Judy: I was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1963. My mom was a heroin addict and an alcoholic but she was also one of the first black registered nurses. I don’t know her. I never met her. Me and my older brother Henry were adopted by her brother and brought to Cobb County, Georgia. We lived in a big, giant, old house. I had good parents that worked really hard. 

I was about three when I went to live with them. I can remember my first Christmas, it was like a dream. Everything I ever wanted. 

I had a great life til one night I woke up and found out that my brother was a child molester. I would wait on him every night, like the boogie man was coming, know what I’m saying? I would tuck myself in so tight every night that it felt like I was suffocating myself. I’d try to cover every inch of me from my feet to my head cause I knew he was coming. He used to tell me, “don’t tell nobody cause if you do we’ll be sent back to that bad place.” I used to have dreams where people would be passing my body around.

Now that I’m older I can say that my brother  didn’t mean what he was doing. He was doing what somebody had taught him to do. But he died before I could forgive him.

BW: Was your brother a lot older? 

Judy: I was about three so he was about ten. 

BW: How did you wind up working out here?

Judy: Well, I been married twice. I really loved my second husband a lot. When that marriage dissolved it hurt me real, real bad. I just said, “fuck it” and I went into a really bad state of depression. I ran away. I have no idea how I got to New York or how I got the money.  I didn’t snap out of it until I woke up and I was sleeping on the ground in front of Port Authority. That’s when I found out I was schizophrenic. That’s also where I met my real dad. 

BW: Really? How did that happen?

Judy: I had tried to kill myself about four or five times and I was on suicide watch. They told me that the only way I could get out of there is if a family member came and got me. I guess the hospital searched and they found him. When he came, he brought a picture and sure enough, it was me. He got me out and we are still close. We talked just yesterday. 

So, around that time I started stripping. I went out one night and I couldn’t find no powder. I had about $2000 in my pocket. I went into the bathroom and there was a girl in one of the stalls. I thought she was smoking a woolie. I went in the stall and said “bitch, what you smoking? I’ll give you a hundred dollar bill for what you got on that pipe.” She gave it [crack] to me and it was over with. Been addicted ever since.

I’m not a junkie, I’m an addict. I don’t like that word junkie. I’m addicted to something that I can’t control right now but I don’t want to be judged.