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‘Carol Doda Topless at the Condor’ Documentary Gets SF Release Date

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woman with long hair in spangly bikini dances on stage
Waitress-turned-stripper Carol Doda helped fuel the topless bar scene in San Francisco, which in part led to the demise of the nearby supper club scene in Chinatown. (Associated Press)

A new documentary about Carol Doda, the go-go dancing North Beach legend, will hit San Francisco movie theaters on March 22.

Carol Doda Topless at the Condor was made by San Francisco filmmakers Jonathan Parker — who knew Doda personally — and Marlo McKenzie. It was produced by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. The film is partially based on Three Nights at the Condor, the 2018 memoir by Benita Mattioli whose husband Pete owned the Condor in its heyday. The documentary first premiered in the Bay Area last October at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

Doda became an instant legend after dancing topless at the Condor in 1964. She was quickly nicknamed “The Girl on the Piano” for her splashy entrance — she rode on stage atop a piano that was lowered from the ceiling on an elevator platform.

Doda’s performances, which incorporated the upbeat dance moves of the day, were such an instant sensation that many North Beach nightclubs quickly followed suit and introduced topless entertainment. For decades, Doda’s likeness — complete with blond bob, killer curves and skimpy bikini — hovered over Broadway on the Condor sign.

A beautiful blond woman wearing a white coat, miniskirt and boots under a marquee advertising Carol Doda at the Condor.
Carol Doda poses outside the Condor in the 1970s. (Tim Boxer/ Getty Images)

Doda retired from the Condor in 1985, but went on to open her own lingerie store, Champagne and Lace, where she regularly assisted customers. Years after her 2015 death at the age of 78, she remains a much-beloved figure in the Bay.


“She’s such a complex person,” Marlo Mackenzie noted after a screening of Carol Doda Topless at the Condor last October. “I love the way she challenges our ideas around nudity and body shame.”

“She was such an important part of San Francisco’s cultural history, which had an impact on the whole country,” Jonathan Parker told Deadline. “At a time when there weren’t a lot of options for women, Carol created a career for herself that resonated on many levels. She had charisma. She had courage. And I believe she loved what she did.”

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