A chance meeting on a street corner brings filmmakers Joel L. Freedman and Philip F. Messina face to face with Wayne Shirley, an extraordinary African American street hustler, dope pusher, Vietnam Vet, and self-styled entertainer. Wayne, in the personal surroundings of his apartment, with often delightful candor, unwinds, philosophize, smokes pot and tells of his war, street and drug experiences. He is not a junkie and brags of his ability to shoot dope and not get hooked.
Wayne’s center stage position is shaken with the arrival of Sonny and Angel, two junkies intent on getting high no matter what. They shoot up as Angel, claiming to be a revolutionary, clashes with Wayne, accusing him of being a good-for-nothing who for a buck will turn his back on his people. A fierce confrontation follows that touches many of the most sensitive issues of the day. The filmmakers, too, are challenged and forced out of their passive roles and made to deal directly with their subjects.
Months later, the filmmakers again encounter Wayne and see the devastating results of his toying with the drug world. What started out as a lark ends up as one of the most powerful human documents ever made.