Streetwise (1984 film)

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Streetwise
Streetwise (1984 film).jpg
Directed by Martin Bell
Produced by Cheryl McCall
Written by Cheryl McCall
Starring Baby Gramps
Tom Waits
Release date(s) 1984
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Streetwise is a 1984 documentary film by director Martin Bell.[1] It followed in the wake of a July 1983 Life magazine article, "Streets of the Lost", by writer Cheryl McCall and photographer Mary Ellen Mark,[2] Bell's wife.[3]

According to Mark's accompanying 1988 book, eponymously titled Streetwise,[4] McCall and Mark traveled to Seattle specifically to reveal that even in a town that billed itself as America's most livable city, there still existed rampant homelessness and desperation. After making connections with several homeless children during the writing of the article, Mark convinced Bell that the children were worthy of his making a documentary based on their lives. McCall and Mark were also instrumental in making the film. Streetwise follows the lives of several homeless teenagers, although it focuses most on 14-year-old Erin Blackwell, a child prostitute who goes by the name of Tiny. Much of the time, Tiny stays at the home of her alcoholic mother, Pat, who seems unfazed by her daughter's prostitution, calling it a "phase".

Book[edit]

Mark photographed many of the children throughout the filming of Streetwise and published a book of the same name in 1988. The photographs are captioned with quotations from the film. The transcript of Bell's film appears at the end of the book, with only minor differences.

Plot summary[edit]

Streetwise portrays the lives of nine desperate teenagers. Thrown too young into a seedy, grown-up world, these runaways and castaways survive, but just barely. Rat, the dumpster diver; Tiny, the teenage prostitute; Shellie, the baby-faced blonde; and DeWayne, the hustler, are all old beyond their years. All are underage survivors fighting for life and love on the streets of downtown Seattle, Washington.

What became of the kids[edit]

(Corresponds to the order of the cast list)

  • Dewayne Pomeroy: As shown in the movie, he hanged himself in July 1984, the day before his 17th birthday. Some of the street kids held a balloon release and planted a tree in Freeway Park in his memory. Plaque 21394 on the ground at the Pike Street Market says "Dewayne Pomeroy 1984".[5]
  • Lou Ellen "Lulu" Couch was stabbed by a man at an arcade on 1st and Pike Street during a fight in December 1985. Her last words were, "Tell Martin and Mary Ellen Lulu died". Plaque 21393 on the ground at the Pike Street Market says "Lulu Couch 1985".[5] Approximately 319 people attended her funeral.[citation needed]
  • Erin Blackwell ("Tiny"): When Streetwise was nominated for a 1984 Academy Award for documentary,[1] Tiny attended the Oscar ceremony with Bell and Mark. Despite Tiny's celebrity, however, her life did not radically change tracks. Mark has returned to Seattle to photograph Tiny many times since 1983, and photographs of Tiny have appeared in Mark's later books, which reveal that in the years after the Streetwise projects, Tiny continued her prostitution, became a drug addict, became obese, and gave birth to nine children fathered by several different men. In the mid-2000s, however, Mark and Bell's 23-minute film Erin revealed that Tiny had cleaned up and settled down with a husband and her minor children.[6] As of 2005, the Mary Ellen Mark Films web page devoted to the Erin films indicated Erin had ten children.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "NY Times: Streetwise". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  2. ^ Cheryl McCall (Text), Mary Ellen Mark (Photographs) (July 1983). "Streets of the Lost: Runaway Kids Eke Out a Mean Life in Seattle". LIFE MAGAZINE. 
  3. ^ Brian Miller (Mon., Feb 12 2007 at 12:00AM). "Where She is Now: Once the teen star of Streetwise, Tiny's tale is continued after 22 years". Seattle Weekly News. 
  4. ^ Cheryl McCall & Mary Ellen Mark (photographer) (1988). Streetwise. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812212681. 
  5. ^ a b "Streetwise: Postscript". Mary Ellen Mark website. July 18, 1987. Retrieved July 2013. 
  6. ^ Miller, Brian (October 4, 2006). "Where She Is Now: Once the teen star of Streetwise, Tiny's tale is continued after 22 years". Seattle Weekly. 
  7. ^ "Greene House Studio: Erin". Mary Ellen Mark Films. Retrieved July 2013. 

External links[edit]