Black Tar Heroin (film)

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Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street
Directed by Steven Okazaki
Produced by Steven Okazaki
Music by Cat Power, Tanya Donelly, Mr. T Experience, Team Dresch, Varnaline, Space Needle, Eve Bekker & Karl Goldring
Cinematography Steven Okazaki
Distributed by Farallon Films
Release dates
  • 1999 (1999)
Country United States
Language English

Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street is a 1999 documentary directed by Steven Okazaki. Filmed from 1995 to 1998 in the Tenderloin, San Francisco, California, the documentary describes the lives of heroin addicts.


The film follows a simple structure, and shows the drug-related degradation of five youths (Jake, Tracey, Jessica, Alice, Oreo) during the course of three years. The film depicts their drug-related crimes and diseases: prostitution, male prostitution, AIDS, and lethal overdoses.

In a 2004 follow up interview with Tracey, she reveals she is now a full-time drug counselor, while Jessica is still working as a prostitute despite having HIV. Alice is believed to be sober since 2002. Oreo's whereabouts are unknown; his girlfriend Jennifer died from a heroin overdose. Jake overcame his heroin addiction and began methadone treatment. Shortly after stopping his methadone and the break-up with his first clean and sober girlfriend, Jake was found dead of a drug overdose in January 2002. Tracey's boyfriend, Ben, died of an overdose just one week after being released from prison on a burglary charge.

In a further update on YouTube, Tracey revealed she had earned a master's degree, married and become a mother twice; she lamented gaining significant weight due to two pregnancies. In a February 2013 update, she stated she was 15 years clean and sober and planned to write a book.


  • The film was produced by HBO and was frequently shown in 1999 on the channel, as part of their "America Undercover" series, becoming one of its top-rated documentaries.
  • The documentary received a theatrical release on March 17, 2000, at San Francisco's Roxie Theatre, and is still available on DVD.


Songs featured in the film:

External links[edit]