Nine times out of ten, I don't have any interest in actors or actresses. Their lives seem so surreal and out of touch with the realities of daily life, sometimes to the extent that I wonder if they ever actually had a real life or will they ever be able to.
'Oh I was addicted to cocaine and partying.'
Yeah mate, I would be too if I had your money. No sympathy.
This changed the day my best friend Nadine, dragged me to the cinema to see Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Now, I am not the type to enjoy horror films. Being intentionally scared by something that 'isn't real' is my idea of hell. Ghosts, zombie, monsters under the bed leave me shaking with fear for days.
But the surprising decency of the film isn't the point of this blog. The one thing that stuck out, or rather, the one person that stuck out was the character of Arturo (and not because Nadine and I were picking our jaws off the floor as a result of his gorgeousness).
The actor is Richard Cabral. I felt like I recognised him from my research into the social issues surrounding the US War on Drugs.
I was right.
After a few quick Google searches, I found that Cabral was gang affiliated from a young age. His life seemed like a rollercoaster. Charged with attempted murder. 27 months in prison. Crack cocaine. The same stories that are now surfacing about the youngsters my business partners were in school with in London.
My potential thesis for my masters course is going to be based around 'Life After Gangs'. Is the MS-13 saying correct, that you only end up in prison, hospital or dead?
You live for your mother, you die for your gang. So how come Cabral is still walking tall and making a successful career? Los Angeles gangs aren't usually that forgiving.
I want to know.
I want to know so much that this article is my only way of asking for him to get in touch with me. I want to know what it's really like to try and get out of that lifestyle and do it successfully.
Has he done it successfully?
Or does a car drive past his house most days, slowing if not stopping? Is there always someone over his shoulder making sure that he's keeping his mouth shut?
So Mr. Cabral, if you're reading this then there's a 5'3" blonde Welsh girl that would really like to have a chat with you. Sure, it could just end up in an article, or you could be the one thing standing between me and a First Class Honors Degree.
Like I said, things that 'aren't real' are scary. Those that are real, well they're just waiting to be picked apart until one day they're not scary any more, they're a reality and someone is going to have to deal with them.
The stuff that Cabral has done and seen doesn't happen all that much where I'm from. The closest thing we get to 'gangs' is the boys in the lineup yelling at you to get out of their break. I guess you could say we've got our own DogTown, but it's more like PuppyTown.
Not exactly ideal for my research.
I don't know what my opinion is on gangs. I've never been a part of one. So what's it really like? And how easy is it to escape from those terrifying things that are very, very real and very, very dangerous?