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Where to Buy Sex, Drugs, and Toilet Paper in the Tenderloin

Updated: Feb 21, 2015 13:52
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I like danger and anything I can’t have.

At 2:15am I took a stolen carton of Marlboro Reds (one that I stole) to sell on Leavenworth St. in the Tenderloin (the TL). It traded for $50. I took my new $50 bill and bought two roxicodone. The $50 was fake, and the strung-out, meth-abusing ‘dealer’ was pissed. No injuries or casualties. The adrenaline high lasted two days.

I’m not saying to do this, it takes an air of confidence, and you’ll probably suck at it.

fake $50 bill

Still, San Francisco’s Tenderloin is a ‘gated ghetto’ in the center of the most expensive city in the country and chaperoned by the police. It’s the smart, regulated, off-the-beaten-path Wall Street of San Francisco…except instead of financial services, it provides vices like: drugs, sex, booze, fake currency, knock-off Burberry, cigarettes, Spaghetti O’s, toilet paper, and bicycles.

There are designated areas and buildings where the Tenderloin institutions operate.

Want to grab a bite then bike the bridge? Go to Carl’s Jr. on 7th and Market St., and you can get a burger and buy your own bike for a little more than it costs to rent a bike and eat a taco. Yes, I just said that you can buy a bike at Carl’s Jr., but don’t ask for it at the counter.

Hyde St. is the main drag for sex. Larkin St. is commodities like Spaghetti O’s and used clothing. My personal favorite, Leavenworth St. between Golden Gate and Turk, is the block to buy painkilling pharmaceuticals and black tar heroin. It is also lovingly called Pill Hill.

Here’s a Breakdown:

Roxicodone 30mg (roxi, k9, A215s) $25
Oxycontin 80mg (OPs) $25
Dilaudid 8mg (dilaudid) $15
Morphine 100mg (morphine) $10
Black Tar Heroin (chiva) $10
Methodone 10mg (methadone) $4
Xanax 2mg (xanis) $4

and, occasionally, the mother of all painkillers:

Opana 40mg (opana) $30

Pill Hill optimally runs during normal business hours: Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.  This is when the real suppliers are out on the block, the ones with AAA-rated drugs who are on teams with hierarchies.  They have bosses, quotas, and promotions, and most of the major SF dealers have a presence. Their drugs are picturesque: individually wrapped and separated in different baggies.

On weekends and after hours is when the B team posts the market, but these guys aren’t on a team at all. They’re strangers with bags of painkillers. Traders include the numerous homeless on Golden Gate between Leavenworth and Jones, residents with prescriptions to opiates, clients of the surrounding methadone clinics, and past/current/future addicts hustling to get free drugs that day. The most common place to hide drugs on this shift is behind the ballsack. And the chiva isn’t individually wrapped. They take a chunk of theirs, pull off a piece, and put it in your hands.

fake-pharmaceuticals-posing-as-prescription-painkillersThis is the best time to find a really good deal or to get a fake pill. Deals arise from rookie sellers unaware of the current market price, or people selling their last pills to try and ‘get off the block’ to avoid a police bust. Fake pills range from a vitamin hand painted with acrylics, to blood pressure medication or other medication look-alikes, to dyed baking soda packed together in a flawlessly formed pill with the correct stamping however small the writing is.

CEO’s of the sex and drug trade make a comparable wage to the annual salary of some bank executives. But the wages are masked by the grit and pungent smell of the TL, downtown’s anomaly of poor.

The proximity of the Tenderloin Police Task Force to all of the seediness hasn’t immensely discouraged the trade, like the Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t discouraged vacuous trades of the stock market, but the TL task force alleviates a hustle’s mortal symptom: violence.

Leavenworth street-fire extinguisher-Pill Hill-Tenderloin

On Leavenworth, the drug trade to violence has become what a snow globe is to snow. It’s like being able to experience a blizzard but not be cold. As a white female, I can experience the underbelly of an inner-city ghetto without worrying about my life in a place I don’t belong. I can practice my confrontations with grifters and hone my own skills. And in an eccentric city rightfully boasting it’s art and theater, isn’t that what we all want? A way to safely experience diversity to supplement our artistic expression.

But again, don’t try this. You’ll fuck it up.


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Badinage- Senior Drug Analyst

Badinage- Senior Drug Analyst

I wanted to be a 'traveling bartender' and live in every major city for 6 months and have a girlfriend and a boyfriend in each city. At the end, I would pick my favorite destination and live there permanently. I've lived in Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Denver, and Madison Psychiatric Ward in the corner room on the top bunk that we decided to keep on the floor.


  1. MasMurda
    January 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Your TL geography is on point but you are paying “Marina girl” prices for your pills. Jus sayin.

    • RealFakeSanFranciscan
      January 28, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      Do Marina girls get the five finger discount, too?

    • ThrowinSHADE
      February 12, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      the prices listed by the author are actually accurate, for the most part and from my experience. although it’s a rare find to get xanax for $4/pill. I’ve been given a hard time over getting 4 for $20 ($5/pill). Most expect $20 for 3, which is a blatant rip off, but the dealers out there aren’t really flexible when making deals. i’ve tried asking several dealers to cut me a deal when buying 6 roxies.. they all want $25/pill, and when i bought 6, which would cost $150, I ask if they can take $10 off and more often than not, they refuse. annoying.

      • Turtle lover
        September 12, 2015 at 12:40 pm

        ThrowinShade, I really wish that there was some way to as you a question privately.

  2. HappyHighwayman
    January 27, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Why would you admit to theft?

  3. Gertrude Stein
    January 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    They overcharged you for those painkillers. And most of them are mexican knockoffs.

  4. Maxc
    June 30, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    All true but just cuz u can shoplift from a store and buy pills on pills hill doesn’t make you some sort of a badass. Try to go down there and sell some pills or better yet some chiva and see how that goes over. A brag blog about that experience would be a very good read.

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