Miko Revereza has had some odd jobs. They include, but are not limited to: construction worker, sandwich maker, delivery driver, live projectionist, gallery sitter, pizza warmer, and of all things, necktie salesman. “I’m drawn to jobs that are cinematic,” he explains over a tuna melt at Cuscatleca Bakery on Sunset, just across the street from his Silver Lake apartment.
“I was selling neckties at a booth at the mall near the beach, and I felt like that combination was kind of cinematic, like it could be some French new wave film.” Revereza is an experimental filmmaker whose work focuses on the Filipino-American experience, but he makes most of his living in two ways: via freelance film projects — he recently directed a music video for the musician Matthewdavid, as well as a commercial for VANS — and scooping ice cream at Scoops in Chinatown. He describes the latter as the best job he’s ever had.
“Everyone’s in a good mood when they get ice cream,” he says, munching on the fried plantains that accompanied his sandwich. “Even if they have to wait in line, when they get to the front of the line, they’re excited again, and it’s all smiles.”
Revereza was born in Manila and raised in the Bay Area, though his family has since relocated to Orange County. He describes himself as “an American baby,” admitting that he was never that into Filipino cuisine, except for the sweets. His favorite is turon — a brown sugar-glazed and fried spring roll stuffed with jackfruit and banana that he picks up regularly from United Bread & Pastry. Also, he really likes rice. The primary reason he stays away from Filipino cuisine is because he’s vegetarian, or technically, considering that tuna melt on the table, pescatarian.
Dinner out might take him to Green Leaves in Los Feliz, or Suehiro, what he describes as his favorite “homey diner in Little Tokyo.” If he stays in to cook, he prefers to have a few friends over to share what is most often “some crazy quinoa dish with a ton of stuff in it, fried tofu, whatever.” For drinks out, maybe a whiskey sour at his favorite dive bar, The Roost, though he laments the once-present popcorn machine. Don’t we all.
Revereza ended up at Scoops because of owner Chris Gere, who also owned the now-defunct Hollywood gallery Synchronicity Space, where Revereza used to volunteer, often providing live visuals for music shows held there. When Gere opened Scoops Chinatown in March of this year—all of the Scoops locations are individually owned franchises — Revereza became his first and only employee.
The shifts are simple. They hand out samples, scoop ice cream, and clean up afterwards. Between rushes, they chat about life or whatever music is currently playing in the shop — most recently a playlist that includes “Brian Eno and some Brazilian Tropicalia stuff.” When I ask Revereza if he ever gets tired of ice cream, he shakes his head. “We never get sick of it.” His favorite flavors are any that utilize burnt sugar—sweet potato, yogurt, and sake among them—as well as oreo cheesecake and strawberry balsamic.
But his favorite part about working at Scoops is interacting with the community. Tucked inside the Far East Mall in Chinatown, the clientele is often high school kids coming in on lazy afternoons, families stopping in after church, diners looking for something sweet after a meal at Roy Choi’s Chego next door. He says time spent at Scoops is a welcome break from the creative work that claims most of his week, though one can’t deny the parallel between the two.
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His personal film work — which recently got him a month-long residency at the Echo Park Film Center — explores the Americanization of the Filipino immigrant. He describes it as a mix of documentary, street photography, and diary. One of his most recent project is a short film called Droga: “I basically just shot my grandparents, shot them as tourists in LA, just going around to places, like a home movie, you know? But on Super 8.” For someone who has dedicated his art to exploring an immigrant community, it only makes sense that in search of a part-time job, he ended up immersed in another.
“I will work at Scoops for as long as I can,” he says. “Even if I’m getting a lot of gigs, and I’m making some money, I’ll still work at Scoops — I wouldn’t mind if I worked there forever.”
Jennifer Cacicio is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Read more of her work on her website and follow her on Twitter @jrosecacicio. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.