Neighbors to Sex Club: Not Here, Not Again

A red light glowed from behind the double doors facing Stevenson Street. Trash littered the road, and a homeless man had made his bed for the night on the sidewalk.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday, April 2, two men in hoodies walked up to the building. Gold teeth gleaming, they said they had read on Craigslist that the Power Exchange, a sex club for patrons “longing for adventure,” would re-open that night.

These doors, face Stevenson street, would have been the entrance to the Power Exchange.

These doors, facing Stevenson street, would have been the entrance to the Power Exchange.

But the neighborhood, eclectic though it may be, wanted none of it. That morning, Lisa Dunmeyer, a Brady Street resident, had found a flyer outside of her door. It asked, “Did you know that a large sex club is opening in your neighborhood?”

The flyer was sent to the Brady Street neighborhood watch. Then it was shared with the North Mission Neighborhood Alliance, the neighborhood watch for nearby McCoppin Street. Between them, they have more than 100 members.

This call to action proved to be the opening salvo in a short, but effective neighborhood standoff against an unwelcome business. Less than a week later, the community had won.

When Dunmeyer saw the flyer, her reaction was immediate: been there, done that. In November, the sex club had closed its doors at 74 Otis St., and was ready to reopen two blocks away at 44 Gough St.

No one had chased them out.  The Power Exchange had been there for 13 years and had only closed because of the landlord’s legal and financial troubles, according to Michael Powers, the club owner.

But after eight years in the neighborhood, Dunmeyer had seen it all – public sex, prostitution, drugs–and she blamed it on the Power Club.

Neighbor Anna Seljuk, had put up with it even longer. Seljuk grew up in the neighborhood. Now in her thirties, she’s single and lives  in an apartment on Gough Street.

When Power Exchange first opened, she said, it was fine. The customers didn’t spillover to the street. But at some point, “it got crazier and crazier and crazier.”

She saw condoms on the street when she walked her dog. At night, she saw a lot more.

When she had friends over, they couldn’t believe the action. Cars circled the block blasting music, and prostitutes walked up and down the street.

“It was so bad it was embarrassing, and it was unsafe,” she said.

When she saw the flyer, she thought it was an April Fools joke. To find out more she joined the Brady Street neighborhood watch group.

“This can’t happen again,” Seljuk recalled thinking at the time.

Shawn Scheuer has lived on Brady Street for five years. He takes pride in the diversity of his neighborhood.

“This is not a protest to what goes on inside the privacy of someone’s home, their place of worship or their sex club. It is about what goes on on our streets,” Scheuer said over e-mail. “No one should be subjected to what we have gone through.”

The neighborhood’s difficulty over the years could be boiled down to reports like this: between January and March 2008, Southern Station police officers received 15 calls to 74 Otis St., and the majority came in between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Power Exchange was open Thursday-Sunday from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Two-thirds of the calls coincide with days the club operated.

The list of complaints included shots fired, robbery, trespassing, vehicle hit and run, a mentally disturbed person, a suspicious person and a suspicious vehicle. There were two arrests during this time period: one in January for aggravated assault with a gun and, in February, a warrant arrest.

“I frankly haven’t called anything in in months,” said Dunmeyer referring to the months after the club closed.

Neither has anyone else. During the first three months of 2009, there were no calls or reported incidents.

This is the front of the building, which faces Gough Street.

This is the front of the building, which faces Gough Street.

But last week the residents again worked the phones: this time calling Christine Haw, the code enforcement team leader at the San Francisco Planning Department.

The flyer alleged that Power Exchange would open without proper permits and provided contact information for the building owner, the city planning department and the local supervisor.

Before long, Haw had gotten a “flood of calls” about the Power Exchange. (As of Tuesday, she was still returning messages.)

“I couldn’t find anything at all in terms of any permits,” she said.

The Planning Department at 1650 Mission is right across the street from the Power Exchange’s former location and just a few blocks from the new address. The club, Haw said, was “one of the more colorful neighbors.”

She visited the proposed site with a building inspector and met with property owner Tom Havorka and the club owner.

Powers, it turned out, had signed a five-year lease beginning April 1, and in it he had assumed all responsibility for obtaining permits. His attorney had told him he only needed a business license, Haw said.

Haw informed him otherwise. To adapt the former office space, an application for change of use must be filed. The process involves the Planning Department, the Fire Department and the Department of Building Inspection.

In addition, “It would certainly require some sort of public notification.”

