Patch caught up with Holly Irene Cardoza at the historic . Cardoza discussed what “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” means to her and why she keeps coming back for more.
Santa Cruz Patch: How long have you lived in Santa Cruz?
Holly Irene Cardoza: Well, I like to say I’m forward—instead of back. I’ve lived here three different times. First, during college at UCSC from '91 to '95 and following as I had my first child, then I went to Silicon Valley, came back, and had twins who are now 3. I moved to Sacramento for a few years, and I just moved back two months ago.
Patch: What do you do here?
Cardoza: Interesting that you should ask me that, because everyone wants to know that. Americans are obsessed with how people make money. In Europe, asking someone what they do for a living is considered an insult. I grew up doing theater and music since I was 4 years old and I pursued that in college. I created my own major called Performance Studies, which is based on underlying the social responsibility of the artist to the community.
After college, I took a straight job for financial reasons. I did advertising and marketing, because I had a flair for it and it allowed me to be creative. I did that for about 10 years. While I was successful at it, I didn’t like the whole rat race. I made a decision to disengage and start my own company. I have an office in the back of More Music. I’m a singer, actress, director, producer, promoter, booker and organizer. I do a lot of different things.
Patch: What brings you to the Windmill today?
Cardoza: I used to live on Eighth Avenue, and it’s just a familiar spot to me. When I came back to Santa Cruz, I came back here to reconnect. Now, every morning, it’s part of my routine. I come here for coffee, to check my e-mail, use WIFI and meet with fantastic people.
Patch: Tell us about your kids.
Cardoza: My older boy, Sanjaye, is 15. His family is from Sri Lanka and own the downtown on Front Street. He’s beautiful. My twins, Keith and Ethan, just turned 3. They’re the cutest things in the whole world. Kids are wonderful. They remind me to keep it simple. They keep it right here, right now. Simple, joyful.
Patch: What do you appreciate about Santa Cruz?
Cardoza: I appreciate the nature. Santa Cruz is a rare place, because you have the ocean and the woods. I really like those bumper stickers that say “Keep Santa Cruz Weird.” I like that there’s an accepting environment in Santa Cruz. People really understand “different strokes for different folks” and embrace it. I recently attended the . I sat there and felt really connected. I felt OK. It was incredible.