Traditional photographic and media coverage of prostitution has focused on only one half of the business. If aliens came to earth and tried to understand what prostitution is about, they would believe it is a business based on naked women staying in dirty rooms.

With my series “Gentlemen’s Club,” I tried to give visibility to the other 50%.

In June 2015, I put an advert in a newspaper in Rio de Janeiro asking for prostitutes’ clients to pose for me in exchange of money. My intention was first to see who these people were and also to invert the roles of the business, as the clients would be selling part of themselves. The response was massive. This is a selection of the men who accepted the deal.

All of them were asked about their experience, personal history and motivations; this information is in the captions of the images. I have tried to publish this series in different media, but so far there has been very little interest in getting to understand the other half of equation in the prostitution business.

—Cristina de Middel

Editor’s Note: de Middel’s project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017—don’t miss the work from all 44 of the outstanding, international talents! You can follow de Middel’s work on her personal website or Instagram.

If you’re interested in seeing more work on this and similar subjects, we’d recommend the following articles: The Prostitutes and the Priest, a short film about a German priest who advocates for sex workers in Namibia; Nobody’s Nobodies, a humorous and sensual reflection on identity also shot in Rio de Janeiro; and This is You Here, a conceptual series that pairs personal photographs with found images to construct a fabricated identity.