Begging Naked DVD

Begging Naked DVD


No other film so vividly documents one woman's descent into the hell of mental illness and homelessness as Begging Naked.

What started as a quirky interview of a struggling artist turned into a heartbreaking odyssey spanning a decade as Karen Gehres documented her friend's disintegration.Fifteen-year-old runaway Elise Hill crossed the George Washington Bridge intoNew York City and walked into a world of addiction and prostitution. Miraculously, Elise turned her life around and fulfilled her life-long dreams to study art. She supported herself by working as a jewelry maker and artist for the next fifteen years.

As the stress of being a street vendor began to compound, Elise decided to return to the sex industry as a stripper in 1994.   Attempting to integrate dancing with her art, Elise brought her easel up on stage as part of her act and painted her fellow dancers and customers.

When Guiliani's Disneyfication of Times Square shut down the various midtown strip clubs, the wages of strippers plummeted, leaving many of them destitute.  After years outside the job market, Elise is unable to adapt in the working world.  Unable to pay her rent, her landlord begins eviction proceedings.  She attends court hearings staving off eviction for a time, but in July 2001 we witness her final eviction from her home of 20 years. 

From her first night sleeping on the sidewalk in front of St. Thomas' Church, Begging Naked documents Elise’s decline, her frightening conflict of identity and her day-to-day struggle for food and shelter. By Fall of 2003, we see Elise living in Central Park. At the age of 41, despite everything she is still creating art, weaving baskets out of telephone wire and assembling clothes from donated materials.

This is a story of survival and self-undoing. Against an unforgiving backdrop of homelessness and madness, Begging Naked shows the endurance of the human spirit at its most extreme.

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