‘Chiraq’ filming draws the curious and the hopeful to Wicker Park

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Members of the crew manage equipment on Spike Lee’s “Chiraq.” | Stefano Esposito/ Sun-Times

Members of the crew manage equipment on Spike Lee’s “Chiraq.” | Stefano Esposito/ Sun-Times

Some of the fame-seekers milled around Spike Lee’s “Chiraq” movie set in Wicker Park Tuesday with a look — skin-tight shorts, inked flesh, fishnet stockings.

Bruce Jasinski came with a look, too — sort of a hippy Anthony Bourdain, the silver-haired American chef/TV personality — but he also came with a plan.

“I’m going to try to get my rap into the movie,” said the 55-year-old Lake View resident.

Then Jasinski ducked into his rust-flecked Buick Century and turned on the stereo. As Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” floated out onto Milwaukee Avenue, Jaskinski offered a sample: “There’s a gal named Ellen. I dig what she’s sellin’ — some laugh and cheer. She has no fear. I don’t have a show, but I know how to give. I try to help people who can barely live.”

In typical Wicker Park fashion, nobody batted an eye at Jasinski’s performance or his panting English bulldog, Kingston — which more or less explains the larger reaction to Lee’s “Chiraq” invasion here Tuesday morning. Hipsters, nannies pushing $1,000 strollers and joggers all went about their business as a fleet of gleaming-white movie trucks lined Milwaukee Avenue.

Extras waiting on Damen Avenue for a scene to be filmed on Spike Lee’s “Chiraq.” | Stefano Esposito/ Sun-Times

And debating the merits of the movie’s controversial title was about as passé as a pair of men’s skinny jeans.

The movie-making excitement took place inside the Double Door club — shrouded in black tarps. The actor/rapper Nick Cannon was expected on set Tuesday, playing a character named “Demetrious.”

Sally Buehne, who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years, was out walking her beagle Tuesday. She had no complaints about the extra traffic — Wicker Park’s enduring cool means taxis are now easier to come by.

“I’m just surprised they’re making the ‘Chiraq’ movie in this neighborhood, which although there are store robberies and muggings, it’s not the ‘Chiraq’ I think Spike Lee is meaning to depict in his movie,” said Buehne, who describes herself as a senior citizen.

Across the street from the comings and goings of dozens of black T-shirted crew members, Kevin Kruse, a 20-something grad student, sat on a bench wearing dark sunglasses and reading a copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

“I didn’t even realize they were filming,” he said. “Sunglasses on, engrossed in the book. Strange that they’re filming on the North Side. I’d expect them to be filming on the South Side.”

Meanwhile, Jasinski and his dog made their way toward the set. Jasinski showed up on the South Side last month, but he’d failed to connect with Brooklyn’s most famous movie director.

What was his plan in Wicker Park?

“I know some of the people on the set. So you know . . . ” he said vaguely. “I’m just gonna scope the scene out.”

But he was also buoyed by the idea that he was destined to be on the big screen.

“I should be,” he said. “Everyone always says that: ‘Are you an actor?’ They just do, all the time.”

A poster on Damen Avenue near North Avenue where filming started on Spike Lee’s “Chiraq.” | Stefano Esposito/ Sun-Times

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