african american

Toney Butler

Toney Butler loiters outside the center for the visual arts in Denton waiting to go to St. Andrews for lunch where he goes every day. He’s a private person and keeps to himself

“No not really. I had a few friends here but not lately, you know?” Butler laughs, “Kind of burned those bridges.”

Butler, from Lewisville, is staying at the Denton homeless shelter right now and has for the past year and a half. He’s not sure what caused him to be homeless. He says he is looking for work but hasn’t thought about what he wants to do and will go to the Denton Public Library to “do different research and stuff on the library computers.”

Stage makeup, stage freight, student, nursing school, nurse

Tamra Tolson

Tamra Tolson wanted to be a physical therapist but ultimately decided she wanted to study more than that- but mostly just wants to draw blood.

“I think it’s cool because whenever they stick me, I just watch. It don’t hurt at all,” she said.

What first got Tamra interested in nursing was an injury her mom suffered when she was nine.

“I had to help her because she was hurt very badly,” she said. “Plus, my sister is a nurse and I like helping people and if I can help someone it makes me feel good about myself.”

Tamra knows how to do makeup. When she was in seventh and eighth grade, she took theater and loved it. She decided she wanted to further her education in it by going to cosmetology school after graduating from high school this coming June but eventually changed her mind when she heard that she was told that she would not learn how to do it for the movies.

Now, she enrolled to start at El Centro College in the fall to become a nurse. But she hasn’t left her dream to work in makeup and has thought about doing makeup for local plays before.

“If there is one coming up I will probably audition to see if they need any makeup assistants,” she said.

The best thing she said she has done in her life is getting over stage freight. After her years of theater in middle school, she danced her freshman and sophomore years.

“I had to dance in front of the school and their parents and it was a lot of fun,” Tamra got over the stage freight a little bit, but it’s still there.

Drunk Talk

A line forms for the restrooms in the back of City Tavern in downtown Dallas on a Friday night. A friendly discussion between strangers forms after a young man asks Emilia for her number, but she declines.  He walks away and the game between man and woman begins.

The Players

AJ is still in school at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and just turned 21. He’s here visiting his sister’s boyfriend Neal, who is 24 and more like a brother to him. Neal lives in Texas. The two came to City Tavern to watch the Impractical Jokers and are arguing that women should give their numbers out to strangers.

Coco is a short and pretty African American woman who is friends with Emilia. She said she works in finance. She’s been drinking, but seems relatively sober, arguing that women don’t have to give their numbers.

Zach is tall, with short black hair, styled. He’s 34-years-old Caucasian and has been in a committed relationship for the past three years.  He didn’t say what his profession is. His face is slightly flushed from the drinks, but he looks relaxed. He’s arguing that women should give out their numbers more.

Emilia, 24, is a student at Collin College and wants to study marine biochemistry and Spanish.  She’s a pretty girl from Comanche, Texas and moved to the big city when she was 11, but wants to travel. She loves Texas, but feels like she belongs on the beach somewhere warm and sunny. She loves the Gulf, but wants to move to prettier oceans. She’s a pretty optimistic and positive person and loves a good joke. She said she works for a catering company and loves it, but is getting frustrated with how the “higher end crowd” she serves treats her.

“That feeling of when people automatically think they’re better than you. It’s like, dude we’re all kind of people,” she said.” I’m happy to serve you, I’ll bring you your drinks all night and food but you don’t have to treat me like crap.”

The Game

“You are very pretty, can I have your number?” the man asked. She declines and he walks away.

AJ, standing in line with Neal, tells Emilia she’s hot and enters the restroom.

“He told me I was hot, that was nice,” Emilia said. “I just got off work, usually when I get off work I have my hair all back like this.”

A few more words are spoken, and as AJ exits the restroom, Neal lets Zach cut ahead of him in line to help his friend finish his conversation.

“I’ve worked in the service industry for a long time and I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with giving my number out,” she said, directing her words at AJ. “Like stalkers, you meet a person once and they seem all cool up front right? Well people can hide who they really are for a really long time or a not so long time.”

“And women can’t do that?” Zach said, as he walked out of the restroom where he overheard the conversation, wiping his wet hands on his pants before pointing his index finger at Emilia. “Let me tell you something. Nowadays a phone number, that’s old school, it’s not Facebook stalking. It’s not looking at their Twitter, it’s basically being a genuine guy, being chivalrous saying ‘Hey, you know what? I’d like the opportunity to get to know you, and this is the only opportunity I have by asking for your phone number to set a date’.”

“If you don’t want to set a date with a phone number then maybe set a date by saying ‘Hey, I’ll meet you for a coffee at a certain time’,” AJ said, using the proverbial “you.”

