Portroids: Portroid of Reginal Lankster


You're traveling through another day -- a day not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land, whose boundaries are that of imagination and happiness, awaits you. You are about to enter ... The Smile Zone.


For the past three years, 59-year-old Reginal Lankster has been the self-appointed herald of what he calls "The Smile Zone" in Downtown Denver. He never asks for money, for any of your loose change (although the request is implied by the jingle-jangle of dimes, nickels, pennies, and quarters in his paper Coca-Cola cup). All he asks is that you smile.

"The Smile Zone" is wherever Reginal is stationed, though primarily I've encountered it on California Street between 16th and 17th in front of Werner's Camera Shop (recently gone out of business). The borders of "The Smile Zone" are not well defined. No orange cones or painted lines mark it's beginning or end. It's merely within earshot of Reginald's command, and his command is simply to put a smile on your face. It can't hurt. It's nothing personal. It's a zone and you know he's going to say, "smile".

If you are adverse to smiling, cross the street ahead of time, where you'll only have to ignore the wheelchair guy's "how you today?" and Scraggly Lady's desperate plea for "spare change". There's no escaping the homeless in Beggar's Canyon, but with proper navigation, you can have the least contact possible.

I'm no expert on Reginal Lankster, but I'd hazard to guess he's not a rich man. His job is simple: get people to smile (by song or rhyme or simple request). The pay is minimal, but if remuneration were his goal he'd probably have chosen a different occupation (probably something in Banking or Public Relations). He has a wide variety of clothes, jackets, and hats, so it seems he has a place to call his own (be it a locker, a shelter, or a two-bedroom apartment (which he probably shares with an eccentric college-aged roommate found in The Rocky Mountain News classifieds)). He seems to only want one thing, and that is for you, and everyone who passes him, to smile. Your smile, even for a brief moment, opens your heart to the world - and is that such a bad thing? It could be, if your heart is pure evil.

I know it makes you feel silly, but next time you see him, all I ask is that you flash him your pearly whites. He's here for you, so use him and his message to your better good.

Reginal Lankster is portroid #109, and a welcome addition to this photograph collection (every photograph collection needs a smile or two - and who better than the harbinger of smiles to bring them to us).

Thanks, Reginal, for all you do day in and day out to keep turning Denver's frowns upside-down. :)



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