April 2 was supposed to be Power Exchange’s opening night, but Powers pledged not to open until the paperwork was in order.

That night, a few potential customers passed by the club, but the doors were locked.

Storeowner Claudia Schwartz was working late. Her shop, Bell’occhio, sells jewelry and house wares and was recently profiled in the New York Times.

While the Power Exchange’s new location was 44 Gough St., the entrance would be on Stevenson, right across from her store.

With meticulous displays and distinctive merchandise, she said her shop was the “antithesis” of the Power Exchange.

“It really makes me angry that the owner of the Power Exchange didn’t talk to anybody,” Schwartz said.

On Friday afternoon, Tom Hovorka, the building agent, said things were at a standstill.

“I want to settle it amicably,” he said.

He said he hadn’t expected the neighborhood outcry. He too had received a number of phone calls. While some were cordial, he said many were rude, aggressive – even personal.

Powers, who was in Las Vegas on Friday night where he operates another Power Exchange, said that no one had called him, but he knew about the calls his landlord had received.

“These people are in protest because they don’t want me in their neighborhood. If I was so bad why did [the business last] 13 years?”

Part of the problem in obtaining permits, he said, was that the city didn’t know how to categorize a sex club.

“I don’t have strippers or stuff that’s provided,” he said, adding, “I’m removed completely from the entertainment.”

At the Planning Department, Haw confirmed it was a gray area. She had asked him for a detailed description of how the business operates.

Because of the significant neighborhood opposition and the permit issue, she said on Tuesday that, “It’s going be a while.”

On Sunday, a group of protestors with colorful signs held a protest at an open house for two other properties Hovorka represented. One sign read, “Tom Hovorka rents to SEX CLUB with long history of neglect in my neighborhood.” The neighbors posted an account of this action to their local listserv.

Less than a week after the controversy began, the opening of Power Exchange was delayed indefinitely. Mark Watson, Havorka’s attorney, said that the lease had been terminated. Powers, he said, had been notified.

Powers did not return a phone call for comment.

On hearing the news, Seljuk said she felt empowered. By working with her community, “we did it all together.”

She’s still uneasy though. “Did we win? Could he open up somewhere else?”

Dunmeyer shared her sentiments.

“I think [Powers] will continue his work,” she said.

Filed under: Trouble

38 Comments

  1. Madeleine

    Pardon my naivete, but what exactly is a sex club? And if clients are paying for sex, how does it legally operate in California?

  2. Avatar of Angela Kilduff Angela Kilduff Post author

    As I understand it, clients aren’t paying for sex. Club-goers pay admission. Depending on gender, some get in free. The customers who choose to provide the entertainment. The Yelp reviews have some personal accounts.

  3. David David

    What a shame that PE can’t find a welcoming neighborhood. I understand the residents’ plight, but I also loved my occasional visits to the Power Exchange.

    Yes, there is sex there. There are also condoms, gloves, dental dams and antiseptic spray.

    People are going to have sex (duh). And some people (a lot of people) like it to be a bit edgy. Having a safe place for that reduces harm.

    David

  4. Vicki

    That safe place should extend to the neighborhood in which it is a part. When Mr. Powers asks why there was never an attempt to shut the PE down while it was on Otis St, he overlooks (or purposely ignores)the many, many complaints that were called in over the weekends. The complaints were not about people having sex in the club. The complaints were about long drawn-out fights outside our bedroom windows, vandalized cars, drug dealers on bikes circling endlessly, the clack clack clack of some rather large and not very dainty persons in high-heels all night long into the dawn, the slippery condoms on doorsteps, the empty bottles and the…did I mention the clack clack clacking of high heels?

  5. emmy

    There are drug dealers and hookers everywhere. Why blame that on the PE? They’ve been off of Otis for months now and there are still plenty of hookers, crack, and used condoms. Also, on Valencia St there is dog shit, babies, and loud drunk hipsters. What’s the difference?

  6. JT

    Poor Poor San Franciscans…So PC and enlightened. Your once tolerant town is becoming a closeted conservative boutique city like most of America..The city shuts down at 2 am, gays have to go to Iowa to get hitched, and a sex club is upsetting the neighbors..What kind of people have moved into that town?

  7. robin

    “The complaints were about ….the clack clack clack of some rather large and not very dainty persons in high-heels all”,

    gee, I wonder what group that deragatory statement is directed at?

