"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 some interviews we did together. Video/Computer supreme guru Hannah Chauvet, my video teacher Rachel Mercy Simpson, & Dr. Peter Freund and many multimedia students 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 at Belladonna (Special thanks to owner Jodi Macmillan & Andrew Fitzgerald) in 2004. It was also shown at screenings at the Parkway Theater and the El Cerrito Theater and smaller venues like Changemakers Books & Gifts and The Space. 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 did shoot plenty of footage in her home in Sonoma County and had a lot of laughs together.
Sadly, Jo-Joey-Johanna Lee died in October, 2009 after a long battle with mental illness, drug addiction, and major mismanagement by the "systems" that did not appreciate her brilliance, humility, wacky sense of humor, child-like-warrior two-spirited nature. 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. Joe dealt with several major physical disabilities as her major organs beginning to fail.
Joe Lee passed peacefully in the arms of her dear friend V Kingsley...she had daily love & support from Artemesia. Even though Ardys Delu , Thyme Siegal & Willow helped her immensely with housing in the past, Joe found solace in a hospice in Santa Cruz during her final days . She was cremated at a private ceremony with her close friends and a larger memorial was held months later in San Francisco where she lived on the streets.
She was so loved by many and she loved big in return by her community. She always had a loving heart and a forgiving nature.
I will remember her always for her fun loving spirit and her amazing insights on life and human nature, her love of animals, and that mane of crazy red Viking hair! Rest in Peace 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.