"If Las Vegas were a person, it would be male,” 28-year-old Austrian photographer Stefanie Moshammer says. “The roles of men and women are clearly defined within the world of Vegas strip clubs, and male desire is understood to be the thing that keeps the wheels turning. But it’s not just the clubs, Vegas itself is overflowing with testosterone. The whole city is like a constructed space built on fantasy and illusion.”
One week is all it took for Moshammer to be seduced by Sin City and the irresistible myths that surround it. Shortly after an initial trip, she returned to live there. The city, shimmering like a mirage in the middle of the Nevada desert, caters to any vice. All of the old clichés can be found unchanged: the strip clubs, the casinos, the shotgun wedding chapels and the seedy motels. It’s a writhing pleasure land, saturated with a dizzying cacophony of dollar bills and neon signs.
The Vegas that Moshammer presents to us in her project 'Vegas and She', however, is markedly different. The Vegas that she presents us with, is female. Though not initially setting out to make a project about the women of Vegas, Moshammer found it unavoidable; they were a constant, unfaltering presence, the lifeblood of the place. “In the machinery of adult entertainment in Las Vegas, the women are everything. They are the insides that keep the outside moving,” she explains. “During my time there, I confronted myself with that male Vegas, in the same way as getting to know somebody. I thought of ‘She’ as the other pole, the antithesis. ‘She’ is me, and all of the other women that appear in the project.”
Moshammer’s interactions with female strippers and escorts working in the city unfold slowly, in quiet corners, and away from the dazzling lights of the strip. “I met all of the women I photographed while living in Vegas. Some I got to know really well, and others I only had passing interactions with on the street. As a female photographer, they trusted my work and so they opened up to me. I became curious about them and their stories”.
“I always wondered what was behind the dream of sophistication and opulence that people search for in Las Vegas,” Moshammer says. And it’s true that Vegas is a place where one can become anybody – it’s a city full of characters.
When you’ve been there for some time, the place has a deep effect on you, Moshammer alludes. As if it crawls into your soul. “Vegas, what is it? And why are you eating all of her?” she writes simply. And with that notion, her images offer us subtle, heartbreaking glimpses into the realities of life as a girl in Las Vegas. Click on...