The New Yorker blog has a post about the demise of the Lusty Lady in San Francisco, the first US strip club to unionize and function as a workers' cooperative:

Some at the club see the demise of the Lusties—as the dancers call themselves—as evidence of how so much of what makes San Francisco progressive, and subversive, is getting pushed out in favor of the sleek and corporate. The nation’s only peep-show union shop, they’ll tell you, was smothered by a man behind what is considered the Walmart of San Francisco’s strip-club scene.

Talk to the landlord, Roger Forbes, and it’s about rent: the club didn’t make it in May, and had to go.

I'm sure the full story is more complicated than any workaday journalist would want to untangle—Lusty Lady SF was connected to Lusty Lady Seattle, but even those two parted company on extraordinarily complicated terms.

More importantly, the New Yorker story doesn't ask one of the most relevant questions: What will happen to that human (?) tongue embedded on that pencil?

(Photo and explanation after the jump.)

The tongue:

tongueshot.jpg

The story (or as much of it as I heard in 2010):

Because it's a dark warren of nooks and crannies populated by a stream of short-term, anonymous visitors, the Lusty is an excellent place to lose things—accidentally or intentionally. "Shit, what haven't I found in those booths?" says Scott during the Sunday barbecue. "Bloody scissors, crack pipes, knives, guns, drugs, hair, blood—"

"It's surprising how much blood we've found there," says Bob, another jizz mopper.

Why so much blood?

"I don't know," Scott says. "Never try to get into the mind of the customer. That way lies madness. I found a detachable showerhead once. Fruits and vegetables, all kinds of sex toys, phone cards, gift cards—"

"There was that gift card," says a dancer named Gypsy. "We painted our apartment with that." One time, Scott says, the jizz moppers found what they thought was a human tongue impaled on a pencil in the bathroom.

Customers lose hundreds—maybe thousands—of dollars in change. The coin slots are worn down from years of use, and sometimes your quarter rolls right out and onto the floor. Instinctively, you stoop to pick it up. Then you see a glint of light reflected in a puddle of semen and decide to let it go. "I always clean the change with disinfectant and then use it at the bar," Bob says with a low chuckle. "It only dawned on one of my bartenders recently, and he was like, 'Oh fuck you, man! I just figured out why you always pay in quarters!'"

"The saddest thing is when you find wedding rings," Scott says, and the dancers let out a collective moan.

Support The Stranger

I was told the tongue was eventually interred in a jar in the walls of the Lusty Lady SF. And just this morning, someone emailed me saying she was one of a very few people who knew the whole story behind the tongue. She asked if I would like to hear it.

Of course I said yes.

I'll report back if and when I learn more.