As reported on their Web site, on Hoodline, and in the Bay Area Reporter, Blow Buddies will not be reopening after the pandemic. The club, which opened on August 8, 1988 and saw its last guests on March 15, 2020, will be much missed by many in our community. As the Web page says, “The club was created in response to one virus and done in by another.”
It joins Watergarden, the San Jose bathhouse which recently closed after 43 years of operation, a victim of both the cost of being closed, and the uncertainty about when they might return to normal. A Bay Area Reporter article on that closing can be found here.
The good news, however, is that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is taking steps to make it easier for a bathhouse to operate in the city. In legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors in July 2020, and adopted by the Department of Public Health in January 2021, they have removed the mandate for inspections and the ban on locking doors, making traditional gay bathhouses possible.
They have also implemented zoning changes which allow “Adult Sex Venues” (ncluding bathhouses) to operate in broad areas of the city, including key locations in the Castro, Tenderloin and SOMA, where such venues would be most welcome and successful. You can learn more about the zoning changes here.
The first impact of these changes was the opening of the new Eros SF Sex Club, an SF Legacy Business formerly located on Market Street. The new facility at 132 Turk Street opened in June, in time for SF Pride. Read about the move here, and visit the Club’s website here.
Of course, the Steamworks bathhouse remains open in Berkeley, for those willing to travel across the bay.
With the new zoning, other adult sex venues are likely to open in San Francisco. If you would like to create one in SOMA, the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District would love to help you. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for information.