Adult movies make way for old-time arts 

Long-lost forms of family-focused entertainment are slated to replace adult-video screenings in a historic Tenderloin neighborhood building.

Theater professionals plan to convert the 88-year-old building at 80 Turk St. into a 99-seat venue featuring circus acts, burlesque, ventriloquism, juggling, puppetry and other performances popular in bygone eras.

Programming would emphasize entertainment, training and mentorship for Tenderloin youths.

“The goal is to bring back art forms and styles of storytelling that people haven’t seen in the past 50 or 100 years,” said Sean Owens, a San Francisco playwright and performer who’s working on the plan with business partner Cameron Eng.

Owens is the playwright-in-residence at the nearby Exit Theatre, which presents the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival.

The duo is working with The City on the plans and said the owner of the property has expressed interest in changing its use.

The proposed new venue would be named Gaiety, which also is the building’s name.

“We hope the Gaiety can find a space here and we have some resources to assist,” said Amy Cohen of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The stretch of Turk between Market and Taylor is a challenge and also a major opportunity given the access to transit at Powell Street and the proximity of the Warfield Theatre, the Golden Gate Theatre and the Exit Theatre.”

The current tenants of the Gaiety building — which has been used during the past century as a store, gambling hall, cafe and tavern — use it to screen pornographic films.


Venue makeover

Breakdown of plans for Gaiety building:

Basement: Office space, workshop, costume shop, green room

Ground floor: 99-seat theater, concession stand, cafe

Upstairs: Meeting, office, rehearsal space

Source: Foul Play production company

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