Mario (aka Roy) – BW$P

Mario (aka Roy) by Justin Korn

Thomas Hawk started a $2 portrait project not too long ago where his idea is to offer $2 to anyone who asks him for money in exchange for their portrait. I thought it was a great idea and since then, I’ve been actually hoping someone would ask me for money. Well, August 18th was my day.

Meet Mario. I was shooting a few pictures in the ally between Vesuvio Cafe and City Lights Bookstore when Mario approached me asking for a dollar to take the bus. I told him about this project and that he would be my first subject and without blinking, he agreed. After I took his picture, we talked for a few minutes.

Mario’s father moved to San Francisco from Switzerland in 1929. His father joined the US (not the Swiss, as Mario kept telling me) army during World War II. Mario was born and raised in San Francisco and currently lives in the Tenderloin. He has a sister in Marin, but no other family, “they’ve all passed on.” Mario was adamant to tell me that he had traveled to New York, but plans on staying in San Francisco. He explained that everyone “around here” (North Beach) knew him as Roy and that if I asked about him, they would know him.

As he took off, he wished that my picture came out well and said “god bless you” and was gone. He didn’t wait around for the bus to come around. As I walked home, I saw Mario (aka Roy) sitting at a restaurant admiring a few of the other patrons. I called out, “have a good night Mario,” but he did not respond, he just kept admiring the other patrons with a big smile.

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Categorized: Projects