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“The truth is, making the movie was a really traumatic experience. I suspect I may have developed some mild PTSD.” This is how filmmaker Alexander Perlman describes shooting Lot Lizard , his hypnotic new documentary about truck stop prostitution. While his claim might sound hyperbolic or like a canny bit of marketing it rings true: He logged thousands of miles and hundreds of hours to make the film, braving roach motels, crack highs, and homicidal pimps. Indeed, what Perlman captures in Lot Lizard is visceral and harrowing.
The film’s three protagonists Betty, Monica, and Jennifer work on the fringes of the trucking industry. America’s Independent Truckers’ Association estimates there are nearly 5,000 truck stops across the country, and although many offer nondescript places to sleep, eat, or shower, many others host a bustling shadow economy of sex and drugs. Lurk on truckers’ online message boards long enough and you’ll likely come across what amounts to a guide to interstate sex, replete with lurid tall tales (see here , here , and here ).