And over at the Penthouse Club in North Beach, a small chorus line of exotic dancers are preparing for their annual toy drive and fundraiser for San Francisco Fire Fighters Local 798, set for Friday, November 21 from 8-10 p.m. Penthouse Pet Layla Sin says she's thrilled to host.
The Penthouse Toy Drive is as much a San Francisco tradition as the ice skating rink or tree-lighting ceremonies in Union Square, and in the course of a decade, it's purportedly netted more than $250,000
for children in need.
Patrons receive free admission for bringing an unwrapped toy worth $20 or more, and dancers perform "charity" routines, allocating a portion of their proceeds to a fund for the toy program.
Granted, not everyone in the fire department embraces the idea of having a strip club as a benefactor. In 2011, fire chief Joanne Hayes-White initially snubbed
a $20,000 check from a consortium of strip clubs, and made the union collect it a few blocks away, at the Gold Club. Last year, a union spokesman told SF Weekly
that Local 798 merely accepts checks and distributes the proceeds, regardless of their provenance.
To be fair, a stripper-sponsored toy drive might seem like an awkward move for a department that's also been bullish about fighting breast cancer
. But it's certainly been a rousing success in years past.
The department has also reaped funds from poker tournaments and bare-chest calendars
— also an entrenched San Francisco tradition.
Sex sells here, but it also shares the profits.
The days are shorter, the wind is nippier, the reindeer and Christmas lights are popping up in window displays along Powell Street.