The Humans of New York formula is foolproof. Photograph ordinary folks, conduct a brief interview in which the subject illuminates a rich and compelling inner life, share said content with millions of empaths, repeat until you sit down with Barack Obama.
Things get a bit fucky when Brandon Stanton finds someone extraordinarily compelling, who not only forces us to accept the fact every person around us harbours immense and revelatory beauty, but that a one-time President of the United States allegedly hired a sex worker every time he rolled into New York City.
That’s the takeaway from Humans Of New York’s latest post about Tanqueray, a woman introduced to the audience only through her stripper name, who apparently accrued decades of face-melting gossip from her time in New York City’s club scene.
Through three consecutive posts, Tanqueray has outlined a life of vibrancy and turmoil: tossed out of home at seventeen while pregnant, Tanqueray said she landed an internship at the storied Fashion Institute of Technology, which provided her work with for “the strippers and porn stars in Times Square. All my friends were gay people, because they never judged me. All I did was gay bars: drag queen contests, Crisco Disco, I loved the whole scene. And I couldn’t get enough of the costumes.”
She also harkened back to an encounter with a Hasidic rabbi. It’s a sentence which, in fairness, is the best novel I’ve read all year.
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“My mom threw me out of the house at seventeen for getting pregnant, then had me arrested when I tried to get my clothes. Then she fucked the head of parole to try to keep me in jail. She was some prime pussy back then. But the warden did some tests on me and found out I was smart, so I got a scholarship to go anywhere in New York. I chose the Fashion Institute of Technology, which I hated. But by that time I was already getting work making costumes for the strippers and porn stars in Times Square. All my friends were gay people, because they never judged me. All I did was gay bars: drag queen contests, Crisco Disco, I loved the whole scene. And I couldn’t get enough of the costumes. My friend Paris used to sit at the bar and sell stolen clothes from Bergdorf and Lord and Taylors, back before they had sensor tags. So I had the best wardrobe: mink coats, 5 inch heels, stockings with seams up the back. I looked like a drag queen, honey. One night a Hasidic rabbi tried to pick me up because he thought I was a tranny. I had to tell him: ‘Baby, this is real fish!”
Then came her rise in the scene, complete with this perfect anecdote:
In fact, one night after a show, I caught another dancer sneaking off to the Tate Hotel with our biggest tipper. Not allowed. So the next night we put a little itching powder in her G-string. Boy did she put on a show that night. Didn’t see her again until ‘The Longest Yard’ with Burt Reynolds. So I guess she finally fucked the right one.
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“My stripper name was Tanqueray. Back in the seventies I was the only black girl making white girl money. I danced in so many mob clubs that I learned Italian. Black girls weren’t even allowed in some of these places. Nothing but guidos with their pinky rings and the one long fingernail they used for cocaine. I even did a full twenty minutes in the place they filmed Saturday Night Fever. But I made my real money on the road. Three grand on some trips. Every time Fort Dix had their pay day, they’d bring me in as a feature and call me ‘Ms. Black Universe’ or some shit like that. I had this magic trick where I’d put baby bottle tops on my nipples and squirt real milk, then I’d pull a cherry out of my G-string and feed it to the guy in the front row. But I never used dildos on stage or any shit like that. Never fucked the booking agents. Never fucked the clients. In fact, one night after a show, I caught another dancer sneaking off to the Tate Hotel with our biggest tipper. Not allowed. So the next night we put a little itching powder in her G-string. Boy did she put on a show that night. Didn’t see her again until ‘The Longest Yard’ with Burt Reynolds. So I guess she finally fucked the right one.”
As for the thing about El Presidente, we sincerely believe it’s best for you to digest the story as presented by HONY:
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“The scene was different back then. All the adult clubs were mob controlled. It all flowed up to some guy named Matty The Horse. Honestly the mob guys never bothered me. They were cool, and I liked how they dressed. They wore custom made suits. And they went to hair stylists, not barbers. These guys wouldn’t even let you touch their hair when you were fucking them. Not that I ever fucked them. Because I never turned tricks. Well, except for one time. I took a job from this woman named Madame Blanche. She controlled all the high dollar prostitutes back then. She was like the Internet– could get you anything you wanted. And all the powerful men came to her because she never talked. She set me up with a department store magnate who wanted a black girl dressed like a maid. I thought I could do it. But when I got to his hotel room, he wanted to spank me with a real belt. So that was it for me. I was done. But Madame Blanche set my best friend Vicki up with The President every time he came to New York. And don’t you dare write his name cause I can’t afford the lawyers. But he’d always spend an hour with her. He’d send a car to pick her up, bring her to his hotel room, put a Secret Service agent in front of the door, and get this: all he ever did was eat her pussy!”
Those revelations have sparked furious discussion in the comments section, with folks trying to triangulate Tanqueray’s timeline with the life of mobster Matty the Horse (who actually existed!), the filmography of Burt Reynolds, and the succession of US Presidents.
The posts are also look like documentary-fodder for many commenters, who are demanding Netflix take a swing at something, anything, with blessed Tanqueray. That number includes Jennifer Garner, FWIW.
The mini-memoir is perhaps the most unexpected exposé since hit record producer Quincy Jones sounded off on JFK, Michael Jackson, and The Beatles for no apparent reason.
We would obviously appreciate more input from Tanqueray, but if this is the last we hear from her before she returns to a life of relative privacy, that’s fine too. She’s already given us so much.