The Strip Club Samaritans

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I was having a tough time finding anyone to photograph in the town of Lagrange, GA last Sunday morning. Often times, if a small town has anything labeled “adult”, it’s in the neighborhood that I want to be in, for this project. So, I found a place called Commotions Adult Entertainment, and navigated there. 

It was closed, as expected, so I got out and started taking some pictures of the surroundings. I hadn’t been there 3 minutes before Mohawk came walking by. 

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I stopped him and was explaining the project. We just started taking a few pictures, when a car pulls in. The driver said to Mohawk, “We’ve been looking everywhere for you!”. At first I thought they had been looking for him because he had done something wrong. That was not the case.

They started pulling out boxes of food and loading a weeks worth of groceries in Mohawk’s backpack. Turns out, they saw him walking earlier and assumed he was in need of a helping hand. They went and bought all these groceries, and then couldn’t find him. They’d been driving for over an hour trying to locate him again.

This family didn’t look like they had a lot to spare so I asked them, “Why are you doing this?” Dee (mom and wife) started telling me about how, not too long ago, they didn’t have 2 nickles to rub together for a meal and how they knew it was their responsibility to take care of others who needed a hand. 

It didn’t dawn on me til after I dropped Mohawk off, that I had witnessed the holiest thing that happened, for miles around, that Sunday morning, in the middle of a strip club parking lot.  

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Mohawk

BW: If you died tomorrow, what would you want on your tombstone? What would you want to be remembered for?

Mohawk: …huh…
Can’t believe you asked that. I just got told that I have lung cancer.

BW: Man, I’m sorry. Can they do anything?

Mohawk: I could try chemo but I decided not to. 

BW: They tell you how long?

Mohawk: 4 months.

BW: When did you find out?

Mohawk: A month ago.
To answer your original question, I won’t have a tombstone. I will most likely walk out into a field and die. 

Matt at the High

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Matt: One time I got locked up by Dekalb county.

BW: For what?

Matt: They said I shot somebody.

BW: Who?

Matt: A cop.

BW: How’d you get out of jail?

Matt: My mom came down and told them I didn’t do it, so they let me out. She was my supervisor. 

BW: What are you doing out here?

Matt: My mom said she don’t want me or my dad around no more. 

Brittany

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Brittany: Alright, you want a story? I’ll tell you a fuckin story, about this and this and this. *pointing to fresh scars and swelling* My X tried to kill me cause I was with some other guy. 

BW: Damn… where’s he at now?

Brittany: Jail. Hate that motherfucker. Thats not all he done either. He used to hide under peoples porches and wait for me. Run through people’s houses looking for me. Crazy shit. 

I used to be pretty… It’s not really healing cause I drink too much. They want me to quit but fuck dat. No way I’m quitin. 

BW: Why?

Brittany: I dunno, I been hospitalized for it 5 times…
See over there in those woods? Had a guy drag me down there one night.

BW: What did he do?

Brittany: Whatever the fuck he wanted to, I guess.
I can tell by the way you lookin that you feel sorry for me. That’s why I don’t tell people that shit. I don’t need nobody’s pity.

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Mariah

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Mariah: The first time I ever tried it, I put an ad on Backpage. This guy shows up and says he wants a hand job for $100. I should have known something was up cause nobody pays $100 for a hand job. He pays me the money, I turn around to get something and when I turn back around, he got a gun pointed at me!

BW: Really? Did he rob you?

Mariah: Kind of…

BW: What do you mean kind of?

Mariah: Well, he took the $100 back that he gave to me!

BW: That’s it? Did he try to do anything?

Mariah: Nope, just took the money and left.

BW: Huh…

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Heather

BW: Have any family?

Heather: No, my mother died when I was 16. Never knew my dad.

BW: How did you hear about your mom dying?

Heather: The police called me. They found her in a motel room with a needle sticking out of her arm. she OD’d. The hardest part is that I hadn’t been talking to her for a while. I was mad at her because she’d never done nothin’ for me. 

Frank

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Frank: I been in this house for 40 years. Grew up down the road. Used to work in the mill right over there.

BW: Ever been married?

Frank: No sir… can’t say that I have. Been by myself since my parents passed away.

BW: Ever get lonely?

Frank: Not really. I like being by myself. 