    For Transgender women, San Francisco is becoming increasingly hostile and intolerant.

    since the Power Exchange club closed, TG women and those who like us do NOT have a space to meet and safely play on a regular basis. I include under the tg women umbrella crossdressers thru post op transexuals and there are a hell of a lot of us. We are everywhere.

    In SF, gays and trans men have thier spaces, BDSM folks
    have thiers, and couples women have many play spaces.

    We trans women have had nothing since PE closed.

    Why? is it cause we dont exercise any power? We dont confront local hate groups or those who try and use government to force their religeous values on others?

    For me and many other trans women, PE was our sancuary, a place where we could gather, be ourselves, meet others and those who like us in a safe environment and safely get it on if we so desire without the risk of being beatup or killed, harrased, forced into unsafe sex. In PE we had our trans sisters and PE’s great security to keep it a safe space for us……

    how much longer will we keep taking this persecution? Stay tuned!

    trying to pervon in an increasingly hostile and intolerant SF,

    robin

  8. shamraka

    wow – had no idea this was happening.

  9. Julietgirl

    I think there is some stretching of the truth going on here with how many condoms and hookers etc. I have frequented Power Exchange since it opened at 74 Otis and its like any other club in SF from the outside if even quieter and cleaner….but homeless people are ALL OVER SAN FRANCISCO so its a normal thing….
    I cant wait for Power Exchange to re-open.Hurry,hurry,please ;)
    Julie

  10. Curious

    Interesting… this lady might not have called in police since the club closed, but the San Francisco Police Dept. crime map shows quite a few crimes in that area since the club closed – including theft, vandalism, break-ins, drugs, battery etc…

    Source:
    http://gispubweb.sfgov.org/website/san_francisco_community/wizard.asp

    Dear Kilduff, I wish you’ve checked your facts as a journalist should have.

    I guess the agenda wasn’t crime after all… Whatever happened to liberal San Francisco indeed.

  11. Julietgirl

    Hey!!! who shortened my responce!!!??? Thats not fair. They cut out how I commpared 11th & Folsom area with all the clubs in the way that there is alot of noise and trash and drunken people roaming.Power Exchange does not allow alcohol or drugs.Its not all about the sex either.There are other activities like spanking,tickeling,BDSM,toe sucking,voyerism etc.The sidewalks are as clean if cleaner as the rest of the city.
    I’ll just add shorter multiple commments ;)
    Julie

  12. Mr.Worf

    This is the real cost of gentrification. San Francisco used to be a fun and vibrant city during the day and night. Unfortunately, the makeup of the city has changed as more and more people from other parts of the country have flooded in bringing their conservative views. What happens after they move to the city? They move next door to a night club and expect the night club to adhere to their sleeping hours. They complain about the noise, the traffic etc. (It is always the club’s fault.) Then they start complaining to the board of supervisors about how “that club” is ruining “their” neighborhood.

    This has happened all over San Francisco. San Francisco once had a vibrant live music scene. The city, and a small group of people that complained about the clubs forced many of them out of business. Now there are just a small handful of clubs that do live shows. The adult clubs have just as much right to be a part of San Francisco as the people living in that neighborhood. Without it, another piece of San Francisco will have died.

    A Former native of San Francisco

  13. Avatar of Angela Kilduff Angela Kilduff Post author

    Curious:

    Thank you for your comment. The crime and call statistics in my article are tied specifically to 74 Otis, the Power Exchange’s former location. The crime map you indicated supports the information I gave. Yes, there is still crime in the surrounding neighborhood. I did not say there wasn’t. The neighbors said that crime has improved, not evaporated.

  14. AK

    I agree. What is happening to our once Great city? It has been known for how open and excepting it is. I once viewed it as a eye opener for the rest of the world. It made people believe that it doesn’t matter who or what you are. In San Fransisco you can be yourself. Open, free, and excepted.

    Well not any more. Everyone wants… what? Change it to suit them? Why? No one should be complaining about moving to a neighborhood where there is a night club if you don’t like noise. If you do your research before moving near any place of business there wouldn’t be any issues of this. Not to mention that business doesn’t have control over what customers do before or after they enter and leave that said place of business. Only what goes on in side it.

    I am from out of town, and try to make it to the city once a month just to go to PE. When it was opened. I have many friends that meet there to hang out, and have fun. None of any of the negative things I have heard here has gone on when I have been there, other then normal things that have happened every where else in the world. Even the small town I live in.

