I chuckled my way through Tad Friend’s Letter from California, “Naked Profits,” in the July 12 and 13 issue of The New Yorker, unfortunately not online.
Friend is (or was) a staff writer at the magazine, and wrote the interesting “Jumpers” for a 2003 issue of the magazine, in which institutional resistance to jump-proofing scenic landmarks was dissected.
Here, Friend turns an arch if not-unfriendly eye on the employee buyout of the San Francisco Lusty Lady. The Lusty Lady is a strip club (although I’m sure there’s a better word for it now, given the circumstances). There is also a Lusty Lady in Seattle, which has produced at least one book. Both facilities have a reputation for being a bit different than the general run of erotic entertainment parlors.
Friend has a happy time with the personal and dramatic interplay familiar to anyone who has ever worked in or helped to run a co-op. My favorite passage is simple recounting of an exchange during a meeting:
…A few minutes later she unveiled a new plan. “I’ve been reading a book about creative organizational management,” she said. “I’m proposing we have an Employee of the Week and give her a five dollar coupon to Vesuvio’s” — a local bar.
Several of the board members snapped their fingers approvingly.
Not mentioned in the passage are several things. First, the San Francisco Lusty Lady is in North Beach (a fact that may be in the story, I can’t recall), as is Vesuvio (“at Jack Kerouac Alley”), which makes much of its’ connection to the Beats.