david j. sperling BIO
speaking info


Dear Mr. Sperling,


My husband is in jail on drug related charges.  He has been an addict for a while and is hopefully going into recovery when he gets out.  My husband told me he is in jail with Mark David Allen.  He called me and told me about him and told me to look up your website online.  I was very sad and angry.  I bought the film on your website.


I talked to my husband and he said Mark just drinks coffee and draws.  The first day Mark was in jail he soiled all his clothes and blankets.  Mark couldn't get down at night to use the restroom and that some of the inmates were really mean to him because of his odor and going to the bathroom in his own bunk.  The guys in the cell were not happy and the deputies thought it was funny. 


My husband is a very compassionate person and a surfer from Hawaii, so he felt the need to watch over Mark.  He said he was trying to help Mark out.  My husband gave him his own bottom bunk because Mark needed it.  Mark let my husband get him clean blankets and was very friendly to him. 


The story Mark told my husband was different from yours but he was put into a cell with some pretty bad people and no one was told about any mental or physical condition that he had.  To me that is abuse and endangering his life.


So far, I watched the DVD twice...


I can't even begin to tell you how sad this makes me...I have printed out some information off of your website and mailed it to my husband.  He said that Mark is being treated much better now that everyone knows his story from the information.  My husband passed the information around the jail and said that even some of the deputies wanted to read it.  Now they’re looking after Mark.


I also gave the DVD to the doctor I work for to watch.  Maybe he can help?


When my husband decided to go into treatment his mother and I got involved in starting a chapter of a drug addiction support group.  I am going to show your movie at our next meeting.

Isn't it funny, we can pass laws requiring people to wear helmets and seat belts for their protection but we are okay with watching this man kill himself slowly and painfully?  I feel very sorry for him and I have no doubt that he will live out the rest of his life in hell and will die a very sad and sick man.  I also have no doubt that if we institutionalized him and medicated him he could be happy.  It is overwhelmingly sad.


I am very thankful for what you do and I want to help in any way I can. 


I have had to deal with addiction my entire life and although it was never my own, this disease has brought me to my knees praying for strength.  The pain has been so intense...


My father is an alcoholic and I already mentioned my husband.  I would give my right arm to free either of them from this horrible disease.  I love both of these men dearly. I know I have no power over what they do but I believe when it comes to a life or death situation, you do whatever you have to.  With my husband I have had a little help from the system (and I do mean a little).  I worked for a year straight to bring his bottom to him before he hit his own bottom which would have been a lot worse.


When they say jails, institutions or death I think they are very right and the way I saw it--Jail was my best option.


Anyway, I went to the jail on Friday and put some money on Mark's books.  I have been careful to put just a little bit at a time.  I know if he has money when he is released I'm not helping him. 


Thank you again for making this film, I took one to the local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and they said they would pass it along to Pacific Hills Recovery when they were done.  I know this DVD is helping others but I can't help but to feel so helpless for Mark.  This must be so hard for you.


I have always said that when I leave this world I hope to leave it a little bit better of a place than it would have been if I hadn't been here.  You have definitely accomplished that.  I am sure there is a group of people that at the time of watching the video don't even realize that is may have an impact.


I took the DVD to a treatment center and I didn't even get through the door and someone asked me about it.  He said you spoke at his DUI class.  He said he just figured Mark was dead by now.  They asked if they could keep the DVD for a bit.  I have been trying to loan them out and get them back so I can get them as many places as possible.  I give your cards to people I let watch it so they can buy one if they want.

I was wondering if you or anyone has tried to get it on TV.  I was thinking about writing to A&E but wanted to see if you would be ok with that.  I don't know if you ever watch that channel but they have recovery and addiction shows on almost daily.


Anyway I have started a letter about you and Mark's story and if you are okay with it I'd like to let you read it and possibly send it to some people.

I just received more DVD’s.  Thank you!  I knew that people like you existed, I'm just used to seeing them on Oprah.  Your kindness and selflessness is absolutely amazing!!!  I made copies of the article from the Orange County Register to pass out.  You inspire me and I know first hand that not only Mark’s story, but also what you do, can change lives.  I will continue to do what I can.  You really have changed my life.


I carried my husband’s addiction around like it was my own.  I constantly tried to control it to a point that was unhealthy for me.  I am learning to let that go.   After your eye-prying message, I went out and bought a book called, "Codependent No More."  I opened the book and didn't put it down until I was finished with it.  I couldn't believe it.  It's like it was written just for me.

Anyway, I am a healthier and happier person since you came into my life.  For the first time in a very long time I don't have that pit in my stomach anymore.  I am having a hard time putting into words just what this has done for me.


I am working on the whole "bigger picture" thing you’ve written about.  It’s hard to not get caught up in the here and now.  You inspire to make me a better person.  I thank you for that.


