As a writer, storytelling is one of my main passions. I love to both partake in and experience moving storytelling, and no one tells important, slice-of-life stories quite the way Humans of New York (HONY) does. A project spearheaded by Brandon Stanton in 2010, HONY has turned into something much larger than the “initial goal – to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street.” HONY has over 10 million followers on Instagram, as well as millions of other followers across other social media platforms. Needless to say, Humans of New York is impacting people all over the world with the stories it captures.
However, HONY has spun into something more incredible in the last week. On September 20, Stanton shared a post calling back to one of HONY’s favorite subjects, Stephanie. She caught the attention of many back in November of 2019 for sharing stories of being a stripper in 1970s New York City. Following the success of that post, Stanton and Stephanie, alias Tanqueray, conducted a series of 20 interviews to convey her life story. While the series was originally intended to be a podcast, the idea was unfortunately discarded due to Stephanie’s health issues. Instead, Stanton announced a week-long storytelling event, in conjunction with a fundraiser sponsored in Stephanie’s name to assist with her medical costs. The outcome of the event and fundraiser has since far exceeded expectations set a week ago.
The week-long series, nicknamed “Tattletales from Tanqueray,” is some of the best storytelling I’ve experienced. Conforming to the Humans of New York interview style, all of the blog posts are in Tanqueray’s words. She’s honest and blunt; the Internet fell in love with that about her 10 months ago. Tanqueray’s stories are so captivating because they’re real. Stanton took no liberties to modify their message, nor did he edit her language. Every tattletale is 100% genuine, allowing Tanqueray to entertain her audience from behind a screen. She’s funny and colloquial, she knows how to work an audience and she pulls it off effortlessly.
Of course, it’s helpful that Stephanie has had an interesting life as well. Throughout the 32-part series, she dives into everything. From her childhood and adolescence into her rise as a Black stripper in the 1960s and 70s, she is completely transparent. She gives specific names and details, breathing life into stories that are incredible on their own. Stephanie utilizes the power of HONY to its fullest, holding nothing back for her audience of millions. Even without the fundraiser, I was captivated and compelled to share “Tattletales from Tanqueray” with everyone I know.
The Impact of Human Kindness
And I’m not alone. Over $2,000,000 are in the “Tanqueray Trust.”Over the course of the week, readers from all over the world have donated generous amounts to ease the cost of Stephanie’s medical treatments. The viral posts and GoFundMe have only grown in success with every new story. Watching the fundraiser grow from nothing to millions of dollars has been phenomenal. In the midst of one of America’s most horrid years, millions of people are still able to band together to support one incredible woman. That’s what I loved most of all about the “Tattles from Tanqueray” series—seeing how many people care. The impact of Humans of New York in this regard is such a beautiful thing. Stanton’s project and Tanqueray’s stories are a reminder of how powerful words are, and how much humanity loves a good story.
View Stephanie’s GoFund Me here.
Find more from Humans of New York here.
Featured Image via Humans of New York.