It is almost impossible to tell that Mark R. is hiding a big secret. This former model and actor, who now works as a fashion photographer, glides easily from glittery galas to prestigious launch parties. With his tailored suit and handcrafted shoes, he looks like the embodiment of the “American Dream. “ But Mark is homeless.
I’ll be honest with you, I smell bad. My deodorant and my soap, they were stolen from my bag while I was sleeping. I spent the night on the A train. I got tossed out of Starbucks because a customer complained of my odor. I don’t blame her. I hate to smell like this. I don’t want to be with myself when this smell sticks to me. It’s my own fault. I’m asking you to forget about why I’m in this state and just listen to what I’m asking of you. I want to take a shower. It’ll cost me thirteen dollars to take a shower.
Ater spending the day immersed in glamour, he returns to the roof of a New York walk-up, where he has lived for years in a shelter he carefully constructed. Mark dashes through the streets “like a mouse, always afraid of getting caught.” He hopes he never runs into his friends in the public bathrooms, where he washes up, or on the stairs leading up to the roof, since some of those friends live right below. “Women think that I’m a successful playboy,” he says, but he is hardly boasting. “I gave up on having a sex life, gave up on having romance, gave up on having a career, gave up on having a house. I have a life, and it’s a pretty good one!” “Something went wrong in my head. I’ve been lost all my life.” “The trick of being up here is to always be tired” “I’m not angry anymore”.