Ah yes, 10th and Market. It’s one of San Francisco’s many hotspots for muggings/tax breaks, and here’s a guy strolling down the sidewalk watching K-pop videos on a MacBook. Which is pretty ballsy! Also, it must be a complete pain-in-the-ass to walk with a lappy in your face. But hey, when you need that K-pop fix…
I love Rainbow Grocery because everytime I shop there, I can pretend I’ve been to Burning Man. Also, the staff is wonderful and they have quite the cheese selection.
Alas, everyone’s favorite worker-owned meat-free market has been feeling the pressure from Amazon Prime, Google Shopping Express, and all the other delivery startups that’ll be partying with Jesus after the next investor rapture. So Rainbow Grocery, never one to shy away from the whims of the consumer, has partnered with Instacart “beginning today” to ship bulk olives and confusing medicines right to your door!
“Though we’re sure not every member of the crunchy co-op will be thrilled about their new techie bent,” Eater SF points out. Which is maybe true? Pizza places have been delivering goods (pizza, soda, dime bags) for years without succumbing to the scourge of self-importance. So whatever keeps the sample cheese platter stocked will be o-kay.
San Francisco’s premier boulevard of bullshit became stunningly more annoying this weekend as an individual attempted to segregate Valencia Street’s sidewalk with a “techie” side (a playground and Borderlands Books) and a “Real San Franciscans” side (the street where the caravan of Silicon Shuttles roll past).
Of course, the idea isn’t inherently terrible. Much like how the Golden Gate Bridge segregates their sidewalk between cyclists and child predators for the benefit of idiot tourists, Valencia really could use a baby stroller lane to keep all those double-wide monsters in line. Opportunity: missed. Now I’ll keep losing those valuable seconds stuck behind twittering child chauffeurs on my way to Four Barrel’s thousand hour line.
Anyway, this “techie”/”real” distinction falls apart further when considering this scene from the other day:
The Mission: where you double park your Ferrari so you can grab a $7 juice from a Michelin star restaurant pic.twitter.com/ja4K6JGvRa— Kevin Montgomery (@kevinmonty) March 8, 2014
Range is safely in the “techie” side, but the Ferrari is double parked in the “Real San Franciscans” bike lane. Does this mean the person is a hybrid? Does he fall into a confusing void that we all pretend doesn’t exist? Is he just a special lil’ asshole? And why isn’t he driving a Telsa, anyway?
I’m analyzing this too much. I’ll be walking on whatever side doesn’t have strollers.
“Artisanal” was, perhaps, once a word with meaning. But then some grade-a shithead in Brooklyn slapped it on a jar on pickles and it’s been on the tip of every marketing exec’s tongue since. Which leads us to today: Market Street’s “Perform For Life” gym, whose Facebook account features an equally puzzling photo of a squad of malformed humans crawling away from stream like they’re gunshot victims, rolled out this “artisanal fitness” advertising campaign.
Why is perky nips holding two baseball bats? Is this how fitness is made? No matter. “Artisanal fitness” isn’t a thing, and now that horrible word can finally be retired.
Kink founder and CEO Peter Acworth assured Uptown Almanac that the preliminary plan assessment for replacing production facilities with offices is “exploratory,” and that the company plans to keep shooting in the Armory building as long as legislators in Sacramento don’t require raincoats at the parade.
The five members of California State Assembly’s Labor Committee just recommended that Assembly Bill 1576 be moved forward with a unanimous vote, and the bill now heads for a hearing with the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee (for which no date has been set yet). Mandates for employers would include the “Provision of and required use of condoms and other protective barriers whenever acts of vaginal or anal intercourse are filmed,” similar to the current law in Los Angeles County.
If that proves too difficult from a business standpoint, you might have to grow your own porn if you want to source it locally. Here’s Acworth’s response to enquiries in full:
The planning process to change the use of a building like the Armory is a long process. At the point we are at in the process, several alternate plans can be considered simultaneously. I would certainly characterize our talks with the Planning department as ‘exploratory’ and a firm path has not yet been determined.
In the best case scenario, there will be no new onerous regulation of adult production, in which case we’ll stay 100% in the Armory. In the worst case scenario, new regulations (from cal-osha primarily, but also from AB 1576) will mean moving production to NV, and hence we would like the option of being able to rent out portions of the armory to other users (office use facilitates this more easily, obviously). There is also a middle ground wherein there are new regulations but they are workable for some of our products and not others. In this scenario, some production would move, but not all.
I imagine some form of regulation will pass, but it is currently unclear what the scope of new regulations will be and how difficult they will make production. It is also unclear how long it will take for new regulations to be finalized, implemented and enforced, and what the appeal process will be. The request to have the use of ‘office’ added as an additionally permitted use for the Armory represents an insurance policy against the worst case scenario. At the point in the planning process where we have to start making concrete decisions, we will also know more about the upcoming regulations.