    I find it close minded, and rude to stop any place of business from opening just because you don’t like the customers of that business. If you don’t like the noise then MOVE! You live in a city. It does it matter where you live in that city, there is always going to be noise. I think you pay less for living in the area as you do because of the night life that goes there. If your going to complain you should do so to your self for picking to live in a cheaper neighborhood.

    I can’t wait for PE to re-open!

  15. CJ

    Well said, Mr. Worf. It’s nice to see that someone who writes in support of the PE can actually express themselves in a credible manner. For the most part, the comments expressed here by the PE regulars don’t exactly do the club any favors. Folks, if you want to be taken seriously, you may want to consider expressing yourself in a manner that doesn’t make you sound like lunatic fringe.

  16. IROD

    Sad and informative reading. . . once I moved to SF because I heard it was a big city with alot of diversity and here everyone has a place. But as communities grow, people gain a stake or ownership of something, they tend to speak loudly when things happen that affect their population. Sadly SF is just becoming a larger version of a small town and not as accepting of all as it was once toted to be.
    It appears that nobody in the neighborhood has any issues with what goes on INSIDE of the business, the problems stem from what transpires outside of the business-onto their community streets and properties after the club closes. Where people walk their dogs and children. Where friends and relatives come by and may see something that is not appropriate or is embarrassing to explain to your vanilla circle of friends/family…things like trannies, condoms or whatever. Whatever the negative is, you can shut your eyes or complain loudly but its an issue that is worldwide, not just in your neighborhood. …… I like getting there at 10pm and leaving when the club shuts down, but I’m willing to adjust that if it means making the overall picture work. It’s a give and take on all sides, but so far I see nobody making a move on their side.

  17. Chris English

    This is a serious shame.

    All of the complaints listed here are routine events in much of SOMA. Not a one appears to be related to the former Power Exchange club and even the list of law enforcement calls in the time period described only resulted in one arrest.

    Clearly, the people opposing Power Exchange have no idea what actually happens there nor who’s involved.

    FTR, I’ve been a Power Exchange attendee since their earlier incarnation on Harrison Street. And I’ve never seen or heard anything particularly untoward happening in or around PE. The worst thing I’m aware of is this sort of anti-sex, ignorant bigotry.

    I fail to see how any art shop could possibly be the “antithesis” of a progressive, profitable, community center.

  18. Nnm

    If you make PE a members only private club and double security in and out side the club people would be more inclined to let you open. Having a group conversation with all who thrive in the area would be a be help. Many people make this city ours in light many people must resolve this problem TOGETHER.

  19. Theophrastus

    Yeah, the so-tolerant Liberal, cosmopolitan people of San Francisco! The city is a sanctuary for illegals…but they just can’t tolerate a place where people can go behind closed doors to do what they want.

  20. Jerry

    The article starts with “….trash littered the road, and a homeless man had made his bed for the night on the sidewalk”
    and this is what the neighboorhood wants to Keep! This is “the antithesis of the Power Exchange”! This is what the ‘fancy’ shoppe wants as its surroundings!
    I was at PE’s opening, and at its closing. In between only one non-staff person was there more than I, and I can say that the conditions outside the club were never like those mentioned above that exist today outside the proposed location.
    It was a business that dealt with the public in a latenight setting, in a district where it’s legal. Mike Powers consistently had his staff patrol the area around the club for all sorts of misbehavior and chased off the occasional miscreant, while being mindful of people’s rights to go where they wanted. I have to say I was continually impressed with how staff would persuade rather than challenge and force. In fact, that ‘clack clack’ of high heels was about the loudest noise in the area; I never had to even raise my voice when having the occasional conversation outside.
    Also he paid some less fortunate to keep the surroundings clean. This noise about condoms makes it sound like it was a common thing; it sounds like hookers were everywhere. False. I parked in every lot and on every street, legally of course, in the area and walked over all sidewalks and pathways in the area and I never saw this. Remember, drinking was not allowed in the club and those who sometimes showed up in an inebriated state were turned away.
    Analyzing the stats in the article shows that there were 15 police calls in 3 months, 10 (2/3) during club days, but a careful reading shows that not even all of these were when the club was actually open. Then this; “Cars circled the block, blasting music” The club was on Otis, a very busy street that links the two parts of Mission, and also allows traffic access to Market via Gough, which is also heavily traveled irrespective of any business there. Again, a picture is painted that is not really accurate nor relevant to the club.
    “…it got crazier and crazier” Again what I saw was Mr. Powers continued efforts to train staff to keep people moving and keep the area safe and quiet.
    If the city wants to change zoning to disallow businesses then that’s one thing, but Mike Powers did a lot to be a good neighbor.

