I wish I knew more about this guy. I think he was one of the first people I asked to take a pic of that I did not know. Plus I was kind of scared of him. He was at a Biker Film weekend at Mahoning Drive in last summer. http://mahoningdit.com/
I met Eric while putting on a production of "Avenue Q" through a theater company I am part of. We were looking to hire a puppet band that would play along with the real band for the musical. Eric was super nice to deal with and more excited to be part of it then most people who would be hidden while performing. After that I was only connected to Eric just through Instagram and facebook and he has always been supportive as well as always stood for doing good things and being a real person. Again this is just my take from a far. I saw Eric at Pride for a few minutes and he let me take this portrait even though he was late meeting someone. The next day I wound up at the vigil for Orlando at city hall. I was torn being there as a photographer and as a participant. I did not feel great about taking photographs but in the same way I though it needed to be documented and shared. It was more about trying to document it with respect and give people space. At one point at the vigil people started to march. I happened to get the photograph below while Eric was passing by. The photograph represented to me this person who was obviously crushed by what happened, choosing to put out a message of love instead of hate. I don't know Eric super well but it tells me so much about his character and of the character of LGBTQI activists throughout history.
I have been documenting "The Squidling Brothers" over the last year. While taking a few test shots for exposure I happened to have taken of my favorite pics of that set. I don't even think I was looking at Frankie as I shot this. A week after shooting this image I was out taking a few shots at Disability Pride fest and struck up a conversation with the fellow below. After about 15 minutes of chatting I realized I was talking to the clown I shot the week prior. Anyway Frankie Bones is a Philadelphia fixture, all around nice dude, and a magician.
I met Joe walking around Hampden, Baltimore. I was there for this amazing film festival of curators of Emphemera films including some of my nerdy archive heroes. I was going there to live my "Pecker" John Waters film fantasy. In many ways I started using vintage cameras and doing street photography because of seeing that film. I walked around and went to an awesome vintage shop called Milk and Ice on 36th street, I talked to one of the owners, Angela, about the town and store and gentrification and so on. She was super helpful and gave me some authentic places to shoot and let me know about Honfest which I have to go next year http://honfest.net. After searching out high and wide for Hons and walking around Hampden I gave up. Apparently Hons don't go outside in 90 degree weather, As a rule I have never taken any street photographs of homeless people. It feels clique and exploitative, but honestly there was no one else to take photographs of and Joe seemed to have a softness to him as well as looking like Kris Kristiferson so I approached him. We talked for a bit. He lived in Hampden his whole life. Apparently the last person who took a picture of Joe won a contest. I promised if I won a contest with his pics I'd bring him the winnings. I'd like to tell you that I sat with Joe for hours and realized he was a former Pianist and we made a plan to make him famous again, but that was not the case. Joe was just a guy that got some shit luck in his life and had many medical problems. If you see him in Hampden buy him lunch or see if you can get him help. I tried to see if there were any places he could go for medical help but he assured me there were not. So I gave him the last of the money I had, which made him $3.96 cents richer then I was at that moment. All I could really do was offer him an ear and a handshake and some connection for a few minutes. It was somewhat sobering end of a day in which I figured I'd just have a few laughs. What I learned that day was when areas like Hampden get gentrified like the rest of the country, no one seems to give too many fucks about the people who don't benefit from new maker spaces, and art galleries. He also never asked me for anything which speaks a lot about the resilience of a man who has survived much more shit then I will ever have to deal with, With all the money that goes into these new gentrified areas, if even a small percentage went to helping people like this instead of greedy development fucks, people like Joe may at least of had some good medical care. Fuck the takers and fuck the makers, it's time we take our own towns and cities back, and tell the powerful and rich what we will let in our town or city, or community, not just benefit ourselves from the money coming in and the new taco place at the corner.
I was on my way to meet someone for a shoot and on the way there I saw Polamo in the McDonalds. I asked him if he would take a few pics and he said yes but would be right back. He went upstairs then to the bathroom. I asked if we could go outside and he asked if it was for money, publication, or periodical. I said just for art and said I'd send him pics. He agreed and we went across the street to the park. He has slicked back hair and a Hitler mustache but I thought it was just an odd style choice. As we got further into the pose I had thought the sitting with his hand out felt a drop weird but thought nothing of it. So he starts smiling and as we get further into it he smiles less and less. Also he went from sitting to standing. But when he stood up he does what looks like a Nazi salute. Now as a jew I don't know what to make of this. I feel like I should have been offended and walked away. We were done anyway. But as a photographer it's important to remain non-judgmental. I am just the viewer not the creator. So was he a hispanic 70's Hitler fanatic? I assume it's a rare breed among minorities in the first place. Was it just circumstance? Does anyone have any thoughts? or possibly know of this fellow? Send thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org