Two Berkeley Girls of the Street
by Steed Dropout
Aug. 16, 2013
SOUTH SIDE TALES
One is nearing fifty, the other twenty-six.
They, too, are drawn to Telegraph/Haste — Berkeley’s Center.
Sunshine, the veteran (more than two homeless decades on the streets of Teley).
“Miss Hollywood,” as she was called in her People’s Park debut a few years ago — is a novice.
Both rely on the kindness of strangers. Sunshine, cigarettes, a flop-spot, spare change, and the often unwanted assistance from Berkeley police.
Miss Hollywood, kindness of men, scavenged clothes, cash donations (from friends) and suspension of disbelief that she will appear in an upcoming episode of a famous talent scout show.
Sunshine has not seen any of her three East Coast daughters in more than twenty years. She misses them.
Miss Hollywood recently split from her parents in the South Bay; she describes them in expletives. She has a “light-rail ticket” home, from her father. She hasn’t punched it.
Sunshine would not make the cover of Vogue. (Maybe, “Street Sheet”).
Miss Hollywood exudes Vogue; wrapped in rags. “I get all the good street score,” she told me a few years ago: cast-off cloth, costume jewelry, shades, tennies, and colorful scarves.
Sunshine has a smokers’ grating voice.
Miss Hollywood, the voice of an angel. Her supporters say she is a great singer; this shores up her show business dreams. “She’s a lot of things,” says her latest crush, a vangabond of sixty-four, “but she’s basically truthful.” He paused. “At least the truth as she sees it.” He was referring to her claims to have made the talent show’s finals.
Sunshine has spawned legends. That she made love, by day, outside an avenue business. That she’d do anything for a cigarette. That she loves to moon.
She mooned a fire engine that almost swerve-swiped a pedestrian.
Miss Hollywood, a few legends herself. Her father, a partner in the 49ers. “He’s only a season ticket-holder,” she confided, “but he used to own three golf courses.” Everyone thinks she’s from a wealthy family.
A recent family picture on Miss Hollywood’s Face Book looks wealthy. By street standards.
Sunshine was often sunny but has darkened. Her appearance says spare change.
Miss Hollywood also has a dark side, I am told, but whenever I see her I want to invest in her company.
Miss Hollywood told me that when she wins Hollywood, she’ll take care of her boyfriend. “I’ll take care of you, too,” she added.
This appeared in print (only) at Berkeley Times (Aug. 15 issue) in a slightly different form.