  21. Curious

    Num, that’s a pretty good idea! Many alternative places have memberships (SF Citadel, Harbin), even if the cost is only a symbolic one – it helps enforce the rules of conduct & I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a difference in how the city treats the establishment too.

    Good security outside of the club (even if it’s just a bouncer on the outside who could observe what’s going on and call to stop any developing problems) would make sense too, especially in an otherwise sketchy area. The neighborhood would also benefit from a late-night watch.

    Hope someone considers it, on both sides.

  22. Curious

    Angela, good point regarding the calls to actual address.

    It’s scary though that I found over 200 police interventions/calls within a block radius (!) of 74 Otis Street since January 1st, according to http://sf.everyblock.com/police-calls/streets/otis-st/52-98/1-block/?page=8

    200+ versus 15 police calls for the similar time length, all within about a block – this doesn’t sound like Power Exchange was the area’s biggest problem… though I can certainly understand that it would be 15 calls too many for a person living in the neighborhood.

    It does make me wonder about the statistics mentioned in the article though. The fact the the 2/3 of the calls coincided with the days Power Exchange was opened looks different when you consider that Power Exchange was opened just a bit less than 2/3 of a week, Thursday to Sunday – which includes two days (Friday and Saturday) that more crimes in general occur, according to my brief search of national crime stats.

    I don’t have the access to overall statistics of the local reports so I don’t know if this is the case with Otis street, but it also appears that more crime nationwide, except theft & bank robberies, happens in the evening to early morning hours – time when Power Exchange used to be open.

    A little bit less than 2/3 of the week for 2/3 of the crimes, adjusted to the fact that more crime in general happens during those hours and days of the week Power Exchange happened to be open. This points to the likelihood that there was no significant increase in the number of calls due to the presence of Power Exchange. Statistics are slippery things…

  23. David B

    I wonder if *any* business open the hours Power Exchange kept would be welcomed in that neighborhood.

    Honestly, people are reacting to the words “Sex Club” as if they were Puritans and this was rural New England. Power Exchange is essentially a shell where people, any people, can engage in mutually permissive safe sexual activity. There’s nothing inherent in the business that would cause problems – only perhaps in the hours.

    In the years I visited PE, there were definitely times I didn’t feel comfortable in the neighborhood – but it was never because of the clients who were at the club; it was always the spillover people from Market or Van Ness who made their way to a quieter area. Like those sleeping in the lobby of the City Human Resources Department building.

    If the people in that neighborhood aren’t comfortable with a city that is actually open after dark, perhaps they should consider moving. I hear there are parts of the Sunset that are nice and quiet. Or maybe Fremont.

  24. IROD

    Angela, we respect the (valid) viewpoints of the neighbors, is it possible to write an article from ‘the other side’? Of course we want to view our side, but I think there is a constructive and informative way to share with the neighbors and the general public why a place like that is important and share the side that we on the other side would like to work with and work positively to find a workable solution. Despite how it seems, not everyone that supports establishments like Power Exchange are clunky heeled transgendered women, some of us are what the neighbors would consider outside of their stereotyped.
    Every intolerance in the world has only been worked out by understanding the other side, respecting the valid concerns and coming up with a compromise on all ends to show a measure of good faith and to show that we are still a people who can try to learn about the others outside of our circle. Please organize an effort, even if its in the form of an article, that shows ALL sides of this in a fair way, not just the neighbors’. I think you have a good sampling of positively and negatively outlined points in your comments section to see what the other side speaks of.

  25. One Voice

    Whine, Whine. I have heard a lot of comments about how SF is repressing the TG community because one neighbourhood doesn’t want the sex club to open up again. Do you think that the city is brimming with straight sex clubs or something? From the article, it sounds like the McCoppin Group was active on an issue important to them. You want sex club? Get active…invite them to your hood. There are a lot of you involved….why don’t you throw some sex parties of your own? At your house! Stop you damn whining.

