Joani Blank, the founder of the Good Vibrations sex store, which opened its doors in the late 1970s in the Mission District and later added stores in the Bay Area and on the East Coast, died on Saturday at the age of 79.
Her daughter, Amika Sergejev, wrote on Facebook that Blank had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June of this year and “chose to have a Celebration of Life rather than a funeral” late last month. After that celebration, Sergejev wrote, Blank “was able to say her goodbyes” to friends and family before facing “a rapid decline” in her condition.
“This fierce revolutionary woman has taught us all so much,” Sergejev wrote on Facebook. “She has done so many things in her full days here on earth and I know you all have stories.”
Blank started the first Good Vibrations at 22nd and Dolores streets in 1977 to offer an alternative to the seedy and male-dominated sex shops that were once the norm.
“Over and over, women would say they were afraid to go into one of those places,” said Carol Queen, the staff sexologist at Good Vibrations and an employee there for 26 years. “[Even] men would pop in and say, ‘Is it okay if I shop here?’ They would basically say, ‘I don’t like those places either.’”