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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Apr 28 1999
Fear and Funk on the Campaign Trail? Rock the Boat? Uncle Jam Wants You? The Headline Possibilities Are Endless Mark O'Hara has changed a lot in five months. Back in November, O'Hara, the lead singer of local disco cover band Superbooty, cracked wise about running for mayor of San Francisco in a press release announcing the founding of the "Booty Party." O'Hara wanted to put a giant disco ball on top of City Hall. He wanted to "funk this town up." He wanted to run under his stage name, Skippy Tornado, even though Quentin Kopp put the kibosh on running under fake names after Jello Biafra's 1982 mayoral candidacy. And he proffered slogans like "A booty in every barn, a titty in every tent -- Tornado in 2000."

See what you get for joking out loud? The San Francis-co Reform Party caught wind of all this -- actually, O'Hara says that our item on his candidacy back then is what caught its eye. Especially intrigued by O'Hara's inspiration from Jesse Ventura's Reform-sponsored gubernatorial win in Minnesota last year, Reform representatives got in touch.

Which brings us to City Hall on April 21, where a genuine political party (pretty much) is sponsoring a genuine candi-date (pretty much), who's beginning a genuine campaign (pretty much) for mayor of San Francisco. On the steps leading to the Polk Street entrance of City Hall, O'Hara -- who's lived in Noe Valley since 1989 and owns Skiptronics, a multimedia design studio -- spoke briefly to a crowd of about 20 people, some bedecked in disco-era wigs and clothing (n.b.: Superbooty has 15 members, including O'Hara). "The question for San Francisco," he orated, "is the same question more and more Americans are asking about their government: Where are the people in all this? Helllooo?!?!?"

In attendance was O'Hara's campaign team: campaign manager Joyce Dattner, publicist Craig Wilson, coordinator Cynthia Nesler, and Jim Mangia, the Reform Party's national secretary, who flew up from Los Angeles to provide support. Mangia noted that currently his work is focused on building the "campaign infrastructure" for O'Hara's run, though TV ads and other high-visibility appearances (including future Superbooty shows) are planned for the summer. Mangia also emphasized that the campaign will be funded exclusively from individual contributions.

Platforms? Apart from no longer using slogans that have the word "titty" in them -- "Vote Reform, Get Reform," "Cronyism Is the Culprit," "Democracy Would Be Nice" -- O'Hara isn't getting down to specifics. Asked if he has any solutions for Muni, he said the problem is that "decisions are made by who owes who a favor."

Fine, but the real question is: Does O'Hara have a snowball's chance in hell against Willie Brown and Clint Reilly? O'Hara says the way to win is "not to play their game," which means campaigning at picnics, barbecues, concerts -- basically any place a career politician might potentially get his or her suit dirty. Coordinator Nesler also pointed out that the next campaign event is a Superbooty show May 8 at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, which probably makes O'Hara the first candidate for mayor of San Francisco who considers Santa Cruz a campaign stop. (Mark Athitakis)

essence Is Back! A few months ago, Riff Raff unceremoniously ceased our weekslong tradition of presenting you with the multifarious poses of local lowercased singer/songwriter essence; we got kind of bored with the whole thing, and frankly, we were running out of photos. So to the folks who wrote in to complain after the pics stopped running, we'd just like to say: We're sorry, both of you guys.

But to ease your pain, here is the latest pic to arrive from essence's Nashville-based marketing and publicity firm. "When we last heard from San Francisco's essence, last fall," the release reads, "she was taking a break from performing to write and record songs for her first RCA album. ... She's still in the middle of recording new material for RCA, but is dying to get back out and play live and share these new creations." More news as it breaks, with sassy publicity photos attached. (M.A.)

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

About The Author

Mark Athitakis


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