Filmmaker Crystal Moselle remembers a Las Vegas encounter that profoundly informed her directorial eye.

When I was 12 years old, I was catcalled for the first time in my life.

I was walking down the Las Vegas Strip one night with my family, and we came across a crowd gathered in front of a big screen. We stopped to watch, and noticed two men taking photos of people in the audience. The faces of people they photographed were then superimposed onto the bodies of two really sexy women wearing bikinis, which appeared on the screen in front of the crowd.

It was pretty funny; they did it to an old man, a dog, AND THEN ME.

When I first saw my face projected, which lasted about a minute, I didn’t think much of it — until this creepy guy started hitting on me.

Growing up, I always looked a lot older than I was, so I don’t think he realized that I was a child. My step-mom, Eileen, decided we needed to get out of there, but the man wouldn’t leave me alone.

He kept asking where we were going and calling me beautiful.

It was so weird, because even though I was a child, I was being recognized for my sexuality.

A lot of my films have to do with the transition from childhood to adulthood, and this was the trip that I recognized my own transformation from a girl to a young woman.

The guy finally stopped, but it wasn’t until Eileen told him to fuck off!

— as told to The Thick

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Crystal Moselle photographed in and around her Brooklyn home, all photography by Sania Tharani