How Was Your Day… Homeless Alice Cooper?
Today was just OK. I donâ€™t have no company, so itâ€™s kind of lonely. They moved me into this new place last week, which has a bigger room because Iâ€™m handicapped. In August 2014, I had an unfortunate accident. It cost me my right leg. When youâ€™re in a wheelchair, itâ€™s a whole different perspective from having two legs.
Iâ€™m on the sixth floor now and I have a window, but I donâ€™t look down because Iâ€™m scared of heights. My friends call me Indian Joe. I grew up on the reservation in Chase, British Columbia. My parents were both alcoholics, and they abandoned me when I was like 3 and my sister was 1. The police found us after three days alone.
The Plamondons at that time were on a foster list, so they asked them, â€śDo you guys want to adopt a couple little Indians?â€ť At the age of 19, I took the name Plamondon because I didnâ€™t know my real parents. The Plamondons, they bought 160 acres up in Dawson Creek. It was cool there. Ten thousand people. Thatâ€™s where the Alaska Highway starts, all the way up into the Yukon.
I came here back in â€™85. I was hitchhiking around the U.S., riding freight trains. I ended up coming to San Francisco. I was homeless at the time, but it was cool. I had a little cart and thatâ€™s all I had. And on each side of the cart I would have a different stick of incense and I would light them. When the wind blew, people would smell it. It was my trademark.
I like dressing up and looking like Alice Cooper, the Goth look. Heâ€™s a big inspiration to me. I even paint my nails black, wear black lipstick, the whole nine yards. Being Native American, Iâ€™ve always had long hair. I joke that they took my land, so theyâ€™re not taking my hair. Alice Cooper is half Indian. His father was a preacher out on the Oglala Sioux reservation, which most people donâ€™t know. So we have that in common too.
Well, one day a friend of mine said, â€śI got the perfect hat for you.â€ť And he hands me a top hat. And I said, â€śHow cool is this?â€ť I got some shades. And it just went hand in glove, the look. And I started doing the Alice Cooper look-alike with the makeup. At first, people were looking at me and I felt so self-conscious. But I said to myself, â€śJoe, thereâ€™s weirder-looking people than Alice Cooper out here, so donâ€™t sweat it.â€ť Now when I donâ€™t wear the makeup, people are like, â€śWhen are you going to bring Alice out?â€ť
Thatâ€™s how Iâ€™ll panhandle sometimes. Iâ€™ll go down to Pier 39 with my photo album. Theyâ€™ve heard of Alice Cooper, so right away theyâ€™re intrigued. Iâ€™ve had people rubberneck. Iâ€™ve had people spill coffee, walk into doors. â€śMom, did you see that dude?â€ť Ha.
I was caught up in the drug trade when I first got to San Francisco. Drinking, heroin, meth. It dawned on me, with all the money Alice Cooper makes, heâ€™s drug- and alcohol-free. I donâ€™t make nearly as much as he does, and I live in one of the seediest neighborhoods in the city, where drugs are always readily available. Friends come up to me, â€śHey, you want a fix?â€ť
And one day I just quit cold turkey. I quit drinking; I quit heroin cold turkey. It took me about five years to come clean.
But now I feel so good, and thatâ€™s why Alice Cooper is my inspiration, because if he can do it, I can do it my way, in my neighborhood.
â€” As told to Julia Scott
© 2017 Julia Scott.