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stories from south of market

Near Halloween, and on New Year’s Eve, San Francisco hosts a party called the Exotic Erotic Ball. It’s part costume party/ dance, part adult novelty boutiques and part drunken brawl. One halloween I got myself roped into helping out at one of the booths.

Our booth was full of scantily clad women in black latex and leather who would spank (choose your favorite paddling device here) ball goers for a certain price. We were situated between the peekaboo ligerie table and the penis/vagina lollipop booth. To entice people over to us, every couple hours I would take one of the men volunteers - clad in a black speedo, black ankle socks, hush puppies and a leash, and I would walk him around the building as my slave. In this den of voyeurs they flocked to us, and we would point them over to the spanking booth.

Things went smoothly for the first two hours. But walking around constantly in 4”-heeled boots, wearing a cinched corset and little else can become a drag (no pun intended). Some of the bolder men mistook me for a grab bag at a bachelor party ( excuse me, but let go of my breast / ass / thigh, etc.) Most of the Erotic Exotic attendees are the bridge and tunnel set - folks from the’burbs who come in on weekends to party. And halloween is the biggest party of them all. After consuming large quantities of alcohol, a bunch of fights started breaking out on the dancefloor, and one of the women in the booth beside us got punched out by a drunked joe from suburbia when she left to get a soda.

Our night gig was finally over at 3am - when I found myself on market street, in the pouring rain, sans umbrella. I had no wallet (no pocket to put it in), and thus, only a couple bucks and my muni pass. There are virtually no busses at 3 am. And I had no money for a cab. I started walking, still in my garb from the ball.

Eventually, I caught up with a bus and made it home before dawn, my feet blistered and my mind frazzeled. I crashed for a coupla hours , peeled off my boots, and then joined my roommates for a breakfast of leftover halloween candy.

San Francisco - ya gotta love it.


Walking across SoMa a couple Fridays ago, I'm traversing 5th Street from Harrison to Folsom. Crossing Clara, one of those little alleys that slice up the big SoMa blocks, I see a new condominium development, "City Mews".

A pang of sadness hits me. Two and a half years ago, when I returned to the city after 2 years in New York, I stayed for three weeks with a friend on Clara who had a spare room. It was a wonderful luxury for someone without a job nor apartment. It wasn't the nicest place--a big cavernous warehousy space which you could rent cheaply. Definitely dissheveled, definitely unrefined, but it did have a personality, both itself and the people who lived there. And it supported me in a time of need.

However, with the Housing Boom in SF, the owner of the land sold to developers, who tore down the buildings and put up an exceedingly tacky massive wood-shingled bland condo-boxes development.

Walking past it, I thought to myself, "Is this the San Francisco I want to live in? Is this where things are going? If I were moving here now, where would I stay?" and for the first time in a long time, began seriously considering leaving.

Peter Merholz

Last night and this morning we had decided to stop seeing each other. I was over at her place. We talked about it before going to bed, we talked about it when we got up. There were tears, sobs, heavy sighs, nuzzles, cuddles, long silences. It wasn't contentious nor angry. It was inevitable, though still sad.

The rain was falling loudly outside as we showered and got dressed. We left the house together, and headed down Division, her right arm clutching to my left. Her face was red with tears.

Looking up at the gray sky, I thought, "How appropriate," with the water falling, the water falling from the sky, the water falling from the freeway above Division, the dankness.

No words were spoken until we reached Bryant. Her office was a few blocks west, mine about 10 blocks east. We stopped, turned to look at each other, kissed, and hugged. Squeezing tightly, I said, "Bye."

As I was letting go, I looked up, and saw the red hand flashing. I darted across the street to make the light.


The sky was brilliant blue sunny gentle warmth, a real San Francisco rarity. Somewhere near Moscone I realized I'd been talking to myself again, voicing all those little worries and to-do lists that are constantly bubbling around in my head.

I was waiting to cross Harrison St. when a guy sidled up next to me. "Damn, lookit this weather! I could get a real complex about being a bum on a day like this." I giggled. "Yup, yup," I agreed. The light changed and we walked across the street. "Hey, you don't really want to go to work, do you?" he asked. "Cuz, you know, if you're interested in being a bum, we've got an orientation coming up. We'll get you a stick and a little bag..."


(((Texas Girls)))

I decided to take them south of market, away from their tourist trap surroundings of Union Square. We had some tasty food and cocktails and continued looking for more watering holes anywhere we could find. We parked at the first bar stool we found, and I just sat there listening to these beautiful women talk about Dallas' hockey team. I could not ask for more. I went to the bathroom and picked up three postcards that we used to write each other at the bar. Can't wait to get my postcard from Dallas.


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{ 15 April 2005: Posting has been discontinued. }