San Francisco Examiner Review, 10/12/04

Trading 'Places'
New book reveals best spots for love in Golden Gate Park.
By Bill Picture | Staff Writer
Published on Tuesday, October 12, 2004

First off, J. McGanty, author of "Fifty Places to Make Love in Golden Gate Park," wishes to make it clear that he isn't encouraging frisky Friscans to get it on in one of San Francisco's most-visited and most-treasured attractions.  After all, sex in public is against the law.

Rather, he's just providing a list of some of the sprawling park's most beautiful and least-visited areas for those looking for a little, ahem, privacy.  What they do with that privacy is totally up to them, from meditation to a romantic picnic to, well, you know.

"I expect this [guide] will inspire a full range of morality," jokes McGanty.

The one-time resident of San Francisco's Sunset District -- he now calls Southern California home -- admits the title of his book is a bit misleading.  While readers are certainly free to take full advantage of the privacy of the locations detailed in the guide -- at their own risk, of course -- McGanty says his intention was more to point out some of the more off-the-beaten-track areas he discovered during his frequent jogs through the park.

"I think everyone in San Francisco has a favorite part of the park," he explains.  "But it tends to be the part they're already familiar with. The book is really designed to help people who love the park explore it a little more."

McGanty's naughty twist on the run-of-the-mill guide book, he says, was actually inspired by the similarly randy reputation San Francisco picked up during its Barbary Coast days.

"It's very tongue-in-cheek," he adds.  "And it's really a tribute and a celebration of the open mindedness that characterizes Bay Area culture.  I mean, this book wouldn't have been written in the Bible Belt."

One of McGanty's favorite spots in the park is Mallard Lake, a small body of water off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive just west of 25th Avenue that he says most visitors to the park drive right by without even noticing.  He recommends a "walk" in the wooded area behind the lake.

Another must-see, says McGanty, is Metson Lake off Middle Drive West, one of the prettiest but least known lakes in the park.  McGanty recommends the grassy area up on the hill just behind the artificial waterfall for "cabernet and brie... [or] whatever else strikes your fancy."

Right about now, you're probably wondering what qualifies McGanty as an expert on outdoor nookie and if he personally tried any or all of these spots himself.

"Of course I didn't," he jokes.  "No, I'm not telling.  That's a whole 'nother book."

Fifty Places To Make Love in Golden Gate Park

By J. McGanty; $14.95; Tenaya Publishing.