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While his claim might sound hyperbolic—or like a canny bit of marketing—it rings true: He logged thousands of miles and hundreds of hours to make the film, braving roach motels, crack highs, and homicidal pimps. Indeed, what Perlman captures in Lot Lizard is visceral and harrowing. Life on the road, they say, is lonely. Being in this truck can actually make you crazy. Jennifer, an ex-addict and single mother who recently quit prostitution, struggles to maintain her sobriety.
With time and money running out, she weighs the economics of earning minimum wage at a McJob versus hustling on the lot again. Guess which pays more? I recently spoke with Alexander Perlman about life on the lots, dodging the police, and what he left on the cutting room floor.
Mother Jones: So this film was inspired by a truck stop prostitute you met while hitchhiking from New York to San Francisco? Alexander Perlman: Yes. It was midday at a truck stop in Ohio, and I was sitting on a bench outside the travel center. A woman sat down and struck up a conversation. I assumed she was a truck driver.
We were in the middle of talking about her grandchildren when a truck driver who looked like Santa Claus walked by. AP: There was something about the set of her jaw—she had the strength of someone who had come to grips with a hard life.
Also, it was clear that she was living outside the bounds of traditional society. On a much smaller scale I knew what that was like—I hit a rough patch in my teens and almost dropped out of high school. AP: The majority of filming was done over eight weeks. Dan Livingston, the field producer, looked for ride shares on Craigslist and eventually found one with Juliana Star Asis, his friend who was headed to Tucson, Arizona.