Jane Hilton first encountered Madam Kitty’s Cathouse in 1998.
In 2000 she was commissioned by the BBC to make ten
documentary films in this brothel and the Moonlite Bunnyranch,
both situated in Nevada, USA. In 2010 Jane decided to return
with her plate camera for her latest book, ‘Precious’, a collection
of intimate nude portraits of working girls.
Although prostitution is one of the oldest professions to have
been made legal in Nevada, it is still not socially acceptable.
This book gives the viewer an opportunity to leave behind any
preconceptions. The women are from different cultural
backgrounds, ages and body shapes which also challenge the
traditional idea of beauty.
By choosing to photograph the girls with a plate camera that
took hours of patience, it became a bonding experience.
As issues about their own body shape became apparent, so
did their feelings about their journey as a working girl. In some
cases this became a very positive and cathartic experience
Jane went to a total of eleven different brothels to find women
who were prepared to take part in this project. From big brothels
like the Moonlite Bunnyranch - which she already had a strong
relationship with - to the tiniest of brothels like Shady Lady’s and
Angel’s Ladies who could only offer one or two women at any
one time. Jane herself felt privileged to be allowed to stay in many of
the brothels, which contributed to the trust these girls have gave her.
Each photograph is an intimate and personal portrait. Among
them are Chelsea, a former drug and sex addict who planned on
a career in forensic science; Cassie, a bright and sunny optimist
whose burning ambition is to be a businesswoman and
philanthropist — a young woman who has overcome the bleakest of
pasts after witnessing her mother’s murder by a brutal stepfather;
Nikki, who three months into her pregnancy decided to become
a prostitute to save money for single motherhood; Sonia, a married
52 year old writer who lives at a brothel with her husband, moved
in so that she could write about the experience.
“Precious” is defined as something of “unique value” or someone
‘dear or beloved’. What people consider precious is entirely
subjective, as is beauty. Capturing their narrative, dignity and
strength of character Jane titled the series ‘Precious’, “because
to me, they all are."