I am going to try not to sound too strange when I say this but I think everyone that comes into our lives is there for a reason.  We may not always realize right then but I think there is something to be taught or gained or given from each person that is put in our paths.  I felt this way from the moment I read the story and what you’ve put on your website.  Not many people would have stopped to listen to Mark or taken anything he said serious, but you did.  And my husband did.


I was not raised to be religious or spiritual.  My mother was an atheist and a science teacher.  Religion was never a part of my life and my family is so far from spiritual.  I have come to find that I am actually very spiritual and don't know what I would have done if I didn't get to know God.  I am still amazed by life all the time. 


THIS is one of those times.  I hope that didn't sound too strange.


I know that this whole bigger picture thing is reality but I am having a hard time just letting this man die.  There must be something--I drive around Orange County where most people wouldn't skip Starbucks for a day to help someone out.  This really gets me.  To say nothing can be done, that's just unacceptable.


Something has to change…


We pass these people all the time.  There are the ones that look like drug addicts, the veterans, the ones screaming at the wind--These are all obviously very ill people but we just pass by and go about our day.  We see nothing we can do to help it so we just ignore it.  Why try to save their life?  We put a few programs out there that very few are even capable of utilizing and we say, “We tried”. 


This is why what you have done impresses me so much.  How many times have people told you about how many people there are out there just like Mark?  And how many times have those people told you of any efforts they made to help those people they obviously know about?


I understand feeling helpless and hopeless when it comes to situations like Mark’s, but why can we hold Mark against his will in jail, but we can’t move him to a facility where he can live more comfortably?  Where he can be given proper medical attention?  This is not rocket science. 


There are families living in cars and motels, but people like Paris Hilton are driving around drunk in cars worth half a million dollars.


I just want to try to help make a change.  As far as feeling obligated--I am obligated.  If everyone felt a little more obligated to take care of each other and be compassionate this country wouldn't be so screwed up.  You took your time, your money, your resources and your heart and put them out there in an effort to help Mark.  Most people wouldn't have done that.  You deserve to be recognized for that.


I will continue to do whatever I can to fight against this disease and a society that seems to want to cover up the problem rather than fix it.


Something can be done…

Anyway, my little sister is a student at UCI and she loved the film--It really validated what she wanted to do with her life.  After she graduates next year we are going to try to start a shelter and/or awareness for the homeless.  We also discovered that the Phoenix House was started by a few ex-cons who put their welfare checks together and created what is now the largest nonprofit drug rehabilitation in the country--Who knows what we can accomplish?  I will keep you posted. Thank you again, David. 


You are truly an amazing person,



Santa Ana, CA



Dear Dave,


A co-worker and I viewed the video last week.  She cried through a lot of it and I, jaded veteran that I am, held my breath for 81 minutes.  It is powerful and meaningful.  It is a good experience for those who are following the same path that Mark is, as well as those who will never know his living hell...


Then our newest staff member showed it to our inpatient combo intensive outpatient group.  This group has some of the hardest street cases out there.  The group was stunned. 


A couple of our homeless fellows shared part of their story as a result of being able to identify with Mark--And these guys NEVER talk.  The film really seems to affect those who haven't totally declined yet, but see their potential. We have 7 different programs at our facility, our detox and residential clients have had the opportunity to watch the film and it had a great impact...  Additionally, our detox unit has shown it in some groups.  All of the members of my staff that have viewed it are so grateful.  You need to get this video out there--THANK YOU SO MUCH!


--Rhonda Fraser - Treatment Manager

Island Grove Treatment Center - Greeley, CO



Mr. Sperling--


God bless you.  I know that you are a good-hearted man. I would like to hug both you and Mark David Allen.  I am an alcoholic and your documentary deeply touched my sister and I.  She told me I just ‘had to see this documentary’…I'm glad I saw it today…I envy you for having the blessing to be able to offer your assistance in one of God's miracles. Mark's life is a miracle and your willingness to be God's helper in his life and in getting the word out is a blessing. As someone who has been buoyed by God's grace all my life, I can appreciate God's love even more when I see it through people like you.  I thought I had some miracles in my life that were worthy of being called a miracles (and they are) but that Mark's organs are still functioning must be God's way of letting Mark share his story with the rest of us. Thank you for taking all the time and effort to help God get Mark's message to me.




--Carlos Daniel

Washington State 


Mr. Sperling,


I had the pleasure of seeing you give a screening of your movie to a small audience for ‘Sober Living By the Sea’ alumni.  It has not been the first, nor the last time I have had the privilege of seeing the profound impact that 'Drunk In Public' has had on others (I show it regularly to an audience in my DUI offender classes).  Thank you for producing such an incredibly powerful movie that impacts so many others by bringing about a shift in their awareness in regards to so many aspects of Mark David Allen and the society in which he exists.  I truly hope that through this project more people can be transformed by your powerful documentary. 


--Matt Kelley - Counselor at A.O.D.D.

Newport Beach, CA





               I just viewed the film.  My first response is simply WOW.  You did a fantastic job portraying Mark's struggle with alcohol and his brain injuries…You did a great job pointing out the inadequacies of our system.  How he can continue to be denied treatment is very baffling to me and I'm sure to many others.  I still contend that there is hope for Mark's recovery, but that desire has to come from Mark.  He is certainly not the only individual suffering from these issues--Many have overcome similar if not worse situations.  As you implied at the end of the film, perhaps Mark might not ever get it, but I'm sure he will be instrumental in helping many others suffering from addictions and similar head trauma…


           I will pass your message and your film on to as many people as I can. 


           You've done an unbelievable job with this production.  Don't give up the fight.  It just takes the right timing and the right people and amazing things will happen…This documentary far exceeded my expectations.  The guys at the fire station were also very impressed.  I'm sure this film has changed some peoples’ lives.  To try and get this kind of information out to the public--is truly a labor of love on your part.  You did a fantastic job with this film.  My hat is off to you. 




--Steve Russell - Firefighter

Seal Beach, CA




Dear Dave,


           I just watched DRUNK IN PUBLIC--What a movie!  I'm glad to know that Mark knows the Lord...  You are a good man and have been good to him. It's amazing how you have been woven into Mark's memory--You have touched his heart.  And mine too.  I can't believe that woman could look at Mark and think he has a job and a home to go to.  I can't believe all those involved just let him walk out the door.  It is very sad...It is all simply amazing.  When is the book coming out?  Keep up the great work.  You are changing the world!  I just ordered another copy of the film.  I would like to give it as a gift—it’s a great gift-giving opportunity!  Thank you so much!”


--Heidi M.  

Huntington Beach, CA






I am a teacher--right now I'm teaching 5th grade.  I have been successfully living the A.A. and N.A. programs for over 30 years now and was browsing the recovery related items on Ebay.  Your documentary is unquestionably the most powerful proof I have ever seen that alcoholism is a progressive disease.  I have seen first-hand how the disease takes over a person's life, but your film captures the hopelessness an alcoholic feels.  I plan to share it with members of my groups.  Thank you for your efforts and your kindness to Mark David Allen.


I talked to the director of a men's halfway house in Salina, Kansas and he was very interested in seeing your documentary so I decided to get it for them.  I have shared your work with several others in the AA and NA programs and the response has been the incredibly powerful documentary!


I truly do think this documentary carries an impact not often seen in the real world. The concept of alcoholism as a progressive disease is clearly represented by Mark David Allen's obvious decline physically, mentally and spiritually.  I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers!  Thank you for having the courage and fortitude to undertake such a powerful documentary spanning so many years!  I also went to your web site and enjoyed reading about you and your d-BISCUITs.  Keep up the good work!  The world needs more people like you.


--Janet Jorgensen

Beloit, KS



Dear Mr. Sperling,


Hi, I purchased your film and I just finished watching it about an hour ago and I am still physically moved.  I have been in recovery 3 years now and I work in a treatment center as a tech on the 3rd shift.  My husband who was in recovery decided last week that he did not need A.A. anymore.  We met in a homeless shelter 8 years ago.  We both were low bottom drunks.  Tonight, I somehow convinced him to watch the film with me.  When it was over, I could see he was clearly moved and he quietly went to our bedroom.  I'm giving him some space and thought I would email you. 


The film was so REAL, so SAD and I am so GRATEFUL. 


I will be showing it to our counselors where I work and I am sure they will want a copy for the treatment center.  Thank you so much for your years of work and your kindness to Mark.  I believe that Mark’s life, and your work, was, IS, and will be the plan of a Power greater than any of us.


--Cynthia Z.

Pompano Beach, FL



Hi David,


               I knew Mark when he was just a young man at about 22 years old.  I was 18 years old.  I used to hang out at the peninsula along with everyone else in our group of partiers.  Mark was one of them.  At the time he was surfing, partying and had a lot of friends.  We would ride our beach cruisers up and down the boardwalk to go look for parties.  Sometimes the party would be at his place.  Mark was a good looking man at that age and I don't remember how I got the picture I’m sending you, but I must have seen it at his house and thought he was a cute little boy and asked for a picture—Me being 18 and all.   


               Over the years I grew up and moved on.  I notice when I go down there (Newport Beach) that not much has changed.  It's just a new generation of young dumb partiers.  Some will move on with their lives as they mature and others will not grow out of it.  They will sink to the depths of alcoholism and the disease will follow them for the rest of their lives just like Mark.


               When you are young, you think you are invincible.  All the sudden you turn 40 or so and you could be in a situation where you ask yourself, “What have I done with my life?"  Life passes by so quickly.  It seems that we were all so young just yesterday.


               I was surprised when I saw the movie and what Mark had become.  It left me feeling depressed.  It was a great movie and would be inspirational to people, especially young people that think time will never catch up with them.  I was left feeling like I had wished he had turned the corner at some point and married and had kids.  He could have had a lucrative career or something at this point in his life but instead he is living on the streets.  What a shame! 


--Chris S.

