I was in Central Park on November 29, 2008. I don’t get to the city much.
Around every other corner were those street performing groups that flip and dance around to hip-hop music. They generate large audiences, engaging with crowd members. Throwing jokes back and forth, and successfully flipping over a tourist kid, members of the audience give dollar bills the young men.
The atmosphere was fun, but my attention towards them didn’t last long. It never does. Groups like these seem to be in every tourist city. My eyes wandered towards the surrounding architecture.
There were a group of friends posing for pictures under Angel Tunnel.
Then there was Toth. He performs.
Growing up Stephen Kaufmann, Thoth felt uncomfortable in his own skin. He’s of a biracial marriage, and experienced much racism growing up. He was often fearful and shy. He dealt with suicide, and a father who wasn’t there. Eventually he figured himself out and began dancing and performing and dressing as he pleased.
In the moment at Central Park that I saw Thoth, he watched the other street performers and the crowd that surrounded them. He stood tall, hardly making any movement. Set up behind him was something like a shrine. His name spelt out. The ying and yang symbol made the “O”. The scent of inscense wafted. Occasionally he would quietly walk away; he seemed to disappear. Then, reappear. Bells adorned his shins. They are part of the music he makes. He sings and plays the violin.
In Kernochan’s documentary, people criticize his way of life. Thoth seems unaffected by any of it.
Under Angel Tunnel in Central Park there was Thoth, unaffected by the stares of passersby.