CARMELA resides in HUNTS POINT, the poorest of the poor neighborhoods in all of NEW YORK CITY.
CARMELA was placed in foster care at age 6. By age 12, she had resided with six different foster families and suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at each of those six homes.
At age 12, she decided it was time to leave, and left. Thus began her lifetime of trying to earn enough money to survive on the streets.
She soon took to self medicating with ANGEL DUST, CRACK COCAINE, and HEROIN; ultimately winding up addicted to Heroin and Crack Cocaine.
Photographer CHRIS ARNADE uses his photos to illustrate her words as CARMELA tells her own story in the article, I AM MORE THAN JUST A NAKED PROSTITUTE WHO SMOKES CRACK.
"When did I start prostituting? I always have. I mean I always thought you had to give up your body for food or to find a place to sleep. I never knew it had a fancy name like prostitution till I was like 16. I just knew it as the way a girl lived on the streets.”
“Men come here. They buy me drugs. I do as much as I can. Heroin ‘cause I like to forget and crack to wake me up.”
“I was clean for about two years. I went looking for my birth parents. My mom died from drugs when I would of been ten. My dad, nobody knows who that man was.”
CARMELA wants the reader to know that though this is how she has lived for most of her life, and so this is the only life she knows - she is more than just what she does to live.
“I am more than just a naked prostitute who smokes crack. I may seem comfortable being that but I am not.”
“I hate what I do. I feel guilty and embarrassed by being out here hustling. I get clean and somehow I keep coming back. It’s the only thing I know, the only place I have power.”CARMELA laments on the life filled with love that she has always wanted, never had the chance to have, and hence; for the love that it seems - she has stopped looking.
“You know what I have always wanted to be? A square. That kid who did everything right and had parents who hugged them and told them how much they loved them.”
“Love? There is no love out here. People only want what they can get from you then they throw you away. I stopped trying to find love.”CARMELA writes;
Don’t worry if you hear me cry,
I am just letting out the frustration inside.
Don’t worry if you hear me yell, “Go to hell”
I am just tired of him saying you better not tell.
Don’t worry if I seem tired and weak,
Its just my soles are worn from hustling in these streets.
Don’t worry about me,
Because I am a survivor,
I’ll always eat."
MADNESS & REALITY