Featured Story, Street Legends

The Early Life of Wayne Perry

The Early Life of Wayne Perry

Wayne Perry was born November 14, 1962. He grew up on L Street in Southwest Washington D.C., in the area known as 203. “I was raised in D.C. but I spent a lot of the summers of my childhood in Georgia,” Wayne says. “I even put fools in the dirt down there and back then it was super racist. Crackers used to call me boy.” A sign of the times but Wayne moved through all of that and in his native D.C. as he grew into a teenager, sports became his passion. “I was real small back then. I was the best baseball player in D.C. too. I’ve been in the Washington Star several times about baseball. I grew up on sports. I lived across from the boys club in Southwest. I boxed, played basketball, baseball and football and I was always the MVP, but I was caught up in that gangster stuff.” He says. “I got the name Silk from my extended brother Lop. I was real smooth in sports and with the girls when I was a kid. I think I was twelve or so when Lop gave me that name.” Wayne says. “Lop was my idol, the roughest and baddest joker I ever knew.” And Wayne was coming up under dudes like Lop, a well-known local D.C. street guy.

rayful (2)“I started hanging up 17th Street NW gambling. I was also hangin on 14th Street and 7th and T, NW. I was hanging with older guys back then, watching their backs while they hustled. You know what’s funny, all the older dudes that was gangsters when I was a kid, I became their leader when I became a teenager.” And Silk as he became known in the streets of Southwest started his gangster ways early on. He wasn’t afraid to bust his guns and get his hands dirty.

“In 1974, I put my first fool in the dirt and in 1975 I started hustling.” Wayne says. “In 76, I learned how to cheat with crooked dice, marked and cut cards. Older guys I never told I was cheating, used to take me all over to gamble cause they thought I was lucky.” And the young Silk picked up on how the hustlers, players, dealers and street guys carried it. He molded himself in their image. “Silk was real smart and clever,” says his close comrade Manny. “Slim was a good dude, more than fair. You just couldn’t cross him, if you did he wouldn’t have no understanding.” That was just how he was. Wayne was real slick and no one could pinpoint him. How do you think he got the name Silk? He didn’t hang out in spots like that, he’d just pop up. “If you knew Wayne like I do, it’s no telling where you might run into him at in the city.” Sop-Sop, another close comrade says. “Southwest would be his spot, but I would say he was international.” It was in Silk’s nature to keep people off balance and guessing so that they didn’t quite know what to expect.

“I started robbing in 78. I started robbing banks. My little brother got killed in a bank by a pig in 79,” Wayne says. At the time he was still attending Wilson High School, starring in baseball and playing other sports, but slowly slipping into the streets and adapting the gangster mentality. This would eventually lead him to jail. “I got locked up in 79 for shooting the hall monitor man in school but I didn’t do it. The dude and his crew who did it blamed it on me because it was a riot, Southwest against Northwest, and I kicked it off by punishing this older joker from Northwest, but I didn’t have a weapon.” Wayne says. “Then I got put out of Wilson and I went to Randall and I beat the baseball team coach with a bat at practice and I got barred out of all D.C. public schools, so I went to Franklin GED school cause the judge ordered me to and I had to kill a fool for telling me he was going to take my chain.”

The older dudes in the hood respected Wayne’s gangster. They saw the makings of a thoroughbred in the youngster. “They knew I’d shoot anybody,” he says on his growing reputation. “Police, killers, gorillas, etc. I also used to go on robberies with some hell of a gangsters but they always took the bullets out of my gun cause they said I was trigger happy.” His name started ringing loudly on the block in the early 80’s down in Southwest. He had a reputation as a young soldier with mad heart and skills, but to his friends he showed another side of him that the world would never know. “Wayne’s a funny type of guy from the heart,” his little cousin says. “He was real funny. I remember back in the 203 days we would all be around and he would be joking about anybody, what they had on, their girl, their family or whatever. He would have you dying laughing. He would play so much that if you didn’t know him, really know him, you didn’t know when he was serious.” Wayne could play but when it was time to get serious, he turned deadly serious.

IMG_2105“They had this big crap game going on outside one day.” Sop-Sop says. “A lot of well known hustlers and gamblers from other parts of the city was out there and Wayne and this other well respected dude got into it about a bet. Wayne shot him in his ass twice in front of everybody.” Silk wasn’t above getting his respect by gunsmoke when necessary. He would bust his gun at the slightest provocation. Stories like this abound about the man who became a legend and only add to his infamy and mythology. At the time though all his actions added to his reputation, which was growing by the day and leaving the streets wondering who this new wild and violent gangster was. “My brother hates arrogance and he ain’t the one who speaks,” Silk’s little bro says. “He is silent as the wind but deadly as fire.” And D.C. was en fuego.

“In 84, I killed a fool in front of the police, it was sort of like self-defense. I went down Youth Center One on that,” Wayne says. And Sop-Sop remembers that too, “Some time after that, Wayne came in and went down Youth Center One where myself, Titus, Gator and many other good men were. Wayne established himself as a man among men.” And in the streets a new drug called crack was introduced to the city and it took D.C. by storm. While Wayne was making city-wide contacts and solidifying his gangster at Lorton, the crack epidemic raged unabated, turning the Chocolate City into the Murder Capital.

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