Last night's opening of North Beach's brand spanking new Penthouse Club and Steakhouse  (formerly Show Girls, before that Boy Toys) was glittery enough and did have a two-story pole for the women to play on, but – and I will only say this once – ladies, when you are being introduced onstage in the first moments of a strip club officially being open and you are next to a two-story stripper's pole, and you are a stripper, you better get up there and show the crowd what they're going to be getting for its rumpled, sweaty single bills.
Like, wrap your calf around its and spin. Blow it air kisses. Something.
Other than that, North Beach has another, very serviceable strip club. Gone is the cramped upper floor of Showgirls, annihilated in favor of a clear view to the main (there are four total) stage below and a round Lucite dais on which platform stilettos can twinkle about, their owners' rear ends winking attractively for the up-gazers in the nightclub's round tables on the first floor.
The club is touting its seasonal, locally-sourced menu hard. Last night at the press preview (thanks to the open bar during this segment of the evening, my hangover from the stripper/porn star-themed cocktails made me want to stab myself with a seven inch glitter shoe this morning) there were roast beef sliders, spoonfuls of tuna tartare topped with “mango jelly,” and salmon on toast from executive chef Michael Ellis' menu. Ellis has a Michelin star earned from his time at Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg.
I hope to god the Michelin people come to dine at the Penthouse Club. Might I suggest the all-white circular booths, or perhaps the seats separated by shimmery silver fringe on the second floor? For more casual dining, take your slider over to the lap dance station, a circular seat providentially perched within swiping distance of the ATM. I'd be interested to see what the service was like for sit-down diners – the waitstaff was hotter than the strippers onstage.
Dancers Samira and Ivy had found a quiet moment during the press preview portion of the evening to snack a slider and a martini at a table marked 'reserved' when I started harassing them about their thoughts on the big opening.
“It looks a lot better than it did,” said Samira. Samira was wearing an ass crack-displaying tight blue dress. This is a style, I've noticed, that's been spreading like wildfire among the more trend-forward sex workers (as evidenced by my onsite reporting  from this year's AVN Awards in Vegas). Other vivid entries on the sartorial stage included one young lady's forest green velvet, off-shoulder frock, and a be-fringed number whose owner told me people were insulting for not being stripper-y enough. Some people have no taste.
But I digress. Ivy, who has been working at the club for three years, told me that business continued as usual throughout the entire renovation process. “It used to be real crazy,” she reflected. Surely the tips will improve now that the dust has settled, I ventured. “I hope so!” said Samira. “But tonight it's more about getting our name out.” Anything I can do to help ladies! The women were all carrying Clueless-style glitter cube purses available in pink, purple, and green. They use them to carry their cash and, I made up in my head, their lipstick for quick touch ups. One of them in a tight, translucent floor-length dress told me that I could purchase one for myself at Target. Also, that she used to work at an underground Asian coffeeshop in San Jose .
And then the gladiator music started and it was time to stop pole dancing on the structurally unsound glitter tubes lining one of the strip platforms and sit pretty for the introduction of the club's full lineup, who vamped one by one across the stage. Here we come to the disappointing part of the evening, wherein roughly two of the 1,000 strippers on stage worked the pole in a satisfactory manner.
When the actual performances began, the first few ladies to take their solo turns on the fresh new stage were a little lethargic, but then that thrilling moment came when the first one scaled the full height of the pole, and spun down to the floor with an accompanying shower of dollars and the full, back-breaking explosion that comes mid-break in “We Found Love.” Rihanna, you must make your songs for ladies to take their clothing off to them.
And so: go to the Penthouse Club for Lucite, slutwear fashion, and if you like your lap dance with a side of $3 ATM fees. Also, the top floor bar has ice on it, so your drinks will stay cold if you are the kind of person who takes a long time to pick up your stripper-themed cocktail after you bartender makes it.
Penthouse Club and Steakhouse
412 Broadway, SF