A multimedia-enhanced photoblog about San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood

North Beach

Kitty McMuffin, unionized stripper & peep-show owner, in her own words

Kitty McMuffin has appeared on this page more than a few times- and not without reason. She was the subject of a month-long photo story that centered around her night job in North Beach. Above is the final result. More still photos can be viewed here: Elijah Nouvelage Photojournalism on facebook.


Tim Santry, wigmaster and artist, talks about loving the work you do [NOW IN HD]


Many of the photos in this video can be seen here individually: Elijah Nouvelage Photojournalism on Facebook.


Javier Garcia waxes philosophical about life, death, and the business of being a mortician

Here’s a bit of an interview with Javier Garcia, who is the supervising embalmer at Green Street Mortuary in North Beach. I find what he has to say fascinating, so I mostly let him do the talking. Enjoy.


The Famous Green Street Mortuary Band, and my problems with video

The Green Street Mortuary Band is kind of a big deal. The band has been around in some form or another since 1911, but bandleader Lisa Pollard has been in charge for the last 20, during which time the band has tripled or quadrupled the number of funerals they’re hired for, according to Pollard. She credits this increase in business to the quality and professionalism of the band’s musicians as well as the positive word-of-mouth they’ve had over the years. Currently the band is one of only a handful left in the country, but far surpasses the others in terms of business and fame.

On Saturday I headed to North Beach to capture this legendary band on video for one of my SFSU journalism classes. I am by no means a videographer- stills have always been my thing- but I thought, “how hard can it be?” I figured I’d get some close-ups of the instruments, some footage of the band marching, some footage of spectators reacting, a few sit-down interviews and voila! Sure, I knew that DSLR video has no stabilization and is super sensitive, that the autofocus is terrible and that the audio leaves a lot to be desired.

But I told myself that my hands were steadier than most, that my movements would be mimicking the band members’ themselves, and that it would be a nightmare to sync up audio recorded with another recorder with video of the band playing. And that last one is probably true, but anything would have been better than the built-in mic on my 5D Mark II.

I abandoned, (too late in my opinion), the built-in autofocus and went full manual with my focusing. I don’t trust my eyes for focusing, especially with the small screen, but I quickly learned that it was the most attractive option for recording video. While that lesson came late, it came in time to get some decently focused footage.

I was not so lucky with audio, or with motion. A monopod or tripod may not be essential when standing still, (it turns out my hands ARE pretty steady—when I’m not moving), but for panning, even from a fixed location, would benefit IMMENSELY from a ball-headed monopod or tripod. Uggghhhh. I am SO not doing that again.

The 5D II is a fantastic camera for video, and with some tweaks to my methods and toolkit I should be able to maneuver the medium with only minor problems. However, without way more expensive gear, it simply is not a camera you can walk around with while videoing.

My negative experiences boiled down to three lessons learned. Use an external mic OR use your own audio recorder, bring a tripod/monopod, and always, always, use manual focusing.

I hope yo’ve learned something from my video and my experiences.

Until next time, leave the flying to me.


Kitty McMuffin, the lustiest lady, turns 30!

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Kitty McMuffin, who loyal readers may remember from my previous post about The Lusty Lady, turned 30 on Saturday, and celebrated it with a big birthday bash and burlesque show (say THAT three times fast) at Mojito in North Beach on Sunday. Feeling a sense of obligation to cover the event, your loyal blogger grudgingly headed to SF to get the low-down.

I’m kidding, of course. I had been promised burlesque, live music, lots of spankings, (not on my tush thankyouverymuch), and a bacon skirt in the vein of Josephine Baker, so I was primed and excited for the night.

It started at 7, and built up steam as Kitty’s coworkers slowly trickled in over the next few hours. The liquor was flowing, served up with a smile by Stuart, the friendly fauxhawk-styled bartender.

As the night wore on, the birthday fun began. First came the live music, which featured Kitty on background vocals, (while she just meowed over and over again, it was her energy and enthusiasm that made her performance memorable), before the “birthday presents” were administered- in the form of many, many spankings. (Followed by kisses on all the places where she had boo-boos, naturally.)

A birthday strip-tease by the Lusty’s own Princess, (followed by more spankings, of course, this time with a leather riding crop), was the culmination of the first round of entertainment, but Kitty still had that bacon skirt waiting upstairs for the most loyal of attendees.

She put it on and came sashaying down the stairs to resounding cheers and catcalls from the audience. She did a bit of a strip-tease herself, (pasties made her show, as with Princess’, PG-13- alcohol was, after all, being served), before tearing off the skirt and feeding her fans and friends pieces, one at a time, until everyone’s appetites were sated.

Or were they…..if yours wasn’t you can always find her at the Lusty Lady, in a more intimate setting. ; )

Until next time, leave the flying to me.


The Lusty Lady- Advancing feminism & equality one naked woman at a time

Peep shows, unionization and feminism. They’re words not commonly used in the same breath, but The Lusty Lady (follow them on twitter!) in San Francisco’s North Beach has been prompting such word combinations since 1997, when the girls who worked there formed a union following a long battle with management.

Because it’s a peep show, The Lusty Lady attracts a different clientele than the other strip clubs along Broadway. The Lusty, a long-time North Beach staple, is the only place where clients can do whatever they want in the (semi) privacy that exists on their side of the glass partition that separates them from the naked girls in on the other side. While the girls certainly see more than they might want to under such circumstances, Bruno, who works at the front desk, said that “many of the girls prefer it to the other clubs, because here they don’t have to touch the clients.”

Girls can make more money at the other strip clubs, Bruno said, where private dances can be had for a lot of money, but they also have to pay fees to the clubs out of their earnings.

Kitty McMuffin, a stripper at The Lusty Lady, explained why she chose to work for less.

“I definitely made more money at other strip clubs when I danced on the East Coast, but I couldn’t call out sick, I couldn’t have any disputes about my treatment with my management, I had to pay out a house fee to this person and that person…I was working pretty hard for my pay and not being appreciated and supported. [Here at The Lusty Lady] we have a union rep, and she’ll definitely help us out.”

She said that she moved to the West Coast specifically to work at The Lusty Lady after seeing a documentary about the unionization fight  called Live Nude Girls Unite! (which is also available for instant streaming through Netflix).

Contrary to the established public record, The Lusty Lady was not the first strip club in the world to become unionized, but it is the only currently unionized strip club. But The Lusty Lady does have one first they can call their own- the first worker-owned strip club.

And now you know.

Until next time, leave the flying to me!


“I Love You, Mrs. McCoveyou”

Dale Silver and her dog JoJo are the subjects of my first audio slideshow. Viewable in up to 1080p HD.

Until next time, leave the flying to me!