Selvin Iscoa squats in the corner of a parking lot on North 36th Street in Fremont, next to a deli and a video store, pounding away on a worn drum into the early morning hours for spare change. In the last two years, Iscoa, who is homeless, has become an infamous and omnipresent figure in his corner of Fremont. While the neighborhood has always had its share of colorful characters, Iscoa's late-night busking has put him at odds with residents and business owners, and they want him gone.

Twenty years ago, Iscoa says, he moved to Seattle from El Salvador; he has lived in Fremont ever since. Iscoa says he lost his home several years ago and began living on the streets. "This used to be my home, man. I have a lot of friends from here," Iscoa says. "They call me Salvador." Because of his familiarity with the neighborhood, Iscoa set up camp in some bushes near the Burke-Gilman Trail. Then, Iscoa says, a friend gave him a brand-new drum. Iscoa planted himself in front of Roxy's Deli and began his career as a sidewalk percussionist.

Iscoa says he brings in about $50 a week from playing his weathered drum. "I don't like panhandling," he says. "You can see the difference when I play. People come and dance." As Iscoa talks, an 8-year-old girl clutching a Shrek DVD timidly drops a handful of change into the dog bowl sitting at Iscoa's feet. "I call her princess," he says, flashing a gap-toothed grin. But not everyone in Fremont has such a warm relationship with Iscoa.

"He threatened to cut me up a few months ago because I'd called in noise and drug complaints against him," says Fremont resident Bill Uznay, who lives across the street from Iscoa's spot in front of Roxy's. Iscoa says he never threatened Uznay, but last June, Uznay requested an antiharassment order from the city. He got it, but only temporarily. "I think [the city is] reluctant to give out protection orders against homeless people," he says. "He's not out there like a bohemian busker. [His drum is] a prop for his drug dealing and panhandling."

Although Iscoa's record shows charges for assault, harassment, and a half-dozen citations for liquor, he hasn't been busted for drugs. However, Uznay isn't the only one who thinks Iscoa is selling drugs.

Lisa Raimundo, one of Roxy's owners, says she suspects Iscoa is part of a "railway of drug dealers" in Fremont. "He smokes pot outside, he's drunk all the time, and there's nothing we can do about it," she says. "I'd rather him move down the street so he's not in front of our business all the time. We don't want to be the horrible people running him of the neighborhood, but we can't allow him to keep up his bad behavior. It's a tough situation."

Support The Stranger

Iscoa refutes Uznay and Raimundo's claims that he's a drug dealer, and says he only smokes a joint every now and then. However, he admits, "when you live out [on the street], you've got to drink something or you go crazy."

For now, Iscoa holds off drumming until after Roxy's closes at 8:00 p.m. Still, Uznay is working to get Iscoa out of the neighborhood. "We will keep up whatever legal pressure we can to get him kicked out of there," he says. recommended