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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Semi-Homeless Cabaret Performer Sings the Tech-Boom Blues

Posted By on Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 8:21 AM

click to enlarge Candace Roberts and her anti-gentrifying chorus line. - DAMIAN LUCAS
  • Damian Lucas
  • Candace Roberts and her anti-gentrifying chorus line.

The economic crisis hasn't been kind to solo performance artists like Candace Roberts, who two years ago traded her Mission District apartment for a self-indulgent form of homelessness.

Now, she works as a pet sitter, flitting from house to house in a rapidly gentrifying city, composing lyrics about a ballooning housing market that -- ironically -- seems to sustain her.

"I call it the Golden Handcuff," Roberts says of this proto-sharing economy model. "It allows me to focus on writing music, and not have a day job that I hate."

By poaching the resources of others, Roberts gets to stay in the city and pursue a fulfilling, if low-paying career in cabaret. She's held down a monthly residency at Martuni's Piano Bar for four years, and she regularly presents house concerts or guest-stars at burlesque and variety shows.

And now, she's releasing a new music video.

Called "Not My City Anymore," it's an old-timey lament about a city corrupted by tech booms, filmed at the Gold Dust Lounge (another near-casualty of downtown development) and funded via the social media platform Kickstarter. Roberts pantomime-fellates a white collar worker, while a chorus line of Barbary dancers, politicos, and city planners flutters around her.

She's been pimped 'til she's dry, to the highest bidder, Roberts sings, personifying the city as a woman defiled by tech barons and real estate developers. City Hall bureaucrats clink their glasses behind her.

It's only the latest in a series of sanctimonious, high-minded, and increasingly imaginative anti-gentrification songs by cash-strapped locals, many of them fretting that a full-time career in the performing arts is no longer possible.

Actually, there are ways to do it, as Roberts proves. One need only to have a little entrepreneurial spirit.

Candace Roberts will hold her music video release party on Wednesday, June 25 at 7 p.m.

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


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