A new sex-positive bar is slated to open in downtown Oakland early next year by the owner of two popular East Bay sex shops, and it will evoke the gritty vibe of Times Square from the 1970s. , when it was full of pornographic theaters and sex workers.

Feelmore Social Club will occupy the space at 1542 Broadway, formerly occupied by the Viscera clothing store, and owner Nenna Joiner, who also owns Feelmore sex shops in Oakland and Berkeley, hopes to open it in time for Valentine’s Day. .

The interior of the bar will be reminiscent of a more sordid and sexier era in Times Square in New York City. “Sex is hard to translate in a bar unless it’s a strip club,” Joiner said. But the idea of ​​invoking Times Square in the 1970s seemed like a different way of channeling that energy, a way that is also portrayed in the HBO series “The Deuce”. “Before it became the Times Square that every tourist in the world knows, it was a place with lots of porn theaters and underground sex shops,” Joiner said. What Now SF first reported the news.

Lighting, of course, will be an important part of this. The bar already has a skylight and Joiner brought in Rite Guy, the local industrial design firm that created the electric purple aura at the Viridian cocktail hotspot. There can also be cheeky artistic touches, like “handcrafted cast iron penis holders” under the bar, Joiner said.

The Feelmore Social Club will be a new sex-positive cocktail bar in Oakland.

Courtesy of Nenna Joiner

Another centerpiece of the decor: a neon sign of the Lusty Lady, a bygone San Francisco adult theater. Joiner has long been interested in the Lusty Lady, which closed in 2013 after four decades, and at one point attempted to buy out the company, without success. (The Lusty Lady space in North Beach has been controlled by the owners of the Tosca Cafe since 2014. But it is not known whether the current owners of this restaurant, Nancy Oakes, Ken Fulk and Anna Weinberg, have ever had the intends to revive it.)

There will be a light menu of some sort. Joiner is considering partnering with a supplier of Vietnamese small plates. But many details at Feelmore Social Club have yet to be worked out, including the drinks themselves, though Joiner has said having great cocktails will be a priority. The goal, Joiner said, is to create a place that is fun and playful, and an accessible space even for those who don’t drink alcohol or drink a lot of alcohol.

The idea resembles the culmination of Joiner’s work at Feelmore, which has established itself as one of the Bay Area’s most gay sex shops in its 11-year history. Just as the sex shop aims to be a welcoming space for all kinds of people, so too will the bar.

Joiner started the Feelmore business in 2010, initially selling sex toys “literally out of the trunk of my car”. This quickly led to a brick and mortar store, and Feelmore opened its second location, in Berkeley, in January 2020. The inspiring figure behind Feelmore is Joiner’s late aunt, Robin Ortiz-Young, a renowned sex educator and activist against AIDS in the Bay Area.

The genital decor will be a staple of the Feelmore Social Club.

The genital decor will be a staple of the Feelmore Social Club.

Courtesy of Nenna Joiner

The idea of ​​opening a bar has always been in Joiner’s head, as another way of serving the community. “I kept thinking about our customers – where those do people want to go for a drink? said the carpenter.

This is now moving forward in part because of a fortuitous event: Joiner won a license in the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s annual lottery, which often offers the cheapest method of obtaining a new license – around $ 15,000, as opposed to to the typical $ 30,000 or more in Oakland.

But don’t ask too many questions about the concept. Along with the sexy details and decor of Times Square, the goal is to make the Feelmore Social Club feel like a bar. “People keep saying, ‘What are you doing? “,” Joiner said. “My ‘thing’ is great customer service, period. I think Oakland lacks a lot of the great customer service we provide to people in our stores. “

Esther Mobley is the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine critic. E-mail: [email protected]

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