If buying dirt weed off a neo-hippie on Haight Street doesn't satisfy your hunger for an "authentic" San Francisco experience, next time try a guided tour of the Tenderloin. The area is now being promoted as a human zoo.
The run-down Tenderloin district could be the next hot spot for adventure-seeking tourists if plans by the city and local advocates come together. Randy Shaw, a "driving force" behind the new Tenderloin tourism plan, tells the Times:
We can bring people into an SRO and show them where people are living now," Mr. Shaw said, referring to the single-room occupancy dwellings, or residential hotels, in the area. "And that's a real plus."
Another plus is that visitors can interact in real time with strung-out junkies on the street!
Deranged residents are a constant presence, and after dark the neighborhood can seem downright sinister, with drunken people collapsed on streets and others furtively smoking pipes in doorways.
And maybe they'll even be able to score some smack or a blowjob on the way back to the Holiday Inn. But there's another draw, too: the city's rich history of music, gambling, and jack shacks.
Mr. Shaw, who plans to open a $3 million museum in the Cadillac [Hotel], believes that baby boomer music fans - and particularly baby boomer Deadheads - will be a core demographic for the Tenderloin, as well as those interested in the neighborhood's "rich vice history," which includes gambling dens, speakeasies and pornographic-movie houses.
If the plan comes together, this could be even bigger than LA's raw sewage and gangland tours. One thing is for sure, you'll be guaranteed to come home with some great stories to tell your friends. Just think of the Facebook status possibilities: "Joe Tourist - is sucking on a glass dick in the TL... SF rulz!"