do. I know and consulted people who have been in that world, and it’s interesting on a human level that people sometimes go to these people for reasons beyond just sexual contact -- maybe they're looking for solace, or other things, and sometimes they are truly helped."
Fading Gigolo, which made its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, stars Allen as a struggling bookstore owner who convinces his friend, played by Turturro, to become a gigolo, with Allen serving as his pimp. The film evolves from a farce into an offbeat but sensitive story about human connection in unexpected circumstances.
"I also think there’s a real exchange that goes on in these situations, whereas in so many other professions there isn't," Turturro said of the world's oldest occupation, adding, "I wasn’t trying to explore the whole profession of prostitution -- I know there can be darker or exploitative sides."
After Sciortino remarked that stories about "level-headed, successful sex worker[s]" are rare in contemporary culture, which instead favors a tragic portrayal of such individuals, Turturro said: "That’s right. And as a person who makes movies, I’m well aware that cliche is abundant in the worlds of TV and film, and then these cliches become accepted, and they reduce our sensitivity. And certainly the representation of women in general in film is very reductive. But I think it’s possible to increase an audience’s sensitivity -- to leave them delighted and surprised about something."
Fading Gigolo debuted to $198,399 from five theaters in New York and Los Angeles over Easter weekend, taking an impressive theater average of $39,680, the best of the weekend for any film.