To be fair, Lance Armstrong’s cycling career wouldn’t have survived a drug testing regime as rigorous as the infectious disease screening process at a studio like Kink. Most private citizens could learn a thing or seven about safer sex from pornographers! But then not many political careers would survive any publicity as being “pro-porn,” especially since even laissez faire fetishists who might oppose regulation on principle tend to come from culturally conservative districts. So Acworth’s estimate of AB 1576’s probability of passing is probably pretty accurate.
If you want to see the some of the production process in action, the studio is shooting a new episode of sexy wrestling series Ultimate Surrender tomorrow night.
[Photo: Matt Blank]
If yesterday’s clown-studded ‘Gmuni’ dance party wasn’t bizarre enough for you, the protests reached guttural new levels this morning as a “protester on [the] roof of [a] Yahoo bus vomited on the windshield.” Okay then!
[Photo: The Red Son]
With a preliminary plan assessment now filed at San Francisco City Hall proposing a conversion of Armory Studios at 14th and Mission into office space, it seems to have become a not question of if, but when there will be no more porn in our beloved Porn Castle.
The plans include 140,000 square feet of total office space, and with office space commanding $27 a square foot in the neighborhood and up to $57 per square foot in nearby SOMA, earning $3.5 million a month year in rent doesn’t seem too farfetched. Plans do not include any production facilities for Kink.com’s unique brand of BDSM. So as a graduate of Columbia University’s business school, Kink CEO Peter Acworth is probably facing a tough choice between the lifestyle and the business for his lifestyle business.
Business seems to have gotten more difficult for Kink, specifically, and the industry as a whole. A performer tested positive for HIV, triggering an investigation by Cal/OSHA into health and safety practices just as Measure B passed, banning barebacking in Los Angeles County productions and, maybe more importantly, signficantly increasing the costs of permits. Production has continued to disperse from the San Fernando “Porn Valley,” with many businesses relocating production to Nevada and beyond and performers not performing as often as they used to.
“Income is dramatically reduced. Fewer and fewer people pay for porn,” former Fleshbot owner Lux Alptraum explained in a phone interview. She also does business development consulting for Woodrocket, a studio that is based in Las Vegas. “Performers are often doing more cam work. Even big names are only shooting once a month or so. There’s not that much work because there’s not that much revenue.” While she points out that Kink is in a better position than most by serving a niche market, because it’s a niche market there may not be much room for growth. “Porn is getting squeezed from all angles.”
Acworth was arrested for drug possession in 2012 after the San Francisco Police Department searched the Armory Building after being tipped to a video showing gunplay in the former military building’s basement shooting range. No guns turned up, but a gram of cocaine did, and Acworth took the charge for it. Far more troubling was a labor dispute later that year, when Maxine Holloway, a model who objected to a new commission-only payment plan took effect at KinkLive, was either fired or just placed on temporary leave, depending on whom you ask.
Then last year, 2013, the the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which spearheaded the Measure B effort in LA, filed a Cal/OSHA complaint against Kink in the wake of performer Cameron Bay testing positive for HIV, which kicked off a moratorium on filming industry-wide that lasted for weeks. San Francisco is also becoming increasingly unaffordable for the video production crews who work the shoots, and Alptraum, who lives in New York, said everyone she knew in the Bay Area scene has already decamped to Oakland. “It’s always been an expensive business to be in, but the payoff has been much, much less,” she pointed out.
Acworth bought the building for less than $15 million, and obviously put some considerable investment into remodelling the place. As a private company, there’s no public records of profit and loss on the enterprise, but it is hard to imagine clearing millions a month right now. Even accounting for overhead and vacancy, as office space Acworth could recoup his real estate investment pretty quickly (if he hasn’t already) and without most of the headaches, making a commercial conversion attractive as a contingency plan at the very least. We reached out to Kink via email through channels both official and unofficial to ask about what the plan was if the studio closed, and have yet to hear back.
But let’s face it, these days the rich, old men around here tend to fetishize their young boys being tied to desks founding startups so they can be whipped into a climax of productivity and later fucked financially, instead of the old fashioned way. So you might want to book your tour of the facilities now if you want a peek behind the curtain before the scene comes to a close.
Update: Acworth has responded with a statement.
[Photo: Stephen Damron]
The press release said the protest was to begin at 8am, but much like Muni itself, the protesters were running about an hour late.
Dubbed “Gmuni”, the latest Google Bus-blocking protest rolled up to 24th and Valencia just after 9am this morning, looking to reappropriate the beloved corporate shuttle service as a public enterprise. Amongst a squad of dancing clowns, a speaker wearing fake Google Glass and a suit claimed, “The Muni program is in decline because of underfunding, so we’re starting our ‘Gmuni’ pilot program.”
And, of course, they had Gmuni passes:
The protest coincides with today’s SFMTA hearing, in which the agency that controls Muni will vote on a proposed plan to lease Muni stops to Silicon Valley tech firms for $1 per use. Ron Conway’s lobbying group, sf.citi, previously released a “call to action,” asking tech workers to turn out in support of the “common-sense regulation” and oppose the “divisive shuttle opponents.” Naturally, those shuttle opponents are rallying their allies in return.
Below, the literature the protesters were handing out regarding that hearing: