Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Adult movies make way for old-time arts http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Adult-movies-make-way-for-old-time-arts-99738484.html
By: John Upton, August 2, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — Long-lost forms of family-focused entertainment are slated to replace adult-video screenings in a historic Tenderloin neighborhood building.

Theater professionals plan to convert the 88-year-old building at 80 Turk St. into a 99-seat venue featuring circus acts, burlesque, ventriloquism, juggling, puppetry and other performances popular in bygone eras.

Programming would emphasize entertainment, training and mentorship for Tenderloin youths.

“The goal is to bring back art forms and styles of storytelling that people haven’t seen in the past 50 or 100 years,” said Sean Owens, a San Francisco playwright and performer who’s working on the plan with business partner Cameron Eng.

Owens is the playwright-in-residence at the nearby Exit Theatre, which presents the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival.

The duo is working with The City on the plans and said the owner of the property has expressed interest in changing its use.

The proposed new venue would be named Gaiety, which also is the building’s name.

“We hope the Gaiety can find a space here and we have some resources to assist,” said Amy Cohen of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The stretch of Turk between Market and Taylor is a challenge and also a major opportunity given the access to transit at Powell Street and the proximity of the Warfield Theatre, the Golden Gate Theatre and the Exit Theatre.”

The current tenants of the Gaiety building — which has been used during the past century as a store, gambling hall, cafe and tavern — use it to screen pornographic films.


Venue makeover:
Breakdown of plans for Gaiety building:
Basement: Office space, workshop, costume shop, green room
Ground floor: 99-seat theater, concession stand, cafe
Upstairs: Meeting, office, rehearsal space
Source: Foul Play production company


For generations, San Francisco has been a nexus point for life-changing experiences. Artists have flocked to the Golden Gate to find kindred spirits and discover themselves. THE GAIETY will capitalize upon the Tenderloin’s place in history as a sanctuary from extinction in harsh economic times and will present a bold vision for the Tenderloin’s future.

We stand alongside those who re-envision the Tenderloin as the center for cultural stimulus and the wellspring of tomorrow’s art forms. THE GAIETY may well prove to be the birthplace of the new Vaudeville movement, may give rise to a fresh new generation of film-makers, may serve to reinvigorate the city’s deep roots in jazz or may even hold a legacy yet to be realized by future generations. It is our investment in the community and our dedication to recouping the loss of artists’ space suffered through the city’s Dot-Com crisis, which will allow THE GAIETY to prosper and the city to reclaim the Tenderloin as its artistic home.