Johnny Mobasher

When Ivory Wilson tells a story, it takes on a life of its own. He stands up, his diamond-encrusted gold tooth flashing as he speaks, and makes dramatic gestures. When he discusses his writing, he dives into his duffel bag to retrieve some of his most treasured items: a copy of his first book and the flash drive to which he saves his current stories. However, he spends the most time on his phone, going through the pictures and videos of his fans stopping by at his street corner to say hello.

“I write [my stories] for my fans,” Wilson explained.

Ivory Wilson, a Street Sense vendor, has published three books and will soon release two more. His writings span widely different genres, from personal memoirs to detective stories.

“Not everyone likes the same type of story,” he said. “I try to write something to reach everyone.”

His first two books, A Player’s Manual: Wanna Be a Pimp? and Big Mack the Sequel are memoirs and reflections of the years he spent during his young adult life as a pimp. He wrote A Player’s Manual, which has sold around 3,000 copies and is now available in the Library of Congress, while serving a jail sentence for drug distribution.

Wilson was compelled to write the book when he heard the other prisoners discuss how they wanted to become pimps once they were released. Once he finished writing, he passed the book around to the other prisoners.

“I want not to be an advocate, but to save men from taking the path I took,” said Wilson.

Now, two filmmakers from Nevada are interested in transforming these two books into a movie.

Wilson’s third published book, The Magical Writings of Ivory Wilson, contains fourteen whimsical short stories about genies, rabbits and one of the most popular characters among his fans, Nina the Detective.

“If you open The Magical Writings of Ivory Wilson and read just one story, you’ll be hooked,” Wilson said.

Wilson hopes his first kids’ book, Dreams, Wonders, and Travels, will be on Amazon by November. Two young girls are illustrating the stories for him. The assortment of stories includes tales about arctic ice hockey, baseball with aliens and the Loch Ness Monster. Wilson promises the story about the Loch Ness Monster “is so good, it might get me invited to Buckingham Palace.”

Weekend Cowboys, a book Wilson will publish soon, is about the rodeo in Texas. Wilson himself grew up in Texas, where he rode horses and helped his family raise cattle.

“I didn’t think I’d be a writer—it was the furthest thing from my mind,” he expressed. “Today I’m a writer and I’m happy.”

Wilson self-publishes his books with the money he makes selling Street Sense papers and then sells his books on Amazon, on the street and in his hometown’s Barnes & Noble.

When I asked Wilson how he gets the inspiration for his writing, he replied, “Hell, I don’t know, you tell me and let me know.”

He mimed writing frantically on a piece of paper on his lap. “I’ll just be sitting there on a bench, and be possessed.”

He writes an entire story all in one sitting (“like da Vinci,” he said), and once it’s done, it’s done. He tries to avoid going back to his stories and making adjustments.

What he does know is that he writes for his fans and his Street Sense customers.

“It’s something you can read at work, or while getting coffee,” Wilson said. “It perks up their day, and that makes my day.”