Carol Doda’s mural replaces Fnnch’s lips in North Beach

Natalie Gabriel working on her Carol Doda fresco. The reveal party will take place on January 28, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 700 Columbus. Photo by Tim Marsolais

There’s a new North Beach mural adorning the corner of Filbert and Columbus in Bodega SF, tied to the neighborhood’s rich history and those who made North Beach what it is. My favorite neighborhood in San Francisco. Gone are the lips previously painted by Fnnch. For those who might fancy overproduced artwork on public display, the same mural can be found on the side of The Dorian in the marina and several garage doors throughout the city.

Before Fnnch lovers get started, I’m not hating, I’m just sharing my point of view. I didn’t get involved in all that Ricky Rat nonsense. Although it was cute to watch the hunt during the pandemic. I’m Fnnch and I appreciate his art for what it is. He’s a talented artist. That being said, I had the chance to see firsthand some of the many screws that Twist, aka Barry McGee, threw all over town in the 90s. It was reproductive art like the bear to honey but for the real ones. No two were alike and made under the cloak of darkness. Murals mean something. The Mission was and still is a walk through history and culture displayed on brightly colored walls. For me, murals are not meant to be reproduced. They are for community, speaking pieces or just an original work of art.

Natalie Gabriel working on her Carol Doda fresco. Photo by Tim Marsolais

Natalie Gabriel did it with her tribute to “Miss Carol Doda”. Place Carol at sunrise or sunset depending on your chakra alignment. For me it’s a sunrise. For others it’s noon with a glass of wine at Bodega SF. I won’t go into all the details of what Carol Doda represents not only for North Beach, but also for the country and for women’s rights in general. There are plenty of articles written about him that you can find, including here on this same website. Long story short, she was the first topless dancer in the United States and it wasn’t done with her permission.

In 1964, at the Condor Club on Broadway, Carol decided to take the pasties and tassels off and let them fly. This built her legend and obviously made her the biggest show in town. She was then arrested soon after for the act, sparking a national debate. She was acquitted and free to perform. That in itself added to the appeal of what we and James Harden now call strip clubs. Sorry James fruit on hand.

This included Natalie’s own father who attended a show as a student at UC Berkeley in the 80s. Safe to say, hella jealous. While it was a unique occasion for a birthday, he had a seat. I love Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac but nobody, I mean nobody, brought people to North Beach like Doda did. You could combine all the big ones, they had nothing on Carol. None of them attracted RNC members holding a convention at the Cow Palace, let alone locals just trying to see what the “Doda” Condor craze was all about.

Natalie Gabriel working on her Carol Doda fresco. Photo by Tim Marsolais

That’s why this mural is so special. Natalie Gabriel took to the streets to find those who knew Carol, including those from the Condor Club, to ask how Carol would like to be remembered? These answers are in the art. They’re not lips, they’re boobs, and Carol pulled them all out. With a neighborhood of streets named after men, I feel like Carol deserves one, Aaron Peskin, we’re looking at you.

Come Jan. 28 from 2-6 p.m. to 700 Columbus to celebrate this beautiful work of art, live music, and the people who make the city what it is. RIP Miss Carol Doda. You live.

The finished fresco. Photo by Tim Marsolais

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. fresco Carol Doda replaces the lips Fnnch North Beach

. Carol Dodas mural replaces Fnnchs lips North Beach

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