Carol Doda Has Left The Building

Carol DodaIt was a bit of a sad day when I read that Carol Doda had died. She was one of those people who left her mark on San Francisco in a big way on June 19th, 1964 when she was the first topless go-go dancer in San Francisco. She was 26 years old and probably had no idea how much she would become a fixture in San Francisco for many years to come.

I have to say I’m pretty glad that San Francisco is remembering her at her best. Shen she stopped dancing in the 80’s she opened a lingerie shop in a little back alleyway on Union Street. My girlfriend and I happened to be over there and saw the sign and decided to drop in for the hell of it. There she was, Carol Doda, fully clothed sitting right inside the front door. Geez, the stories she probably could have told then.

She was looking a little rough though. I had only seen some of the pin up photos of her when I was a kid and that’s what I always thought she looked liked, but I could see the lines on her face that told a story all by themselves and I could still see that young girl who was in all the pin ups I had seen. My Dad had one tucked away in his dresser that I’d sneak a look at before I was even ten [BOOBIES!]. I wasn’t even two when she first went on stage topless.

It really sucks when we get old. My Mom always used to read the obituaries and complain that people who died used pictures in their obituaries from when they were young. I don’t know why she didn’t understand it’s a drag getting old for lots of people. In Carol Doda’s case, I’m glad they’re focusing on the young Carol in the photo memories of her. That’s the way she should be remembered and I’m sure the way she would have wanted to be remembered.

Carol wasn’t born in San Francisco, but she made it her home and left a mark on the City. I’m glad San Francisco did it right.

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.


Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine

Rarely do I have an interest in watching old movies anymore, but I happen to stumble across this one on Netflix and I had never heard of it before. The reason this movie makes it to  Baghdad By The Bay is due to the fact that there is a lot of footage shot in 1965 San Francisco. This movie has one of the most hilariously ridiculous chase scenes that is almost a spoof of Bullitt.

The premise of the movie is pretty sketchy, but I guess from the title you would expect that. It stars Vincent Price [Dr. Goldfoot] as an evil mad scientist [no stretch there] who with his assistant Igor [who Dr. Goldfoot has brought back to life from the dead]. Dr. Goldfoot is making female robots that he dresses up in gold lamé bikini’s that parade around his castle/mortuary lair in San Francisco. The reason he makes them is so that they can go out and marry rich men around the world and then have them sign over all of their finances to make Dr. Goldfoot uber-rich. Incidentally, Dr. Goldfoot makes his first appearance in they typical Vince Price like garb, but wear a pair of gold lamé elf shoes complete with the ringing little bells. Fashion faux pax in my book.

The movie gets underway with Diane or number 11 being sent out to meet her first match. In the process she gets shot for no reason several times and walks into a diner and meets Frankie Avalon [Craig Gamble] who after walking up and drinking his glass of milk starts spewing milk out of the gunshot wounds. Yes, this is definitely a slapstick, campy movie throughout. We’re talking Jerry Lewis kind of slapstick with prat falls, spit takes, people falling out of windows and huge objects landing on people’s heads where they get up afterwards and shake it off.

The real fun of the movie is actually during the car chase at the end. At one point we have Price chasing Avalon in two cable cars. They didn’t realize that because they’re connected to the same cable there was no way that you could go faster so at one point Avalon jumps off and steals a car and Price just makes the cable car drive off of the tracks in pursuit all the way to Sausalito.

That was the totally weird, how stoned were the writers when they put this together part of the movie. The car on car chase scenes were pretty funny if you know the city though. At one point they drive down Lombard street and make a right and end up in West Portal where you can see the familiar signs of the Philosopher’s Club and Original Joe’s. Avalon gives Price the slip who drives into the West Portal tunnel on the wrong side only to crash into a K-Ingelside train as it exists the tunnel. Price steals another car and chases after Avalon for a couple of blocks where they make another right and end up driving past Alamo Square. Maps were apparently not necessary back then because after they passed the park at Alamo Square they make a left and end up driving past Fort Mason and down Marina Green toward the Presidio where they end up at Fisherman’s Wharf.

The good guy wins in the end because, well, c’mon it’s Frankie Avalon, he always wins. This movies was stupidly funny and I guess back then seeing two guys at a bar drinking an 8oz glass of whiskey wasn’t considered odd. If you’re a feminist you definitely won’t like this movie that has no nudity but a whole lot of gold lamé booty shaking going on with the mindless mostly blonde [there was one token Black and token Asian girl] bikini’d women serving their evil master Dr. Goldfoot. The movie had to be a spoof on the James Bond Goldfinger released in 1964 and even as bad as it was it was still a movie that I couldn’t stop watching. It gives you a look at the old San Francisco and they way of life people had back then, well, as least from Hollywood’s view point. Now I want to go out and find that castle in San Francisco, because it wasn’t Julius’ Castle.

Incidentally, there was a sequel made called Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs only this time Frankie Avalon was replaced by Fabian.