Best of the Bay 2009: Sex and Romance

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Editors Picks: Sex and Romance

BEST FAIR THAT'S UP YOURS

While the Folsom Street Fair has grown into an international destination for kinksters and the tourists who ogle them, the Up Your Alley Fair has become increasingly important as a more intimate oasis for local leatherheads who remember the scene's old days. The fair — better known as Dore Alley Fair, though the event was named when it started in 1985 on a different street — has brought much-needed attention to the oft-overlooked SoMa neighborhood. We love the organization's dedication to supporting groups and charities like the Episcopal Community Services, AIDS Emergency Fund, and Transgender Law Center. What we don't love is that this event may be the next target on the Police Department's Death of Fun Crusade. Show your support this year so that Up Your Alley doesn't go the way of Castro Halloween.

Last Sunday in July, Dore Alley, between Folsom and Howard. www.folsomstreetevents.org/alley

BEST SEX AND SERVICE

Having sex doesn't take much: a partner (or not), a place, a modicum of desire. But feeling sexy isn't always so easy — especially if you're in a relationship that has reached the sweatpants, TV–dinner, oral-sex-what? stage. Enter Intima Girl, the Marina's boudoir of a boutique. The small, upscale shop stocks a variety of items meant to up the ante in the bedroom, from sex toys to lotions to lingerie, most geared toward girls (and their partners) who want a little class in their kink. Think sleek vibrators, high-end candles, silk bondage ropes, and sex books that could sit on your coffee table. But Intima Girl doesn't skimp on the fun. Adventurous types can head home with an edible candy bra, assless panties, and metallic condom compacts for stylish safe-sex on the go. Best of all, the owner and staff are as knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful as you always wished your big sister would be.

3047 Fillmore, SF. (415) 563-1202, www.intima-online.com

BEST SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES

Dim, crimson lighting. The Stones on the sound system. Attractive youngsomethings lounging languidly on plush couches. And there, across the room, a tall, lean brunette, sipping a PBR, staring through the haze. Will Amber, the worker-owned watering hole with stiff drinks and legal cigarette smoking (thanks to labor law loopholes), be the setting of your "How We Met" story? Are those the tears of love at first sight? If you're not a smoker, your eyes might just be irritated or you might be frustrated knowing tonight's bar clothes will smell when you wear them to work tomorrow. But for those brave (stupid? nah) few who still toke the tobacco stick, this Duboce Triangle destination is a sexy, sultry, smoky oasis in a world that's become increasingly cold (literally) to the dwindling minority. Just for this moment, in this beautiful bar out of time, nothing exists but you and your beloved. Not work. Not cancer. Maybe not even a future for your relationship. But what does it matter? Since the first release of studies on the dangers of smoking, people who continue to puff have lived in the here and now. And at Amber, there's no better place to be now than here.

718 14th St., SF.