You can read more about my $2 Portrait Project here.
This past weekend while shooting in downtown L.A. with my pal Marc Evans, aka Clearlight 1971 on Flickr, we ran into Bill outside Kindle’s Donuts at the corner of Century and Normandie near Inglewood close to midnight on Saturday night.
Kindle’s donuts was the original home of the very first Big Donut Drive in in Los Angeles back in 1950 and we’d stopped by to shoot it when Bill approached us about buying one of the most outrageous pairs of platform shoes I’d ever seen for $5. He said he needed the $5 so he could buy his girlfriend a dozen donuts.
Marc told him that the boots were too amazing to be sold but offered him $2 to participate in our $2 portrait project. Bill quickly and easily agreed.
Bill told us that he was from Inglewood and that he’d found the shoes cleaning out an old apartment. The conversation quickly though changed from the boots to this long diatribe about how people were abusing the pharmaceutical process by getting too many refills on the same prescriptions and then selling all of these drugs for more money out on the street. It seemed very important to him that we understand that this was going on and that it should stop. He’d rattle off many different drug names, many of which I was unfamiliar with one right after the other, explaining how people were pulling this scam.
Bill told us that he was unemployed and on disability. Marc told Bill that I had a blog and Bill asked me if I could help promote him on the internet, maybe even get him some sort of a job. He said that maybe if people read about him through my blog that they’d be willing to hire him. He told me to direct people to soundlift.com/billengelke where they could find him online. He said that he had his own version of Stairway to Heaven on his site and his own version of the Rolling Stone’s “Spider and the Fly. I told him that I’d do a blog post about him and he was happy about that, “you just never know what might happen if people knew about me,” he told me.
Bill also told us that he’d created a GEICO commercial and posted it to YouTube. He said he had produced it on a PC using Microsoft’s Flight Simulator software and made sure to point out that the clips he used were in the public domain. This seemed important to him. So that people would know that they were free to reuse his commercial if they wanted to. You can actually watch Bill’s GEICO commercial video on YouTube here.
We chatted with Bill a little more and then both Marc and I each gave him $2. He seemed really happy that he could now buy his dozen donuts from Kindle’s. He went straight to the counter and ordered an assorted dozen telling the donut cashier to include “as many creme filled as possible.”