  26. Not Intolerance

    David B, it’s not intolerance for TG, gay, lesbo, etc. that is at work here. The simple fact that when the PE is open, the neighbours can’t sleep because of the pimps, dealers and hos is what isn’t tolerated. This is not a gay rights issue; this is a noise issue.
    I have friends in that stretch. I have stayed over and come out the next morning to find my car window smashed and condoms on my seats/carpeting (Used condoms! Gross!) this is not once, but twice. It has not just been my car either. So c’mon get off your crosses and admit that a bunch of partying every damn weekend gets old fast. You find a way to keep the ancillary traffic out of the hood, and you can have your club to do with what you want.

  27. CJ

    IROD is right. Those of us who support the PE are not limited to the stereotypical group mentioned here. I’m straight, married, female, a homeowner, a software manager at a major high-tech company, and my FICO score is to die for. I can relate to the concerns of both the neighbors and those who support PE. And there are many out there just like me. So let’s please dispense with the freak show stereotyping.

    I am very encouraged by the evolution of this discussion. It is good to see cooler heads prevail. And thank you to those who pointed out the logical fallacies associated with the area’s crime rate and nuisance issues. These are both SOMA issues, not PE issues.

  28. Andy

    As an occasional PE patron for over ten years, I have a pretty good handle on this neighborhood and any “PE effect” that existed to its detriment. Truthfully, I find some of the comments in the article a bit opportunistic in the negative casting area. I think it’s important for folks who had no experience with the club to understand that the majority of patrons were a pretty vanilla lot – many were there for a multitude of reasons other than strictly sexual activity. From the novelty of being a lookie-loo as an out of town tourist to creating an inviting playspace for the more hardcore BDSM players ( and the novice )…PE was not a one dimensional place that only generated tranny hookers and a never ending supply of condoms on the sidewalk. Many of the patrons ( myself included ) were white collar professionals whose brain synapses actually fire. To categorize the club, its patrons and the resultant “effect” as a hardship on the neighborhood doesn’t reflect the reality that I saw in coming there since 1998. I would respectfully listen to the neighborhood groups perspective…however, I personally have trouble differentiating between the Market/Van Ness area as a whole and any consistent problems that were the result of 74 Otis Street specifically. The somewhat disingenuous way the crime stats were presented seems to support my view.

  29. Lino

    I am glad that Angela Kilduff will do a follow-up article on the PE controversy expressing also the views of those who support the club. I think it is overdue. The article should also mention the legal ramifications and the opinions of the government officials who may have been intimidated by the neighborhood group opposing the club. Is this group representing the large population of the district or just a vocal, intolerant, biased small minority? I do not know, i could not understand from the first article. Personally i think that the Power Exchange is an SF institution, a cultural event and a genial creation. In the long term it would be a great asset for the district.

  30. Johnny

    The neighbors didn’t want a sex club? Or course not. Most of them are just barely getting buy on the public hand outs and subsidized housing. They spend a lifetime cultivating their sense of entitlement. They are the people you see on those electric scooters, because they are too obese to walk anymore.

    Those are the people we should be getting rid of. Not the colorful alternative community.

  31. Brian

    It is sad that people can be so unnecessarily fearful of something that sounds unusual or immoral to them. I wonder if the Power Exchange would face the same opposition if it were a sports bar or dance club which would likely have a similar if not more detrimental impact on the area. At least the steady flow of ‘tourists’ who came to gawk at the unashamed practice of sexual sexual freedom were able to broaden their horizons and see that the PE was a safe, fun place for adults to play.

  32. Pierce

    To me the relevant considerations are of degree – to what degree did the surrounding area’s crime problem differ from that of, say, the 16th/Valencia area, or Haight, or North Beach?

    Because the brutal fact of the matter for the neighbors is that they did not choose to live in Noe Valley, Pacific Heights, or the Outer Richmond. I’ve lived in the City for over 20 years now and the one consistently frustrating aspect of that time has been the steady diminution of what was once a relatively open, laissez-faire city culture.

    I can’t help but consider these protests as part of a trend that has included (inter alia), the parents who were so disturbed by the sight of a penis-shaped dildo in the window of a _Castro Street_ novelty shop, the immediate, unthinking opposition to the purchase of the Armory by the Kink.com folks, and the protests mounted against the re-opening of a male strip club by parents of children who attended a day school nearby — a day school that opened several years *after* the club had been in full operation.

    I don’t like the Power Exchange – I’ve been a handful times and won’t go back, but that’s because of the atmosphere *inside*. It’s just not my kind of playspace. Outside? It was SoMa – no more, no less.

