Best Of The Gays
Erotic shops and sex clubs for lusty libidos
by BARtab staff
Where you want to get off, and how, with whom (or what), should be your decision. In the Bay Area, you've got plenty of options, with a mind-boggling array of shopping options for toys to lick, poke and play with, as your votes have shown.
Best Street Fair or Festival – Folsom Street Fair
Folsom Street Fair was a runner-up in both Community Event and Community Fundraiser categories, but it won the Bestie for Best Street Fair or Festival. That figures, since it's the largest leather event in the world. It's massive. It's huge. Not that we're size queens.
But think about it. Where else can you see thousands of men, women and trans folk nearly naked or gussied up in buttless chaps, leather corsets, couture horse-head fetish gear, all while sipping a draft beer sold by hunky gay wrestlers?
Where else can you enjoy outdoor rock concerts, wild drag shows and dozens of exhibtion booths, all while freeballing in your Utilikilt? Where else can you witness live sex with your favorite porn stars, then come down to reality, or a strange kinky 'Diane Arbus in leather' reality, after witnessing an obese unicorn flogging a dwarf? Hey, this ain't Game of Thrones. We saw it.
With its related dance-circuit orgy-parties having expanded beyond the mostly male horny ranks, the fair's events just keep getting bigger, better, and thicker.
And your gate donations continue to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for local LGBT and AIDS/HIV nonprofits. In fact, the fair has raised more than $5 million in its three-decade-plus history. Join hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors from around the world, (usually, but not this year) the last Sunday of September.
Folsom Street Fair. Sunday, September 21, 2014. Folsom Street between 11th and 8th streets. www.folsomstreetevents.org
Best Place to Buy Sex Toys – Good Vibrations
To be honest, some of the innovative sex toys sold at Good Vibrations' many shops resemble alien genitalia, and the color choices veer towards the Eastery ("But really, Debbie; pastels?").
Yes, the stores have a decidedly feminist approach to sexuality, but that doesn't mean men can't enjoy their offerings (pegging, anyone?).
As satisfied customers can attest, you've never truly experienced multiple orgasms until you tried Stronic Zwie Pulsator. Nope, you can't also play Wi tennis with it, but you can try. You can also choose from their whimsical selection of party gifts, board games, and romantic novelty items.
And you can definitely lose any inhibitions when inquiring about anal pleasure with the friendly informed staff. How about a nontoxic real-sized erection to play with? Some lingerie? A gift box for your next bachelor/ette party? Good Vibes has it, in abundance, and they've been serving the sex-curious community since 1977.
Along with sex-positive workshops, books, and plenty of brands of condoms and lubricants for any taste, you can be sure that after a shopping trip at one of their San Francisco or East Bay stores, your sex life will surely improve, even if it's just with yourself.
Good Vibrations. San Francisco: 603 Valencia St., 1620 Polk St., 899 Mission St., 189 Kearny St. Berkeley: 2504 San Pablo Ave. Oakland: 3219 Lakeshore. Palo Alto: 534 Ramona St. Brookline, MA: 308A Harvard St. (800) BUY-VIBE. www.goodvibes.com
Best Adult Store – Mr. S Leather
You never forget your first cock ring. Or maybe you did forget it, on the nightstand of your last trick.
Either way, you can get more in all sizes, shapes and colors, from rubber to leather to a metal codpiece, at Mr. S Leather. The kink clothing and accessories mega-store can help you get trussed and gussied up in full-body leather, neoprine singlets and pants, or just a comfortable sleeveless leather vest. From jock straps and other straps, to dildos for tight or extremely ample orifices, the friendly staff will help you shop for items from your wildest kink dreams, all without batting an eye.
Build your own sling with their full-out kits, learn rope tricks at one of their many workshops, or even participate in their sex events in their play space, which include fisting, bondage, or non-sexual submission wrestling. Don't dream it, be it.
Mr. S Leather, 385 8th St. at Harrison. 863-7764. www.mr-s-leather.com
Best Cruising Spot – Golden Gate Park
We don't get it. Acres and acres of beautiful and symbolically sexual trees to satisfy the most hardcore dendrophile, a fantastic ocean view at one end and exquisite gardens throughout, and for some reason, like a tribal hunting ground, despite the stripping of shrubs and the sports field fencing nearby, some guys still cruise the notorious path behind the windmills on the far west end of Golden Gate Park. While we certainly don't advocate risky nighttime cruising anywhere, we do long for the pre-Grindr days when horny men found each other by scent versus app. Either way, you voted, so enjoy the scenery. Just don't frighten the horses or the soccer moms.
Best Sex Club – Steamworks Berkeley and Blow Buddies
With a two-city tie, perhaps our randy readers are bi-lateral in their choices. Either way, in San Francisco, you can enjoy a dark and sultry mood with booths, glory holes and an outdoor sex and smoking area at Blow Buddies.
The ongoing theme nights range from leather to pee play, underwear to bondage. Check as much of your clothes as you like (but keep your shoes on), put on whatever kink wear you prefer, but the common garb is basically –jeans, no shirt and zipper down– The creative cubicles, chairs and benches accomodate multiple gymnastic positions for your naughty desires.
Known to attract every type of man from frisky college freshmen to decadent daddies, the towel-clad patrons of the stylish bath house Berkeley's Steamworks often enjoy DJed celebratory nights of erotic fun, and more relaxed quiet cruising on other days and nights. Rent a locker or a room, meat the man of your wet dreams, then hose yourself down in the showers for yet another round.
Steamworks also won Best Reason to Cross the Bay Bridge to East Bay, and what with it being a brief road trip or BART trek away, your sexual adventure awaits, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Blow Buddies, 933 Harrison St. 777-4323. www.blowbuddies.com
Steamworks Berkeley, 2107 4th St. (510) 845-8992. www.steamworksbaths.com/berkeley