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Yukon Charlie

"Yukon Charlie"

In Homer, Alaska, there are many "characters" around town. Few could possibly be as fascinating, eclectic, storied, and jovial as Yukon Charlie. I met Yukon Charlie while walking behind the Nature Center in Homer, Alaska in June 2013, by happenstance. My cousin, Kay, and I spoke to him when he inquired about my "long lens." He fascinated me--from his looks, to his wildly fashioned dwelling, made of everything recycled possible---and to his artistic side, where he fashioned lamps and art from burned musical instruments, carved wood signs, and did whatever else he could do to make a living.

Yukon Charlie defines himself as a "Heyoka Brujo," which translates from Lakota (Native American) as a sacred wise fool and witch. He describes himself as a Lakota shaman who has performed marriages and sacred ceremonies for friends and strangers alike.

I was fascinated by Yukon Charlie's stories, energy, contageous smile, quirky wit, and the fact that he was thorougly enjoying the attention of my cousin and I as we admired his crafts and dwelling. One of the funniest moments was when we came upon Charlie's outdoor commode. As Charlie does not have running water or electricity, he simply has a commode with a sign atop it that says, "Please piss here." I'm not sure what was more hilarious---the language--or the fact it was stating the obvious, but it gave me a chuckle every time I glanced at it! I didn't want to offend Charlie by photographing it, though in hindsight, I wish I had done so...

I get the impression that Charlie has lived a thousand lives... at least he has stories that made me believe so. I only spoke with Charlie for about 45 minutes, but it was a fond memory of my trip to Alaska. I find the randomness of strangers fascinating--especially the characters of far-flung towns, and Yukon Charlie is definitely no exception. He made for a brilliant conversation and a highlight of my visit to Homer.

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From Street Portraiture