San Clemente, CA





            WOW!  This makes you put things into perspective.  I just finished watching it.  Overall it's an impressive work, with tons of good stuff.  The production is excellent…You're the only real human "friend" he has and he seemed to realize that…You've obviously made a good impression on him ministering to him a bit over the years, and I congratulate you on that. Most folks wouldn't handle that stench, much less the apparent futility of it.


           God has spared him for some reason; I'm wondering why...


           It's a major piece of work.  If you don't believe in angels, you need so see this film.  If you think drunks are funny, you need to see this film.  The collective self-abuse and injury that Mark David Allen has lived through should have killed him ten times over, probably more.  What purpose(s) the Lord has working through him are not certain; perhaps simply incredible mercy to a childlike mind that He won't give up on, or maybe a crystal clear warning for us all against self-delusion.  


           I don't know, but something in this story gives me hope.  


           You and the other officers who have dragged Mark's unconscious body out of harms way and revived him from seizures numerous times deserve an award for patience and uncommon mercy.


--Steve Williams

Honolulu, HI



Dear Mr. Sperling,


I met you after the showing of “DRUNK IN PUBLIC” a few Saturday nights back at the annual SOBER LIVING BY THE SEA alumni gathering.  I promoted your film to friends at a world class treatment facility named CIRQUE LODGE in Park City, Utah near Sundance the very next weekend.  There were 300 clients from all over the United States.  I also pitched it at the Institute of Chemical Dependency Studies where I am a student.  It was reviewed by a respected cohort--And very favorably.  All of these people will have jobs in treatment centers around the country.  I hope this helps you.  Thank you very much and good luck.”

--Simon S.






               Thank you for your film.  It is moving and painful to see Mark's descent into alcoholism and it reminds me how powerful that disease can be.   I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I work in the field of Chemical Dependency.  I am also now clean and sober for 16 years. 


           I have seen so many stories in my work, and it still never ceases to amaze me the destruction that results from alcoholism or drug addiction.


               I volunteered at CMC in San Luis Obispo as a literacy counselor in 1993 and for four years I did monthly AA panels (IRC, Mod K) at women's central jail.  Now, I just go into the "tank" at court to evaluate potential drug court clients. 


               Finally, Mark's journey is unbelievable.  I see portrayed the depths that a human can go and how powerful addiction is.  It is especially powerful in the film because the twelve years are condensed into the length of the film which magnifies the effects.


--L.R. – L.C.S.W.

Orange County, CA





I'm so impressed with what you did with your DRUNK IN PUBLIC documentary - after all these years - you really shaped it into something great.  Love it!  It’s kind of sad, to be thrilled for you and your work when the subject matter is so bleak.  It must have been hard for you to follow this guy year after year. 


It's just an incredible film...


What other festivals have you tried for?  Have you approached educational film distributors to sell the film to medical schools, AA, half-way programs, The Salvation Army, Covenant House, Phoenix House-type programs, high schools, colleges or churches?  Has the film been submitted it to HBO, Showtime, Spike, TLC, for acquisitions?  I'd think one of them would pick this up to air for sure.  What's next on your plate?  Great job!


--Holly H.

Los Angeles, CA



Dear Dave,            


               I'm 55 minutes into this film and I have to pause to tell you--you did a really good job with this film.  This documentary has brought tears to my eyes--This film is disturbing.  Also I can see the compassion you and the other officers have for Mark. 


           Wow, what a sobering view of alcoholism... 


           I knew about the lying but I hadn't known about the memory loss.  The other thing is I can sense your commitment to this guy, Mark.  I'll definitely show this documentary to other people.  Thank you, Dave.  The other thing I feel is that the officers in the jail, including you, of course, have been more like a supportive family to him, than his own family has been.  I mean with you asking about him all these years--Mark must know that he means something to someone--That he isn't alone?


--Ginelle Davido

Mountain View, CA




               I showed the film to a group of former patients, and later, to a small group of current patients.  Their responses were filled with emotions that ran the gamut from "disgusted" to "grateful" but all agreed that the depiction will leave a lasting impression that forces them to look more honestly at their relationships with their substance of choice.  The other recurring theme was frustration with the legal and mental health systems that seemingly failed Mark David Allen.  Our clients were unaware that the drug courts and mental health courts that referred them to our facility are not always available to those who need them the most. 


           Your work is admirable and will undoubtedly become a mainstay in drug and alcohol education. 


           I have begun to refer other professionals to your website as well as members of the local recovery community.  Thank you for your efforts!  If the promotion of your film (or any speaking engagements), bring you here to the Pittsburgh area, I would be pleased to help in any way possible.


--Tom – Substance Abuse Counselor

Pittsburgh, PA



Dear Mr. Sperling,


               What a gift that you haven't become jaded.   I am barely paid for the work I do at the halfway house "My Home Away From Home."  It works out to be about minimum wage.  I am a building contractor when I'm not working at the house.  I don't live there I live with my partner, Joe.  He helps me in the construction biz.  I got involved, initially, in the halfway house business because the guys we had working for us didn't have anywhere safe to live and it was affecting their work.


