Most people who encounter Radioman in New York think he’s homeless.
Sitting on the pavement near the set of the 2011 film Tower Heist, Radioman looks unkempt with a bicycle filled with overflowing bags. He is a sharp contrast to the well-dressed celebrities, featured in short bursts, that come next to sing his praise.
Radioman is just as much of a celebrity as he is an outsider. He has roles, however small, in almost every major production to pass through New York City, buts live in a tiny apartment filled with film memorabilia, VHS tapes and cockroaches.
He casually says he’s not sure Robert Pattinson, who he’s seconds away from meeting, is worth all the fuss, but then spends 10 minutes positively gleeful over the discovery of a 99-cent store.
It would be easy to expect a rags-to-riches tale of a man who got his start in movies breaking free from the confines of his financial situation. But that’s not the story.
It’s uncomfortable at times to watch Radioman put himself out there time and time again. When a mother and daughter give him money because they think he’s homeless, Radioman looks straight at the camera and almost laughs.
He used to be homeless, he used to have an alcohol abuse problem, and he was mistakenly locked away in Bellevue Hospital Center. But now, with a radio hanging from his neck, Radioman bikes the streets of New York and visits movie sets.
The inconsistent nature of his life suits him just perfectly.
“Sometimes it’s a tidal wave of fun, other times it’s a monsoon of misery,” he says.
Not everyone is comfortable with that, not everyone gets it and he knows this.
As a viewer you want to reach out, you want to tell him to take advantage of the fact that he’s friends with Sandra Bullock, admired by Robin Williams and more knowledgeable about Shia LaBoeuf’s film schedule than the actor himself.
But you can’t. Radioman is the story of the man behind the name and in doing so forces the viewer to put aside their discomfort with his lifestyle in order to embrace him.
Radioman might drag on at times, but it’s a powerful narrative about living your life on your own terms.