In The Emperor's Wake
The Barbary Coast is San Francisco’s Red Light District, although that’s understating things. In the words of a contemporary journalist:
The Barbary Coast is the haunt of the low and the vile of every kind. The petty thief, the house burglar, the tramp, the whoremonger, lewd women, cutthroats, murderers, all are found here. Dance-halls and concert-saloons, where blear-eyed men and faded women drink vile liquor, smoke offensive tobacco, engage in vulgar conduct, sing obscene songs and say and do everything to heap upon themselves more degradation, are numerous. Low gambling houses, thronged with riot-loving rowdies, in all stages of intoxication, are there. Opium dens, where heathen Chinese and God-forsaken men and women are sprawled in miscellaneous confusion, disgustingly drowsy or completely overcome, are there. Licentiousness, debauchery, pollution, loathsome disease, insanity from dissipation, misery, poverty, wealth, profanity, blasphemy, and death, are there. And Hell, yawning to receive the putrid mass, is there also.
“The Roaring Gimlet”
“The Bull’s Run”
“The Cock of the Walk”
“Star of the Union”
“Every Man is Welcome”
Oofty Goofty, the wild man of Borneo. Wanders the Barbary Coast with a baseball bat in hand, offering to let people hit him for money. Feels no pain.
The Galloping Cow, a former street performer and notorious lesbian who saved enough money to open her own saloon. One of the first ‘gay bars’ in California.
Happy Jack Harrington, proprietor of the Opera Comique.
Jeanne Bonnet, a cross-dresser known as the Little Frog Catcher, leads a criminal gang of escaped brothel girls who refuse to sell their bodies, have nothing to do with men, and who make their living through shop-living and other petty thievery. (Shot and killed in ‘77 but too cool to ignore)
The Three Lively Fleas, a trio of French prostitutes, are an erotic attraction at Madame Bertha’s Sacramento Street parlor house.