Chicken John

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Chicken John
Chicken John at Zombie Mob.jpg
Chicken John participating in a zombie mob after a San Francisco mayoral debate. Frank Chu can be seen in the background.
Giovanni Giuseppe Rinaldi

(1968-03-20) March 20, 1968 (age 51)
Years active1984–present

"Chicken" John Rinaldi is a musician, showman, activist, and author living in San Francisco, California. He is involved with the San Francisco arts community as well as the Burning Man community. In what he referred to as "an experiment",[1] he ran for Mayor in the 2007 San Francisco mayoral election, during which he wore fake mustaches, debated a puppet, and arranged costumed flash mobs to occur at campaign events, in an effort to be as flippant a candidate as possible.[2]


Rinaldi was a one-time member of The Murder Junkies, an American punk rock band fronted by GG Allin. Rinaldi left the band in 1991, and voiced negative opinions about the experience in Todd Phillips's documentary Hated: GG Allin And The Murder Junkies. He was replaced by William Weber.


In 1994 Rinaldi conceived, organized, and became the ringmaster of Circus Redickuless, a nationally touring "punk rock circus". The circus was the subject of a 1997 documentary of the same name by Phillip Glau.[3] This film later won Best Documentary at the 1998 New York Underground Film Festival.[4]


In the summer of 2006, Rinaldi was recruited by noted street artist Swoon to build the propulsion system for a raft made of salvaged scrap that was to travel down the Mississippi River for Swoon's project Miss Rockaway Armada.[5]

Rinaldi was the engineer and builder for the central communal floating platform for the Seasteading Institute's 2009 Ephemerisle event.[6]

San Francisco mayor joke candidacy[edit]

As an elaborate joke,[2] Rinaldi ran as one of several colorfully-nicknamed candidates in the 2007 San Francisco mayoral election, ostensibly challenging incumbent Gavin Newsom.[1] Rinaldi referred to himself an "experimental candidate".[1] He made an effort to be as flippant a candidate as possible, wearing seven different fake mustaches over the course of the campaign, publicly debating a puppet, and organizing a zombie flash mob to occur outside one of the Mayoral debates.[2] He finished with 2,508 votes, or 1.75 percent[7] of the official vote tally, coming in 6th place.[2]


Campaign financing[edit]

After submitting the required official declaration of candidacy on August 8, 2007, Rinaldi claimed to have raised $25,000 in campaign donations from San Francisco residents by August 28, thus qualifying him for public matching funds. On September 13 he was denied public financing by the San Francisco Ethics Commission on the basis that around $20,000 was donated through e-commerce site PayPal. As it was PayPal's official policy to keep billing information confidential and provide only a shipping address, the commission ruled such donations were insufficient proof of donor residency as required by law.[8]

Rinaldi's campaign contacted PayPal and obtained special internal verification that the addresses did indeed match, which was submitted September 19.[8] By October 2 the Ethics Commission had approved many more contributions, but their qualified still fell several hundred dollars short. The following day the campaign's lawyer submitted a request asking the commission to clarify which donations were ineligible, and for which reason, and a date by which to appeal them. Executive Director John St. Croix responded that by requesting an appeal, the campaign had lost its right to do so. On October 15, a meeting of the full commission unanimously overturned St. Croix's decision. The Ethics Commission invited Rinaldi's campaign to resubmit documents. The application was subsequently denied on review and Rinaldi's campaign did not receive the requested public funds.[9]

Ballot initiatives[edit]

Renaming a sewage plant after George W. Bush[edit]

He was part of a group that advocated for and collected the appropriate amount of signatures to get a ballot initiative that would name San Francisco's Oceanside Treatment Plant after George W. Bush.[10] The ballot measure, however, failed.[11]

American Apparel[edit]

In 2009, Rinaldi organized against an American Apparel outlet being permitted to open on Valencia Street in the Mission District.[12] Several years before, the city approved a voter initiative requiring a public hearing for such "formula retail" stores to open in certain commercial corridors.[13] Prior to the any approval, American Apparel's website listed the address of their Mission location as early as November 2008.[14] The San Francisco Planning Department unanimously rejected the permit.[15]


Rinaldi self-published The Book of the IS: Fail... To WIN!, Essays in engineered disperfection.[16]

Rinaldi collaborated with Jason Webley for the hardcover book which accompanied Webley's album Margaret.


  1. ^ a b c "New York Times: In Re-election Bid, a Mayor Versus a Cast of Characters". Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  2. ^ a b c d "CW Nevius, SF Gate - "'Chicken' John Rinaldi wrote the book on satire"". Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  3. ^ "Austin Chronicle review of Circus Redickuless". Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  4. ^ "IMDB entry for 1998 New York Underground Film Festival". Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  5. ^ David Carr (2006). "New York Times: Art Down the Mississippi. At Least, That's the Plan". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  6. ^ Reason Magazine article on Ephemerisle
  7. ^ "City and County of San Francisco Municipal Election. November 6, 2007 Election Summary". Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  8. ^ a b "SFGate Article - "City to Chicken John: 'Pay your own way, pal'"". Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  9. ^ "SFWeekly Article - "Chicken John Campaign's Net Worth: A Timeline"". Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  10. ^ "Movement to Rename Sewage Plant After Bush Gains Steam in San Francisco". Fox News. June 26, 2008.
  11. ^ Vanessa Grigoriadis, "Barging In to Venice," New York magazine June 7, 2009.
  12. ^ Interview with Mother Jones
  13. ^ "Proposition G - Limitations on Formula Retail Stores". Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  14. ^ "Storefronting: American Apparel on Valencia?!". Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  15. ^ "American Apparel denied store on Valencia". Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  16. ^ Rinaldi, John (2011). Book of the Is, Fail... to Win!: Essays in Engineered Disperfection. Oakland, CA: Last Gasp Books. p. 96.

External links[edit]