STEVE-O AND JENOCIDE, 30, UPPER EAST SIDE
What do you think of canvassers?
I hate them. I think they’re annoying. They’re taking the focus away from their own country’s problems. Why should these people take money and send it to Somalia when we’ve got people starving and people homeless, and people suffering here at home?
Right here on this 200 block of East 86th Street we’ve got three different street fundraising groups: one’s Children’s International and…the others are farther down and I can’t make them out. I mean, to return to your point, there must be charities that work to help Americans, only.
Well, that would be awesome, but it’s not these guys.
How do you feel about the technique alone of trying to stop people in the street and get money from them?
I think it’s annoying. I think they should do similar to what a homeless person does: set up a shop. You know, sit there with a sign instead of interrupting people’s days. You know, we’ve got thoughts processing, you’re doing this, I’m doing that, and then someone comes out of nowhere, telling us, “Is that an umbrella or are you happy to see me?”, trying to get our fucking money and send it overseas to some starving Ethiopian child.
Let’s watch this Children’s International kid right in front of us do his thing.
I fucking hate this guy.
Ok, he just tried his pitch at a guy walking toward him wearing earbuds…
…Oh, you should hear this shit he says!
I feel if someone in the street is wearing earbuds it means leave me alone. …Yep, he completely ignored him. This kid must be new because he should know that guy was the least approachable of the cluster of people that just passed.
Yeah, yeah, that guy was tuned out.
What other lines has this canvasser kid said?
“Oh, look at that—you went to Sephora and bought something for me!” He said it to this blonde lady in her 30s, wearing a sundress and a handbag, and she answered, “Fuck you!” [We laugh] It was awesome. You know, these guys are like telemarketers who call you in the middle of dinner—they’re trying to inconvenience you and push their way into your time. That’s not cool. You should be able to donate money if you want to do it. Not because someone jumped in your face.
But these street fundraisers would probably make less money if they only set up a stand.
Yeah, more than likely.
Have you ever tried to aggressively sign-fly?
I’ve done it once, maybe, but the extent of my being aggressive was shaking a cup of change. That’s aggressive to me. But I tried it once when no one was paying attention. But there are people who run up to people, and it doesn’t work. I sit down and chill. Usually I would play an instrument but my guitar broke.
Crap. Busking is something altogether different.
You’re performing for someone.
Imagine if you had a big sign like those guys hired by some shitty restaurant to flip a sign around and dance with it.
[Chuckles] Yeah, like if that was panhandling? [Laughs] That would be ridiculous.
I bet it would be effective.
Maybe, or maybe it would just be an attraction for the cops. They would probably consider that aggressive, or an obstruction to foot traffic.
New York City has its own interpretation of “Aggressive Panhandling.” I’d imagine if someone was soliciting money for themselves as these canvassers do—and clearly they stand to make a commission—the NYPD would arrest them.
So where do these assholes get off? Where are the cops?
I don’t know, man. I honestly don’t. [Cranes his neck] I think our guy kind of quit approaching people.
Yeah, he’s just standing there. Do you think he heard us talking about him?
Maybe. [Chuckles] And you know what’s funny is, these guys will be standing here like a wolf pack right in front of where I’m sitting, like gimme money, gimme money to people, and people will walk around them to give me money. It’s kind of funny, but it’s because I’m not being aggressive.
Since we’ve been talking you’ve made $10 for this interview, and close to $3 from three other people. Meanwhile, those canvassers have not sealed a single fucking deal. And there are six of them!
Nope, not one deal.
They’ve been lucky to even get someone to stop.
The people might also feel like me: Why should I help another country when my country is suffering? Maybe they’re patriotic or have a home-focus.
Like they’d rather give to a homeless vet?
…The homeless vet thing kind of annoys me because with these newer wars, we chose to start bombing the shit out ‘em. Now, with Vietnam, people went over there because we had to go; if not, you were going to fucking jail. Now people are choosing to fight, and they’re coming back and trying to use the vet card on people… I…I just don’t see that. I’ll give money to the Vietnam dudes, and shit like that, but not these newer vets.
I mean, they’re for-profit warriors who came back damaged. Now, maybe they were in a desperate situation and had no other option…it’s complicated.
It all started because of 9/11—which was a front—and then George Bush—a fucking oil tycoon—starts these fucking wars for the oil and shit. So it’s like these vets—quotations, bunny ears—went to join a big money war; they didn’t go to defend shit. Those countries didn’t invade us. But, you know, whatever.