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Condor Club requests Legacy Business classification, but the Historic Preservation Committee belittles them

Condor Club requests Legacy Business classification, but the Historic Preservation Committee belittles them


Many of our favourite local businesses that have been in operation for 30 years or more have been given the honour of being listed on the San Francisco Legacy Business Registry. Legendary clubs and eateries, recording studios, and even highly adored mailing and post office box enterprises have received this accolade.

All of the men who spoke highly of the club’s significance to San Francisco history and culture were current or previous workers of the Condor. Longtime Condor Club employee Derek Thompston told the panel, “The Condor is a pillar of community in North Beach. It gives folks a safe sanctuary to go to and relieve their tension.”

The Chronicle, however, noted that the SF Historic Preservation Commission was now debating whether to designate the Condor Club, a North Beach nightclub, as a Legacy Business. The nomination sparked a heated discussion about whether the city should support a strip club whose history is more replete with misogyny than, say, culture, even though that place is regarded as the first topless bar in the United States.

The club’s application, however, provided no proof that any women had ever been promoted beyond dancer and bartender positions, according to commissioners who also cited the club’s history of “exploitation for profit.” The Condor was a place “where employment or promotion was predicated on sexual criteria,” according to commissioners.

Nageswaran continued, “The Condor’s nomination emphasises that ownership has always been exclusively held by men. “And in the story honouring her, Carol Doda indicated she had never received adequate pay throughout her lengthy stint at the Condor. This is notable since she played a key role in defining the firm.

Yes, the establishment served as Carol Doda’s launch pad and the Condor’s application had comments from the late, great Herb Caen. However, commissioner Ruchira Nageswaran drew attention to the fact that “the quotations of Herb Caen in the nomination were distinguished in the objectification of her rather than describing her as a person or for her performances,” despite the fact that they were referred to as “honouring” Carol Doda.

Nageswaran continued by saying that although the club may have played a role in the Sexual Revolution, its contributions may not have stood the test of time.

“It is crucial to see an increase in racial and social equity reflected in their nomination for nominees of all categories,” she said. In an ideal world, “women’s freedom offers possibilities equal to those of other genders based on abilities and contributions outside of sexualization’s discriminatory characteristics.”

Other commissioners countered that the Condor’s application shouldn’t be disqualified due to historical sexism. “I grew up in Indiana with a mother who was a real estate agent. Commissioner Chris Foley stated, “And I’ll tell you right now, she was treated like trash. “I don’t think it’s our responsibility,” someone said, “just like I shouldn’t order the hot dog maker to make vegetarian hot dogs if they’re going to sell me hot dogs and I only eat vegetarian cuisine.”

However, it was widely agreed that the Legacy Business application was solely dependent on Doda having exposed her breasts in the past and lacked any real dedication to advancing women. According to commissioner Lydia So, “when I’ve seen other heritage firms coming up to us, they had previously offered to show us how much community outreach, and how many things they will be doing and have already done to genuinely address the social and racial justice component.” But what we need to know from the Condor is what additional actions you plan to take or have already taken to make the world a better place for women.

The commission did suggest that the Condor be approved as a Legacy Business, but only after passing through a number of additional hoops and a torturous additional bureaucratic process that demands more than just stripping off. They recommended approval, but with the caveat that Condor take into account “developing a framework” to promote and train women, especially those at the centre of the company, and incorporate those recommendations for review by the SF Department on the Status of Women and the Small Business Commission.

So, on Wednesday, the Condor Club did not receive final Legacy Business permission. The Small Business Commission will now review their request before deciding whether to approve it or refer it to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

News Summary:

  • Condor Club requests Legacy Business classification, but the Historic Preservation Committee belittles them
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