Streetwise Documentary (1984)

The most powerful Seattle documentary to ever be filmed. The title and cover describe it all as seen a young girl stuffing a nickel plated colt 1911 in her jacket as her peer stands patiently without fear. This documentary was started because at the time Seattle, WA was said to be the most livable city in the whole country and land of immense opportunity. Going back in Seattle to 1889 we had the great Seattle fire that can be explained in Seattle’s underground tour to this day describing to tourists the rebirth of the city solely from the money of brothels and Madam Lou’s contributions from her sex shops to rebuild after the fire. As the years progressed so did the crime and poverty alike. Since Seattle was this great place to live some photographers and filmmakers for TIME magazine set out to Seattle to see it for themselves. What they found was far from pleasant. The late 1970’s through the 1980’s of downtown Seattle was rough and unforgiving. Filmmakers spotted a young 14yr old girl-prostitute standing out outside a church/night club known as ” The Monastery ” which was a known gay club infused with sex drugs and music till 4am ran by Charles Freeman. Charles was known for nightclubs in New York city through the 1970’s disco era and even had a hand in starting Neighbors nightclub in Seattle, capital hill WA which came later. Before we digress about Mr. Freeman, Tiny was immediately the center of their filming as she spent her days loitering in Downtown Seattle near Pike’s place market with her surrounding teenager friends as well as other young prostitute girls and pimps. One of the other street kids was Dewayne, a very skinny kid with a Dad in and out of prison for robbery. Dewayne later dies in the film and has the saddest funeral of about 4 people, his father who had special temp release to visit the funeral and some social workers. The filmmakers were very inspired and dedicated another film to him. This was later a film completely based on Dewayne’s life with a slighter softer side played by Edward Furlong called “American Heart” and Jeff Bridges as his father. The street kids were tough, some pan handled, some dumpster dived, prostitution, or even stole from others to survive on the streets. Some of the kids were forced and a handful was out of choice. One of the young girls was Lulu, a lesbian butch chick who protected all the young women in the area. She was tough as nails and though beaten up many times she never backed down for her friends. She later was killed defending a young woman and got stabbed. Even though many of these street kids died Lulu’s funeral was televised and can be found on youtube to this day. Streetwise showed just how rough Seattle streets was at the time and the old vintage Seattle shots are very nostalgic to see how much Seattle has changed even structurally. Much of the area in Seattle that use to be dumpy warehouse districts of old South Lake Union and the divide between DT Seattle and lower Capital hill are now ran by powerhouses like the late Paul Allen, Amazon and huge tech company start ups sprinkled with Starbucks money at every street corner. We still have crime and trouble but this documentary shows the viewers that rough Seattle streets ain’t nothing new out here. There is a few powerful scenes to note such a street fight filmed and one kid says “he is streetwise like a mutherfucker” letting you know what street smarts really means if you live it. The other is Dewayne visiting his Dad in jail and his dad tells him how smart and young he is but if he keeps being a criminal he will wind up in jail just like him. Tiny appears throughout the film as a young girl searching for the better life while her alcoholic mother struggles the addiction and stable living. If you are Streetwise as a mutherfucka, watch this.

Published by Skoo-B

Check out my feedback on live music, events, venues and movie reviews that have me feeling like the Siskel and Ebert of fun shit. The soundtrack to my life and which events/shows & movies to look for. Also check out my website: for more pictures and events of how we do it in West Seattle, WA.

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