If you’ve ever set foot in Viracocha, the Never-Never-Land-esque antiques store/typewriter shop/arts space/music venue at 21st and Valencia, you know it’s a pretty magical place — especially in contrast to some of the shiny new businesses springing up around it in the Mission as of late. The brain child and passion project of poet Jonathan Siegel, it’s a homey haven for writers, musicians, visual artists, and dreamers of all kinds; for the past four years, it’s also been hosting intimate live shows and spoken word events in its downstairs performance space. Only problem — Siegel hasn’t been able to promote that aspect of the business, as the room’s not ADA-compliant, meaning the space has remained a (relatively open) secret, since each of those shows has been illegal.
Now, the little speakeasy that could is trying to go legit once and for all: At a City Hall hearing tomorrow, Tue/20 at 5:30 pm, Siegel and the store’s employees are hoping supporters will show up to help convince the SF Entertainment Commission that Viracocha should be granted a Place of Entertainment Permit.
Ezza Rose performing in the Viracocha basement. Photo by Pete Lee.
“We’ve been operating underground for four years: building, strengthing, and expanding a diverse community of artists, writers, and musicians,” Siegel wrote to supporters. “Not to mention an incredibly supportive and loving mass of patrons and neighbors. But now, it’s time to share with the world how this all works…what, exactly, we’re about, and what our potential is for the future.”
The hearing is open to the public, and Siegel says the commission knows everything about the space’s operations at this point (including its squeaky-clean track record in terms of noise complaints, thank you very much), and nothing’s on the DL anymore. So if you’ve had a good experience there, or just give a shit about the survival of affordable, independent, community-minded arts spaces in this city, come on down.
(Oh yeah, the bathroom’s pretty great, too.)