Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
“You are going to meet all kinds of people who say, ‘I knew Collins back when…,’ and then they will talk about my life in Ghana or Germany or being in foster care or working in restaurants or being a DJ or hanging out in the scene or working security at Marvin. All of those are parts of me and describe elements of who I am. One of the things that I learned, though, is no matter what you do or say, at the end of the day, I am the one who has to look at the mirror and be happy with what I see. And, I am happy and don’t really give a fuck what anyone else thinks. I am who I am and express myself how I want so that I can keep growing artistically, spiritually, psychologically, and mentally.
“For me, life started in Accra, Ghana. I was born in West Africa and lived there until I was nine. My father was an ambassador, and I have memories of living in Russia as a small child when he was posted there. When my father passed away, my Mom remarried an American military man and she moved to Germany. Eventually, she was able to bring me and my three brothers and sisters over. We were in Germany for about two years, and it was there where I earned my first cuss word and had my first crush. It was a huge culture shock for me, but I got used to it.
“From Germany, my stepfather brought us to South Carolina. Once we got here, my parents got divorced and it was a difficult period for my family. There were definitely times when I had nothing to eat and would walk around like a zombie. There were no jobs in the south, so my Mom left us in South Carolina and moved up to Virginia looking for work. While she was there, my stepfather put me and my brothers and sisters in foster care. My Mom knew about it and promised that once she got situated, she would bring us up to be with her.
“When I was in my teens, I moved back with my Mom over by Columbia Pike in Virginia and went to school. At the time, I started hanging out in the city and eventually discovered house music. After that, my life changed. I loved the music, but I stayed in the scene because of the dancing. That whole scene just spoke to me, and for twenty plus years now, I go to work, hang out with my friends, dance, and play music. That world has become my life.
“During the day, I have had so many vocations to make money and support my love of music and DJing. At 15, I started in restaurants and have worked at all kinds of places like the Chesapeake Bay Seafood House, The Olive Garden, T.G.I. Fridays, Champs Americana, and Planet Hollywood. One day, the smell of food in my clothes and skin got too much, so I quit. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I went on to work at Banana Republic for four and a half years and then helped the State of Virginia convert its benefits system from paper food stamps to electronic benefits transfer cards. After that, I got into security and made my way to Marvin once Firefly, where I had been working before, closed down.
“Since coming to Marvin, I have seen it all. Sometimes people try and play Jedi mind tricks on me to convince me that they are actually 21, but I know they are 18. I have had to escort people out who drink too much, but I also meet great people here and feel like I can’t go anywhere in this city without people calling out, ‘Hey, Collins!’ It is nice to know that I have friends everywhere. The only thing that gets me about checking IDs is that next year, people born in 1990 will be 21. Dude, are you kidding me? You were born when I was just getting out of high school. Man, that is something to think about.”