For your reading pleasure, we now bring you this list of Folsom Street Fair weekend tips, information, and events, and we've pegged pretty-much-safe-for-work images to include throughout this Folsom Street Fair guide.
This year’s 35th annual Folsom Street Fair almost whipped up controversy over a volunteer staffing dispute with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, but the Chronicle reported last week that both sides have kissed and made up. So the Sisters will once again be your gate greeters and donation-takers for San Francisco’s Super Bowl of kink, and Leather Week will climax Sunday as an expected 400,000 perverts will pony out to South of Market for the Folsom Street Fair.
Plan Your Play for the Folsom Street Fair
The fair does ask a $10-15 donation, nearly all of which goes to charity. The gates open at 11 a.m., and fair area occupies all of Folsom Street from 8th and 13th Streets. Traffic will be hogtied throughout South of Market, and parking will be impossible, so consider public transit or a rideshare. Keep in mind that in light of recent events, security will he far more thoroughly checking your bag and its contents, and as a reminder the fair has banned “weapons, knives, sharps, glass bottles, and cans.”
Ukulele-playing menstruation muse Rachel Lark kicks off the Main Stage entertainment (at Tenth and Howard Streets) at 11:30 a.m., the Leather Titleholders compete at 12 Noon, and the stage will host big-deal national acts Imperial Teen (2:50 p.m.), Adult. (4 p.m.), and L7 (5:15 p.m.)
Folsom Street Fair Dos and Don’ts
We’ll get the obligatory “bring water and wear sunscreen” out of the way first. Now let’s get more explicit: you will see nakedness, and this event is exempt from the local nudity ban. You will also see (and with any luck, engage in) sex acts, though the fair’s FAQs on lewd behavior say that “Our Security team may stop you and ask that you take your given activity (e.g., masturbation, oral/anal/vaginal sex) indoors to an appropriate establishment like Blow Buddies.”
Do ask first before taking pictures, and realize that Folsom is not an exclusively LGBTQ event; it does welcome the full spectrum of kink sexuality. Your gear does not have to be leather, and there is no dress code. But you will feel underdressed and out of place if you make no attempt at a fantastic (or revolting) appearance.
The fair asks that you not bring children or dogs, but human pups are highly encouraged.
Folsom Street Fair Weekend Events
We’d be remiss if we didn’t ‘plug’ a few events leading up to and during the fair. On Friday night, U-HAUL will have its party for lady-identifying revelers at Jolene’s, while Exiles Folsom Social is open to all genders. On Saturday, Electroluxx Folsom at Public Works will bring back their dome tent “Cuddle Puddle,” and the SF Queer/Leather Happy Hour has it 10-year anniversary party at WISH Bar.
Sunday’s night’s official afterparty is Deviants at Mezzanine, Jolene’s Bar will host Gear Queers! The Official Folsom After Party For Womxn, and your best bet for anything resembling a mixed-gender crowd will be at Bawdy Storytelling's 'Kinktacular!' at the Verdi Club.
Folsom Street Fair History
We love to wax over the history of the Folsom Street Fair, which started in 1984 as something called Megahood, and was not originally a fetish or kink event. The HIV/AIDS crisis of the early 80s turned it into more of a queer community fundraiser event, and a gay publication called Drummer built it into a whole weekend with a beefcake pageant called the International Mr. Drummer Contest. The outlaw event went legit with sponsorships and a predictable annual schedule in the 90s, though some of those sponsors got cold feet when the delightful 2007 “Last Supper” poster above caused Miller Beer to step out from being a sponsor. But Folsom Street Fair has weathered the changes and remained the world’s largest leather event, and hundreds of thousands of people are bound to turn out Sunday.
Image: torbakhopper via Flickr