Betty is a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc.
A travel writer, photographer and speaker, Sister Betty's work has been
published in several books and in magazines around the world. A Gulf
War veteran, Sister Betty has travled to more than 47 counties and nearly
all 50 states. Sister Betty has appeared on BBC, National Geographic,
the Travel Channel, and CBS. Sister Betty's website is SisterBetty.org.
|Welcome to San Francisco!
San Francisco is a fantastic playground and there
are lots of guidebooks to tell you about the city. I buy these guidebooks,
lug them about in my suitcase, and use them once or twice to find a bar
or club. To help you free up space in your luggage for more sex toys,
here is my quick (and very lightweight) guide to San Francisco for leathermen
and kinky guys:
The Quick and Dirty:
Most of the leather activity in the city
centers in two neighborhoods: The Castro and South of Market.
Castro is gay Mecca and every gay man is expected to make a pilgrimage
to 18th and Castro at least once. The neighborhood is fun, filled
with shops, bars,
restaurants of varying quality, and a few places to stay.
South of Market ("SOMA"), once a leather hotspot
and warehousedistrict, it now consists of lofts, furniture stores, and
big box retailers. Although home to some of the best
leather bars and sex clubs, SOMA is less than entertaining during daylight
Where to Stay:
Castro is the heart of gay San Francisco, but lodging options are limited.
There are several
B&Bs which often book up far in advance. Beck's Motor Lodge
is the only large "motel" in the area and gets mixed reviews. If
you like a cruisy motel, Beck's fits the bill - but expect little more
than basic lodging.
Most of the hotels in San Francisco are not only
gay friendly, but often filled with gay staff. Hotels in the Union
Square Area are close to transportation and you can find some good deals.
Leathermen seem to like the Ramada Inn on Market, which is cheap, basic,
close to transportation and within walking distance of the SOMA bars.
staying in the Fisherman's Wharf, Tenderloin or Embarcadero areas.
You'll not only be far from the action, but surrounded by herds of tourists
dressed in sparkling sweaters and "I Love Tulsa" hats. And definitely
don't stay at hotel near the airport - you'll be miles and miles from the
(For a list of recommended hotels, click
Don't Rent a Car:
San Francisco is a very compact city with fairly
good public transit, generally safe streets, and no parking. Unless
you plan to drive out of the city to visit Napa or the Russian River, don't
waste money on a car. You will have to fight for parking or pay outrageous
The Nine Great Non-Bar Hopping Things
to Do In San Francisco:
Two Over-Hyped Things to Avoid:
Towering above San Francisco, Twin Peaks
offers a fantastic view of the entire city. On a clear day, you really
can see forever. The view extends from the Golden Gate Bridge to
San Jose. You can reach Twin Peaks on foot (see Stairways
of San Francisco for directions), by bus (take the 37 bus from the
Castro), or by taxi.
2) Walk the Castro
Castro neighborhood embodies the history of the gay liberation movement.
From the Twin Peaks Bar at Market and Castro (the first gay bar in the
United States with glass windows so patrons were fully visible to the public),
to Harvey Milk's camera shop, you'll find history, fun stores, and great
places to sit and chat. Plus, the neighborhood is full of queers.
Sunny Saturdays and Sundays bring the boys out in hordes!
Francisco Museum of Modern Art features a stunning building and a fantastic
collection of art. You'll find it at Third & Mission Streets
(take the underground MUNI to Powell Street and walk to Third). Across
the street is the Yerba Buena gardens where businessmen stroll and eat
lunch and art students lounge between classes.
4) The Castro Theater
Located between Market and 18th Street
on Castro, the Castro
Theater is one of San Francisco's last single-screen historic theaters.
Evening performances are preceded by live performances on a huge Wurlitzer
organ that rises from the stage. You can catch a show and be out
in time for hours of bar hopping.
Golden Gate Bridge
Whether you rent a bike and ride across
or walk across, the Golden Gate Bridge is more breathtaking in person than
in photographs. Be warned - the fog rolls in through the gate and
you should take a sweater - even in the summer!
8) Get your hair cut by Joe the Barber
Former International Mister Leather,
Gallagher has the butchest barbershop on the planet at 19th and Castro.
Call ahead for a reservation as Joe and his staff of masculine hair
snippers are quite popular.
9) Coit Tower
Designed to look like a firehose nozzle,
most folks say this looks more like a fireman's nozzle. For a few
dollars you can take an ancient elevator to the top and stare down at outrageously
priced real estate.
No one who lives in San Francisco ever
goes to Fisherman's Wharf unless they work there or are arrest and forced
to pick up trash in the area. San Francisco maintains the area so
straight folk have somewhere to go that feels like downscale Disneyland.
2) Riding the Cable Cars.
I highly, highly recommend riding the
F-line streetcars that run up Market Street. However, you'll stand
in line for significant periods of time to get on San Francisco's legendary
cable cars only to be treated poorly by the underpaid and grumpy operators.
Take a few photos to prove you saw them and then run along down the street
to something more
Major Leather and Gay Events:
Regardless of when you visit, SanFranciscoLeather.com's
events calendar has details on events from the weekly to the major
yearly leather festivals.
Enjoy your visit to San Francisco and tell
them Sister Betty sent you!