BW: I noticed you have some cats. 

Frank: Yes sir. I have eleven of them.

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The Day Daddy Died

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Kristy: The hardest day of my life was the day my daddy died.

BW: What happened?

Kristy: This guy got let out of the mental institution and within 6 hours came into the convenience store, over there on Smokey Road, where my daddy was workin’ and shot him.

BW: Why? Did your dad know him?

Kristy: Nope, never seen him before in his life. The messed up thing is, that he told the people at the mental hospital that he’d kill somebody if they let him out and that’s exactly what he did.

BW: Damn, do you remember how you found out? 

Kristy: I was there! He was standing from about here to over there. I wanted revenge for the longest time but I reckon he’ll have to answer to God for what he done. 

Ronald

BW: This your car?

Ronald: No, it’s my son’s car. Just waiting for him to show up so we can work on it together. 

Boy, get over there and act right. These pictures are gonna be in a book!

Brantley

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Brantley: Do you need anything today?

BW: Yes sir, I need a lot of things.

Brantley: You know, the only thing I need everyday is Jesus Christ, our lord and savior.

BW: Well… OK. Mind if I take your picture sitting on the throne over there?

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John’s Auto Philosophy

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* Mrs. Jones playing on an old radio in the background*

John: I’m known as the guy who wants the cars that nobody else wants. Look here. I replaced every one of these hoses. I like for everything to be perfect. All these were cracked from time.

BW: Do you ever work on anyone else’s car?

John: I have but not often. I’ve got to know that the person I’m doing it for is gonna treat the car right. Know what I mean? Everybody wants it fixed quick and I don’t like to be rushed. This is a labor of love. I like to take my time and do it right.

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John’s Battle

I was driving through a neighborhood, close to the federal prison in Atlanta, and noticed that many of the boards, on the boarded up homes, had been turned into an art project. I saw John outside working on his car, so, I thought I’d ask him about it. 

BW: Hey, I was wondering, who painted the boards on the abandoned houses in the neighborhood?

John: I don’t know. I travel a lot so I’m not involved that much. But I can tell you this, the city of Atlanta code enforcement doesn’t mess with any of these houses around here except for mine. They fined me $450 for having that car over there because it had grass around it. They’re constantly messing with me. I heard that someone wants this corner lot.

BW: That’s messed up. Compared to some of the other places I’ve seen around here, your place is immaculate.

* City of Atlanta vehicle drives by real slow, staring at us.*

John: There’s one of them right there. This is the day they’ll come by and mess with you and then you’ll find your ass in court by Monday. 

* City of Atlanta vehicle #2 drives by, looking hard.*

John: I’m telling you man. Look at that… never stops.

J.R.’s Garden

J.R. Murphy farms an organic garden on several vacant lots in the Vine City neighborhood of Atlanta. 

This is one of the city’s most economically depressed, high crime areas. It also happens to be where Martin Luther King, Jr. lived and raised his family back in the sixties. 

J.R.’s garden is one of the only beacons of hope in an otherwise hopeless environment and it seems that he’s alone in his quest to bring something positive to the community. 

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BW: Why are you doing this alone? It’d be great if you could get some of the kids in the neighborhood to help.

JR: They’re too busy stealing bikes and holding up people. 

BW: There’s got to be a couple of kids that would be into it.

JR: I tried to get the parents involved so that they would get the kids involved. Problem is, the kids have to be the parents while the parents run around acting like fools. 

Daniel

Daniel: I carry a white lighter. If I died today it’d be OK. I think my best years are behind me.

BW: Why is that?

Daniel: I skated for 15 years. I busted my leg for good, a couple of weeks ago. No more tricks for me.

Lynn

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Lynn: I got molested a lot when I was a kid.

BW: A family member?

Lynn: Yeah, my brother.

BW: How old were you?

Lynn: I think I was about 4. He was about 10-12.

BW: Did your parents do anything about it?

Lynn: We lived with my grandparents. I don’t remember them doing anything. I did find out, when I was an adult, and in the hospital for something else, that my grandparents had almost beat me to death, when I was 7. Beat me all over my head.

BW: That has to be hard to deal with. Have you ever talked to anyone?

Lynn: Yeah, I been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

BW: Are those cuts on your arm?

Lynn: Yeah… I do that sometimes.

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