Chalk up another victory for internet porn and urban gentrification.
The Market Street Cinema, a strip club in Mid-Market that enticed passers-by to "See the Beauty, Touch the Magic," will be turned into another apartment building. The new owners are proposing to demolish the structure and replace it with an eight-story building that will include 7,500 square feet of retail and 24 parking spaces. The building would join several prominent new pieces of construction along the central part of Market Street, including the 754-unit NEMA building (which has drawn criticism for its out of touch marketing campaign). The Market Street Cinema has been closed since last summer.
This is the second time in six months that a local adult establishment has gone under. Much more prominently, North Beach's Lusty Lady shut down in August. (ACT also took over a former strip club along Market a few years ago.) The end of that unionized strip club launched a thousand ponderous think pieces. We're going to go out on a limb here and bet that the Market Street Cinema closure will not generate the same wave of news.
But should it? After all, the mid-Market structure is technically a historic resource—and therefore the demolition must be approved by the Planning Commission. Just as much as the Lady's demise was, the closure speaks to the drastic changes in pornography consumption and the rising need for new housing in the city. And while the Market Street Cinema was hardly the bastion of enlightened, progressive, sexy liberation the way the Lady was, its closure still fits into the larger gentrification narrative gripping the city right now. Is it time for the techies claim another scalp of old, weird SF?
Well, not so fast. The Market Street Cinema—at least its facade—was pretty disgusting. We're not sex negative. We're just negative on giant ads that would make Oscar Goodman admit that you could class it up a little bit. Women shouldn't have to be objectified just because they came out the Civic Center BART station. At least not as crudely as in a Warrant music video.
And it helps shine a light on an important aspect of that wave of change: Sometimes it takes out the bad with the good. Sure, we can all celebrate the pre-Giuliani Times Square. But it wasn't all good times with Uncle Lou Reed either. So go ahead and tell your kids someday about the authentic gritty and gross San Francisco before Ed Lee ruined it. Just remember, some of it was pretty, well, gritty and gross.
And anyways, we always liked the Condor Club better.