In the Brickyard, one hot late summer day, I watched Scott as he filmed an interview with Jamie, a fifty-three-year-old grandmother, prostitute, and heroin addict. Jamie, who grew up in the suburbs, was illiterate until her forties, when a group of fellow addicts taught her to read from a Dick and Jane children’s book. Scott’s wife, Erin, handled the audio. She works with him on most of his films and is his fourth wife. He first got married at nineteen, after his freshman year of college. “That’s what everybody does in Indiana,’’ he said. He says he has finally gotten marriage right, although it still amazes him when “people who know me well ask me for relationship advice.’’

Scott asked Jamie, the subject of the interview, to describe herself without any reference to drugs. “A very understanding, caring person,’’ she said. “I’m a more positive person than a negative person. I love to travel, meet people. I like to horseback ride. I believe in love.’’

Then he asked her what she wanted the world to know about drug addicts. “Drug addicts are human beings,’’ Jamie said.

Scott spent the first days of the new year fixing, lining up interviews in Junkieville for Drugs Inc. and for a project about sex workers he hopes to do for public radio. With a few minutes to kill, he sent me a short e-mail:

“I’m in the parking lot of an hourly rate motel delivering honey roasted oats cereal and a half gallon of milk to a prostitute with whom I’m trying to build rapport for an interview on sex work. BEZ series. It was her special request. Waiting for the trick to leave. This line of work isn’t always glamorous eh?’’

 

More in Feature

Open Mic

Read More »

Don Terry is a 2009-2010 Encore Fellow at CJR. He has worked at the Chicago Defender, the Chicago Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the St. Paul Dispatch, and The New York Times, where he was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for the series "How Race is Lived in America."