Last November, we introduced our readers to Tanqueray, a no-bs woman who shared memories of her life as a burlesque dancer in the 1960s and ’70s with millions of Humans of New York followers on the Internet.
The underground glamor, the gritty city characters; Tanqueray shared it all. And beneath the “mob guys”, “strippers and porn stars in Times Square”, and a lady who “controlled all the high dollar prostitutes back then”, her stories had soul and humor.
Tanqueray, whose real name is Stephanie Johnson, went viral on the social media account and now, a year later, the creator of Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton, is sharing dozens more posts that feature her never-before-told experiences with the hopes of raising money to support her medical expenses.
“Tanqueray caused quite a stir a few months ago when she dropped some truth bombs on us, while wearing a hand-beaded faux mink coat that she made herself,” Stanton wrote on Instagram. “What you don’t know is what happened afterward. Tanqueray … sat for a series of twenty interviews with me, during which time I transcribed her entire life story. And whoa boy, what a story.”
At first, Stanton planned to make a podcast about all the things the 76-year-old has been through, but a bad fall last winter that left her unable to walk has expedited the need for donations.
So, he released a 32-part series called Tattletales from Tanqueray and set up a GoFundMe for her which has already brought in more than $2.5 million.
It all started a year ago when Tanqueray first appeared on Humans of New York
Her incredible life stories captivated millions of people
And she went viral
“She’s lived such a life and she has such a voice,” Mr. Stanton said in an interview. “She describes things in ways and puts together strings of words that I have never heard someone say before.”
Turns out, the two of them had been approached by television and movie executives after the lady blew up online, but Ms. Johnson wanted Mr. Stanton to tell her story.
“It wasn’t until I got my camera and embarked on this yearlong relationship that I got to know Stephanie,” Mr. Stanton explained, adding that he realized that Ms. Johnson experiences a great deal of sadness and loneliness.
“Tanqueray is a character I created when I went through a divorce,” Ms. Johnson said. “I had to make a living, I just had to reinvent myself to succeed.”
Tanqueray is not someone Ms. Johnson is and has been. “I’ma private person. I have no close girlfriends. Most of my friends, like the gay kids who did the balls in Harlem, they were real friends. All those kids are dead now.”
But Ms. Johnson is happy that the ups and downs of her life inspire other people who are going through a rough patch now. “If I had regrets, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” she said.