November 14, 2007

Homeless Man with Schizophrenia: The New Face of a Fashion Label?

John Wesley Jermyn, a homeless man in West Los Angeles, is known for his roller-skating and dancing in the area. People passing by have nicknamed him "The Crazy Robertson" and "The Robertson Dancer" because he's often spotted on L.A.'s Robertson Blvd. What many people don't know is that Mr. Jermyn suffers from schizophrenia and according to his sister, refuses to take the medication needed to treat his illness.

Though Mr. Jermyn has been dancing around L.A. for the past twenty years, he's only recently come into the media spotlight because a new clothing line has been named after one of his nicknames: "The Crazy Robertson" clothing brand became available about a month ago and shirts and sweatshirts with its label have been selling well at L.A.'s trendy Kitson.


"The clothes feature stylized images of Mr. Jermyn, including one design -- available on a $98 hoodie -- that has a graphic of him dancing and the phrase 'No Money, No Problems' on the back."

The creators of the label, three 23-year-olds, apparently spent months trying to get Mr. Jermyn's approval for the business. According to a recent article, they state that Mr. Jermyn is involved in design decisions for the label. But the article also states that Mr. Jermyn signed a contract in May--without consulting a lawyer, friend or family member--entitling him to only 5% of the net profit generated from sales of "The Crazy Robertson" clothes. This is surprising, especially considering that it's Mr. Jermyn's image that appears on the label's clothes. However, at least one of the creators states in the article that the clothing label hasn't made much profit yet, but that Mr. Jermyn has already received "several small payments" in the forms of food, liquor, etc., because he apparently dislikes dealing with money.

All of this is quite disconcerting to Mr. Jermyn's sister, Beverly. She believes that her brother is being exploited. "I think these guys saw an opportunity and they took it," she says. "I am not happy with the arrangement."

Ms. Jermyn, who lives close to the alley where Mr. Jermyn sleeps, says her brother has a form of schizophrenia. He refuses to take medication, she says, despite suffering from fits of shouting and cursing. In the years since his condition began deteriorating in the late 1970s, "he slipped through my fingers like sand,"(she says.) In the late 1980s she testified in court in a proceeding to force her brother to seek help, but psychological evaluators found him "lucid and gracious," according to Ms. Jermyn. She has made countless attempts to provide him with shelter and therapy, and she still visits him twice a week with food. She also pays for his cellphone and collects his Social Security checks on his behalf.

Whether or not Mr. Jermyn is being exploited, the very name of the clothing label, "The Crazy Robertson," seems negative and possibly stigma-inducing. It seems easier to separate people suffering from mental illness from the rest of the population when they're labeled a word such as "crazy" and everyone else is not. [Read More About Stigma Here.]

Full Story: Homeless Man Inspires Clothing Brand. (The Wall Street Journal)

Another Article on "Crazy Robertson" -

The Crazy Robertson on MySpace
The Crazy Robertson Website


Well I think this is hilarious. That's all I have to say.

Posted by: Cory at November 14, 2007 03:29 PM

Are you kidding? This is just another example of negative stigma caused by ignorant people. I cannot believe these fellows can actually live with themselves. It is absolutely disgraceful that someone is actually making money from this however little it is at the moment.

There is absolutely NOTHING funny about this.

Posted by: Motherof2 at November 15, 2007 05:47 AM

That is simply a shame.

Posted by: J D at November 15, 2007 11:28 AM

This guy obviously courts attention, he has been making a noise dancing on his skates in public for the last 20 his has his name in the media..I bet he loves it..From the sound of it he is refusing to take money choosing to barter instead..he sounds like a real character.

Posted by: Salty Davis at November 15, 2007 01:55 PM

Having just found my 56 year old brother after 10 yearsof being homeless in New Orleans, Dallas,and now back in San Diego he says since 2000.I'm trying to find housing or some kind of help for him.I think these men need to think how they would feel if this were a family member.How pissed off would they be if some young guys decided to exploit some one they loved knowing they weren't in their riht mind. They can dres this up any way want it is what it is...they are taking full advantage of a mentaly disabled HOMELESS MAN.Shame on you guys.

Posted by: Laurie at December 6, 2007 10:48 PM

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