               So, I opened a couple of houses, but didn't really know what I was doing.  Then, a woman who had run a very successful halfway house biz for years died and left me in the position of president of the current house that I'm involved in.  She was really something.  I'll tell you about her sometime.


               I see myself eventually being supported by the halfway house full time.  I'd like for us to grow and have more beds and a detox place (non-medical).  We are not government supported which makes us so much more flexible.  If I could dedicate my hours to the house, exclusively, I feel like we could really make things happen.  But right now, we are where we are supposed to be.


               I agree with your views on the nature of people. 


              I run into the attitude that anyone could pull himself up by his bootstraps if he so desired.  It angers me when I hear this.  No, it sort of embarrasses me—If that makes sense.


               Anyway, I just watched your documentary and I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your work.  I bought the DVD on eBay because I was looking for some inspirational or educational material for the halfway house I run in Jacksonville, Florida.  Our residents are "low bottom" drunks who have many experiences in common with Mark.  I talked to some of the residents about the documentary and, interestingly enough, Richard (who is one of our hardest nuts), said "I've never been arrested for drunk in public."  He said this with pride.  I say this is interesting because Richard has been living in our house off and on for the last 20 years. When he "goes out" he lives "in the weeds" on the streets and this last time the cops got to the point where they refused to even pick him up any more.  The rescue squad also washed their hands of him.  (In Jacksonville, they don't arrest people for drunk in public).  He is no longer even "welcomed" in jail.  The hospital called me up after this last time and told me he had only hours to live, although through their attention, he pulled out and is back with us.  Richard hasn't lost any mental capacities, but he has cancer, blood clots, breathing problems, it goes on and on.  He is now our cook and will probably remain sober for a couple of months, but will go back out again.  This time he probably won't make it back.


I don't understand it any better than you do, except, I told Richard that he was, “Too afraid to live and too afraid to die.”  Anyway, thanks again for your work.  I hope it opens some eyes and hearts to the problem of alcoholism/drug abuse and its effect on society (if nothing else, the financial burden!).  It is so important that people understand that the homeless who wander suffer and that there really isn't much of a safety net out there.


 I was wrong though when I said that Jacksonville didn't arrest for drunk in public.  Some of the guys at the house have been arrested many times.  I don't know what the story is with Richard on that.  At any rate, the guys are watching your film tonight.  I'll be interested in their feedback.


            For me, personally, sometimes I wonder just how I ended up so involved with the halfway house, and why I still do it.  I ask my daughter, "Where else can a 50 year old woman feel like a prom queen?" 


            But that isn't it, at all.  I am treated with such respect here and such love by the guys (when they aren't being a pain in the ass, that is.)  But mostly, I get a stabbing in my heart sometimes that takes my breath away.  It is the small things that do me in.  Watching a man, fresh off the street, trying to eat his dinner without any teeth in his mouth, and just being so happy to feed him and when these times happen, I know that it is God who is feeling this way.  So, when I watched your documentary, it made me realize that there are other people out there, who for no apparent reason, are struck with this God-sensibility to love the "unlovely."  I know that I am merely a vehicle, and I wondered when I saw your film, if you felt the same way.


           Often times when people find out about the house, they ask me if we are successful.  Well, Heavens no.  Very few of our guys have gotten sober and stayed that way.  Mostly, they just come in to the house from under the bridge, out from the abandoned crack house, or more commonly, out from the weeds. 


           They are skinny and beat up, dirty, in legal trouble, and need a place to restore their bodies until the next drunk.  And this is the story for most of them.


               Our house has 19 guys, aged 23 to 60.  Without exception, they are homeless when they get to us.  Our halfway house is not government funded, they guys support the place.  They pay $17 a day to stay there and get three meals a day (we pack their lunches).  They work extremely hard at labor pools and bring home $40 some dollars a day, enough to buy a night's rent and some cigarettes.  As time goes on, many of them get better paying jobs, get a car and buy some clothes.  The transformation is wonderful to watch.  We get our food from the Food Bank and pay 18 cents a pound (what a blessing) and the house is paid for so we are able to make ends meet.  We have a full time cook and a house manager.  The house was started 20 year ago by a woman who had been running halfway houses in Jacksonville since 1960 and I started to get involved three years ago when she died.


               Anyway, here are some of the comments in response to your film from the guys at the house:


               Vince says (as he is shrugging his shoulders), "We all know a hundred guys like that", an implied "so what" hangs in the air…Later Vince added, "It was too sad, I had to stop watching it after arrest 200."


               Toby said, "It scared me real bad."


               Pat said, "Thank God I'm not THAT bad."


               What it is doing for these guys is showing them a reflection of themselves.  Mainly, the guys either:


1.)  Can't understand why you would even bother to film this -- the lifers say this.  These are the ones, like Richard, who see no way out of their alcoholism, they've tried treatment, AA, etc, and have given up the battle.  They come in and dry out and will go out again.  They don't care about anything, or so they think, "A guy drinks because he wants to and has no one to answer to but himself."


