CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Is it the last of the Camden Lock mohicans?

No tourists to help a punk to get drunk

17 November, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Joshua Maddison and Anderson Garcia Rodrigues

PUNKS are just as much a part of Camden Town as its world famous music venues and sprawling market scene.

But with the corona­virus lockdown wiping out tourism at the Lock and footfall at an historic low, the “help punk to get drunk” business model has been hit too.

Anderson Garcia Rodrigues, 31, who sits on the canal bridge each day and invites people to pay £1 if they want a photograph of his unmissable hair and tattoos, said: “Camden is quiet, and it is becoming very difficult for us. Right now there are maybe three or four punks in Camden Town, but last year there were 20 of us.”

“The people asking for pictures at the moment are mainly just professional photographers, not tourists.”

Mr Rodrigues, who lives in Kentish Town, goes to the Lock bridge in Camden High Street every day at 9am with his “Help Punk Get Drunk” sign.

He said: “Sundays are not so bad but most people are so scared to go up to other people. We say if you wash your hands, use a mask – if everybody does this we’ll all be all right. Don’t be afraid, come and talk to us.”

Mr Rodrigues has spent £11,000 on giving himself a zombie-like appearance with piercings, a “bifurcated” (divided) tongue and tattoos of blood, bruises, bones, venomous animals and insects.

“I have one black eye tattoo,” he said. “I have my tongue cleat. I change the colour of my hair a lot. My hair is curly, but with hairspray I can keep it very strong for a week.”

Mr Rodrigues has been photographed thousands of times by tourists who are invited to pay a £1. Donations are pooled by all the punks on the bridge at that time.

Mr Rodrigues said: “People like the traditional signs. They come up and say it’s very honest, and funny. We don’t lie. We don’t say we are hungry, or need a place to sleep. I just want to ‘stay drunk’ and if you want a photo, I want £1. The signs go back 26 years, or more.

“I stay on the bridge as I don’t get to work really, because people don’t want to give work to people with too many tattoos like mine. Some see us as violent or horrible people, but we are non-scary punks of Camden Town – we are part of the history of London. Kids love me, and babies like punks because of all the colours.”

Originally from Brazil, Mr Rodrigues said that he had known that he wanted to be a Camden Town punk from an early age, adding: “I always liked this style of life, being out on the bridge seeing all the colours and styles that are here. I like the English culture and the music: the Sex Pistols, The Clash. Camden Town is the most unique place in the world. You see punks, grunge and goths all in one place. You don’t see that in any place in the world.”

After the coronavirus pandemic, he said: “I hope people come back to normal life with more love and compassion for everyone around them.”

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