San Francisco has long been a place where both visitors and locals feel free to push sexual boundaries. From the miners who found female companionship in the scores of Barbary Coast brothels to today's crop of outspoken gender-fluid outlaws, our little burg accepts and even encourages erotic aberrations. And now, thanks to the "Sex in the City Tours," even those who don't frequent S.F.'s hot spots can get a safe peek.
Admission is (heh heh) $69 per person ($10 off for women on Thursdays)
Before you strap on your Manolo Blahniks, don't get too excited about the prospect of crossing paths with Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, or Miranda from TV's Sex and the City. Because while the no-holds-barred 3-1/2-hour expedition through the town's steamy underground contains plenty of adults-only content, the outing has nothing to do with the now-defunct HBO sitcom. Sorry! But the tour does make stops at many of the lusty locales you may have wondered about, yet were too chicken to visit without a guide.
A few years ago, Rodrigo Enriquez deserted his button-down investment banking career to start the tour company Extranomical with his buddy Andy Hartman. The late-twentysomething twosome began coordinating trips to Yosemite, the wine country, Muir Woods, and various places in San Francisco, but they just weren't satisfied with their slate of tame tours. So they decided to push the urban tourist-experience envelope by launching a sex-positive version of the typical neighborhood excursion about six months ago, and it's a doozy.
Guests get picked up at two predetermined locations, where they pile into a 15-seat passenger van for an educational adventure that meanders through the city's naughty venues. One of the most popular stops is the sex club the Power Exchange, a kinkster's play paradise boasting four floors of themed areas (including a medieval room, "Army" barracks, and even a forest, complete with tents). At Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre, attendees get the lowdown on the club's '70s sex superstar, Marilyn Chambers, who exhibited her charms on a detergent box as the 99.44 percent pure "Ivory Snow girl" before displaying a whole different set of attributes in the early X-rated flick Behind the Green Door. Tourgoers also see landmark bordellos past and present (including the site of the early 2004 sex-ring scandal involving the illegal trafficking of Asian prostitutes) and make a stop at Good Vibrations' Antique Vibrator Museum to learn about the device's original use as a cure for female "hysteria."
All in all, the tour is a lively take on the good, bad, and ugly aspects of our local sexual culture, geared toward a wide audience, from bachelorette partyers to couples on dates. Even Enriquez's parents and grandparents have taken it. And if Grandma and Gramps can handle checking out the local smut palaces, surely you can, too.
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