2.)  Can't watch it because it makes them too sad -- these guys are the lifers too, but these guys aren't as defensive or jaded as the Richards are.  They are still hoping for a miracle, but wouldn't dream of turning to God to get it.  They see alcoholism as not only a personal problem, but a societal one as well.  But they are lost.  They are "white-knuckling it" and hoping for the best.  When they see Mark they see themselves and they are most afraid of losing their minds.


3.)  Or it scares the crap out of them.  These are the younger ones, the ones who still have some hope.  They are trying to do the right thing, go to meetings, reaching out, etc.  They are the ones who stand a chance.  The lifers frustrate them and bring them emotionally down.  They are afraid of catching the disease of indifference, and for good reason.  They become preachy to the lifers who in return dump their cynicism on them.  That is usually when I walk in the door.


               Those are most of the responses that I got from the guys that saw the film, but all in all, they love each other more than they reveal.  When Richard relapsed the last time and came up to the door, begging, in his urine-soaked shorts, it killed the guys, many of whom couldn't stand him sober.  They act like a family of dysfunctional brothers who would beat each other up for the fun of it, but attack anyone else who tried. 


               They teach me about myself, but mostly about God's love, and about men and how they interact, shitty, but with love.   Good luck with your film book.  Thank you very much and please keep in touch.



Jacksonville, FL





I watched the film tonight and was very, very moved by this man's persistent drunkenness and the failure of the system.  Mark reminds me very much of a young man we have tried to help here in town by the name of Charles.  He was only a few hours out of a year long treatment program, Teen Challenge, when he lurched from the car, bought a bottle, went home and downed it.  He has a frequent arrest history for public drunkenness and other misdemeanor charges.  I think he's in jail for a year this time.


We're going to pray for Mark.  I have seen miracles in the lives of people when the alcoholism or addiction is given up to God. 


Our pastor is one of the walking miracles.  He was a pretty big drug dealer, carried a weapon, sold, used, and many other things.  He was a mainline heroine addict.  Treatment, Drug Courts, AA, hey just don't always seem to help as much as they could, but I have seen God work in a few lives when they make Him their Lord.


I wonder why God has kept Mark alive for so long.  He should be dead with the severity of his alcoholism, injuries, street life, etc.  I wonder if it is to save him.  The thought crossed my mind of him coming to our men's home, but it doesn't sound like he would stay any place long except when forcibly confined.  But, I do wonder.  If he drank, while here, he'd have to leave while intoxicated, but we do take folks back.  Charles has been in the home several times.


I'm going to ask the treatment coordinator at work to view the video.  It seems like somehow it could provide a wake-up call to those on probation.  I'm also going to ask out training coordinator if it could be used as part of our education program.  It softens your heart again and makes you come face-to-face with the defendant's behavior before he's placed on probation or sent to prison.


Please know how much I appreciate this film.  It had to be a labor of love and compassion--How else could someone keep filming this desperate, "derelict" man in his "illogical jurisdiction”?



Flagstaff, AZ



Dear Mr. Sperling,      


I heard about your DVD and cause through Kevin and Bean on KROQ.  My wife says she has heard about you on John and Ken on KFI.  I enjoyed the documentary (if that's the proper adjective).  This film had impact due to an alcoholic/drug addicted/schizophrenic younger brother who's been in and out of a lot of rehabs, jail and mental facilities.  We've had the same trouble with a lackluster system.


My Brother mainly stays in the Long Beach area and I wouldn't be surprised if he came across Mark in his travels.  Some of his delusions are that God wants him to help people (especially the homeless).  At one point, when he still had an apartment of his own, he invited over 20 different homeless people to live with him in his one room studio--At the same time!  He eventually gave away all of his possessions and then let his apartment go.  He's too suspicious to take his antipsychotic medication, but he still abuses alcohol and other illegal narcotics.  In fact, my parents just found a medical marijuana eligibility card in one of his pants pockets.  He hears voices, frequently talks to himself, stares blankly at walls and has stunted speech.  Still, he manages to pull together just enough for social workers and government shrinks to declare him normal enough to deny him benefits as well as tell him he doesn't need medication. 


In conclusion, ‘Drunk in Public’ hit home for my family not just because of the issue of alcoholism, but because of the greater issue of a faulty government system which seems to do its best to overlook people with severe substance abuse and/or mental health issues. 


This film helped to reinforce the fact that we are not alone in dealing with these shortcomings.  It was also a stark reminder of the power of addiction.  Thank you again for this thought provoking film.


Furthermore, I wish you and your film (and career) the best of luck.  I can't see this film not enjoying more mainstream success.  Just hang in there.


--Christian B.

