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Working Girls + Q&A
Institute of Contemporary Arts
In pastel tones, in the corner, a square mirror lies against a wall with a pot plant. A client holds a sex worker from behind, reflected in the mirror
Working Girls, dir. Lizzie Borden, USA 1986, 93 min., English, 18

Following the feminist insurgency of Born in Flames (1983), Lizzie Borden’s Working Girls (1986) tracks a single day inside a brothel in downtown Manhattan. Molly (Louise Smith) and her colleagues fix their clients’ drinks, trade tips on the johns’ kinks and log their earnings in a ledger managed by their overbearing boss, Lucy (Ellen McElduff). Shot in the pastel tones of a women’s magazine, this remarkable study of sex work blends ethnographic acuity with spiky wit to explore what it takes to do sexual labour. Borden empties her subject of stigma and eroticism to focus, in her words, “on the economics of prostitution… the condom, the exchange of money, putting the sheets on the bed”.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Lizzie Borden and is hosted by the academic Lili Owen Rowlands.
Supported by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Grant.

All films are ad-free and 18+ unless otherwise stated, and start with a 10 min. curated selection of trailers.

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