Paul “P-Funk” Stallings (Fortune Society)
My name’s Paul Stallings and I was born in Astoria, Queens. I was born and raised there, but now I live in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Growing up I had quite a good family. I had three sisters but two of them died, and nine brothers, two of whom also passed away. I lived a pretty good life. My mother was a house mother, she didn’t work, and my father worked construction. I loved school growing up, but as soon as that drug world came in, things changed. Two of my brothers were users. My older brother went into the army and that morphine got him I guess. It seemed like everybody that came back from the army in the 70’s, they all turned into junkies and my brother was one of them. That was during the Vietnam War.
At the time I didn’t really understand anything about the effects of the substances we were trying. Now that I think about it, I didn’t even like it because I didn’t like what it made me. It eventually wound me up in jail. But I came to the point where I said enough is enough. I got tired of that lifestyle and I just surrendered. Now I’m ten years clean and I feel good about myself. I love myself today. I’m grateful; I’m very grateful. I have a God that’s in my life now, a higher power that’s over me, and he’s guiding me in the right direction. I love me today. I couldn’t say that twenty years ago. I didn’t like who I was, but now I know who I am; I know who I am and I love me today, even though my character defects pop up every now and then. But I try to keep that to a limit. When I see something come my way, if it looks like trouble, I get out of there before anything happens. I’m trying to live a nice, quiet, sociable life.
I came to Fortune Society in 2009. I’ve I loved it ever since because I never thought I could go back to school and learn again. They showed me that there’s a way I can be taught. I said, “Beautiful.” They have very caring people at Fortune Society. I’m trying to do everything I can to learn more and to be the person that my mother always wanted me to be. I want to make her proud. Fortune Society’s been tremendously good to me. The teachers are just awesome. They are beautiful people—they’re caring and they want you to get the help they’re offering.
I learned about The Tempest when Lear came to Fortune. She said she was looking for people that would do a play, and right then and there something just came over me and smacked me in the back of my head and said, “Give it a shot! Give it a shot!” So I signed up with Lear that day. I gave her my telephone number, my name and all that, and she called me. She came back and held a class at Fortune reading plays left and right. Lear, she’s been like a sister. She is very awesome and she cares. I love her for that.