Invisible is an uncompromising look into the world of male hustlers in Providence, Rhode Island. There are many men who roam the streets of Providence, Rhode Island who remain unseen – unless you are looking. Invisible delves into the world of male prostitution through interviews with the men who live the life. These men live in two worlds: one at home, where they are fathers and husbands, and one in the adult bookstores, where they are addicts and hustlers. Many find themselves trapped in a cycle of addiction and incarceration that leaves little room for escape. What drives a man toward this lifestyle, and why is this phenomenon so overlooked? Invisible explores these questions by looking at masculinity, sex, poverty, drug abuse, and the city where it all happens: Providence, RI.
Wrapped up in it all is Richard Holcomb, founder of the outreach program Project Weber. A former hustler himself, Rich now finds himself on the same street corners he used to live on, reaching out to those who still sell themselves. Though a town like Providence is known for its progressive social attitude, Rich has found that advocating for health and human services for sex workers is more often met with disgust rather than compassion. Despite this, Rich soldiers on with his outreach bag and the memory of those who were lost to the streets.
On Christmas Day of 2003, a man was found shot on the campus of Johnson & Wales. Propped up against a chain link fence, it was clear his murder was a message to others. But he wasn’t a student; this man was a hustler, one of the many men who sell themselves on the streets of Providence everyday. Despite the gruesome nature of his death, Roy Weber’s murder has never been solved.
Dio Traverso is a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Cinema and Media Studies department in 2010. Studying under Judy Hoffman, Dio completed his first short film, The Windy City Rollers, a documentary about the Chicago women’s roller derby league. His next short film, Readers, looked at the emergence of geek culture into the mainstream and what that meant to the “comic book guys.” Invisible, Dio’s first feature film, made its World Premiere at the Rhode Island International Film Festival in 2014. He currently studies at the University of Texas – Austin.
This is Gavin’s second documentary project, the first being The Other Pill, a documentary in-production that explores the use of antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV infection. Besides working on Invisible and The Other Pill, Gavin serves as executive director of PL-AIDS Project, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit focused on HIV prevention among at-risk populations. Gavin became interested in the topic of male sex work after meeting Rich Holcomb who was a guest speaker in a public health class Gavin was enrolled in at Brown University. Gavin has a B.A. in anthropology from Brown University and an M.A. in anthropology from Harvard University. Gavin also holds an M.P.H. in public health from Brown University and J.D. from Northeastern University.
Richard Holcomb is a commercial sex worker specialist, street outreach worker and HIV prevention counselor in Providence, Rhode Island. Holcomb is an advocate for male sex workers living on the streets who exchange sex for money. He is best known for his groundbreaking work in HIV Prevention when he founded ‘Project Weber’, a program for male sex workers in Rhode Island, The program is named after Roy Weber, a 22 year old male sex worker who was murdered on Christmas Day, 2003. Mr. Holcomb has done extensive research on male prostitution in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and has created several short documentary films on this subject.
Sarah is a recent graduate of the Documentary Studies program at Burlington College in Burlington, VT and a fledgling documentarian. For her capstone academic project, she produced Pearl’s, an audio documentary about the closure of a gay nightclub and the impact it had on Burlington, VT. The project was featured in Seven Days, Vermont’s independent weekly newspaper and her work has aired on Vermont Public Radio’s Vermont Edition as well as North County Public Radio. Sarah has a great passion for telling stories through documentary and is really excited to be working with the crew on Invisible.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Caleb has always had an interest in film, as well as news and social issues. In high school, he was Director of the News Department for WIQH 88.3 FM, and was an intern for Concord-Carlisle Television. Currently working towards a major in American Studies and History, he is a staff member for the Ivy Film Festival, as well as a cameraman for Brown University Student Television.
Annie Zhao was born in northern China, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and now studies Film/Animation/Video at Rhode Island School of Design. She divides her heart between whimsical animations and documentaries, which promote social awareness. Annie works as a Production Assistant on “Invisible.”