There is a certain breed of people that live in San Francisco. There is a love that we have for our city that shows in our very demeanor. I remember reading Tales of the City, where Mr. Maupin talks about the legend of the residents of San Francisco. The legend goes that all of us who transplant to San Francisco were all once residents in the Lost City of Atlantis. You can always tell when you meet someone who is in love with this great city. So when I heard this talented young man read a poem he wrote about San Francisco, I knew I had met another star struck lover. His name is Broke-Ass Stuart, and he caters to the young and the fabulous.
We met for an interview, to find out how this young man who has written three books, had a show on IFC, and writes poetry came to do all of these things. Living in San Francisco is anything but cheap. You pay for the privilege to live in this liberated metropolis.
"I was broke and working at a candy store in San Diego. I met this couple, and the wife happened to be a travel writer. I said to myself, "I want to be a travel writer!"
Stuart took it upon himself to figure out how to keep up with the lifestyle he became acquainted with in SF. It started with zines that he peddled all over the place. The zine got popular, and he decided to see what he could do with it. Then his writing took him to Ireland for six months where he wrote for Lonely Planet.
"When I came back, I decided I wanted a book deal. I got my book deal off of Craigslist. I always joke, 'I went on Craigslist for a blowjob, and I got a book deal instead.' I wrote two books, Broke Ass Stuart, San Francisco, and Broke Ass Stuart, New York." This led Stuart to think his talents would be suited for reality television. IFC agreed, and he got his own travel show. He went through six cities and discovered the hidden gems in all of them.
Currently, he has a book out entitled, Young, Broke, & Beautiful that is a general guide to cheap living. You can read the first chapter on his website for free. Stuart also has some new projects in the work, and he is always looking for investors to further the Broke-Ass empire. Since he writes about both San Francisco and New York, I wanted him to give me a comparison of the two cities. He said they were completely different.
"I spend a lot of time in New York, so it's kind of like my mistress, where SF is my wife. I am going to New York for 10 days next week. No matter what, I am always happy to come home."
As we sat in the heat of a sunny San Francisco day, the trolleys were chugging by, and the sounds of the Castro were all around us. My initial interest in Stuart was because he wrote a poem about this city that expresses everything about it.
"So you love San Francisco?" I asked him. With this, he rolled up his sleeve and revealed the tattoo on his upper arm with the outline of our state and a heart where SF is. "I left my heart in San Francisco. This city has definitely left its mark on me."
Beyond knowing how to travel fabulously on the cheap, he has a keen soul and an artist's pen. When I asked him what he loves to write about the most, he loves to write poetry and stories. Eventually he wants to do a collection of stories loosely based on real life, with some creative liberties of course.
"San Francisco is such a beautiful city, and it's been so good to me. What you put into San Francisco, San Francisco gives back to you. If you give it love, you get love back." Originally from San Diego, he has been in San Francisco for a decade, and no matter where he travels, San Francisco is home to him.
They say we float around here in San Francisco, and perhaps we do. But we are artists, poets, entrepreneurs, sex workers, writers, and much more. Mainly we are doers, because the people in San Francisco are always doing something. Check out Broke Ass Stuart's stuff, and I look forward to see what this San Franciscan shows us all next.
Follow Vanessa Pinto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanessalpinto