Good old Detroit, probably the single city people think of whenever people think of Michigan. People think it’s our capitol, and sometimes I wish it was, maybe then it would receive some federal funding to take care of the run-down areas of it. Maybe then, with some more money, Detroit can rise as a power house as it used to be. Driving into this city, you have to pass by the side streets of Detroit, and you get to see just how rundown this place has become. You see the houses with boarded windows, graffiti sprayed on the sides of their walls. Houses that hold a story of a family that used to live there, that lived during the time when the Motor City was bursting with promise, that are now just crippled, broken, a ghost of what they once were. It’s heartbreaking. It truly is.
The heartbreak I feel might just be from my life as a Michigander. Many people in my life are tired of Michigan, despise living here, but I still haven’t given up on this state. There’s a still a magic held by it. What other state can you be wearing a coat and scraping snow off your car one day, then wearing shorts and a tank top the next? Nowhere but the mitten state.
Anyway, enough about my melancholy drive through Detroit, let’s move on to where we ended up staying. Usually for our shoots in Detroit, we do the shoot then, at 1am, we drive back to Lansing. Not a terrible drive, but it can be if you’re completely exhausted from a late-night photography session.
Speaking of, that’s precisely why we were here in Detroit- The Silence Shoot. Really, it’s the only reason why we travel for the most part. This evening, the Silence Shoot was being hosted by the Hayloft Saloon, a bar we’ve been to only once before, but it was even better this time. We had people energetically do the shoot, who came out specifically for the shoot, and people who even traveled from Canada (if you don’t know geography, Canada is directly across the bridge from Detroit) specifically for our shoot. It was a pretty awesome feeling, being around so many people passionate about the shoot. It made me really want to focus on getting back to Hayloft, and branching out even harder to other venues and such to make more people feel this passion.
The Hayloft Saloon is a LGBT+ friendly bar in the surrounding area of Detroit. To my knowledge, it is a single-story building with a medium sized parking lot, and an outdoor smoking/hangout area in the back. The bartenders, from our experiences so far, have been some of the nicest people we’ve been working with especially Jason, the man that I work with to schedule shoots with Hayloft. The actual bar is themed like the wild west, complete with a bull skull and some rustic lighting. Above the bar, and surrounding the rest of the sitting area, were a bunch of televisions. On these televisions, they were playing scenes from gay porn movies, but had removed every trace of penis from being shown. You could see that they were getting down, having “fun”, but you couldn’t see the insertion.
At some point in the evening, toward the beginning but not in the middle, a young man made his way to our booth area. Jaime talked to him about the shoot (which he already knew about, apparently), had him sign the photography waiver, and then I led him to the backdrop to take his photo. As I was lifting Hanschen (my camera) to take the photo, he unveiled a piece of paper from his pocket with text on it. The text read,
It does get better… I promise 😊”
As he was getting his photo taken, Shania Twain was playing over the speakers. This particular participant said how euphoric he felt getting his photo taken while listening to this. According to him (and according to Jaime who I had to hear it through), in 2010 he was going to propose to his girlfriend at the time. As he bought the ring and got everything planned, he discovered that his girlfriend had been cheating on him which led to his attempt. I told him that, in 2010, was when I attempted to end things for myself, and we hugged. It was nice, but I thought about the cheating part of his suicide attempt, and it made me think of my cousin (we’ll call him T).
A few years back, T committed suicide after he moved out of Michigan and to one of the Middle America states. He had been on a concoction of medicine for his bipolarity and depression, and decided to mix all of that with alcohol after he found out the girl he had great fondness for was cheating on him. He called my mom, crying and confiding in her about what he had found out, and then killed himself while on the phone with her. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like for either of them; T placing his head on the railroad track and waiting for the train to come, or my mom hearing his breathing and the train’s horn on the other end of the phone. I’m hoping that it hasn’t stayed with her, but I know it must have, as a grandma it must’ve been heartbreaking.
During our night at The Hayloft Saloon, we were also raising money via raffle tickets. Jaime would walk around, asking the patrons to buy tickets that could win them half of the money we raised throughout the evening. Within doing this, I met a man named “Bear Waters”, who was a porn star with Bear Films. He traveled, from Canada, to get his photos taken specifically that evening, specifically for the Silence Shoot.
Somewhere at the end of the night, after our equipment was taken down and packed, Bear wanted to talk with me outside. We did, and he made his advancements on me, and I wasn’t complaining at all. If anything, I was down to have “fun” with him right then and there, but I knew I couldn’t. I knew I didn’t want to make any negative vibes with The Hayloft Saloon, so left it at just making out. Maybe it’ll advance further one day, maybe.
Driving back to the hotel, we saw downtown Detroit in a whole new light. The city was illuminated, our hotel was like a beacon of blue and white light, ushering us to our place to stay. Once there, after checking our car in with the valet, riding up the dastardly fast elevator, we laid on our beds. Jaime, sore from the heels they had been wearing all night, took a lovely bath while I had a friend over and we fooled around. One of the major attributes I like about Jaime is how they’re cool with whatever happens. They were cool with taking a bath while my friend and I had “fun”, and did so without complaining. I would, honestly, do the same for them. That’s a best friendship right there.
My friend left, and we laid in our beds watching The Great British Baking Show, slipping into sleep as the calm, 4am city below drifted through the night.
There are no Silence Shoot photos in this as the Hayloft shoot images were on the SD card that has stopped working.