Ms. Tanqueray And Her Tales Are So Beloved She's Been Able To Raise Over $2.5 Million
The former dancer looked to garner support as she struggles with medical bills due to her failing health.
September 21, 2020 at 7:05 pm
Update (September 29, 2020: The internet immediately fell in love with a woman nicknamed Tanqueray after she told a series of fascinating stories about the underbelly of New York City in the 60s, 70s and 80s to photoblog “Humans Of New York.”
Since telling her story, she has become an icon in New York City and to "Humans Of New York" fans. After partaking in a 32-part series with the photoblog, which doubled as a fundraiser for medical expenses, her GoFundMe page has surpassed its goal of $1 million, raking in more than $2.5 million as of Tuesday.
In an interview with The New York Times, Tanqueray, whose real name is Stephanie Johnson, said she plans to donate whatever is left of the money to the Association to Benefit Children once she dies.
The nonprofit association helps underprivileged children in New York City.
“I look at people and they don’t have food, they are homeless or whatever is going on, and if I am fortunate to do this, why wouldn’t I donate it? I don’t even want a car,” Johnson said.
After the initial posts featuring her photos and anecdotes drew massive fanfare, both Johnson and “Humans Of New York” founder Brandon Stanton said they received multiple offers for television shows and more. But she told the New York Times that she had built a connection with Stanton and wanted him to tell her story.
They decided to do a podcast on her stories but Johnson fell very ill after an admittedly hard life. Stanton said in the GoFundMe post that Johnson fell in her home and was stuck on the floor for more than three days. EMTs had to break down her door and since she fell, she has not been able to walk or even stand.
Stanton has worked to hire people to clean her apartment, hire a live-in home aide and bring in a physical therapist, but he said “her health is not improving as quickly as we'd like.”
“Unfortunately her unorthodox lifestyle hasn't qualified her for social security. And she doesn’t currently have insurance. (Though we're trying to get her signed up for Medicare.) Her care is extremely expensive. So far I’ve been using funds from the HONY Patreon, but it’s not sustainable long term,” Stanton wrote.
“Instead of selling advertising, or selling it to a publisher, we’re asking for voluntary contributions from anyone who’s gotten value from Stephanie’s narrative. If the story of her life has made you laugh, or cry, or think—please consider compensating the person who lived it. Because right now her story is the one thing she has to offer,” Stanton wrote on the GoFundMe page.
They have decided to put her stories — titled “Tattletales From Tanqueray” into a series of Instagram posts in the “Humans Of New York” feed, and the response has been massive. Even major stars, like Jennifer Garner, have chimed in to note how fascinating Johnson’s stories are.
Stanton told The New York Times that it isn’t just her stories that bring people in. Its the way she tells them.
“The telling of the story becomes part of the story itself. One of the most fascinating things that has happened to me is meeting her,” he said to the New York Times.
“She’s lived such a life and she has such a voice. She describes things in ways and puts together strings of words that I have never heard someone say before.”
Original (September 24, 2020): Humans of New York legend Tanqueray, who went viral after stories of her illustrious career was shared by the Instagram account, is following up on her popular debut with a week-long series detailing her life in hopes of fundraising money to help with her living expenses.
Since being introduced to the Instagram account's 10 million followers, the former entertainer, also known as Ms. Stephanie, has fallen ill and is seeking assistance. Due to her work history, she doesn't have a steady source of income from programs like social security, according to a GoFundMe campaign established by HONY founder Brandon Stanton.
In each post, Stanton comments, asking people to consider making a donation to the GoFundMe set up for Ms. Stephanie who he says has been experiencing pain since he first met her.
She recently experienced a bad fall that has left her unable to walk or stand. Through funds in the HONY Patreon, Stanton and his team have been able to hire a team of medical professionals to care for her in her home. But he said the funds raised so far are not sustainable for the long term.
As Blavity previously reported, the first peek into her story last November left many fans hoping for movie and book deals.
"Back in the seventies, I was the only black girl making white girl money. I danced in so many mob clubs that I learned Italian. Black girls weren’t even allowed in some of these places. Nothing but guidos with their pinky rings and the one long fingernail they used for cocaine. I even did a full twenty minutes in the place they filmed Saturday Night Fever. But I made my real money on the road. Three grand on some trips. Every time Fort Dix had their payday, they’d bring me in as a feature and call me ‘Ms. Black Universe’ or some sh*t like that," she told Humans of New York last year.