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 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.
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