Scoop Brancisco: First of all, I would like to thank Lynn and MELT! and John for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to talk today. Thank you so much. This is really an extraordinary experience for me. Talking about myself...so let me ask Lynn, when you put the ad that says "Looking for unique people...
Lynn: I was looking for someone who would not be afraid to be themselves. Honestly, when you have a bag on your head, you've got a problem.
SB: Right right. The part of the reason why I am wearing this now is because I have a little cold today. I don't want to spread the virus.
L: I have been disinfected. That's alright.
SB: So when I said that everybody is unique...I think that's very true. Everybody has his or her own personality and it's just a way of...
L: But don't you think that society is trying to erase that? Don't you think that to be "socially acceptable", it's..
SB: When you talk about society, which society are you talking about? American society or...
L: I'm talking about the American society.
SB: OK, I think there are a lot of opportunities out there that you can be yourself. In schools, students have grades, exams, sports clubs...
L: And you have to pass certain level to be in the next level...but why do you wanna get to the next level? I mean, that's the whole point...why?
SB: Well, I guess, that's...
L: Don't you become part of the circulation?
SB: I mean, a lot of people go to different roads, right?
L: Give me examples.
SB: Well, for example, I'm a painter, and nobody can paint exactly the same.
L: What kind of paintings do you do?
SB: I do weird paintings.
L: What a surprise! I thought you maybe painted Madonnas...or maybe something anti-Christ.
SB: Anti-Christ? No, I'm not anti-Christ. I'm not necessarily Christian either.
L: Oh, I'm not either.
SB: Then why are you asking?
L: I thought you might be some kind of a traditional painter.
SB: You've seen my works already, right?
L: Yes, I did check out your website. They are very interesting paintings...sort of all over. So what made you go into the visual media? Because that obviously expresses who you are. I just can't get over with this paper bag...and why did you choose Safeway?
SB: Because I like Safeway. I think they are celebrating their 100th anniversary pretty soon.
L: We are gonna have a birthday party together.
SB: Absolutely. Don't you like Safeway?
L: No, I don't like Safeway.
SB: Why? Which super market store do you like then?
L: I don't know...I like Nardi's. I don't think it's around here, is it? I like the place because it's all Italian, and I like Italian men.
SB: Italian men!?
L: I like Italian men because they (omitted) and the Italian (omitted).
SB: I thought we were talking about super markets!!
L: I'm just trying to tell you that (omitted) and I (omitted) look (omitted) and I dream.
L: So let's get back to that question why you choose the visual medium.
SB: Well, it's hard to tell because I just do it, you know. It's like breathing.
L: And when did you start?
SB: When I was about four years old.
L: Did your parents encourage it? And where were you? Were you San Francisco... or Safeway?
SB: I was around...I was in Daly City.
L: My god, Daly City. No wonder you started to paint. So when you were in Daly City, how did you do in school other than painting? You probably got all "A"s. All Asians do.They are all born to be like that.
SB: That's not true!! That's just a stereotype!!
L: They jump out and they do calculus.
SB: No! You don't know!!
L: No, I don't know. I'm Jewish.
SB: When there are a hundred Asian people, maybe 80% of them are good with math...but there are also those 20%...
L: And you are one of the 20%?
SB: Yeah, I am one of the 20%.
L: You are unique then.
SB: No. Well, I guess I was pretty good with painting.
L: Was it oil painting or acrylic?
SB: I do oil now, but, back then, I used water color.
L: That's...that's difficult. I think waster color is the most difficult medium in the world.
SB: Yeah, but it is the safest.
L: You think it is the safest?
SB: Well, you can eat water color paint, but you can't eat oil.
L: Oh, well, I never ate my paints!
SB: But back in the days, when you are 4 years old, all the paint looks so tasty.
L: So your mother allowed you to eat paint? She didn't cook?
SB: She cooked really good.
L: Like what? What did she cook? Dim sum?
SB: She cooked some rice.
L: So when you started painting, what happened when you went to school? How did you do with the other children? Did you relate to them?
SB: Um...actually, I quitted painting for a little while.
SB: Because it was hectic...a lot of work.
L: Yeah, people don't think that painting is a lot of work. They really don't.
L: But I don't consider it as a work. It's more like a release.
SB: Painting is a release? So what's your working schedule?
L: My working schedule is to get up and just do whatever I need to do as fast as I can until I go back to bed. I've been doing some comedy lately, and you have to practice all the time. I practiced today before I came in today. And my dogs are terrible.
SB: Your dogs do comedy too?
L: No, the dogs don't do comedy. The dogs poop.
SB: That's the nature of life, hugh?
L: I paint to relax. I don't think I paint with the same reason you do. I don't paint to sell. I never do. I do them because I do them...because I got an idea...I don't have any words to express it.
SB: But what if there's someone who wants to buy your painting?
L: I can't put price on them. I'll let them buy, hut I have no idea. I usually price them according to how I framed them...whatever the frame cost...that's how I price them. I do painting because sometimes words don't always communicate what I mean or what I feel. And I think human animals are meant to do things. And when we run against a lot of walls...I don't know...we paint. I wasn't communicating well with my family. I wasn't communicating well with school. I wasn't communicating well with my husband. I wasn't communicating well, period. So I started to paint, write novel, and then I started to do stand-up comedy, and it started to be good. And do you sell your paintings?
SB: Not that often.
L: You want to?
SB: Well, right now, I just want to get rid of them.
L: To make rooms for your own?
SB: Yes, yes.
L: Believe it or not, my comedies have deep meanings. The world is a torment, and you are not gonna love it. But my paintings don't have that kind of meanings. Where do you live now? You live in Daly City?
SB: No, I live near by.
L: Oh, you do. You can bring some of your paintings, and we can look at it. Why don't you do that? So your parents let you do art. Anything else? What else do you do for living?
SB: Well, right now I'm looking for job.
L: Aren't we all?
SB: Yeah. What's wrong with the economy these days?
L: I do jokes about that. You have to wait to listen.
SB: So I'm in a lot of trouble right now.
L: I think we all are. Don't you think?
SB: Well, some people know how to handle it, I guess.
L: I don't know how to handle it. You don't have any money, I don't know how you get food. So are your parents still alive? See, that's the sense I don't have any more. Mine have been gone for a ling time. I can't call up my dad and say I need money.
SB: Yeah well, there is a harsh world out there...especially when you go to a new place and when the economy is bad. But somehow you have to adapt yourself, find someone -someone that could be your comrades, join an organization, get used to it...get on your feet, and slowly change the world around you, slowly change it to your ideal world.
L: Oh, that's the spirit. By the way, do you wear that paper bag when you go on a date?
SB: Yes, sometimes.
L: How did it work?
SB: Well, people think that I look kind of strange, but they get used to it eventually.
(Interviewed by Lynn Ruth Miller at MELT! on November 2009)