Behind the Scenes With Dupont Circle's Own Freestyle Rhyming Shoeshine Man "Dr. Shine" |
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Bernard Gray, also known as "Dr. Shine", is not your standard shoeshine man. Gray, a D.C. native, was raised in Southeast and now lives in Shaw. But he doesn't just shine shoes---he recruits potential customers at his Dupont Circle post with catchy lines in a bizarrely creative blend of freestyle singing, stand-up comedy, and street marketing.
To give you some kind of idea of what I mean, Gray once successfully reeled in Muhammad Ali as a shoeshine customer by shouting: "Maybe you sting like a butterfly and float like a bee, but you need to come get a shoeshine from me."
Yeah yeah, maybe Gray got Ali's famed phrase wrong, but it's the thought that counts, and Ali sat down and let Dr. Shine go to work.
We went behind the scenes with Gray, who has shined shoes in D.C. since 1980. In our interview, Gray shows us his customer recruitment tactics and talks about a range of topics, from his Ali experience to almost getting stabbed in jail.
Just watch the video above so you can learn about one of D.C.'s most unique street personalities, because I really can't articulate his act, nor his life, in words.