Costa Mesa, CA



David Sperling,


           Your film was something that put me in AWE.  To see Mark and see the rationale that he has when sober is amazing.  Yet there is something inside of him compels him to drink one more time.  It is incredible how much the human body can withstand (putting poison--ethanol alcohol in it, and yet still survive--And still, the insanity of another drink comes and we are off again, over and over and over and over and over and over…


           I don't know what God has in store for this man, but I am SURE that his life is not wasted because something is to be learned from his life and story. 


           I only know that this story has to be shared with others--just like I shared my story with others.  I am in and have been in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous since May 22, 1983…Twenty-three years--One day at a time.


THAT is why Mark is important to me.


--Bob Zubillaga

Norwalk, CA




Dear David,


I have removed alcohol from my diet and my life in the last several months and feel great freedom and spiritual growth as a result.  This film can be used in such a powerful way to help others by illustrating how out of control and deadly alcohol can make someone's life.  It illustrates a very rare opportunity to see the ravages of alcohol on the human mind, soul and body.  The physical and mental deterioration of your subject is horrifying and shocking.  I pray that viewers see the potential this film has to wake up habitual drinkers and encourage others to change the destructive courses of their lives before it is too late.



Southern California






I recently purchased your DVD…I used to be among Mark’s circle of friends down at the beach from say, 1984-1995.  In June of 1995 I finally got sober myself and fortunately have remained so since.  I see Mark now and again when he is out for brief periods.  I usually sit with him for a while and reflect back and I am always amazed at his continued misery and displacement.  I always buy him lunch and am very saddened and grateful at the same time.  I went in and out of juvenile halls, jails and prisons for most of my life before getting sober.  Today life as I know it is a true blessing.  I received an old version of this film on VHS tape roughly 8 years ago, but I cannot find the tape, so I purchased the DVD.  I have a great interest in the homeless, disabled and less fortunate as I identify with them on a true level of understanding.  Peace to you.


--Bob B.

Santa Ana, CA



Hello David,


I am a nurse at Hoag ER.  I, once again, had the duty of taking care of Mark David Allen.  I was horrified and repulsed at his condition.  I have seen him numerous times over the course of the last couple years but today really set me off.  My morning started bright and early with him seizing numerous times and projectile vomiting across the room and down the wall, over himself, etc.  The smell was atrocious...My heart defeated...My mind wondering what the hell this person was even living for...I know that my first reaction was to ignore, shortcut and whatnot to rid myself of this patient that drained me and disgusted me. 


As I read this website of yours and thought of responsibility and a desire to help, where desertion seems to be the theme, I wanted to write and let you know that if there is anything I can do to help him or "us", please let me know. 


Thanks for your time and dedication to a cause that would be so easy to turn your back on.  I think it’s amazing what you are doing by touching other lives in the process


That's pretty hot.


--Gina Vercnocke - E.R. RN –

Hoag Hospital - Newport Beach, CA



Dear Mr. Sperling,


I am an alcoholic.  By the grace of God I have been sober since 12/21/05.  More importantly, I am sober today.  I received your film this past Friday, thanks for the prompt delivery.


A therapist at Gateway Rehab—Greentree, here in Pittsburgh, PA showed us Mark's story a few weeks ago in the evening aftercare program.  The therapist’s name was John—I don't know his last name. 


I was touched by the message so deeply that I didn't sleep for a few nights and had to get a copy of the film for myself.

            After seeing it the first time I left the session in silence.  A few days later I saw a friend (he saw the film with me) at an AA meeting.  We looked at each other and at the same time said "that was me." 


My wife and I watched it last night.  Half-way through the film--she was in tears.  I asked her what was wrong and she said she saw Mark's story through me in my addiction.

             Thank you.  God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself.  Your love for Mark and the message you both have given me—IS PROOF.

             If you are ever in the
Pittsburgh area please let me know.


Dave H.

Pittsburgh,, PA



Dear Mr. Sperling,


               The DUI clients we show "DRUNK IN PUBLIC" to continue to be "stunned" and "gnawed at", as the film sticks with them-as it does me, after seeing its content.  I wonder what a showing of it to an "open" AA meeting would do (I tell you-the film TOTALLY DESTROYS the "disease model" of addiction!  Mark David Allen proves that his alcoholism is a choice REPEATEDLY throughout your film!).


               As someone who worked in a long-term psychiatric hospital with MULTIPLE chronically mentally ill adults (many were Orange County Conservatee's) for 3 years--I can attest that the reason "the mental health system" will NOT take MDA is simply because his mental deterioration is NOT organic to begin with (as a true schizophrenic, or major depressant's illness is).


               You have made it clear that the psychiatrist's that "screen" 5150's, and 5250's do not "upgrade" Mark David Allen for longer-term treatment because he "tells them what he wants to hear".  This is true, along with the fact that, since his "threat to self and others" (THE criteria for "upgrading" above a 5250!) is NEVER APPARENTLY IMMINENT, Mark David Allen will always get "washed out", and yes-the same, the sad loop starts all over.


