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Profile: Stephen Elliott, Author San Francisco 2010 -

By Michael Leaverton

Photograph by Jaleen Francois

We hate to resort to name-calling, but fuck it: Stephen Elliott is the quintessential local writer. It's not just that his novels are about himself and his crazy past (but it helps), or that he writes about S&M (really helps). It's also that he has drunk deeply of the local elixir that makes our writers do shit. He spent much time getting people elected with his Progressive Reading Series, and last year he launched the Rumpus, a site about art and culture with legions of contributors, among them Rick Moody and Steve Almond. Unlike most local sites, the Rumpus is not concerned with the latest piece of cute graffiti to appear around town.

Aside from "eight awful months" in Bernal Heights, Elliott has lived in the Mission for 12 years, and has managed to do it cheaply. To get his take, we threw him some Best of San Francisco questions of our own.

Best place to eat on very little money?

Lee's Deli. I have very little money.

Best place to eat on a little more money?

Papalote. I've seen my ex in this place, eating a tofu burrito. We don't say anything to each other. We read our magazines or speak with friends. I generally order a steak burrito, which is one of the differences between her and I. They cook an entire strip of meat and then chop it up for each burrito. Also, it's the best chips and salsa I've ever had.

Best place to steal Wi-Fi?

Intern table at McSweeney's. Whenever someone asks me, I say, "Don't talk to me. I'm doing something important for Dave." I don't think they believe me, though.

Best place to buy street drugs and/or designer shoes?

The Haight.

Best way to live cheaply?

Have lots of roommates.

Name the five best bookstores.

Whatever bookstore I don't name is going to stop stocking my books. This is the kind of question that gets a guy in trouble.

What neighborhood would you never live in?

North Beach. It's crowded and touristy.

You've lived here 12 years. What was your best year?

1999 was a pretty good year. That was the dot-com boom, and anybody could get a job. I was a temp, but within a few months I was running my own department. Then the sales manager threatened to have me killed.

Other best things about San Francisco, presented without comment:

The Writers' Grotto, the Blue Plate restaurant, the Castro Theatre, Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, the Citadel, the Center for Sex and Culture, the Make-Out Room, Dolores Park, the ocean, the weather, 826 Valencia, Fort Mason Youth Hostel, that girl I used to know ...

Where does S.F. rank among the world's best cities? Be precise or vague.

The best. I can't think of a close second. Look at the weather, and the houses lining the hills. You don't need a car, and the air smells good. And people take you as you are.

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Neil Elliott
Neil Elliott

He forgot to mention that one of the best things about San Francisco is Steve Elliott, his doppelganger,who can often be seen running alongside his bus in ancient track shoes, size 11&1/2EE.

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