  33. SA

    I have to ask a question that may be blindingly obvious, but still:

    Why on earth would anyone assume that street prostitution and public sex was tied to a legal sex/BDSM club? If someone can go into a club and involve themselves in sexual activities protected from the elements and police with a willing, free sex partner… why would they then turn around and buy a street trick? It makes NO SENSE, and a moment’s contemplation would suggest that the clientele for the club were NOT likely to be the clientele for the local sex workers.

  34. Marius

    Not Intollerant & others: I am confused. I have been to the Power Exchange a couple of times and several of my friends are regulars. The point of the sex club is to pay a fee to get in, so you can have sex (among other things) inside the club. Some people have sex with several people during their visit to the club. That being the case, why would there be prostitutes & used condoms outside the club?
    As for the noise issue, that is a bad neighborhood. There is a huge amount of traffic, it is a major link between SOMA & the Mission, there is noise there all the time. I agree that you probably get some chatter at the door & some clackity clack of high heels, but these are normal street noises that most people get used to (like living next to train tracks).

  35. anonymota

    I worked at this club for a time, and while I normally wouldn’t post here I feel it’s important that everyone understand it’s not the fact that there was a sex club in the neighborhood that caused the problems. This particular place was patronized by the lowest of the low, and the persons staffing it for the most part were as bad or worse. Theft and drug use was rampant among both groups and the rules were not even almost enforced. The only thing that was handled professionally in any sense was the mandatory meeting wherein we were informed by the Heath Dept of the astounding number of people who had determined that they contracted the HIV virus in the club.

    I can guarantee that the off-hours calls were related to activities in the building while it was closed. People lived there, crashed there and filmed there all throughout the week.

    I am by no means an intolerant person, or I wouldn’t have had any interest inthe job to begin. And San Francisco isn’t intolerant of sexual freedom or free enterprise – the real issuea with the city are the huge number of thuggish and dead-nasty bozos who don’t know how to behave or don’t care to demand a clean, safe and welcoming environment and the lack of incorruptible cops.

    This place was grosser than i think you want to know.

  36. Vicki

    Talk about your manufactured outrage. Those who were in the club while the stuff we were complaining about happened outside the club aren’t in a position to comment about what was happening while they weren’t looking. NO ONE gives a karap what was happening INSIDE the club. Don’t you righteously indignant (sex club in the neighborhood-free) armchair gadflys get it? If you did a cross-section of the neighborhood’s residents, you’ll find all manner of adventurous pleasure-seekers. It’s just that, like the tenets of BDSM, we inflict our mayhem and/or nirvana with the other party’s permission. I, personally, do all my clack-clack-clacking on a carpeted floor so as not to wake up the guy downstairs. If this were a sports bar frequented by obnoxious frat kids, we’d be complaining about their singing Boola Boola into the wee hours. JEEEEsus – put yourself in someone’s else’s shoes and have a heart. It’s not about sex. It’s about obnoxious and criminal behavior ON THE STREETS OUTSIDE OUR HOMES. It’s not about the sex inside the club, and if you can’t parse that, then you’re intentionally misunderstanding.

    I’m glad it’s over. If Mr. Powers wanted to start a club in the entertainment district in North Beach, I’d say more power to him and where can I buy shares in the business.

  37. I hope everyone would agree that one essential precondition for allowing the owners of PE to open ANYWHERE in Sf should be equal admission prices for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexual orentation. I have yet to hear any resonable explanation that justifies, morally or legally, a poloiucy that charges single me up to &0 to get in while others are let in free. Don’t we believe in upholding the priciple of equal treatment and adherence to the California Ciuvil Rights Code in San Francisco? PE had never been a private club, always open to the public. The discriminatory admission policies are continued in some areas inside also; I have see signs that say so-snd-so group “not allowed beyond this point”. So much for the purportedly progressive and sex-positive mission of this business, which in fact perpetuates a reactionary and expoitative paradigm of human sexuality.

  38. Judia

    As the club owner, it was power’s responsibilty to keep his business clean. While i enjoy sex clubs, wish to open up my own, it’s up to the owner and staff to keep the riff raff out. That means drugs, drug dealers, prostitutes and other unsavories. It’s also THEIR responsibility to keep things clean–not to mention SANITARY! While PE should have found a welcoming neighborhood, they were right to kick him out. The owner isn’t doing his job/duty as a sex club owner. He was negelctful, no doubt greedy, and his business showed it. *shrugs*

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