Let’s face it. I was the least likely candidate to make a film about men. Several years ago, I finished a film about sex slavery. Men were the enemy.
Sometimes I had to pose as a prostitute. One night I barely escaped getting sold to a pimp in a foreign country. An overzealous client was waiting on a yacht nearby and the pimp quickly priced me the way a farmer prices a heifer. He looked at my teeth, breast size, cheekbone structure. “They like tall Bulgarian girls over here,” he said.
“Now I’m fucked,” I thought. But lucky for me, the man brokering the deal declined the pimp's offer. I got on a bus and disappeared before they found out I was a journalist.
"THE STAGE" is a multimedia piece illustrated by Marina Luz, produced by Carrie Ching and reported by Mimi Chakarova © 2013
Over time, I witnessed what men did to desperate, trusting women. I documented the lives of too many broken girls. And to keep going, I convinced myself that I was making a difference. I thought I could change things. And you know what, we did. Millions around the world watched the film. Laws changed. Students mobilized. Movements flourished. But I couldn’t find joy in the accolades.
I stayed in my dark little corner. Somewhere in the underworld of trafficking, I had lost the most important thing. I had stopped believing in love.
I resigned from my teaching job at UC Berkeley.
I left journalism.
"Correspondent Confidential" is a Vice series produced by Carrie Ching and illustrated by Marina Luz. Mimi Chakarova's undercover story launched the series in 2013.
Then, I decided to turn “The Price of Sex” on its head and make a film about men. Over the next three years, I worked on this new project... drove across the United States, asking all types of men one question: “What is love?” I listened to their love stories – what they loved, how they lost love and why... And I thought that maybe through them, I would find it again – the beauty and reason for it all.
My hope was that their love stories would restore my faith in love. And in men.
So did they?
Take this journey with me and find out.