Matching Funds For Chicken John’s Mayoral Campaign

Chicken John, Man of Action

The next milestone in Chicken John’s campaign to become the Mayor of San Francisco is this coming Tuesday, August 28th when he needs to have raised $25,000 in order to qualify for the city’s 2:1 matching funds program. If he makes it to $25K, then he will get an additional $25K for a total of $50K. After that it goes up to 4:1 matching, so if he can raise $50K by January he will have a total of $200K.

For Chicken, a person who over the years who has done amazing things with almost no money, that amount of money will make for a really interesting campaign and push forward many of the issues of art and innovation that Chicken is championing.

You can donate to Chicken’s campaign using PayPal:


In the PayPay message field please provide your address, occupation and where you work, in order for the ethics committee to verify that the money is coming from a San Francisco resident.

Our friend Lera has a great write-up on why you should consider donating to Chicken’s campaign:

greetings friends –

i am writing with a strange but interesting request. one of my bestest long-time friends – chicken john – is running for mayor of san francisco. but don’t worry, he can’t win. we’re safe there. he’d make a terrible mayor. so you won’t get any pleas from me to vote for him. instead, i am writing to ask you to donate to his campaign.

why on earth would you donate to a political campaign of a candidate who can’t win, isn’t good for the job anyway, and whose name more importantly is “chicken john”?

well, chicken is his name – we can’t do anything about that. but here are some reasons why you may want to make a contribution. (

chicken isn’t running to win. his campaign is an art project, a performance, an opportunity to communicate a message, and it’s a good message.

the idea is to open up a conversation about two topics dear to chicken and to many of us: public art and the environment. chicken wants san francisco to be a city of art and innovation. he is hoping to use his campaign to draw the mayor’s office attention to the great good that comes from art (wouldn’t it be great to have more funding for art for all to enjoy? to live in a city that supports its artists rather than driving them away?), and to push the city to be more innovative in environmental policy.

why is chicken doing this, and why does he need your money?

1. why is it chicken doing this, and not someone else? well, first, chicken had the idea to do it, so it’s his show. second, he is a great person for the job. he lives his ideal of art and innovation. and he is a born provocateur.

chicken has spent all of his life creating interesting and unusual performances, experiences, and events, and he does it all with no resources whatsoever, all made entirely out of junk, re-imagined by chicken into cultural treasure (see, art & innovation). i could spend many pages listing all chicken’s many spectacular accomplishments and terrific failures (ask me if you’re interested or go see his terrible website, but here are some recent things:

chicken converted his pick-up truck to run on used coffee-grounds, with zero emissions (his girlfriend runs ritual roasters, so the used coffee-grounds are free). the new york times wrote about it. for more info see:

he built a biodiesel raft out of junk that floated down the missisippi, spreading culture and chaos. the new york times wrote about it several times. as they described it: “Imagine if Don Quixote, Salvador Dalí and Che Guevara collaborated on a floating medicine show.”

when chicken owned the odeon bar on mission street, every night you could go see some unlikely and sublime performance chicken had conjured up. there you might find a pancake juggler (someone chicken took in off the street), a monsters of tuba all-tuba tuba-thon (with all 40 band members staying at chicken’s house), a pirate puppet rock opera, or thai shadow performers (that chicken had met on a trip to thailand and then brought back with him to san francisco).

importantly, chicken is a borne provocateur. he has a knack for attracting attention and getting publicity. he is constantly featured in the local papers and is the cover image of the weekly or the guardian about once a year. more impressively his picture ends up in the new york times 3-4 times a year. and in different sections. sometimes it’s in the arts section. other times it’s about technology, or the environment, or politics. for a guy who dropped out of school in 7th grade and has never had a real job, it’s pretty darned impressive. he knows how do the thing that matters, that captures the imagination and gets noticed, how to say the thing that gets heard. and that’s exactly his job here. to get noticed. to start a conversation. to stir the pot.

this campaign for mayor, like all of chicken’s projects, has a guarantee of failure, but a very interesting process of arriving at that failure. like with all of chicken’s projects, i am very skeptical about it, i think it’s a bad idea and a waste of time, and at the same time i know that something wonderful will happen as a result of the experiment and i can’t wait to see what it will be.

2. why does chicken need your money?

chicken is trying to raise $25,000 for his campaign. if he manages to do so, he will qualify for 2:1 matching funds from the city of san francisco, so his campaign will have $75,000 to work with. if he makes it past this hurdle, his campaign for art and innovation can really take off.

amazingly, chicken is really close. he has raised $17,000 already. unfortunately, he only has a week left to raise the rest. so he really needs help in this final push. any small amount donated adds to the pot. this is definitely a populist effort, so any small amount is very valuable. the city will match up to $100 each sf resident donates to chicken’s campaign.

gavin newsom is running essentially unopposed this time around, so we the voters don’t get to voice any of our policy preferences at the voting booth. but this is another way to make your opinion heard. if you’d like the mayor’s office to spend more time thinking about art and innovation, then help chicken’s campaign by making a contribution. then let’s see what comes of it. i’m going to donate some money to chicken. it’s an interesting experiment.

UPDATE 1: There is a fundraiser scheduled for Monday, August 27th at La Casa Verde in San Francisco.

photo by Scott Beale
Scott Beale
Scott Beale

Scott Beale is the founder of Laughing Squid and is based in New York City. When not running the blog, Scott can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.