Sex workers from streets of Saint-Denis. Photographer Massimo Sormonta

Sex workers from streets of Saint-Denis. Photographer Massimo Sormonta

Saint-Denis is one of the oldest streets in Paris with a rich history. It was laid by the Romans in the I century, and in the Middle Ages it expanded to the north. Here was a route through which the kings of France stepped into the capital, leaving the Basilica of Saint-Denis. This street (and adjacent territory) was the site of numerous barricades and protests at the beginning of the XIX century. And for many years, Ryu Saint-Denis is known as a place of prosperity for prostitution.

Photographer Massimo Sormonta made a series of photographs on the famous Parisian street from 1984 to 1992. In his frames the district is full of life. They capture the self-proclaimed day and night toilers of the sex industry, past constantly locals, wanders voyeurs and workers on the street atelier pret a porter.

Women in their posts in the corners and in the alleys waiting for customers. But the photographer says that Saint-Denis is not comparable with the notorious red light district of Northern Europe. This street is trying to maintain its own peculiar kind of cheerfulness and French impudence.

“I took these photos in the mid-eighties and early nineties for a few visits. I shot them because I was interested in it because I wanted to create a socio-cultural chronicle about time and environment.

Today, the open practice of prostitution has declined significantly, mainly because of speculation in real estate, and also because of moralizing campaigns against Parisian prostitutes. In response, sex workers organized the annual Pute Pride, a festival similar to the Gay Parade, but with slogans for the rights of sex workers, “the photographer says.

Street portraits of Massimo Sormonta , made in Paris on the street Saint-Denis.

Massimo Sormonta: Website

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