San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Where It All Began
Topless • June 19, 1964
Bottomless • September 3, 1969
Starring Ms. Carol Doda
San Francisco, California
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Women.
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. The Condor Club is located in the heart of San Francisco's North Beach district. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 300 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco CA 94133, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Italian American Bank (within shouting distance of this marker); The Old Broadway Jail (within shouting distance of this marker); The Stinking Rose (within shouting distance of this marker); The Saloon (within shouting distance of this marker); Finnochio's Peter Macchiarini Steps (about 300 feet away); The Lusty Lady (about 400 feet away); Lupo’s Restaurant (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Francisco.
More about this marker. Despite the superficial similarities 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.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 7, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 17, 2008, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 1,587 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 17, 2008, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.