I love when I come across events or happenings that are truly “only in San Francisco.” They tend to be rather extreme and, although the Summer of Love and the beat poets are long gone, these “only in SF” things tend to toe at boundaries, deviate from the norm, and sometimes- shock.
The Folsom Street Fair may be one of the best examples. It is happening today in SOMA. Everyone put on your leather chaps, grab your flogger and your slave, and head on down. This is from their website:
The Folsom Street Fair is like NOTHING else in the world. With nearly 400,000 of your closest kinky friends spread out over 13 city blocks of adult entertainment, this is an ‘only in San Francisco’ experience to be sure.
I remember about ten or so years ago, a girlfriend was in town from NYC. She is an artist and her medium is photography. She is also kinky with domination and foot fetishes. Once I saw her have an explosive orgasm at a sex club just from someone rubbing her feet who she then beat with a leather flogger. I wasn’t surprised as this is the friend who had a young, male slave acting as her coffee table when I visited her the previous year. Anyway, she is in town, the Folsom Street Fair is happening and I am living only blocks from it at the time. She wants to go photograph it, of course. I stay back; I was probably nursing a hangover as nights with her are always wild.
After about only 30 minutes she comes back. “So quick!” I say. She is a bit speechless and has a funny look on her face, like she may faint at any moment. After a few moments she declares- “I am as kinky as they come and nothing shocks me. I have been to swingers clubs and sex clubs all over the country and I was raised in Queens. But I have never seen anything like what I just saw. I am in shock.” Silence again.
I will never know what she saw. She could never quite articulate it. I can only imagine. For years I went to the Fair, until it started to get too crowded for comfort. For those years at the Fair, I had many moments like this: I observe an activity that one can never do in public except for these five hours in the year, am shocked, appalled, amazed, and often impressed. I look away and then I have to look back. I have seen some things that I will never forget.
human bondage sculptures
group sex (on a front porch)
beatings with floggers, whips, and clubs
gender bending at its best (sometimes gender is just so irrelevant)
something that just feels inappropriate to write down here
The Folsom Street Fair is where anyone can go and be anyone they desire without hassle or judgement. It is a place of ultimate freedom. It epitomizes the spirit of San Francisco- I mean the people and communities who built the city and those who made it famous and desirable throughout the years. I hope the Fair continues to happen, always.
As San Francisco enjoys another tech boom, as rents soar, and high rise offices and shiny, expensive condos are built as if it were Shanghai, it is good to see the other side of the city in full swing. The side where the kinky people, the artists, and the deviants reside. Without them, we are just another wealthy city with good views.