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Behind I-5

MARCH 2009

The seed for I-5 was planted by a local news story: the 1999 death of an East Indian teenager, asphyxiated in a Berkeley apartment by a leaky gas pipe. News of the tragedy was unveiled by two persistent high-school journalists, Meg Greenwell and Illiana Montauk, who uncovered that the dead girl, Chanti Prattipati, was "owned" by restauranteur and real-estate mogul, Lakireddy Bali Reddy. What began as a police investigation into a negligent death eventually exposed Reddy and members of his family as subjecting their workers to cruel and inhumane treatment, including sexual favors from minors.

Human trafficking rivals drugs and weapons in profitability. There are books, articles news stories, as well as testimonials from the millions worldwide, living in slavery today. Before beginning I-5, I familiarized myself with the available literature. But what drove the writing? A memory of myself, four years old, unspeakably threatened when an osteopath stroked my arm and reported to my mother -- it's perfect -- his leering flattery conveying total domination. As the bombs fell on Baghdad in 2003, something furious catalyzed. From these ashes and crumbs, I-5 was begun.

APRIL 2009

Written as noir thriller, beneath I-5's stylishness is an expose of the sex trade as the logical and ultimate exploit of capital.

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