ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
I meet Mickey at a traffic light two blocks from the center of Las Vegas.
He’s carrying a heavy suitcase and the brutal and inhuman desert sun is making him sweat. He takes a break in the shadow. I ask him about the suitcase.
– I just found it in the dumpster, he tells me. It has a sticker on it: Fabulous Las Vegas!
Inside of the suitcase he finds a half-eaten pizza, soap and old worn out clothes. Mickey spends every day walking the streets of Las Vegas, looking in dumpsters for things he can use. Once he found a wedding dress. It was brand new.
Mickey came to Vegas ten years ago to drink him self to death. Today he’s homeless and located, together with his friends, on the corner of The Strip, the five-mile long stretch through Vegas with all the casinos.
Mickey shows me his right hand. You can’t count the knuckles, it’s that swollen.
– I had to get up and defend a lady because someone harassed her. In our ‘family’ we take care of each other. They paint each other’s toenails black with a marker, when one of them falls asleep – they think it’s funny.
The next time I meet Mickey, he’s skinny and the hair is long. The ‘family’ isn’t there anymore. I ask him, how he’s doing. He doesn’t say much but:
– I’ve lost track.
Don had money. He moved to Vegas twelve years ago to play poker.
I can’t ask him what he did before he came to Vegas. That’s the only thing I can’t ask him. He lost his job when the recession hit and lived on the streets for about a year. He was scared and longed for the life he once had.
Don still plays poker. Not like before, but at cheaper gambling tables, where the stakes are lower. He meets women at the casinos, but they are all after the money, he says. He doesn’t like women of his own age, but prefers them younger.
Don thinks Las Vegas is a lonely place and when I ask him who his best friend is, he answers:
– My best friend is me! Me, me, me.
“There’s nothing fake about Las Vegas – it’s very real, welcome to Sin City”
I’m Mette Frandsen. 36 years old. Currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
I teach at different workshops, lecture on my projects, do freelance jobs and work around the world.
• BA in photojournalism, Danish School of Journalism
• Attended Fatamorgana, Danish School of Documentary- and Art Photography
‘Sin City’ has won prizes and has been exhibited at selected locations and galleries in Denmark.