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The Lusty Lady Goes Down…

The Lusty LadyWell shoot. Yet another San Francisco institution is coming to an end. A few days before my birthday on September 2nd San Francisco’s first unionized strip club The Lusty Lady will close its doors for good. Being the first worker owned unionized strip club in the United States wasn’t good enough to keep it open. It’s rent has been jacked up to an unaffordable rate now so it’s time to close.

The saddest part when I read about it were some of the comments people had made such as, I went there three times or so, spent two or three quarters each time, and am really glad I did. OK well I’m no accountant, but I think it takes more than three quarters three times to keep the doors of an establishment open. I have to admit that it’s been over 20 years since I last visited The Lusty Lady [which I’m sure my wife has no problem with]. This is probably a good part of where the problem is that caused The Lusty Lady to have to close it’s doors — people weren’t coming and spending money there.

This is a problem with many San Francisco small businesses in that it’s difficult for them to compete. Everyone will probably say how much of a shame it is that The Lusty Lady is closing or any other San Francisco business that closes, but when was the last time they visited the place and actually spent money there. I’ve heard several times people say about small businesses in town that, it’s a nice place, but I don’t think I’d buy anything there. This is a part of the reason why these places end up closing and going away.

Well in the case of The Lusty Lady it was a little more than that. They’re rent way back in the dark ages of 2001 was $5,500 a month. Through a number of rent increases it had been raised to almost $17,000 a month. That’s a serious increase and when you’ve got that much money going to rent a building you don’t own it’s pretty hard to come up with money to make the building you don’t own look better — especially when the landlord doesn’t want to help you out.

It turns out the owner is Roger Forbes who owns most of the strip clubs in San Francisco and he wants to expand the Hustler club to fill the space The Lusty Lady now occupies for a couple more weeks. Oh great. Pull in more frat boys. The Lusty Lady was always a different sort of place. The girls weren’t all airbrushed perfect and blonde like you’d see in Playboy magazine, but built more like regular girls you’d see. OK, maybe regular girls with pink or purple hair, tattoos and piercings, but not all of them were like that. If nothing else The Lusty Lady reminded us that it wasn’t just centerfold models who were naked under those clothes but every woman.

The place was not in the best shape, but I’ve yet to see a strip club that was, especially if you turn the lights up [which would probably make you never go in one again]. It still holds a place in my heart of a part of San Francisco that you would have to do at least once. Too bad once wasn’t enough to keep the doors opened. As one of the girls stated, Why would someone get in their car and drive from Palo Alto or wherever, find parking, to see a naked girl when they can do it from home? Well I’ll tell you why because The Lusty Lady has LIVE nude girls, like right in front of your face. I guess that’s not enough though.

It’s going to close, but if you want to be a part of it one last time, go in, throw in a dollar, say ‘Hi’ to the ladies and give them a good send-off. Maybe Wife will let me make one last visit.

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Juanita Musson: Queen of the “Earmuffs”

The what?!?! Queen of the “Earmuffs“? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Well, today it turns out San Francisco has lost another one of it’s colorful characters. Following in the footsteps of Henry Africa, Juanita Musson passed away a few days ago. I had never heard of her before, but when I read some of the comments about her I wish I would have. She ran quite a few restaurants around the Bay Area, but was best known for Juanita’s Galley in Sausalito. I think that she had several restaurants around the Bay Area with the same name, but she made her name closer to San Francisco.

She was called, the Drinking Man’s Julia Child and that’s what caught my attention. She was known as a brawler, a women would could make a sailor blush with her foul mouth before she drank him under the table. She ran restaurants that in addition to the diners there would be dogs, cats, owls, monkeys, goats and pigs that would walk around her restaurants. There were no to go bags at her places. If you didn’t finish your huge portion you had to bring your own bag to bring it home in or feed the rest to the animals that were running around her place.

Juanita was a big woman. She weighed in at around 300 lbs and her huge endowment is where the earmuff joke comes from. She apparently had a penchant for sneaking up on customers, male of course, and grabbing her large pendulous breasts [she was braless before it was chic] and slapping them on either sides of men’s heads. If Emperor Norton was born a bit later these too would have been a hot item.

Juanita was a bit of a drunk, but not like the staggering through the Tenderloin kind of drunk. She was a fun drunk it sounds like. In Sonoma where she died the Sonoma News had the following to say:

Famous for her enormous slabs of prime rib, one order of a Juanita meal could typically feed a table. But diners quickly learned that if you didn’t clean your plate you couldn’t take it home, although you could slip some food unnoticed into a purse or pass a piece of excess beef to the dog that often wandered through the dining room.

Juanita kept a bedroom just off the lobby of the rundown hotel and arriving guests frequently found her fast asleep, her sizeable bulk covered in a flowing muumuu, her door open to the passing parade, her bed surrounded by an enormous collection of dolls.

If you knew Juanita and tried to sneak past her open bedroom door, she invariably sensed your presence and would call out in a shrill, commanding voice, “Hey honey, come in here NOW, and give Juanita a HUG!”

She was fearlessly and completely herself, there was no filter on her mouth or her emotions and she didn’t recognize a variety of conventional boundaries. Her “ear muff” prank consisted of sneaking up behind an unsuspecting diner and swinging each muumuu-wrapped breast up against the victim’s ears. Then she would cackle loudly and leave.

Famous Dallas Cowboys defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones got an earmuff and so, almost, did this writer’s 75-year-old father.

I guess getting an earmuff from Juanita was kind of like a badge of honor for some. Keep in mind that this hard living foul mouthed restauranteur who would have chewed up Anthony Bourdain and spit him out lived to the ripe old age of 87. I bet she smoked too. 😉