Spectator Magazine was an American weekly newspaper published and distributed in San Francisco from 1978 until October 2005, and dubbed itself "California's original adult newsmagazine". The magazine in tabloid format featured sex and BDSM related stories and advice as well as numerous advertisements for phone sex, strip clubs and other sex businesses. The paper was distributed through news racks, adult book stores, strip clubs and some general stores.
Publisher and owner Kat Sunlove was interviewed for Wendy McElroy's 1995 book XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography. She related how the Spectator Magazine originated in 1978 as the adult-services advertising portion of the earlier free-speech paper Berkeley Barb. In 1987, the Spectator's employees bought the paper.
The publication was sold to Dara Lynne Dahl and W. Vann Hall in January 2002, with Dara taking the role of Editor in Chief. In April of that year, rival publication Yank began legal action against Spectator, alleging unfair competition, interference with business advantage, slander, and conversion. The results were hard times for the paper with fewer and fewer articles and more and more blatant sex content, loss of the corporate status, and eventual abandonment by Ms. Dahl amidst a variety of legal problems in 2004.
In 2004, an attempt was made to revive the paper with an updated educational twist. The editorial duties were taken up by Heath Weaver-Hall and Terry Hall. Many improvements to content were made including how-to, advice, and nightlife columns, but the market for the paper had moved to the internet and the debts held by the paper were too large to keep it going. The paper stopped publishing in October 2005.
The one person who saw The Spectator through all its inceptions was Dave Patrick who was the principal photographer and managing editor for the paper for many years.
- Spectator.net, from the Internet Archive
- Wendy McElroy. XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography, 1995. Chapter 7.
- East Bay Express. Attack of the Moans, 29th May 2002