Released in 2013, this gritty documentary’s name holds a double meaning, serving not only to describe the profession it highlights but also as a nod to how those interviewed fell into it in the first place. Interspersed with stories from various sex workers, pimps, and the law trying to contain it all, Tricked presents a really important question: just who is at fault here?
Exploring a broken system that has historically penalized sex workers, who are often trafficked or otherwise coerced into the industry, the documentary shines the light of fault on the pimps who are profiting significantly even as they destroy the lives of their victims. Not only are they often forcing the women into the industry, and using manipulation, force, and fear to get them to continue to sell themselves in often dangerous situations, but they are keeping the money the women make. It’s modern-day indentured servitude: there’s no way to make up the debt, no matter what they make. When the woman is caught by the law, the punishment they receive is mild in comparison to the retaliation of their pimps, who, it seems, will beat them with anything and everything they can get their hands on.
Not for the weak stomached or easily distraught, Tricked pulls no punches when describing the gruesome reality of these frightened sex slaves. From beatings with electrical cords and baseball bats to douching with bleach in a forced attempted back-alley abortion, this is what the inside of the sex industry looks like. It’s raw and bloody and filled with trauma.
If you’ve ever wondered how and why people become prostitutes, I would recommend Tricked. If you find yourself blaming sex workers for their situations or for leading others astray, however, I strongly recommend it. Perhaps, after hearing the gory details for yourself, after hearing a pimp describe a woman like merchandise, equating her to a piece of clothing that would be sold at any store, you’ll have not only a better understanding of where the problem truly lies, but a little compassion for those suffering through nightmares most of us can’t even imagine.
 Wells, Jane. Tricked. Netflix. Directed by John Keith Wasson and Jane Wells. New York City: First Run Features, 2013.