Soul Suited - Arts - Detroit Metro Times
James Hewlett sits in a west-side McDonald's, nursing a small bag of fries. He's drawing stares because it's early afternoon and he's dressed like he's about to hit the stage of the Apollo Theater. Fifty years ago.
"People, they ain't used to people lookin' like this," says the best-dressed man within a mile of this McDonald's. "Somebody told me yesterday, 'Why do you dress like that?' I said, "Because life is a celebration, and every day you ought to dress like it's your last day."
Hewlett, 55, is a traveling church organist and sometimes guest preacher. His look lies somewhere between Little Richard and Jackie Wilson on the rhythm-and-blues spectrum, with some of his own flair thrown on top.
Today he wears a crisp gray suit despite the sweltering summer heat. His shoes were once part of an alligator. A handkerchief spreads across his lapel, arranged in folds and held in place by pins. His tie is studded with a massive fake diamond earring, while another earring juts from his ear, held in place by Superglue because his earlobe is torn. And his hair is a magnificent cascade of waves and curves, sculpted by the same hairdresser the Temptations visited back in their heyday.
A woman approaches, wide-eyed. "I was just admiring you," she says. "I like your colors and stuff."
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