Sometimes, you find yourself eating food you had no desire to eat in a place you had no desire to go to.
The Gold Club is a strip club situated on Howard Street in San Francisco, in between 2nd Street and New Montgomery Street in the SoMa district. They’ve cultivated a reputation as a cheap, novel place to grab lunch if you work at the startups in SoMa or the finance firms in the FiDi.
Technically, they feature a free lunch buffet, but there’s a 5 dollar cover to enter. Also, I can’t speak on how much you’re willing to spend on an afternoon line-up of strippers, and beverages cost an unknown amount. For this review, I spent all of five dollars for my entire experience.
Like all strip joints, the Gold Club is dimly lit with bass-heavy sounds coming from a set of outdated turntables in the curtained corner. That sounds depressing, but when you’re sharing a meal with some people you like spending time with, it’s actually a place where you can jokingly comment on the bleached and waxed anus of humanity. The undersides of the tables were mysteriously sticky, which I had the displeasure of finding out after I accidentally brushed my fingertips against it I set down my plate of food. For the sake of maintaining my calm, I tried not to think about what I had just made contact with and went to go wash my hands.
The menu du jour was an Italian-style buffet. On display were caprese salad, spaghetti and meatballs, cut fruit, ceaser salad, chicken breast with marinara sauce, and garlic bread. I’m of the opinion that it’s extremely hard to fuck up Italian food. It really is. We all grew up with Chef Boyardee, and that slop still manages to be delicious to my aging tarred-out taste buds. I’d probably eat prison Italian food with little complaint, then ask the scrawny white-collar crime guy if he’s going to finish his garlic bread.
You gon’ eat yo garlic bread?
I’m not going to say that the Gold Club ruined Italian fare for me. It wasn’t fucked up by any stretch of the imagination. It was edible and chewable and it didn’t trigger a gag reflex. It was more like the forced smile to your friend’s mom as she looks for a reaction to her cooking.
Of course it’s good Mrs. Hazel, but I’m way too stuffed for another plate.
After calling it quits with half a plate left of food, I turned my eyes to the entertainment. The strippers came from two extremes:
1. The supremely disinterested dancer who jerks instead of bends. The showcasing of her breasts is a practiced movement, one flick of the finger and I see titties. She has a thousand-mile stare that doesn’t even try to charm you into an extra fiver. She hates this shift and she knows it, she knows her bosses know it, so she’s thinking of the next two episodes of Mad Men while her G-String gyrates for the umpteenth time to Love Me by Lil Wayne.
2. The way-too-happy-to-be-here dancer who has to be on some cocktail of uppers. I swear I saw cocaine dust shake off her tits when she threw off her top. Her bubbly smile and wide eyes are attempts to be cute, the way a high school girl tries to be cute to the older distinguished teacher she crushes over. But the stretched corners of her smile and dilated pupils let me know that she doesn’t see us customers, she sees as blurs with barely intelligible eyes, shooting out dollar bills.
I understand that everyone needs to put in work, but I suppose it says something about my upbringing when I just felt bad for these women. Still, it’s limited thinking on my part, there’s a dignity to doing a job that’s not the most glamorous, whether it’s picking up garbage or gyrating your snatch for the lunch crowd.
But my sympathy ran as long as the dirty look one stripper gave me after I declined a dance. Bitch, if I had a $20, I wouldn’t spend it getting a half-chub from a woman who looks dead inside.
As I walked out and tried to adjust my eyes to the glistening Bay sunshine, I couldn’t help but feel that I got exactly what I paid for. I got $5 worth of food and entertainment, and I reminded myself that as a taxpaying 20-something, I deserve better with my lunch hour.
2 out of 5 stars.