“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

The Condor

Where It All Began

The Condor Marker image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, July 12, 2008
1. The Condor Marker
The birthplace of the world’s first topless & bottomless entertainment.

Topless • June 19, 1964
Bottomless • September 3, 1969
Starring Ms. Carol Doda

San Francisco, California

Location. 37° 47.879′ N, 122° 24.403′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker is at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Broadway Street, on the right when traveling north on Columbus Avenue. Click for map. The Condor Club is located in the heart of San Francisco's North Beach district. Marker is at or near this postal address: 300 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco CA 94133, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Stinking Rose (within shouting distance of this marker); The Saloon (within shouting distance of this marker); Lupo’s Restaurant (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); St. Francis of Assisi Church (about 500 feet away); San Francisco Brewing Company (about 500 feet away); American Zoetrope (about 700 feet away); Little Chile (about 700 feet away); Alleyways in Chinatown (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in San Francisco.
More about this marker. Despite the superficial similarities
The Condor Club as it appears today image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, July 12, 2008
2. The Condor Club as it appears today
The marker is visible between the first and second window arches (from the left). At one point the Club was renowned for its neon sign depicting an outline of Carol Doda, with red lights twinkling where the nipples would be. But the sign is long gone.
in color, shape, and style (note the bear) to markers denoting official state landmarks, the Condor Club is not a registered California Historical Landmark.
Regarding The Condor. As with other media, just because it's written on a plaque doesn't make it true. The claim that the Condor Club was the birthplace of topless and bottomless entertainment is dubious. Yet there would be more than a grain of truth to call the Condor Club the leading innovator of such entertainment, at least in the US in the 20th Century. The young Carol Doda's dancing debut in a topless swimsuit designed by Rudi Gernreich certainly didn't start the so-called Sexual Revolution, but it certainly was part of it, immediately setting off imitations both in San Francisco and in cities throughout the US.

Doda was known not simply for doing what she did, but also for the rapid expansion of her bustline, going from a reported 34 to 44 inches, thanks to silicone injections, within a few years of her debut. Her act was famous for her entrance - a descent from the ceiling to the floor on top of a hydraulicly-operated grand piano, with her writhing and gyrating all the while. Without doubt, she was the country's most famous ecdysiast.

The Condor Club is better appreciated as not just a strip club, even if it was perhaps the first of its kind in the US, but rather as part of the burgeoning cultural scene that was taking place in San Francisco during the era. The Condor Club was located in the heart of the North Beach, less than two short blocks from other groundbreaking venues such as the City Lights bookstore (publishing beat and avant garde poetry and prose - think Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac), the Purple Onion and The Hungry I (Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Barbara Streisand, the Limelighters, Phyllis Diller, Dick Gregory, the Smothers Brothers, and the Kingston Trio all got their start or played at either of these clubs regularly during the late 50's and early 60's). There was a time that the cultural events in this small area influenced the the country, but no longer. Today North Beach is still a fun place, but its cultural importance relative to how it used to be is minimal.

Today the Condor Club is a sports bar.

After retiring from dancing in the 1980's, Doda did promos for a TV station (Channel 36 - "The Perfect 36"), and has since opened up a lingerie shop in the city.

The grand piano is still remembered for the events of the night of November 24, 1983, when a club bouncer, Jimmy "the Beard" Ferrozo, and an exotic dancer, Teresa Hill, got a little too amorous on top of the piano, somehow tripping a control on the hydraulics and sending the piano upwards, in the process pinning them both to the ceiling. Ferozzo died as a result, although sources differ as to whether it was due to a heart attack or asphyxiation.
Categories. Notable EventsNotable Persons
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 1,401 times since then and 75 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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