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The Second Coming of Mission Control

The orgy moves to Oakland.


For 15 years, Mission Control peddled a particularly cozy breed of kink. If your fantasy was to, say, fondle a stranger inside a cage while dozens of faceless voyeurs watched, this particular sex club was not for you (the Power Exchange encourages that kind of thing). But for open-minded sensualists seeking sex with a side of theatricality, creativity, and, yeah, conversation, 2519 Mission Street was the place to be. “It was kind of a family,” says blogger and porn performer Kitty Stryker.

The club’s semi-secret play parties unceremoniously ended in 2013, when its landlord booted it from its Mission home base. For some sex clubs, that would have been the end of the story, but Mission Control is nothing if not resilient. The group went nomadic, hosting events in dance clubs, warehouses, and, on occasion, the porn studio the Armory. If members had been less passionate about the club, it wouldn’t have lasted. “There’s definitely pride that we made it,” says Phil, an Oakland marketer and regular.

Last fall the group’s wanderings finally led to a fleshly fairy tale ending—complete with gingerbread house—when it landed a new space on Fifth Street in Oakland, the longtime home of soul food restaurant TJ’s Gingerbread House. Christened Gingerville by Mission Control partyers, the new clubhouse is a choice find, decked with antique stained glass, arched French doors, and a 500-square-foot octagonal gazebo. Hearts, cherubs, and gingerbread men are painted and carved on the walls and ceilings, lending the whole place an Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole vibe—an apt home for a “very homey, very cute, and very bohemian” organization, says former attendee Alisa Highfill.

At double the size of Mission Control’s former digs, the Oakland site is a decided upgrade. There are two playrooms where the music and lighting are low, and beds and safe sex supplies are readily available. (There’s also a BDSM dungeon for those who trade in pain.) The club added a dance floor, a stage, a bar upholstered in red vinyl, and a smattering of tiki- and voodoo-lounge accents. “We were already getting too big for our old home, in many ways,” says Michael, one of the volunteer house managers. “The new place gives us room to grow.”

In October, two years after being cast from the city, Mission Control 2.0 hosted a “reanimation” party to celebrate the club’s return from the dead. “It’s a time to sift through what was good about the old days,” says Stryker. And the relocation comes with a bonus: Many of the club’s former regulars have already migrated to the East Bay, says Ash Miller, a San Jose dance instructor and Mission Control house manager, and she’s hoping that they’ll return to the fold. “We want to tell people: Come see everyone you’ve been missing,” she says.


Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco

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