My first glimpse of Adam Boehmer was the night before Halloween. Walking down Valencia to catch a screening of Exit Through the Gift Shop at the Roxie, this guy walks by with a baby bassinet on his head. His head is inside it and there’s a stuffed onesie underneath it like he’s the baby, get it? A baby with a giant beard and really cool glasses.
I felt like Alice following the White Rabbit as I trailed the Bearded Baby all the way to 16th Street, marveling at the genius of his costume and the stylishness of the leather bag dangling on his butt. Who is this person? What is is his sign? Why haven’t I ever seen him before? Well, his name is Adam Boehmer, he’s a Virgo, and he just moved to town a few months ago. He is an artist, a poet, a dance instructor, and an aesthete. San Francisco is a small town. It doesn’t too long to get the scoop on someone and then find yourself in their home, drinking their coffee, taking their picture.
IRONING BOARD COLLECTIVE: So, do you feel like being a Virgo influences your style?
ADAM BOEHMER: Mmmm, absolutely. I’m very organized. I like to find some kind of color palette that makes sense to me.
IBC: It’s really great that you have a decorative old lawn mower in your room.
AB: I found it on Valencia and pushed it all the way back. Like I was mowing the lawn down Valencia. It was against a parking meter. The best part is we were on our way to a show, and I had to lock it to my bike with my bike lock.
More evidence that San Francisco is small – Adam lives in my old friend Riley’s old house! I know this place! I once came down from speed in this living room, taking some sort of come-down pills and giving people bad tarot reading with a deck of playing cards. Those were the days. Anyway, when Adam looked at the house, the girl who was moving out was wearing this very bag.
AB: She was an exterminator. This bag was on the door and I was like – This bag is beautiful! When I moved into the room it was empty except for the bag. She left it for me!
AB: It’s really great when fashion finds you. One of my favorite sweaters I found on top of a garbage can at Dolores Park. It fits me like a glove.
IBC: How long have you been in San Francisco?
AB: Eight months. I was on a year-long roadtrip with my boyfriend. We restored a 1976 camping trailer. We had this whole thing, we were going to make art on the road, but then we fell out of love with each other. We split up in San Francisco. He went back to Michigan, I stayed here. It’s a beautiful place to be stranded. I think it happened for a reason.
IBC: What are your style influences right now?
AB: The most current is a silent film I saw at a bar the other night, Mare Nostrum. There was this crazy sea captain with a beautiful beard – it looked like someone had finger-waved his beard! I think I’m inspired a lot by workwear. I have a pretty masculine style with a feminine touch here and there. I like denim and plaid and all that stuff, and feminine jewelry with it.
AB: I got this at an estate sale. One side is an unknown saint – possibly Saint Francis, who knows? I got this shirt at an estate sale, too. There’s a group of kids that call themselves Old Hat, they’re a group of friends who broke into the business, a hipster estate sale business, really cute. They always have cool things.
IBC: Does being a Virgo influence your visual art? (He made that excellent wooden diamond!)
AB: Probably. I like precision a lot when I make things. Precision and a kind of spare aesthetic. I really like to paint straight lines as much as possible, I don’t like to use a ruler. And when I do assemblages I like the bare minimum. I feel that’s what I do when I dress myself. I like that Chanel line – take one thing off before you leave the house.
IBC: Are there designers or lines that you like? Whee do you get your clothes?
AB: Mostly thrift and vintage. I do love Pendleton a lot – Pendelton, Woolrich, Levis. I love Levis stuff. Especially what they’re doing now, returning to the whole workwear look is awesome. I think San Francisco has really taught me to appreciate new clothing, too. When me and my boyfriend broke up we sold the trailer and got a shit ton of cash and I spent it all on clothes. I’ve never done that before.
IBC: What did you get?
AB: Am I going to get in trouble for having a wire hanger?
AB: I do some modeling for Candystore in exchange for clothing. It’s a really nice way to support your habit.
IBC: What would say your style is?
AB: Hipster sea captain. Dandy woodsman.
IBC: What sort of dance do you teach?
AB: I teach vintage jazz dance. That’s like Charleston, lindy hop and swing dance. Vernacular partner dancing from the 1920s-1940s. I have a Wednesday night class in Mountain View at Cheryl Burke Dance Studio and a Thursday night at 9:20 Special.
IBC: Tell me about your Speert beard comb, please.
AB: They’re hand made in Switzerland. I told the owners of Union Made they had to get them! They’re tortoiseshell, they’re just gorgeous. I feel like this one is perfect. It’s the spacing between the tines. If it’s too fine you can’t get it through the hair, and if it’s too wide – you can’t really pick a beard.
IBC: What is your beard upkeep?
AB: I trim it every 2-3 weeks and shave around it. It’s more like a topiary garden at this point. I basically comb it and see what areas need to be shaved.
IBC: Where did you get your glasses?
AB: SEE Eyewear
IBC: What did you dress like in High School?
AB: Kind of similar. I was into rockabilly. I tarted dancing when I was 16, and the rockabilly scene was really linked to the swing scene and I had crushes on all the rockabilly boys with their pompadours. That was when I started my love affair with Murray’s Hair Pomade.
IBC: Is that what you use in your hair?
AB: I use nothing but Murray’s. It’s nice because it stays in there and doesn’t wash out unless you really want to get it out, and I like that. It marinates. There’s so many products that make you look like you don’t take care of your hair, and sometimes it’s good just to not take care of your hair.
IBC: Who’s this guy?
AB: He’s my style icon. I brought him from Michigan. I used to be a window dresser at Middle Earth in Ann Arbor and put him in the window.
IBC: You’re reading Matthew Zapruder! I love him.
AB: I read the title poem (Come On All You Ghosts) in the Paris Review and it really rocked my world. I read with him in a gallery called The Treehouse Gallery.
IBC: What are you inspired by right now creatively?
AB: I’ve been working a lot of thread into my visual art, wanting to have strings and thread. I’ve gotten into rhyming a lot in my poetry, which I’ve never been into but I’ve been reading a lot of older Alice Notley. Reading her stuff and reading Matthew’s piece in the Paris Review set me up for how I wanted to write this summer.
IBC: Can I see you tattoo?
AB: It’s Chick Webb. He was a drummer from the 1930s, he had a very special relationship with one of the dancers who did the kind of dancing I do.
Tragically for San Francisco, Adam Boehmer is moving to Seattle! For love, a wonderful reason to leave any town. If you live up there and want to learn for to lindy hop from a hipster sea captain, here’s how to find him: adamboehmer.com. Valencia Street will be a little less dandy without him.