On The Trail of A North Beach Living Legend ~ Carol Doda
By Marina Rybak
“Who is Carol Doda?” – I asked when her name seemed to pop out of thin air in the fleeting chitchat with a friend. The revealing bits of her cultural “pedigree” were too irresistibly provocative to skip and pass by. I had to know more.
Equipped with my inquisitive sleuthing skills, I embarked on the trail of the San Francisco homegrown, groundbreaking striptease artist who shook up the city in the 60’s, officially placing topless entertainment on the national map.
Claiming, “I am kind of shy”, Carol Doda was not a typical blond bombshell. A 19 year-old cocktail waitress and an aspiring actress turned lounge entertainer whipped up a revolution of sorts on the night of June 19, 1964 at the fabled Condor Club in the North Beach area of San Francisco.
It all began when she wore famed Rudi Gernreich’s Topless Swimsuit to spice up her dance act. The audiences went wild, rushing into the nightclub to witness this titillating sensation. Within two month Carole’s Doda fever infected the whole country. Thus topless entertainment was born and Corol Doda was labeled as “the World First”.
Never mind how Josephine Baker’s previous legendary topless acts fit into this assertion, Carol Doda’s adventurous spirit did not stop there. She became one of the first pioneers who chose to augment her breasts and journeyed from perky 34B to voluptuous 44D. She continued to perform during numerous silicone injections, and the crowds were showing up at the Condor Club just to see this dazzling visual transformation right in front of their eyes.
By now Carol Doda’s “bare-bosom” fame reached iconic proportions. Her colorful entertaining experience included a feature role in the cult film psychedelia Head, penned by Jack Nicholson and starring the Monkees. She received honorable mention in Tom Wolfe’s The Pump House Gang, became a TV personality, continued to perform (presently fully clad). To the delight of the lingerie lovers she opened Carol Doda’s Champagne and Lace Lingerie Boutique, located in the heart of San Francisco where Carol Doda proclaimed that she left hers. According to loyal patrons and their reviews, she cultivated a loyal following of totally satisfied customers who are absolutely thrilled being catered to by a living San Francisco legend.