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Whore Next Door - By - September 23, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Whore Next Door

Cruising up Kearny Street towards Broadway, my heart drops into my stomach. It's not my Uber driver's fault; he's navigating the steep city streets perfectly. It's the sight of the boarded up windows and padlocked door that sits quietly next to Larry Flynt's infamous Hustler Club.

Just steps from City Lights Bookstore, and mere blocks from the spot where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe made love, the now-shuttered Lusty Lady Theatre was once one of the jewels of North Beach, boasting real live nude girls dancing behind glass from 11 a.m. until 3 a.m., seven days a week — even on Christmas. It was the place where Financial District businessmen with secret kinks could blow off some steam between meetings, and where hipster couples could drunkenly crash into the Private Pleasures booth for a little voyeuristic play on a Friday night. Lusty dancers had a reputation for being the alternative, kinky, bad girls of North Beach, and we wore that reputation with pride.

The unionized, worker-owned peep show was more than just a cool place to see naked girls. It was a landing spot for wayward queers, a launch pad for budding artists, and — for many, myself included —a place I will forever think of as home.

When the Lusty closed two years ago, I was heartbroken. Although I had moved on to genres of adult entertainment that were easier on the knees, I mourned for generations of future sex workers who would not get to learn the sacred art of the hustle inside its nurturing walls.

I haven't danced much since its closing, aside from the occasional private party, but just last week, fellow alum Daisy Ducati and I made our triumphant return to North Beach as feature dancers at the notoriously raunchy Little Darlings, for the first of four special engagements sponsored by kink.com.

All of the evening's featured performers once shook their moneymakers behind the glass at the L.L. and went on to model for porn sites like Insex, Burning Angel, Evil Angel, and more. Now we're strapping our stripper heels back on for a special evening that is equal parts Private Pleasures (The L.L.'s interactive VIP booth) and Public Disgrace (Kink's public sex site). Ducati, who will headline each engagement, played an integral part of the final days of the Lusty, acting in a leadership role as the business was dissolved and dismantled after more than 30 years.

She recalled being befuddled about how to close the door on the final day of business, Labor Day, 2013. As a 24-hour establishment, no one had ever locked the front door before. It's been padlocked ever since the Lusty Lady shuffled off the mortal coil, with nothing occupying the space since.

I danced there for two short years, but that time continues to be one of the most important and special chapters of my life. It was at 1033 Kearny where I learned to twerk, climb a pole in eight-inch heels, make someone climax using just my eyes, and, most importantly, learned that contrary to popular belief, hoes should always come before bros.

Dancing naked while people threw money was a revelation to the chubby, insecure girl I still am inside. But I discovered that combining sex-positivity with sexual commerce is like taking a red pill that destroys the Matrix of patriarchy.

I've danced in other places besides North Beach, but there's something that feels unique and special about the soil that's housed San Francisco's red light district for more than a century.

Generations of poets, hookers, dancers, and mobsters have lived their Saturday night hustle on this seedy little hilltop. No matter how much my body aches by the end of the night, when I dance there and the fog sneaks under the collar of my coat, I am overcome by the feeling that I'm a part of something old, weird, and incredible. I hope the Lusty is somehow resurrected someday, but until then, you can still catch Kinky Nights with Daisy Ducati and Juliette March on Sept. 26, Jessica Creepshow on Oct. 10, and Arabelle Raphael on Oct. 24.

I couldn't bring myself to walk over to Kearny Street to pay homage to the boarded up Lusty after we'd finished up at Little Darlings the other night. I prefer to remember her as she once was: filthy, fabulous, and forever.