As her fascinating Web biography page outlines, she went from being an LAPD traffic cop, to Beverly Hills escort, to non-profit activist. Anyone who gets to meet her today, even though she has made countless past media appearances including 60 Minutes and Larry King, is rightly still flabbergasted by the span of her experiences.
From the production notes for the film, which was co-produced and co-directed by James Johnson and Kristen DiAngelo:
Her story is one that few would believe could even happen. We spent the day listening to this brilliant woman, whose IQ was clearly off the charts, as she described her life from childhood through the point where she became one of the first female cops in the LAPD. After spending ten years with the LAPD, she needed to leave. Norma Jean takes us through a tale of police corruption, the life of a LA call girl, and her 3+ years in prison.
She describes the lengths that people actually went through to stop her from publishing her 1993 book Cop to Call Girl... Today Norma Jean is the LA face of C.O.Y.O.T.E., and non-profit International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education (ISWFACE).
Pretty much everything else about this documentary is out of the norm, including how it all started. Johnson, shooting footage for longtime sex worker DiAngelo's website in September 2011, decided after visiting notorious NYC S&M club Paddles that it was time to profile the lives of American sex workers.
After a cast-and-crew screening last November in Santa Monica, a reviewer gave it a mixed grade but also commended "the courage of the sex workers who chose to participate in this project." Alongside Almodovar and just under a dozen women interviewed for the film, American Courtesans also features participants whose on-camera identity is masked.