I returned to one of my former stomping grounds, San Francisco, for my first Folsom Street Fair since I “came out” as a kinkster. I lived in S.F. in the early- to mid-80′s and remember going to one of the very first Folsom Street fairs. Back then, it was a small, neighborhood affair, with a strictly hardcore gay leather crowd. As jaded as I was, it was shocking to see all those bare man asses and cocks hanging out right there in public, in broad daylight!
Now, the Folsom Street Fair is acknowledged to be the world’s largest leather event. Wikipedia calls it California’s third largest spectator event. Has BDSM gone mainstream? How the heck did that happen? This year it is estimated that 400,000 people attended the one-day festival this past Sunday. I was one of them. And I suffered in the intense heat wave, wearing a black latex dress. Oh yes, I am a slave to fashion!
I was not kinky back in the 80′s, but not exactly vanilla either. I’d been one of the original punk rockers in L.A.’s punk scene of the 70′s, and was a product of that subculture. I hung out in the gay bars and leather bars because they were the only public entertainment establishments to play alternative music back then.
San Francisco was still somewhat bohemian (although rents were high) and mostly gay. This was before the dotcom boom flooded the city with boring young non-creative straight people. It was also the early days of AIDS consciousness, where gay bathhouses were being shut down and queer culture got political. Too bad I wasn’t in touch with my kinky self back then; still, it was an exciting time and place to be “gay adjacent” as I was.
This trip to San Francisco was particularly significant because I was going to Leather Week as a participant rather than as a spectator as I’d been in the past. I drove up the 5 from Los Angeles listening to podcasts from Poly Weekly. I arrived in the city Friday afternoon and set out on foot strolling down Folsom Street. The bars were already hopping, with the typical cross section of San Francisco gay bar dwellers: shirtless “boys,” older “daddies,” guys in leather, guys in chaps with bare butts, guys in Levis, guys in shorts and OINK T-shirts.
Shop till you drip
I stopped in at Madame S, an offshoot of the legendary Mister S leather store. Madame S features gorgeous latex and fetish fashions, plus an unusual array of “pleasure objects.”
I peeked through to Mister S and saw a room lined with a huge selection of floggers and paddles. Lots of leather daddies mingled there, wearing next to nothing; on the Madame S side kinky couples and cross-dressers waited patiently to purchase goodies. I lusted after a latex top but decided to be economical and bought a vibrating silicon butt plug instead.
Next I walked up Eight Street to Wicked Grounds, the kinky café. I love the fact that this establishment exists as a business and I always stop in for a coffee when in SF. They hold niche fetish munches and groups there almost daily — providing a physical meeting place for Bay Area Furries, a Switches discussion group, a pony munch and a kinky knitters group. They even have a monthly ‘bring your human pet’ night. It’s the only place in S.F. to get coffee served in a dog bowl!
At the table next to me, four nerdy looking kinksters played some sort of science fiction game, all of them staring intently at their cards. I looked around and the atmosphere seemed very accepting. Throughout the weekend I would run into people I’d seen there, and all were super friendly.
Permission to be seen but not heard
I was in S.F. without Sir M, but with his approval. I have to ask Sir M in advance for permission to go to any kinky events, including the Folsom Street Fair. He knows I will wear my collar and follow his protocols of not speaking with other Doms, etc., so he generously permits me travel like this.
Sir M gave me permission to attend the pansexual play party at S.F. Citadel, called “This Shit Will Fuck You Up.” Citadel is a large dungeon down the street from my hotel. I chose that event as it seemed to be the only non-homo party, but it turned out to be delightfully mixed.
I had some hesitancy in going to this party — I’ve never been to S.F. Citadel, and more importantly have never been to a BDSM play party on my own. But I walked into the party and immediately saw familiar faces. First I ran into Master D and slave s, a very sweet older couple I know from my dungeon in Los Angeles. They have been in a Master/slave relationship for over a decade and are a fixture in the scene there. She is always naked, except for a pussy chain and collar. She always seems so comfortable in her own skin; she became a role model for me when I first started playing with Sir M and realized I was going to have to be naked every weekend at the dungeon.
Master D loves to show off his collection of exotic custom-made toys. He has several pairs of handcuffs of his own design that look menacing and escape-proof. He showed me paddles made from alligator, a flogger with a reptile claw at the end of the handle, and a number of other indescribable handmade toys intended to inflict pain. His toys are one-of-a-kind art objects, to be sure, but they are quite effective in his hands.
