Miami's “Twilight” Stars Hookers, Not Vamps

Want to see the Miami doc about seedy Little Havana motels? Head to Canada

We've all seen them. Along Biscayne Boulevard and Eighth Street, the flickering neon signs and check-in windows outfitted with bulletproof glass - for every chichi, oceanfront luxury hotel on Miami Beach, there are dozens of motels that advertise hourly rates and free HBO.

Of course, no one really goes there for the cable.

It was during her first trip to Miami, while driving down 8th Street, that Alison Rose saw the parade of shady motels. Thus her documentary "Love at the Twilight Motel" was born.

"The Twilight Motel is the busiest motel in Miami, where the rooms rent by the hour, the concealed garages have private staircases to the rooms, and the sheets are clean," the film's description reads. "Part confessional, part broken love story, this series of remarkably intimate interviews softly penetrates the darker side of desire, as sex, infidelity and the allure of the fast lane propel these stories."

Rose placed ads in papers asking, "Motels on SW 8th Street: Do you have a story to tell?"

In the final cut, she tells the stories of an "Intervention" worthy cast of seven characters that are all "seeking some kind of justification for their actions," the film's Facebook page says. "Mr. R, an affluent businessman recounts a lifetime of lunchtime sexual encounters with secretaries. Mr. B loves his wife "more than life," but has a plethora of excuses for his hooker and drug habit. Beautiful, soft-spoken Rose was a straight "A" student until she fell in with the wrong crowd. Richard feels his destiny in life is to seduce married women. In the privacy of the motel bedrooms men and women become candidly revealing, dark and funny, transcending the limits of their circumstances, and redeeming themselves with their stories."

Rose said that she began the film by moving into the motel at one or two weeks at a time.

"I met the laundry woman when the laundry room air conditioner broke and she started folding laundry with the window open," Rose recalled on her website. "We smiled at each other, and eventually I started to hang out in the laundry room where I got to meet the maids as they dropped off and picked up sheets, got their lunches or started their shifts. I also met the desk clerks and eventually the owners, who gave me permission to make a film in their motel. For a long time, I filmed with the staff and the owners, and occasionally with a guest. At a certain point in the work, I had collected a series of interviews with guests, who were so articulate and fascinating that the film was distilled to seven interweaving stories from the guests in bedrooms."

The most difficult part about getting the movie made, Rose told, was getting the owners, staff and guests of the eponymous hotel to agree to participate.

"The owners were a lovely Cuban-émigré family who'd been farmers in Cuba that had gotten into the business of hourly motels and I was curious about that," she told Whyte. "How does a good family run an hourly motel? Their motels were clean, well maintained, well-staffed, and very busy. I liked the owners, but they didn't really want to be in a film, and I can understand that, looking back. I thought if I waited long enough they'd open up, but I wasn't thinking straight."

The doc is currently making its way around the festival circuit, receiving a four-star review when it premiered at Hot Docs in Canada last year, and was shown on the CBC (which we don't think is offered in even the Premier Platinum Luxury cable package) over the weekend. But, unlike the guests at the Twilight, the doc won't be visiting Miami anytime soon. 


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