Month: August, 2011


Jenna, 2009.

You know, I get out a little bit. I like to just work during the day. I don’t sit in one spot.  I walk. Last year I was escorting. My dad was like stealing money from me and going and shooting powder— shooting coke. But I have a lot of regular customers who had insurmountable amounts of coke and I never messed with it. But the more it kept up, my kid’s dad doing it, the more I was like thinking you know… maybe… But I always knew where it took me you know, I couldn’t stop. I was on methadone but I had a three-bedroom house, a brand new car, kids in summer camp you know, everything appeared to be normal. I relapsed, I stopped paying the clinic, they kicked me off. I lost my house, I lost my car, went off the clinic and ended up out here.

I do much better during the day. When I escorted I had an ad in the city paper and I made at least 500 a day you know on an average day. I had bad days when I would make a hundred and fifty, that would be a bad day. But then this is a lot different. Right now I’ve been out here an hour and I haven’t got anything. —Jenna, 2009.


Teri, Winter 2008.

Edited Audio Transcript

I first came out here when I was 18. Um, I, I haven’t been out here constantly, I mean like of course you know I was locked up here and there and I got clean a couple of times. The longest I ever got clean was 5 years and um most of, most of the ladies that um, I first knew when I came out are either up state doing time or they’re uh, you know they’re, I hate to say it, but dead, you know they OD’d, or you know, they got killed.

I come from an alcoholic family, and I’ve been doing drugs since I was like, oh my God, I don’t even know 12, 13, and um, you know, I started out you know with weed and stuff, and then I graduated, but I started doing heroin when I was 18 and I came down here and I got involved with that, and um, that just like kinda kicked my butt, and um you know so I, I wound up basically this becoming my home down here.

You know I started trick’n because I had to like you know, take care of my habit, you know. But actually I started trick’n when I was 17, when I, when I was hanging in Lindenfield project up in the North East and um I was doing coke back then, you know but that’s where, that’s how I got introduced to you know prostituting and stuff like that.  I started up there in the North East and um, then it just, and that’s an addiction in itself too, you know because it’s easy money, well, I wouldn’t say it’s easy money cause it’s not easy, huh, um it’s fast money. It’s a, it’s an addictive behavior so I mean, the one time I thought well I’ll go make some money and then I, you know but I don’t have to get high, but once I had the money in my hand it was like, ahh I’m gonna go get high so it kinda led to one thing led to another and I was back out here again doing the same thing.

The Beginning, Melissa

Melissa, Winter 2008.
My first trip down Kensington Avenue was in the winter of 2008. It was a fiercely windy day. I saw several women dressed in warm coats standing on corners here and there. Melissa caught my eye as she stood in front of a chain-link fence adjacent to the Ave. As I was embarking on a new project and didn’t know exactly where it would lead me, I decided to bring my audio recorder along to track my thoughts. Instead of recording myself, I wound up recording Melissa.

Audio Transcription

Melissa: I was first introduced to the streets of Philadelphia about 5 years ago.  Um, the prostitution uh, came about probably around the same time the drugs did.  I did finally leave Philadelphia um, and became clean.  I moved to Delaware came back relapsed and um trying to get myself back to, on the right road again.  Um, it does have a lot to do with drugs but I can at least say this time, now I’m stronger than what I was now than what I was before.

Better Late Than Never

Its been almost 3 years since I started making pictures along Kensington Avenue in North Philadelphia. The idea to create a blog to track the progress of this project has been a long time in the making. Kensington Blues will be a repository of photographs, audio recordings, journal entries and reflections. Over the next few weeks I will post a chronology of photographs I’ve made since the project began and recount the experiences that happened along the way.

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