I recognized S from the Burning Man circuit, in his furry one-piece suit with floppy long sleeves. We chatted briefly then I went downstairs to check out the play area.
Play party, S.F.-style
It was one good-sized room with nearly a dozen different scenes going on. The diversity was amazing. A tall, thin, androgynous female with a white crew cut gazed down as another female with similar hairdo worshiped and sucked her black cock. She wore a strap-on, a one-shoulder leather holster and a “Lesbian Sex Mafia” badge — and nothing else.
Next to them, a Dom in a fedora spanked his girl on a spanking horse to the rhythm of the music, straddling her to get the right angles. He could have been playing a conga drum. Beyond them, a chunky Latina with a really bad feathered and crudely dyed hairstyle was chained to a suspended circular platform.
Three large and burly older biker dude-types spanked, flogged and caned her in rotation. All three wore leather vests emblazoned with Red Dragon Club on the backs. Their scene lasted over an hour and a half of non-stop impact play. I wondered how she could handle it. Eventually two of the bikers packed up their toys and the third, who must have been her Dom, moved her over to another play station for the next act of her scene.
I recognized the sultry and gorgeous Minx of Poly Weekly and chatted with her quietly (it’s bad dungeon etiquette to socialize in play rooms like that.) She had an androgynous couple in tow. We propped ourselves up against a high spanking horse in order to watch all the action.
In front of me, a lovely and calmly composed girl in lingerie sat on a towel on the floor. She appeared to be in a meditative state like a yogi. She did a pigeon stretch, oblivious of all the BDSM scenes going on around her.
A Dom started rigging up ropes above her, and had her hogtied in 5 minutes flat. He suspended her upside down and she looked like she’d been transported to LaLa land.
“That’s M, a famous rigger from up the coast,” my new friends explained.
M adjusted the ropes to control her height, then pulled out his hard cock and stroked it. He grabbed her now upside-down head and thrust his cock into her open mouth. He face-fucked her then pulled her off. I saw her head bobbing as he pleasured himself this way, and I guessed what was going on. I walked around to get a better look. She was completely tranced out, in absolute submission and he was using her like a toy. It was so erotic, my panties got soaked.
I was not permitted to play at this party, just watch, and that was starting to feel torturous. I left the party early, went back to the hotel, and tried out my new toy. Bzzzzzzzzzz bliss!
The main attraction
I wanted to save my energy for the street fair. Folsom Street was blocked between Seventh and Twelfth but the fair has gotten so large it also spills onto the adjoining streets.
It was blazing hot and crowded. I tried to beeline through the solid masses toward the women’s play area, where I’d planned to meet up with some friends.
I ran into someone I knew from my business in L.A., head of the biggest gay media company. He looked me up and down, took in the latex dress and fancy rhinestone collar, and smiled. I could see the light bulb go off over his head, realizing that I’m a submissive, when he’d been trying to figure out my orientation over the years (I used to work with an LGBT-based design agency.)
The crowd was similar to that of a gay pride festival, but with a lot more bare furry man butts and fewer bare chests. There was leather and more leather, in spite of the wicked heat. Many of the females were more butch than the guys. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of all things leather and BDSM: the flogging demos, the Masters, the slaves, the chains, the whippings, etc.
My vanilla friend was wearing skimpy clothing and a big pink hat. She’d brought a young married couple. The woman was tall and slim, a yoga instructor. She wore a thin rhinestone collar and her husband had her on a leash.
She said, “he likes this stuff and I go along with it because I love him.” She didn’t strike me as being submissive.
We ducked into the tented women’s play area to watch a demo on safer paddling. Two red asses faced the audience as the educator explained where to hit and how to avoid drawing blood.
They wouldn’t let one member of our group in, however, since he was male. So we settled for watching the Rubinesque burlesque show in front of the tent instead. I don’t enjoy watching fat women undulate but my friends seemed to be captivated by the show.
I wandered off again to watch the gays. The crowd was full of random naked guys, pet dogs, drag queens, transgenders, body builders and all sorts. It was great for people-watching.
A charming woman in a white latex outfit introduced herself as J.
“I saw you at Wicked Grounds and wanted to introduce myself.”
We commiserated about how hot we both were in latex. I later saw from her calling card that she goes by Mistress J.P. — meaning that she is a Femme Domme, probably a pro.
The day flew by too quickly — six o’clock was approaching. It was amazing to be in the epicenter of all that leather pride.
I dragged myself back to the hotel, tired, dehydrated, overheated. I vowed that next year I would dress more sensibly! But I’ll definitely make the Folsom Street Fair a yearly destination.