Souls Of The Tenderloin II

Souls Of The Tenderloin II
Photos: Dijon Bowden/Souls of Society
By Dijon - Published on May 16, 2015.

It's time for another installment of brief on-the-street interviews and snapshots from our friend Dijon of Souls of Society

Today, we present a few more portraits that Dijon took recently in the Tenderloin. (You can see our previous installment here.)

“You have such a nice smile.”

“Thank you. Why do you have that crowbar?”

“Cuz there’s this junkie that keeps trying to start shit. I’m not judging her, I’m a junkie too.”

“I was raised in Oakland, I’m white so I used to get my ass whupped everyday. So I became a professional boxer, I’m 47 and now I hang out in the Tenderloin to kick ass. No I don’t, I am an addict. I buy drugs down here. I’m just being honest. I know how to protect myself and a lot of people don’t know that. I’m not carrying this around to hurt anyone, I’m just carrying it to protect myself.”

“What kind of drugs do you do?”

“I can’t say. Are you going to put that in your story?”

“I don’t have to put anything you don’t want me to.”

“I do everything. You can say that cuz I really do. And I own a house in Petaluma. I am a functioning addict, whatever the fuck that means... that’s a lie, but anyways I have a job.”

“You seem very with it.”

“I am an addict though. At least I’m honest about it. I have kids. My mother has lung cancer, I’m taking care of her. So life sucks sometimes but I feel very lucky. I’m very blessed.”

“Do your kids know about you being an addict?”

“Oh no no no, I have three lives. My professional life, my addict life, and my family life, and I keep them all separate.”

“So are you okay with me posting all that as your story?”

“You know... then it’s not going to be private anymore. If you can word it in a way that... cuz all my family is in San Francisco.”

“Would they recognize you with that wig and hat?”

“Yeah. Just say ‘she...’, I don’t know... there’s a way to do it. I trust you to not expose but tell my story.”

“Hmm... I may end up not—“

“I don’t lie to myself, I know that I’m living a lie but it’s what I know and it’s what I do. It’s worked so far but nothing lasts forever. My challenge is my son is my priority. If I’m dope sick, that’s not his fault and I take care of him. I’m not just saying that to sound good, that’s who I am.”

“I believe you, I can hear the truth in your voice.”

“Also, I don’t use to get high, I use to stay well.”

“Because if you stopped using you’d get sick?”

“Yeah, and I’m not part of a methadone clinic or anything like that so I just like to maintain... and I party sometimes.”

“What’s your name?”

“You can call me Contessa because that’s how people know me around here.”

“Okay. Thanks for sharing your story Contessa. The thing is, I really can’t share any of that without showing you and a lot of people would see your story.”

“Maybe that’s what I want.”

“It kinda feels that way to me. Do you feel like you told me all this about your life because you’re ready for it to change?”

“Maybe so.”

“So do you want me to publish this or not?”

“Go ahead. Ah... there goes my life.”

“I came here on vacation, I’m leaving on probation. They said I ‘fit the description’.”

“I was over in Redwood City selling Street Sheet. In a few hours I could make a couple hundred bucks. This particular time a lady gave me some groceries, said she couldn’t give me no cash. Then some guy gave me a $100 bill for a paper and I was gonna go get his change, I told him to meet me at Safeway, there are two Safeways in that area, he must have gone to the wrong Safeway. The next day the police come and start talking bout a paper and a $100 bill. They hit me for theft. It’s a borderline between a felony and a misdemeanor depending on how much money it is. This was $100 so it shoulda been a lesser charge. At jury trial they amended my charges from grand theft larceny of a person to 2nd degree robbery. That was my 3rd strike. I got 14 years.”

“Do you feel like doing that 14 years rehabilitated you?”

“Not at all. I learned some skills, I learned how to meditate. Learned how to fight fires. That was really uplifting for me.”

“How were you able to make it through?”

“They tried to make me a KUMI 415 guy but I told ‘em I was for Christ. I stayed in church, I prayed a lot and I meditated.”

Right - “We’ve been friends for a couple years, business and personal.”

“What do y’all like to do together?”

Left - “I like getting fucked.”

“By him or just in general?”

Right - “I’m a hardcore top. You can’t tell?”

“Do people do top and bottom or is it usually one way?”

Left - “I’m somewhere between bottom and fisting bottom. I love everything though. I love bondage. What’s your number?”

“What do you like to do for fun?”


“What’s your favorite thing about yourself?”

“I’m pretty.”

“What’s your dream for your life?”

“To get out of the TL and be successful.”

“How long you been over here?”

“Since I was 11, I just turned 20.”

“What’s the hardest part of living in the TL?”

“People stealing from you, taking what you’ve worked hard for.”

 Stay tuned for more installments coming to a neighborhood near you.