Mixing Humor and Gentrification Through Cabaret

A still from Candace Roberts's cabaret music video

A still from Candace Roberts's cabaret music video "Not My City Anymore," a song about San Francisco's rapid gentrification

Candace Roberts, a self-described “semi-homeless” musician and cabaret performer, recently released a cabaret music video entitled “Not My City Anymore.” According to Roberts, the song is “autobiographical,” channeling her frustrating experience with rising rent costs and rapid gentrification in the Mission.

With a catchy piano beat and bold lyrics such as “beat Fran down and smashed her face into dirt… slowly bent her over, ripping off her skirt,” Roberts aims to draw attention to what she describes as the “heart-wrenching” changes occurring in San Francisco. “Friends, artists, service workers all being booted out as the great divide just widens and widens,” Roberts explained on her website.

Roberts credits the increasing presence of tech corporations and a growing “sense of entitlement” as roots of the problem. Today, SFGate explored her creative response to San Francisco’s rapid transformation.

Roberts’ crass depiction of the city as a pimped-out woman taps into a ripening frustration over the effects of a widening wealth gap in San Francisco, the deeply rooted feeling that as those associated with the city’s tech boom get richer, everyone else just gets poorer.

Her cabaret, you might say, is a theatrical answer to the city’s Google bus protests, which have cast the buses that shuttle tech workers from San Francisco to Silicon Valley as the symbols of an entire industry’s footprint on the city.

In a music video for the song, a “24-year-old gazillionaire” techie, accessorized by a glittering gold iPhone, cuts deals with City Hall to get richer, while Roberts and a chorus of old-timey saloon girls sing about their own heartbreak and confusingly fiddle with iPads.

At a premiere event for the video on Wednesday, Roberts brought on stage two Mission District residents, both disabled seniors, who are fighting evictions after decades in their apartments. The event took place at the Gold Dust Lounge, also the location for the video and a landmark which itself was evicted from Union Square in 2012 and relocated to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Take a gander at Roberts’s official music video for “Not My City Anymore”:

Filed under: Mobile, Today's Mission

2 Comments

  1. Jack

    “Not My City Anymore”?

    It was probably not her city in the first place. It’s definitely not mine, and I’ve lived here for most of my life.

  2. DOUG

    I have lived here all my life, over 50 years – I am a SF native – and I can’t say I feel sorry for someone who just arrived here in the year 2000, who isn’t happy how the city is changing. In fact, I’m getting tired of all these new-be’s speaking for the city and presenting themselves as SF experts. Ever since the Spanish explores arrived, it always seems to be the newcomers who think they can speak for the people of this city.

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