On Saturday, I was shopping on 9th Street in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. I spotted an older woman at one of the stands who looked vaguely familiar. It wasn’t until I got a little closer and saw a table full of canvases, that I realized she was Mikey Wild’s mother, Gloria DeLuca.
Michael DeLuca a.k.a. Mikey Wild was a punk rock musician who has been described as “The Mayor of South Street” and “Punk Rock Royalty”. Despite being mentally challenged, he was a painter, played with The Magic Lanterns, was the subject of YouTube videos, and a documentary, Mikey Wild: I Was Punk Rock Before You Were. He loved Vincent Price, The Beatles, and horror movies. Sadly, he lost his battle with cancer on May 25th of last year. He was 56 years old.
Mikey was a fixture in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. I would see him on my shopping trips – coffee in hand, sitting outside of Anthony’s, usually chatting with friends, or drawing portraits with markers. He also painted with acrylics on canvas board. I felt fortunate to be able to buy one of his portraits of John Lennon (pictured above) for my brother-in-law, and this Dracula painting on Saturday.
9th Street is subdued in Mikey’s absence. Here’s hoping he’s having coffee with Vincent Price.