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CBN.com Danny Velasco lived the high life as a celebrity hair and make-up artist until drugs had him living on the streets of New York City. In this David Kithcart interview, Danny tells The 700 Club how the Lord rescued him from nearly going insane.
Danny Velasco: I never had boundaries. I did anything I wanted to do any time I wanted to do it, anywhere I wanted to do it, and with anybody I wanted to do it with.
Wanda Brickner: I met Danny on a fashion shoot. When someone is touching your face and hair, you become somewhat conversationally intimate with that person almost instantly. When I met him, he was still Mr. Fabulous. He had on his black cashmere, and he was drinking his martini and living on top of the world. At the time I didn’t realize that he was on the beginning of the slide downward.
Danny: As a hairdresser and makeup artist for a lot of celebrities and fashion magazines, I was pulling in $3,000 a day. That was my rate for being in the studio but that fell apart. I began to overdose a lot on photo shoots, and once you start overdosing, you cross a line. You become an insurance risk. Suddenly I was blackballed in the business.
David Kithcart: Did you have any kind of sense of who you were?
Danny: No, I absolutely didn’t. Even when I was at the height of this amazing career, I always was the guy who felt out of place. I always felt like I didn’t really belong. I always felt empty and lonely.
Wanda: It was through relationship, time, listening to some of the details of his life, and then through seeing him sliding downward that I knew this is someone I have to share the gospel with.
Danny: I just thought she was crazy to be honest with you. I thought she was a religious fanatic.
Wanda: By the time our lives had become intertwined, he was losing weight very fast. He was no longer wearing cashmere. I had the sense of “Wow. If he doesn’t find God, he’s going to die.”
Danny: Drugs had taken me to a point where one day my whole world had collapsed. I took a garbage can, and I began to cut up anything that had my name on it. I walked out of a 5,000 square foot loft, pulled the door behind me, and never went back. I began to live on the streets.
David: But why did you cut up your cards? Why did you destroy your identity?
Danny: I knew that I would die on the street, and I didn’t want to be recognized. I didn’t want my family to be called. I was resigned to the fact that I was going to die on the street and that was it.
David: Did you do drugs out [there]?
Danny: Yeah. Just sit around and shoot dope. In the mornings you’d see all the syringes.
I had an agent that I used to call from the streets every couple of days collect from a pay phone. Every once in a while she would say, “This girl Wanda, the model from Ford’s, has been calling. She wants you to call her.”
I distinctly remember [Wanda] saying to me, “Danny, the day you call on the Lord, He’s going to set you free.” I said, “Well, you know what? That’ll never happen ‘cause I will never call on the name of the Lord.” She said, “I just want you to remember that.”
I had begun to develop a lot of phobias and things that were just unnatural. I started developing a lot of voices in my head. One voice started spewing filthy language in my head, just filthy, unconnected, disjointed words while the other voice was accusing. Then another voice had joined in that was just laughing and laughing and laughing. I had gone from this kind of celebrated person to this crazy man living on the streets of New York talking to himself, laughing, and cursing.
I was starving to death. I had gotten down to 108 pounds. I had hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C all at the same time.
I got off the train. I remember stumbling to this hospital that I saw. When I woke up, I was in a hospital bed, and I was lying in my own vomit. All the voices were screaming in my head.
There was one moment where I heard like a sweet voice that said, “The day you call on the name of the Lord, He’s going to set you free.” That’s when I began to cry out to God. I didn’t know how to pray. I didn’t know really what I was saying. I was just saying, “Jesus, help me. Save me. You’re my only hope. I have no other hope.” That’s the moment that I’ll never forget ‘cause at that moment the spirit of the living God just swept into that hospital room.
All of the voices in my head stopped and all the fears and phobias just dropped away from me. I knew that I was in the presence of God. I knew that the spirit of God was in the room healing me and changing me.
I went directly from that hospital into a Christian rehab. I just began to devour God’s Word. It was like I was a hungry man feasting on the Word of God.
Wanda: I opened this letter, and it’s from Danny. He began to tell me about how he had become a Christian.
Danny: I came and stayed with her and her husband in their apartment. We went to Brooklyn Tabernacle.
Pastor Cymbala said something from the pulpit, “You want to hear a great miracle? Danny Velasco got saved, and he’s sitting right there.” And the place went nuts. They all knew me as this 108-pound drug addict living on the street. They had all been praying for me.
I know that God is real and that He heard me. He was as close as the mention of His name and whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
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