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Rupert Everett on prostitutes and social cleansing: ‘It's important Soho doesn't lose its rough edges’

The actor argues that gentrification is pushing prostitution into suburbia

As London becomes increasingly homogenised and its boroughs commercially sanitised, Rupert Everett says that it’s time to consider the impact gentrification has on prostitution.

In a new Channel 4 documentary, entitled Love for Sale, he looks at how the revitalisation of city centres are influencing sex-workers who are being pushed out of their offices – the red light districts – and forced into suburbia.

He focuses on Soho, an area he has a strong affinity to and which is currently undergoing a crackdown. Brothels are being closed, while helipads are being built on new skyscraper buildings.

"For many people, there's a real attachment to Soho," he said. "In fact if I had a home, it would be Soho. It's important it doesn't lose its rough edges.

"Politicians and police rebrand prostitutes into victims (from she-devils) and then just treat them the same way. The criminalisation of the punter will just make prostitution more dangerous – it will drive it underground. Why are we still living in the shadow of the reformation?"

He argued that the social cleansing of areas such as Soho aren’t always for the best. While Shoreditch, once a hub for penniless creatives, has arguably become London’s equivalent of Magaluf, crawling with inebriated bankers, Brixton is fast merging with Clapham – its jerk chicken eateries replaced with facilities targeted at a new demographic that dilutes its original Caribbean community, including a Champagne and cheese restaurant, an H&M and a Starbucks.

"London has slipped through our fingers," he said. "We've lost our city. London has turned into Monaco – and Soho is the last victim. Now like everywhere else it is being sold to rich Russians and Chinese to lie vacant.

"We are such sluts that anything's for sale," he said. "All of London has a hooker mentality."

Everett's personal engagement with prostitution stems from his transsexual friend, called Lychee, who was murdered while working in Paris's Bois de Boulogne in 1998.

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