Last week, realtor Erin Thompson listed several condos at 55 Dolores and tapped local drag queen Carnie Asada for a sales video showing off the units. The clip pokes fun at the often ostentatious ads for such homes.
A welcome relief from the normally dull realtor videos, sure. But the ad has also stoked the ire of many who, understandably, didn’t see the humor. It turns out that longtime tenants at 55 Dolores were evicted by the owner prior to renovation.
In the video, Asada tells viewers, “Welcome to Casa de Dolores, which is Spanish for ‘House of Dolores,’” then proceeds to eat the fake fruit in the staging, mispronounce the word “garage,” and declare “this realtor business is tough” while drinking Champagne straight from the bottle.
The tenant advocacy group the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP) called the video “nauseating” in a press release and pointed out that in 2014 and 2015, several tenants suffered Ellis Act evictions in the same building.
A 100-year-old woman, Mary Elizabeth Phillips, resisted ouster from her home of more than 50 years at 55 Dolores and remained a resident until her death last year. But she was the only one who managed to stay even that long.
The Huffington Post wrote of the attempt to evict Phillips in 2014:
A 98-year-old San Francisco woman is being evicted from her home of 50 years, and critics says it’s because the building’s owners want to sell the place to take advantage of the city’s booming real estate market.
[...] Protesters gathered Wednesday at the offices of the building’s owners, Urban Green Investments, in support of Phillips. They’re calling for an end to the rising number of evictions under the Ellis Act.
As the viewer can see, Urban Green did indeed renovate the building and put the condos back on the market upon completion.
To drive the point home, AEMP edited their own version of the 55 Dolores video, splicing in news coverage of Phillips’s eviction fight. The new video points out that “Dolores” is Spanish for “pain.” It can also mean “grief,” “ache,” or “sorrow.”
In short, this turned out to be the worst possible opportunity for a whimsical sales pitch.
Realtor Thompson has not yet responded to requests for comment. And the listing no longer appears on her site.
For her part, Asada told the blog 48 Hills that she didn’t know the history of the property when agreeing to appear in the video, noting that she had “no idea” about the evictions.
“I was hired not by the owner but by the real estate agent for a project we thought people would enjoy,” said Asada.