Florida Man: Tampa — Steven Ray Wilson, “The Shirtless Street Busker”, or as his friends call him, “Skunk”, is rebuilding his life one heavy-ass riff at a time.
Though struggling with homelessness and addiction, Skunk wants nothing more than to start a brutal-ass band.
The 55-year-old plays his heart out on his Flying V. Currently, downtown Tampa is Skunk’s venue and rush hour commuters his audience but he hopes to change all that soon.
“I’m having a f*cking blast,” Florida Man, Skunk says. “Some of the guys won’t roll down their windows because their girlfriends will look at me.”
iPhone’s poke from car windows to take stills and video. Skunk appreciates that shit too! Dude is trying to network and get his image out there so he can start “a real dick-kicking, ball-smashing metal band.” Next to his guitar rig is a cardboard sign that reads “INSTAGRAM SKUNK 3342”
Dude simply doesn’t GAF, He’s shirtless in the blazing sun, straggly-ass hair hanging down his blistered back. “I wear my hat that says “cheers”, yet I don’y know why.”
Skunk explained that Several dudes have showed up with big-ass coolers, trying to muscle him off his corner to sell water. “Sell water? Sell water to your mama!”
“When this happens, I just piss myself right there on the spot and start chasing them, coward-asses run like hell!”
Skunk started playing guitar at age 13. last year, he decided to ditch his acoustic and start shredding the Jackson. His original spot was under the I-275, but he was trespassed for soliciting and obstructing traffic, so he moved downtown. A few months ago, he can’t remember exactly when, he was arrested for sleeping under an overpass near Kay and Tampa Streets.
“I got piss-drunk while I was playing and I fell asleep over there after,” he says with a shit-eating grin. “They woke me up. I spent two days in jail. Had to walk all the way back to the city, fuckers!”
Skunk started drinking heavily over 30 years ago. His drinking increased when he was suffering from depression and playing in bar bands. His struggle with alcoholism led to him being homeless for the past six years, but Agency for Community Treatment Services finally placed him in temporary housing.
“It feels great man, having a place to stay and hone my skills,” Skunk says through a a crooked-ass smile. “Now I just gotta get a band goin’!”
Steven says he wants his band to be called “Pigs In Mud” because he’s happier than one. Most of his Instagram posts include pictures of pigs, with “oink.!!!” as the caption. Recently, he found God, so some captions include “God bless/Skunk at large!!!” He doesn’t go to church, but Skunk says he’s spiritual as shit.
His ultimate goal is a world tour, playing large venues. He wants Pigs In Mud to headline as “Tampa’s Worst Rock Band.” He likes to jam at home with his friend George. The two are still looking for a drummer.
But Skunk wants anyone wanting to join his band to be well aware, “It’s my nightmare, I’ll just pay you to participate.”
In his new apartment, Skunk practices his music. George and Skunk are working together on writing new songs. After years of living on the streets, he has a place where he can retreat. Like anyone who has experienced homelessness, Skunk is extremely thankful to have what so many take for granted, “A place to bang your head.”
“It’s a beautiful thing man, to have a real place to rest my head and work on my dreams, next headline, Florida Man Turns Rock Star”
Photos by David Decker