A Long Island filmmaker interviews Astoria’s most celebrated street dweller, Cadillac Man, who is looking for a book deal after publishing in Esquire last month. Photo courtesy of Hell’s Kitchen Films
A Long Island filmmaker is making a documentary about a homeless Astoria man who published his work in Esquire last month.
"We thought this was a great story for us - an interesting story," said director Michael Regan of Hell's Kitchen Films. "The working title is 'Cadillac Man.'"
That is the name of the 55-year-old street dweller who has squatted beneath a 33rd Street bridge for the past four years. Cadillac, who won't reveal his birth name, is a local fixture who considers himself the neighborhood's unofficial block watcher.
He carries a pre-paid cell phone in case he sees an emergency and knows just about every local resident's name, spending two hours each morning greeting them as they head to work past his home - a shopping cart he calls the "Cadillac Mobile" crammed with extra clothes and paperbacks.
Cadillac, who has filled seven spiral-bound notebooks chronicling his decade on the streets, gained national exposure last month when his writing was featured in the monthly men's magazine Esquire, which dedicated six pages to his gritty prose.
"I have lived homeless in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, all the boroughs of New York City save Staten Island," Cadillac wrote in the magazine. "I have been urinated on because some people find that amusing and I've been shot at for the same reason, I have been given food mixed with bleach and food with scouring powder as garnish, I have fought dozens of fights using fists, feet, knees, elbows, blackjacks, ice picks, tire irons, chains, pipes, bricks, cans of soda, rocks, M-80 explosives, garbage cans, and even other people as weapons, never guns."
Now, a man who used to spend his days brawling and collecting cans is shopping around for a book deal. The street dweller has signed with the high-powered talent agency International Creative Management Inc., which represents authors Toni Morrison and Carl Hiaasen.
Regan read Cadillac's stuff and thought he would make a great subject for his first film. His film crew spent a couple of days trailing Cadillac with a digital camera last week. They interviewed him near the "Cadillac Mobile" and tailed him as he checked his e-mail at an Internet cafe.
Regan said he wants to make a short documentary to shop around at local film festivals. If there is interest in the project, he said he would like to eventually make a feature film.
"Some people tell me you're gonna be a celebrity. You're going to be a star," Cadillac said. "It's not for me. It's for them (other homeless people). "The more I spread the word the more people will learn about homelessness."
For more information e-mail Cadillac Man at email@example.com.
Reach reporter Matthew Monks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.