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Kim Larsen, Actor & Publisher

Entrepreneurial Spirit

In a bounce-back from the traditional actor-waiting-on-tables routine, Kim Larsen has found a pivotal role center stage in San Franciscoís tourism industry. When not on the stage over the course of his ten-year San Francisco acting career, Larsen is busy with sales contracts for his ever-popular "GayPocket San Francisco".

GayPocket is the quintessential guide to the City (and the Russian River) for any gay visitor to the Bay Area.

Growing up in Southern Nebraska, and moving Minneapolis for 8 years prior, Larsen finally moved to San Francisco in 1991. After acting all his life, the first thing he did upon arriving in the City by the Bay was to audition for a stage showÖ

SF Station (SFS): Tell me about your history here in San Francisco?

Kim Larsen (KL): Well, I moved here and immediately auditioned at Theatre Rhinoceros because I had heard all about the gay theater. And I got cast in the first show I auditioned for, which was a musical called ďCradle and All". Part of the reason I thought it would be fun to audition at the gay theater was so I could meet people -- specifically men -- being new to the area and all, and it turned out that I was the only man in a lesbian musical! But it was a great experience, and it started a long-time association with Theatre Rhino ever since, as an actor and as an active member of their board.

SFS: Are you still active on the board?

KL: Current board member, and former board president.

SFS: Theatre Rhino is the oldest gay theater in the country?

KL: Yep, the oldest ongoing gay and lesbian theater in the world -- as far as we know!

SFS: So when did you start publishing GayPocket?

KL: I started publishing GayPocket in the Fall of 2000. I had been working in non-profit arts organizations, such as San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and Theater Bay Area, but I started getting non-profit burn-out, and decided I wanted to do something sort of different. I researched it for about a year and drew up my formal business plan and everything -- and I collected things from across the world, different guides and stuff -- because I felt that there was a niche to fill; that there wasnít a publication specifically geared toward the GLBT visitor market. I felt that there was a need for businesses to connect directly with those visitors.

SFS: One of the things that is unique about your guide is that it packs a lot of information into a very compact little booklet.

KL: Yeah, itís very user-friendly. Itís easy to read with graphically clean maps, and itís pocket-sized. Itís also non-editorial, so the format is pretty consistent.

SFS: Has it always looked pretty much the way it looks now?

KL: Yeah. I mean, if you look at the first one and compare it to now you can see it has definitely stepped up a bit, but essentially it has been the same guide for 25 printings.

SFS: You publish it quarterly, and how many pages is it?

KL: It ranges between 48 and 64 pages. We distribute to over 100 different gay and gay-friendly businesses all over they Bay Area, and the Russian River.

SFS: You do the distribution yourself, yes? You always have?

KL: Yep (sigh).

SFS: Well, thatís always the secret to a successful publicationÖ the unseen labor, unheralded part of the process. Torturous, really. On a lighter note, who are your loyals? Which businesses have supported you all along?

KL: Gosh, Iíve been really fortunate to have a lot of loyal advertisersÖ The Cinch on Polk, Orphan Andyís, the Lone Star, All American Boy, the Edge, Harveyís, the Powerhouse, SparkyísÖ Nob Hill Theater has been in since the beginning. As has Tix Bay Area and Beach Blanket Babylon.

SFS: What do you recommend to the tourist?

KL: Oh, I hesitate to start doing that, because I really donít do "editors pick". Most of the businesses that advertise with me are based in the Castro. Although I encourage people to go to the Castro, and certainly GayPocket speaks to that, I also encourage visitors to go check out other districts about town. I mean, really, San Francisco is a town thatís cultivated for tourists, gay or not.

SFS: Oh, I agree completely. One of the things that kind of bugs me about the Castro is that there really isnít an "arrival" to the gay culture, just by stepping off the trolley, in what is to most of us "just another neighborhood".

KL: Well, thatís exactly why people should take my tour! Itís a gay comedy history walking tour of the Castro. Itís at http://www.FootTours.com. I do a weekly tour on Saturday afternoons. Itís a two-hour walking tour for $30.

SFS: Great! Thatís a perfect way to find the gay center of San Francisco -- a guided tour!

For a direct link to GayPocket San Francisco:
Kim Larsen, Publisher
GayPocket San Francisco
"Get YOUR Business into Everyone's Pants"
2215-R Market St., #500
San Francisco, CA 94114
T: 415-864-8869
F: 415-276-4191
[email protected]