               I actually have current DUI clients that have served time with Mark David Allen, and many of them swear that the man "knows what he is doing" when he WANTS to go to jail (for some food, but not the change of clothes, I am sure!).


               At least the guy is on some kind of formal probation now.  I wonder what his medical status is.  I hope you continue to keep a "running tally" on Mark David Allen’s arrests, etc.  The fact that MDA continues to live is a testament to the fact that he may never get his wish to destroy himself permanently anytime soon.


               Furthermore, ANYONE in California can check themselves in to ANY "IMD" (Institution for the Mentally Disordered as it is known by the California Department of Mental Health), or even check into a state hospital like Patton or Metropolitan on a VOLUNTARY basis (as long as the hospital gets paid-they will take you-Med-I-Cal, Health Insurance, cash, etc.).  The "involuntary" commitments (based on a person's onservatorship status) do not come until AFTER the person has been at 5150/5250 & 5260 ward for the maximum length of time.  Then there is the court establishment of conservatorship, placement by the conservator, etc.


           Clearly what is needed in Mark's case is a court-ordered referral to Mental Health Court (I do not know if Orange County has one the way Los Angeles County does).  


           If ANY Public Defender can simply show that Mark has ZERO comprehension, or retention of ANY probation condition, then it would be BEYOND UNFAIR to sentence him to a probation since he would NOT "knowingly, or willingly" (both legal requirements for a plea bargain!) understand what he is sentenced to (or being restrained from-as you have pointed out!).


               Does he keep seeing the SAME judge and Public Defender every time?  Another oddity is that if a conservatorship DID somehow get established, and if Mark ever wanted to dispute it, he would be represented by. . .the OC Public Defender's Office (yes, they have a branch for conservatized clients!).  Once again-unless a PRE-EXISTING mental illness (not acquired via substance abuse!) can be established that makes Mark a "danger to self, others, or gravely disabled" (based on a mental illness), then he is highly unlikely to get that mental health safety net he needs. 


           The dividing line in public funding of mental health clients appears to be:  if you were born with it, and did not ask for it (childhood onset, or adult onset of schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar disorder, etc.) you are eligible for Med-I-Cal, SSI funding, etc., but if you substance abused your way INTO a mental health disorder (as Mark David Allen clearly has!), you are ON YOUR OWN (as Mark David Allen is and will apparently remain).


               Conservatorships are indeed "one-year terms" as allowed under something called the "LPS" law (LPS stands for Lanterman-Petris-Short, the three state legislators that got this law passed).  It has been state law since 1968 (when REAGAN was governor, and to the best of my knowledge has NOT been updated!).  A person on LPS conservatorship has a right to have a JURY TRIAL on a 10 day notice to determine their

"grave disability", to determine if the person should continue to stay on conservatorship (its a civil proceeding, and like in a civil lawsuit, only requires 9 of 12 votes for the conservatorship to be involuntarily continued-I had one client that took his Orange County LPS Conservatorship to a jury trial 5 times, and WON EACH TIME-though the guy was off the chart bi-polar, and was re-conservastized within a few months after getting off of each conservatorship!).


               To get conservatized by the OC Public Guardian's office, a proposed conservatee, would have to make it THROUGH a "5150", a "5250", AND a "5260", and THEN the 1 year conservatorship would begin!  As you know with Mark David Allen, he knows what to say to short circuit even the 5250 process (as your film showed, so the fact that he CANNOT provide for his "food, clothing, or shelter" due to a pre-existing MENTAL ILLNESS, continues to keep him in "no man's land".  The fact that he has "wet-brained" (Korsakoff's Syndrome) himself to the point of being "gravely disabled" will not get him into the mental health system.  He would honestly have to be suicidal, and/or homicidal, and fail ALL three levels of involuntary mental health commitment (5150, 5250, AND

5260) to get "in the system".  Of course the taxpayers of Orange County will pay for it, as they do ALL Public Guardian based conservatee's!  Med-I-Cal covers their medical costs, while Orange County covers their long-term treatment (psychiatric hospital stay, and public conservator and public defender) costs.  I saw it all first hand with many Orange County conservaterized clients in the three years I was a psychiatric hospital counselor.


               Mark David Allen would be lucky if he ever made it that far.

   In conclusion, I have shown this film to at least 4 of my groups--each one is completely amazed to numbness by what they've seen...It is meeting with stunned acceptance by our clients here at the program... Overall, your film is perfect in its accuracy.  It is horrifyingly candid...I'd recommend it for an Oscar, but am not sure what the process is for that!  I hope it continues to have every success.                                                     
Excellent work.  Thank you very much.

--John McCready, Counselor - A.O.D.D. - Alcohol Education Curriculum

San Juan Capistrano, CA



Your comments & letters are very thoughtful--Please continue to send them...
     Mark David Allen has contractually agreed to be covered by David J. Sperling of Furious Love Inc., on this website, in all recording formats, in the ongoing documentary, and in a book or any other written or photographic materials.
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