Text, photos and video by KENDALL RODRIGUEZ
Hip-hop beats blare out from the speakers of what used to be an empty lot. Cars line the side streets near the corners of Sutphin Boulevard and 111 avenues and they’re slowly entering what is now a car wash.
Men, mostly black men, are working during the final weeks of a cold winter day. Each of them have a task as the “washer” in which they begin to guide the cars in through the lot and they begin to spray down each vehicle with power hose. Other workers begin to scrub the cars’ exterior by hand
Helping to guide them through and supervise the labor is Darryl “Belly” Allen, the Owner of Belly’s Car Wash and Detailing center. Belly stands at about six feet two inches tall. If his height doesn’t carry presence his voice will be able to lead a company of soldiers through a battlefield. Belly’s voice has two volumes, quiet and loud. Both of which are used to effectively to communicate the orchestra workers in the lot and to his customers.
Belly survived a tumultuous life as a drug dealer in East Elmhurst and South Jamaica sections of Queens NY. He has also spent time in prison for selling drugs to an under cover officer.
The car wash is instrumental in creating bonds with family and helping others who are less fortunate.