Ivory Wilson, author, former player and forever cowboy
Seven-year Street Sense vendor, Ivory Wilson, knows a thing or two about success. His popularity with customers on the corner of Seventh Street and E Street Northwest comes from his welcoming personality and his ambition to share his story.
Wilson is the self-published author of A Player’s World Manual: Wanna Be A Pimp? This self-help style autobiography contains Wilson’s guidelines on how to succeed off the streets.
“I wrote it like a scroll,” said Wilson in an interview. “It’s like the Ten Commandments of Players. You can read it like a textbook.”
The book’s title suggests something radically different from what is inside. Wilson details how he became involved in the game of pimping, trafficking prostitutes, and making big bucks. But, he does not condone this lifestyle. In fact, he challenges it.
“Everyone tells me they open that book up and expect it tells them to become a pimp or something,” said Wilson. “But you can take the knowledge out of that and you can come up in life. If you open it up and read one sentence, you can’t close it until you finish.”
Inspiration for Wilson’s book came during a stint from prison in his late twenties. Wilson recognized his story could benefit other young men.
“If the right people get it, it could be worth something,” said Wilson.
Growing up in Beaumont, Texas, Wilson lived the life of a typical cowboy. Desperate to serve his country in Vietnam, Wilson joined the army at 17, but he was shipped out of basic straight to Fort Riley, Kansas, instead of the warfront. There, he confronted a world unlike anything he had ever seen.
“The other guys would go downtown every night. Then they would come back telling stories about pimps and hoes,” said Wilson. “I would be excited sitting there listening. All I knew was washhorses and cows.”One weekend, Wilson joined the crew’s escapade downtown. Hopping into a yellow taxi with six other young soldiers, he cruised down Washington Street and Ninth St. where women lined the streets, looking for work.
“Hundreds of soldiers were there, so it was like everything was okay,” said Wilson. “I wanted to fit in.”
After quickly being accepted into that community, Wilson was dubbed “Pretty Red,” gaining him automatic respect and credibility on the streets.
In his book, Wilson describes his break from the army and his period of affluence living in Kansas City, which led to time in prison. He also writes about his transition to the East Coast ,and his start with Street Sense.
Wilson is currently in conversations with Amazon digital publisher, CreateSpace. The book is expected to be available online later this year.
Twelve years ago, Wilson printed and sold 550 copies of his book, finding it high in demand among loyal fans.
“It’s all about the strength of my fans,” said Wilson. “I’ve been going on the corner for seven years, and without them I wouldn’t be there.”
With 25 copies of Street Sense and 1000 copies of his book flyer, Wilson plans to travel to New York City the first weekend in November. Street Wise, the Big Apple’s newspaper for the homeless, recently went out of business.
“I’m going to give the New Yorkers a chance to rethink their homeless newspaper program,” said Wilson. “If it wasn’t for the newspaper and the fans that purchase my stories, I would have never known anything. They need to see this, and what a homeless paper can do for your city.”
Wilson already has big plans for the money earned from book sales. He is less concerned about publicity, and more interested in the simple life.
“I want to go home to Texas,” said Wilson. “I’ll fix the fence, patch the roof, break a few more horses, and show a few young cowboys how it’s done.”
Wilson is also the author of a series of short stories, hoping to publish them into a book someday.