Spotted: Downtown Oakland
What are you up to today?
I was temping at an office for the past week. Today was my last day, and I'm really fuckin' excited because it was terribly boring!
So what are your plans now?
I'm a performance artist and I didn't have any gigs booked this week, so I was working in an office.
So that's your main occupation?
What kind of performance art do you do?
I do vaudeville. I'm a tap dancer. I do some weird circus things.
How did you start out?
I ran away with the circus.
When did you do that?
About five years ago when I was living in Spain.
Was it a spur of the moment thing, or was that something you always knew you wanted to do?
My aunt and my grandfather were both tightwire walkers.
Oh no way! Did they pass that down to you?
They didn't — but I came to it through my own means. I was tap dancing as a kid. When I was in Spain I didn't know anybody there, so I was going to the circus spot all the time and learned from the people there. They became like a second family to me. I had a flight to the U.S. after a year, and I didn't take it — I was in Greece at the time.
So you were just kind of a vagabond at that point?
Yeah. I had gone with some friends from a squat to Greece, and they were all performing on the street – that's what they do during the summer. They make tons of money doing street shows, they told me I should come along with them at least for a week, and I started performing on the street and I just stayed there! During that summer my best friend was living in Seattle. She was working in an office and she hated it, and I convinced her to sell everything that she owned [and] pick up the accordion that had been sitting in her closet for three years. She came to Europe and we traveled around for the next three years, busking and performing together.
That's amazing! So do you miss some of that lifestyle?
I do – I still travel a lot. I just got back from Australia in April and I was supposed to have left for Europe, but then I found out I got into a performance art school up in Blue Lake, which is next to Arcata. So instead of going to Europe (where I had a bunch of gigs booked), I decided to stay here and really put my nose to the grindstone and make money for tuition.
Where are some of your favorite places to go in the area?
I've just recently settled in the neighborhood – I like Merchant's, and I like Van Kleef's because they have really good grapefruit juice. And I like that all of my friends live nearby.
What kinds of fun projects do you have coming up?
I'm doing roving performance at the Jack London night market on the 19th, in addition to some other things – private events and corporate gigs.
What's something that has caught your interest recently?
I'm reading a book by Lorca right now called In Search of Duende. It's a bunch of poems and it talks about this spirit that moves people – that captivates the audience and just draws them in. It's got a lot of poems and a lot of discourse on what the duende is – this spirit, how do we find it, how do we capture it, and how do we treat it right.
I also wanted to ask about your personal style since that's why I stopped you!
I travel around a lot. I have very limited space in my suitcase for normal clothes and costumes, so I wear red, black, white, and that's about it. These shoes I got in Tucson, where I'm from. The tights I'm pretty sure I got five years ago in Spain, and there's a big run in the back of them. The skirt I bought in an op shop in Australia, this top also from a thrift store in the Mission, and I bought this coat last summer in Edinburgh because even though it was summer it was raining sideways!