CANAL STREET MADAM (52' or 86')
DIRECTED BY CAMERON YATES
Until an FBI bust upended her life, Jeanette Maier was a successful New Orleans madam. Her discreet clientele included a number of powerful, high-ranking politicians. The ensuing very public trial - both in the courtroom and in the media – focused salaciously on the fact that Jeanette’s brothel was a family affair – Jeanette ran the business with her mother and she employed her own daughter as an escort. Jeanette and her family ended up infamous, their futures blighted by felony convictions, yet their well-connected clients escaped exposure. Now, the Canal Street Madam sets out to reinvent herself, to reclaim her public persona, and to protect her family as she fights back against a system that silences the powerless and protects the elite.
This verité documentary offers a first person, intimate view of lives rarely seen on their own terms. It reveals the cost of public exposure and how unequal enforcement of the law plays out for sex workers and for their clients. It uses FBI wiretaps, brothel home-movies, and haunting ‘80s stripper and family snapshots to create a complex portrait of their lives and motivations. The Canal Street Madam becomes a behind-the-scenes indictment of hypocritical politicians, the challenges of single parenthood, and the lack of protection for women whom society relegates to an underclass, yet who service society’s most powerful.
“Jeanette is a savvy entrepreneur who knows better than to go to the cops when she has a problem. She goes straight to the media. With humour and sympathy, she defends her loved ones and the rights of working girls against threats and insults.”
- Hot Docs
“Director Cameron Yates gracefully concocts an unflinching, yet utterly compassionate, impression of the madam as she embraces her suffering with straightlaced charm and sobering strength, determined to carry on in the face of increasingly tragic personal circumstances. Yates’ sympathetic allure and intimate rapport with the camera anchors this disturbingly frank and candid personal portrait of a slandered woman still seeking joy in a tumultuous world.”
- Philadelphia Film Festival
More info can be found at: thecanalstreetmadamfilm.com/