Sep 23, 2022 - News

"Broke-Ass Stuart" celebrates 20 years in San Francisco

Stuart Schuffman, better known to locals as “Broke-Ass Stuart”
Stuart Schuffman, aka “Broke-Ass Stuart." Photo: Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Stuart Schuffman — better known to locals as "Broke-Ass Stuart" — is a self-described performer, activist and trouble-maker.

But foremost, Schuffman told Axios in a recent interview, he's a writer. And for the past 20 years, he's lived in San Francisco and chronicled his adventures.

What's happening: To celebrate the two-decade milestone, Schuffman has put together a new zine, called "Slouching Towards Neverland," which contains some of his most memorable stories about the strangeness and beauty of the city.

  • Limited signed copies — which come with four never-before-published works — are available before next Monday to those who subscribe to Schuffman's Patreon page.

He's also throwing a party in October as part of the commemoration, featuring DJs, comedians, a burlesque performer and Conspiracy of Beards, an a capella cover group of the late Leonard Cohen's songs.

  • "[It's] going to be f**king rad," Schuffman said.

Flashback: Schuffman first arrived in San Francisco in the summer of 2002, for a summer internship with the entertainment group Bill Graham Presents, and living in a shared room on Haight Street with his friend Mani.

  • "We each had our own air mattress … I lived out of a duffle bag, and it was glorious," he remembers.
  • The story of Schuffman meeting his first serious girlfriend on the 71 Muni bus that summer, is featured in the special edition of his new zine.

By 2004, he'd published the first edition of "Broke-Ass Stuart's Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco," which he described as "super DIY."

  • "I literally cut, pasted, photocopied and made the zine myself," Schuffman said.
  • He would release subsequent editions of his local guidebook, which did well enough to land him a writing gig abroad with Lonely Planet and the opportunity to host a TV travel show called "Young, Broke & Beautiful" that ran for one season.

Over the years, Schuffman has waited tables and tended bars across the city to make rent and help finance his creative endeavors.

  • But since the pandemic, his news and culture website along with monthly subscriptions from his Patreon supporters, have been his main sources of income.
  • "It's a terrible way to make a living," Schuffman said. But through his website, he said he's "excited that every day … I get to amplify voices that don't always get heard."

The intrigue: San Francisco is a city of change, but there are a couple of things that Schuffman says have remained consistent during his time here — "Bomb-ass Mexican food and the fact that most people here have heart."

  • "Once this place gets under your skin you are each others' forever in a way," he said. "I think, you don't choose San Francisco, it chooses you. And it definitely chose me."
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