“Life doesn’t work out and then we all die, but we all have to find some happiness on the way,” Zach said.

“It’s a lot more difficult to block yo’ ass on a cell phone,” Emilia said as Zach started to walk away.

Neal, up next for the restroom decided to rejoin the conversation, “I’ll go along with that other guy,” Neal said, stopping Zach in his tracks to turn around and listen. “I literally walked up to a girl, my soon to be fiancé and literally went the opposite route and was like listen, there’s a lot of guys here but I think you’re really pretty and if you want to go ahead and grab a meal sometime, I think you’re really nice and I think we’d get along.”

“That’s so sweat Neal,” Zach said with a smile and relaxed shoulders, trying to cut off Emilia who had something to say.

“Neal, you don’t give me creeper vibe,” she said loudly but sweetly, finally getting a word in edge-wise. “But the 34-year-old, maybe.”

“How do you know I haven’t been in a committed relationship for a number of years?” Zach said, his face no longer getting the color from the alcohol in his system. “I have a girlfriend for 3 years, but you’re judging me.”

“No I didn’t, I stereotyped you,” Emilia said, raising her voice while avoiding his gaze. She tried further to defend herself, as Zach tried to break back into the conversation.

“You know what, you shouldn’t give your number out, you know why?” he said, not waiting for a response. “Because you’ll never have a chance at success.”

He turned to walk away again.

“Whatever, guess what?” She asked, “I can take all the phone numbers I want.”

“But you’re not going to do anything about it,” Zach said.

“I’m not a scaredy cat kind of girl,” Emilia said looking to her friend Coco, who had just walked up to visit the restroom and check on her friend, for validation.

Coco, seeing that her friend is okay, walks into the restroom. “That’s right,” she smirked, pausing her participation as she continues to listen from inside.

AJ and Neal exchange words with each other. Neal gives a look Zach that says no more than “good luck.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” they said to Emilia as they walk away to finish their drinks.

“If a girl doesn’t give you her number after you’ve been chivalrous and given her your time, then walk away and let her fall on her own face,” Zach said, also leaving the conversation.

“Bullshit, the woman cannot,” Emilia said. “Not every freaking man shows chivalrous signs at the bar.”

“Usually they’re drunk,” Coco said, returning from the restroom.

“Sure, I’ll give you a fake number every day,” Coco said, grabbing her friends forearm “It’s not to be offensive, honestly. It’s just that sometimes you give off the wrong vibe and some guys are fucking pricks so you have to give them the wrong number.”

Dallas, homeless, parole


His name is Christopher Morgan but they call him GPiizy. He’s from Dallas, Texas but he was born in Garland, Texas, you know what I’m saying.

He’s GPiizy and he has been struggling all his life.

“I been through prison two three times, you know what I’m saying,” he said all pissed off. His birthday is coming up on April 29 and he gets the perfect gift. He gets off parole.

“Look bro, honestly, I gone have jobs. I have school. I been doing everything to get my life together,” he said. “And this morning man, everything went kapoop.”

It’s like this right here, “When you don’t have nothing like I have been all my life, been messed up all my life, you know what I’ve been saying, going back and forth to prison and at the same time trying to get myself together.

GPiizy had everything invested in him and his woman. They were going to start a business together but his investment tanked.

“You want to write a book? If you wrote a book about me and this dude right here, your book will go platinum,” he said, laughing at his friend who was trying to pick up a girl walking past. “I guarantee you.”

This morning was the beginning of the end. Everything went haywire and now he’s homeless.

“Man, look, I’m at a point in my life right now where I even went to the homeless shelter this morning to try to just go to the bottom to come back up,” he said with a hope in his eye that put a smile on his pissed off face.

“I had everything, you know what I’m saying, as far as my business school taking care of my business,” he said. “I been with this woman and this morning we had a spat.”

Her sister is a preacher and her brother lived with them.

“I was taking her to work man I got pissed off bro, and it clicked,” he said.

Christopher Morgan was trying to start a business called the mobile dollar. He was going to do “like a vending thing.” He was even going to have food, but now can’t afford to feed himself.

“The food was going to be the main thing,” GPiizy said, “but it was going to be called the mobile dollar because everybody go’n around town trying to get stuff for a dollar.”

GPiizy knows his company was going to be a great investment because people can’t leave out of downtown “to like get stuff.”

“I was going to make my money and become a millionaire of my mobile dollar. I had everything drawed up, my plans drawed up and everything,” he said.

Christopher Morgan was going to have a cart. He even had food and everything already. But this morning it all ended.

“I don’t know what’s going on with my life bro.”