The Performant: Dumpster Dive


“Elite Waste” dumpster home makes its San Francisco Fringe Festival debut

There aren’t usually too many compelling reasons to hang out on the first block of Eddy Street, unless the exquisite aroma of urine, pigeon shit, corner store fried chicken, and tour bus exhaust appeals. But during the San Francisco Fringe Festival, now in its 20th year, there’s always a bit of a horde milling around the entrance of the EXIT Theatre-plex: patrons waiting to see shows, performers handing out postcards to the undecided or hauling heavy trunks of props up the sidewalk. 

This year the crowds have been larger than ever, thanks to the public unveiling of a unique, experiential performance-space: a customized luxury living dumpster home parked outside the front door of the theatre for all to enjoy.

And I do mean all. Numerous residents of the nearby SROs and their friends have all scored a tour of the tiny premises, as have Scandinavian backpackers, police officers, and other random passers-by.

Walking down the sidewalk, you can literally hear the word spreading from neighbor to neighbor: “they’ve got a popcorn machine in there... and a toilet!”. 

“Elite Waste” creator Gregory Kloehn is an affable sculptor from the East Bay who has also crafted office and studio spaces from shipping containers. He stands by to answer questions about the features and press hot dogs from the dumpster's miniature outdoor grill onto anyone who will accept one. 

Meanwhile -- it’s not just a draw but a bona-fide Fringe performance -- a handful of performers interact with the onlookers in character. There’s Robin Fisher as Olivia Ford, a survivalist with a matter-of-fact approach to her lifestyle. For her, the importance of a self-contained, camouflaged mobile home is obvious.

“I can’t be taking care of everybody in the world like Angelina Jolie,” she declares as she arranges a tangle of sliced onions on the grill. “I take care of myself, and you take care of yourself. That’s how it has to be. You know. When the apocalypse comes.” 

At the same time, a posh bon vivant in an haute couture trashbag ensemble (Catherine Debon) picnics luxuriously on the roof, alternating stage time with Alison Sacha Ross as Italia Orchid, a self-involved New-Ager, who ignores the gawkers in order to meditate. The scent of incense mingles with that of the grill and the stalwart popcorn machine, transforming the usual bouquet of Eddy Street into a much more user-friendly redolence.

And what about the sales pitch? Though no one has of yet made a solid offer on a designer dumpster of their own, Kloehn is open to the possibility. He estimates he spent between $5000-$7000 on materials for his own little “Luxury Living” property, and with labor calculates the price tag would run somewhere around $15,000. 

“The great thing is it’s all totally customizable,” he says with a smile, gesturing to his own hardwood flooring, stainless steel accents, and granite countertop framed by the cheerful red interior paint and sleek black vinyl cushion-covers of the attendant bench-bed. 

Functional planter boxes line the back windows and the miniature kitchen, though tiny, is as serviceable as any hot plate-toaster-oven-cube-fridge-popcorn-maker setup could be. True, the rustic romance of the campground-style outdoor shower might seem less appealing come winter, but a bracing shot from the adjacent mini-bar would go a long way towards alleviating that trauma. Want a tour of your own? Look for the dumpster of your dreams “somewhere on Eddy Street”


"Elite Waste"

Sat/17-Sun/18  5 p.m., free 

"Somewhere on Eddy", SF



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