Otis Houston Jr.

RAT AMERICA, 2021

Performance documentation, filmed at Gordon Robichaux, NY


Millions of Americans are in prison. Millions of Americans know someone who is in prison, who's been to prison, or is on their way to prison. This performance is about Otis, about me—Otis Houston Jr.—about me doing my time.

I came from South Carolina to New York City. When I was 21 I was arrested for possession of drugs. I'd never been arrested before; no record. I was facing 15 years to life under the Rockefeller Laws for possession of street drugs. A mafia guy, organized crime guy—they gave him five years. An organized crime guy gets five years for bringing pure heroin into the country. I knew something was wrong then.

If you facing thirty years, you'll make up stuff not to face prison. People tell lies. People tell lies against friends and family. Make things up. Breaking up the structure of families and the community. A lot of people are in jail because of lies told in the face of the drug laws.

—Otis Houston Jr.