Today is the Shadow of Tomorrow

DSC_0227Today is Dia de los Muertos.

Around this time of year there’s a lot of discussion about cultural appropriation and the lost spirit of the procession in San Francisco. If there was a way to turn the tide of of people treating Dia de los Muertos like a frat party, a colorful extension of Halloween, or a Mexican Mardi Gras it would have been done long ago. I don’t know if it’s acceptance or surrender but I feel more at peace with it this year.

As someone who curates an exhibit that features a wide and diverse array of artists sharing their visions of offerings and altars the most important thing to hold onto is the sense that it’s personal. That someone or something is being honored from a personal and sincere place. That’s how I choose to participate with it as a cultural and spiritual practice.

DSC_0387Speaking of the exhibit I curate, it will be on display for one more week with a closing reception on Saturday, November 7th. More info can be found here:

Once more I’ve teamed up with my BFF Mayra Ramirez to produce another set of images for the show. For the 3rd year in a row we’ve been joined by makeup artist Leanne ElRod Rodriguez. To see a complete gallery of photos from this years shoot visit







The GYZA³ is Life


I have a new favorite Purikura booth (sorry Candy Carnival). Gyza³ is the vanity purikura machine of Japanese fashion designer Alisa Ueno. To put it in perspective, if the GYZA³ was made in the west it would feature Kylie Jenner or Tavi Gevinson. You can see Ueno’s presentation of the booth at her blog here: It’s kind of fascinating to see how she presents her self-portraits using her own designs and aesthetics.


The Gyza³ represents a lot of the current trends with modern purikura machines. Gone are the gaudy sparkles, starbursts, and wacky character stamps that were used to create campy garish portraits. You don’t even pick your backgrounds until you decorate your photos. Gyza³ and its generation of purikura booths aim for a transformative glam experience that smooths your skin, enlarges your eyes, and reshapes your body. Instead of wacky characters your decorative options are mostly text and phrases, instead of flashy sparkles we get hearts and photorealistic jeweled objects, the results are magical realism throwbacks to the 80’s.

In the past month I’ve visited San Francisco’s local Gyza³ booth at Pika Pika with several artists. Below are portraits of myself and Rob Fatal, J. Leimone, Margarita Azucar, and Sarah Guerra.

purikura_08.22.15_04 purikura_08.22.15_05 purikura_08.22.15_06 Gyza3Elida Gyza3RioElida SarahGyza3

I haven’t looked that young and skinny in a decade. For a mere $12, Gyza³ will give you images of yourself that rival the photoshopped gloss of most magazine covers while a Japanese cover of Ariana Grande’s Break Free plays in the background. I’m all about it!

Margarita Azucar in the Gyza³

More Gyza³ portraits coming soon!




Last One to Leave, Please Turn Off the Lights

There have been so many big life changes since I last posted. I plan on resuming my blogging once again now that things have settled down a little bit. In the meantime you can listen to my appearance on the Porchlight Storytelling Series Podcast. I collaborated with my dad to tell a story about OJ Simpson and my 8th Grade Graduation. You can download the mp3 HERE

It was a thrill to be invited by the host of the podcast Beth Lisick. She’s been one of my favorite writers since high school and I got her to officiate my re-graduation from the 8th grade. It was a dream come true! Thanks Beth!

I’ll be back soon!




El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards 2015


Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my friends and lovers! El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards are back in the mix to get their kicks! This is the 9th year of my cards and it’s turned into my longest running project yet. Enjoy! As always, please post these cards on the pages of your online friends, craigslist booty calls, instagram crushes, sanchas, OK Cupid regrets, and people you sext on snapchat. To see a complete collection of El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cardsvisit:












Visions at Twilight


I also wanted to share a few photos from my annual Dia de los Muertos photoshoot with Mayra HellaBreezy Ramirez. We had an interesting time working with the theme of eviction and Mayra bravely went knee deep into the freezing ocean for me. A big thanks to Miguel Bounce Perez for creating the sign that we used. You can see the full album HERE.