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San Francisco, CA, Erotic Resistance Performance, Art, and Activism in San Francisco Strip Clubs (1960s-1990s)

June 7 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT

About the Exhibition

This exhibition preserves the memory of San Francisco’s bohemian past and its essential role in the development of American adult entertainment. It highlights the contributions of queer women, trans women, and women of color who were instrumental in the city’s labor history, as well as its LGBTQ and sex workers’ rights movements.

In the 1960s, topless entertainment became legal in the city for the first time in US history, though cross-dressing continued to be criminalized. In the 1990s, stripper-artist-activists led the first successful class action lawsuits and efforts to unionize. The exhibit sheds light on intersectional communities in the making and the women who played a critical role in this history, which has often been hidden from view.

This exhibit is titled after Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa’s dissertation, now published as Erotic Resistance: The Struggle for the Soul of San Francisco (University of California Press, 2024). During her research, she encountered objects in the GLBT Historical Society’s archives that are featured in this exhibition and that tell the story of the cross-pollination of LGBTQ venues, strip clubs, and burlesque theaters by sex worker and LGBTQ communities alike, during the latter part of the twentieth century.

About the Curator

Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa, PhD, is an artist-scholar who teaches and writes about art and activism, queer of color critique, erotic performance, and the intersections of mindfulness and creative practice. She holds a doctorate in Theater and Performance Studies with a minor in Art History from Stanford University, where she currently leads the LifeWorks Program for Integrative Learning.