San Francisco Bathhouse Going to the Dogs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Joe Rosato Jr.
    The Tenderloin has a well-deserved reputation as San Francisco's grittiest neighborhoods. But many don't realize it's home to 380 historic buildings.

    After years of neglect, a former Tenderloin bathhouse may get a new leash on life.

    Club Turk Baths was one of the first gay bathhouses in the city, but its reign came to an end in the 1980s with a city crackdown on sex clubs amid the AIDS epidemic. After two empty decades, the building is ready for a new tenant: a doggy day-care center.

    Tentatively to be named Bulldog Baths, there won't be any sticky sauna or backroom hanky-panky. Instead, customers can drop their pooches off for the day while they go to work, comfortable in the knowledge that their faithful pet will have a fun-filled day of activities rather than lying bored around the house.

    Prospective owner David Nale is looking forward to dividing up the massive space into four dog playgrounds, with the potential for living units upstairs.

    It's part of a general city trend toward eliminating some of the squalor of the Tenderloin. After that crackdown in the 80s, only a few sex clubs remain. Those that have survived have done so by adhering to squeaky-clean rules about safety and hygiene.

    The Power Exchange recently moved into the Tenderloin after bouncing between locations; the Tea Room Theater doesn't advertise sex but offers daily live onanistic performances; and the Nob Hill Theater features special transparent booths for shower shows. You'll have to wander out of the TL a ways if you want a place where you can towel off: there's Eros, down by the Castro Safeway, or Blow Buddies in SoMa, and Steamworks across in the East Bay has deluxe rooms with slings. But they don't have dog-sitters.