"JO'S STORY, STAYN ALIVE"
In 2003 and 2004 Johanna "Joe " Lee and I made a short mini documentary called "Jo's Story, Stayn Alive". It is a 9 min. video based on interviews we did together. Video editing/Computer supreme guru Hannah Chauvet, my video production teacher Rachel Mercy Simpson, & Media Chairperson, Dr. Peter Freund and many multimedia students at Berkeley City College helped me produce this video. Without their help, it would have not been completed! The video celebrated its premiere at the first Independent Film Festival ( IF FEST,2004) at Belladonna. A very special thanks to owner Jodi Macmillan & Andrew Fitzgerald who graciously hosted our 2 day Multimedia Festival. It was also shown at screenings at the Parkway Theater, the El Cerrito Theater, The Space, and Changemakers Books & Gifts. It was acknowledged at the Berkeley Media Film Festival for an award in excellence for a mini- documentary.
Jo was so honest and open to tell her story to me. I wanted to give her an opportunity to tell a little bit about her life on the streets, her battles with mental illness, alcoholism, and homophobia. It was an eye opener to the many people who saw this film.
Jo was very proud of her story and always wanted to do a satirical comedic film with me. We shot a great deal of footage in her home in Sonoma County and enjoyed many hours of story telling and laughter.
Sadly, Jo-Joey-Johanna Lee died in October, 2009 after a long battle with mental illness, drug addiction, and major mismanagement by the "systems" . Her brilliance, humility, wacky sense of humor, and child-like-warrior two-spirited nature flew under the radar. During her last few months, Joey spent many days in intensive care, hooked up on machines, struggling to breathe. She lost her home, Section 8 housing privileges and was forced to live and survive on the streets again. Jo dealt with several major physical disabilities as her major organs began to fail . She lived on the streets with schizophrenic, chemical dependency, hepatitis, a large heart tumor, gout, and liver and kidney disease! She managed to live this way for so long because she felt the love of her friends even though she often time felt untouchable and therefore unlovable.
Joe Lee passed peacefully in the arms of her dear friend V Kingsley in a hospice in the Santa Cruz mountains. Her former lover and friend Artemesia loved her to the day she died. Her friends and guardians, Ardys Delu , Thyme Siegal & Willow supported her a great deal She was cremated at a private ceremony with her close friends by her side. A larger memorial was held months later in San Francisco where she lived on the streets for years.
I will remember her loving heart, forgiving nature and humility. Her fun loving spirit endeared her to many. Her amazing insights on life and human nature, her love of animals, and that mane of crazy red Viking hair and red beard characterize her as a very special and wise soul. Rest in Power Baby Girl, Little Bro. YOU ARE STAYN ALIVE IN OUR HEARTS !!!
I Love and miss u, Joey! Your "Director" Frankie
"Jo's Story, Stayn Alive" Premiere at Belladonna, Berkeley, Ca.