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They were heady times for Vancouver. And the city was getting ready to host the world for Expo It was the beginning of the gentrification of the West End, the start of a social shift which resulted in a less-raucous neighbourhood, and perhaps one less flamboyant, less adventurous. The decision to shoot the film came after eight months of research by Dale and Cole into prostitution in major North American cities. The turf was split up depending on what johns were seeking.
Boystown was centered around Broughton St with young guys cruising cars outside churches. The trannies were in the alleys off Bute. Some ultimately agreed to wear radio microphones as they negotiated with tricks while being filmed by a camera hidden in a nearby van. The sex workers met — often in The Columbian restaurant above the Super Valu parking lot entrance — to create bad date sheets and to discuss health concerns, self-defense and safety.
In doing so, they managed to create a pimp-free environment. Throughout the film, the prostitutes talk about the violence they face, the stigmatization they endure and coming to terms with who they are. Deva remembers the lively days of hookers on Davie St well. He says it was part of what made the West End fabulous. When we were there it was like Mardi Gras. We contributed so much to the vibrancy of the neighbourhood. Hamilton says the presence of the prostitutes brought business into the area, put people in the bars.
He says it was the movement of the sex trade off Davie itself into the side streets which began to infuriate residents tired of the noise. And, he says, the push was on with Ottawa to legalize prostitution, which might have allowed for the creation of a red light district — perhaps in the West End.
By , Hamilton says the push was on to harass the prostitutes and push them east of Granville. Fed up, they and their allies march through the West End carrying placards and banners.