john bellocq


New Orleans Red Light District, 1912.

Before Storyville of New Orleans shut down in 1917, it was the only legalized red-light district in North America, and French photographer John Ernest Joseph Bellocq took portraits inside of these storied brothels. The sensual, almost haunting shots were incredibly revealing and varied, from the naughty maiden posed playfully on a sofa wearing nothing but a Zorro mask to the awkward poses of the hesitant sitters, the clutching of their hands, the downward, escaping gazes. In an introduction to his collection Bellocq: New Orleans Photographs, Susan Sontag referred to the photographer’s perspective as an “anti-formulaic, anti-salacious sympathy for ‘fallen’ women.”