Robert Red peers out the window of Happy Donuts on 6th Street in San Francisco, right before jumping out of his seat as if he recognized an old friend. He slides the window open just enough to stick his head out and holler, “Hey you, come here.” The estranged woman glances his way, and then hurries along her route. “She’ll be back,” says Red as he puts his compact selfie stick back into his jacket pocket.
With a plethora of new and old faces in his iPhone camera roll, Red utilizes social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook to promote his fashion apparel. Across from the table sits Michael Fisher, who founded the public access television show, People Behaving Proudly, which airs every Wednesday at 3 p.m. on Channel 29. At first glance, the pair are noticed for their vibrant fashion sense but ultimately remembered for their inviting personalities.
Happy Donut employee, Sopheas Nok, regularly serves the two a southern style meal from the donut shop’s unexpected menu. Nok can rely on Fisher and Red to show up on a daily basis and take a seat in their designated table closest to the window for prime exposure.
Nok, who has known the men for nearly two years, says their unique style attracts a variety of customers into the small donut shop. “When they’re here, they actually attract customers for us,” said Nok. “They’re always in suits and it makes people feel more comfortable when they come in.”
In 2015 Fisher and Red joined the Fillmore Bay Area Media Group, after being noticed by longtime friend and TV Producer, Ken Johnson. “They have that special something that holds your attention and they’re trying to do positive things in the community,” said Johnson. “When I come across some friends who have potential, I immediately I see it.”
And Johnson immediately wanted to test the potential he was working with. It started at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Sutter Street, where Fisher conducted his first unrehearsed interview with the Reverend. This moment led to the development of his show titled People Behaving Proudly, which is a wide-reaching podium of commentary on the San Francisco housing crisis, fashion, profiling, politics, music and the changing atmosphere of street life within the community.
“We have a lot of good people in this town too, they’re not all bad,” said Fisher in response to the KRON4 show known as People Behaving Badly. Fisher pursed a calling to stop televising people’s wrongdoing and instead, televise their rightful deeds. “My concept was to get these young folks and put them on my show,” said Fisher. “They’re going to be seen as people who are behaving proudly, not badly.”
But during filming at SF Commons Studio, Fisher endured a sudden shift that threatened the safety of himself as well as his family. Fisher struggled to find housing with his daughter and granddaughter after being forced out of section 8 housing, explains Red. “66 years he’d been in San Francisco as a native and he could not get a spot,” said Red.
As the video camera rolled, Fisher stood near a homeless encampment and pointed to what would be his new spot on the street. This experience led to the creation of their episode, “From the Door to the Floor Pt. 1,” which aired on August 23, 2016. “I’m from that door of the house to the floor on the ground,” said Fisher who is now living with family.
Fisher and Red share their secret, that each episode idea is based on personal experience. “We take stuff that happens to us and turn it into a show because we learn from it,” said Red who moved away from Las Vegas 16 years ago. “I got away from all the negative people I was around and positive things started happening for me.”
Red expresses his optimism by styling and profiling on his show, Int. Red Fashion Experience, which airs every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. on channel 29. “My concept is about fashion, when you look good you feel good,” said Red who was previously a fashion coordinator. By providing people with clean suits, ties and shirts to attend interviews, it was Red’s way of giving back to his community.
An understanding of fashion contributed the foundation for the dynamic duo’s friendship and hit close home for Fisher, who is a retired truant officer for the school department. “Do you know why most kids don’t show up to school?” Fisher asked. “Because of the dress code.” This was the answer Fisher had to digest as he stood at the doorstep of children’s homes that had not shown up at school for over a week because their attire could not meet the standard of what was popular.
Although fashion is a major aspect, Fisher believes the act of giving is far more significant. “When I was selling watches he use to buy stuff from me and always give me a word of encouragement,” said Red. “What really amazed me was that one day he gave me a pair of 500 dollar alligator shoes.” This gesture was the beginning of a five-year friendship that brought Red to attend Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, where Fisher sings in the choir on Sunday’s.
On 6th Street and throughout surrounding boarders of the Tenderloin district, a sense of unity is present on the streets. As Fisher and Red roam the sidewalks, heads turn as people wonder what these men are up to next. “We aren’t millionaires, not by far,” said Fisher. “But we are working on a project right now that is going to help the people first and help us second.”