Events » Nightlife Events

Leatherpalooza! Folsom Street Fair kinks it up

by Race Bannon

The sprawling crowd at last year's Folsom street Fair. photo: Iggy
The sprawling crowd at last year's Folsom street Fair. photo: Iggy  

The San Francisco Bay Area tends to be awash in far more leather and kink happenings than most metro areas. The month of September each year, especially the week leading up to Folsom Street Fair, is when the number of events for the LGBTQ kinky crowd skyrockets. I've jokingly referred to this period as "leatherpalooza" to friends.

Folsom Street Fair itself, happening Sunday, September 30, continues to remain the Grand Poobah of the weekend's festivities, but around it has grown a blossoming array of accompanying events.

This year's high holy days of leather appear to be offering us up more things to do than ever with a schedule packed with something for every flavor of LGBTQ kinkster.

We're headed directly into the most packed part of the month. So, you'll want to check out the Leather Events calendar on our site (BARtab > Leather-Kink). You may be shocked by how much is available to attend. Aren't we here in the Bay Area lucky?

Kinkerbelle, one of the many performers at Twisted Windows. Photo: The Silence  

A word of advice: If you're planning to go to a ticketed event, please consider buying your tickets in advance. Some events sell out. Even if they have tickets at the door, having them in hand often gets you into the event more quickly, avoiding point-of-sale lines. Plus, our hard-working producers, businesses and organizations can plan better and have more seed money ahead of time.

The busy leather week kicked off Sunday, September 23, with LeatherWalk. Leatherfolk and kinksters walked from the Castro down Market Street to South of Market where they stopped at Oasis, Powerhouse, The Lone Star Saloon and the SF Eagle along they way, officially kicking off the busy week ahead.

One of the more unique events taking place on Friday, September 28, is Twisted Windows. Catering to the entire range of kinksters including those from the LGBTQ kink communities, it's a truly queer-friendly environment.
Twisted Windows features over 50 performers on five simultaneous stages, with a focus on bondage performance and sensual circus arts. This is the erotic and artistic mixed in visually stunning ways. Kinkerbelle, one of the performers, described it like this.

"Twisted Windows is an incredible event unlike any other that lets you see, support and interact with performers from both artistic and erotic realms; truly a unique experience and clearly a labor of love and passion by everyone involved."

Dr. Gayle Rubin, expert historian on South of Market leather culture, appears in the film The Figa: An Oral Herstory of the Legendary Catacombs Club. photo: The Figa  

A one-time event on Saturday, September 29, at The Stud that you might want to consider is the premiere of the film The Figa: An Oral Herstory of the Legendary Catacombs Club, featuring world-renowned historian of San Francisco leather culture, Dr. Gayle Rubin.

The Figa is an experimental documentary featuring Dr. Rubin directed by artists Jonesy and Jaime C Knight. It mixes an interview with Dr. Rubin about the history of fisting and the legendary San Francisco Catacombs with an interpretive reenactment in an installation created by the artists featuring a cast of queer luminaries.

The film also features historical ephemera from the Catacombs, items from the personal collection of Dr. Rubin, and objects made by the artists specifically for the production.

The 5:30 p.m. screening will include a question and answer chat moderated by Andy Campbell. Then Gayle Rubin will demonstrate her DJ skills by spinning a Catacombs-inspired set. A happy hour hosted by John Cartwright is also part of the evening.

A stalwart supporter of the local community has always been the iconic leather, gear and toy store, Mr. S Leather. Their in-store parties have become legendary and they're having another one on Saturday, September 29. These parties give you the opportunity to mingle, cruise and shop, all at the same time. How awesome is that?

Additionally, they will also have for sale last-minute tickets to some of the big events over the weekend.

A flogging demonstration at the 2016 Folsom Street Fair. photo: Rich Stadtmiller  

It's rather evident when you look at the events taking place during this busy weekend that most appear to cater predominantly to gay men. That's true again this year, but increasingly producers are creating events to serve other niches within the overall set of kink communities.

One such example is the play party Sunday, September 30, at SF Catalyst for trans folks and cis-women (anyone who identifies other than cis-male).
Dance parties are always among the bigger events over the Folsom Street Fair weekend and this year is offering us more than ever before.
On Friday, September 28, Prime caters to men in their "prime" and their admirers.

I have strong ties to this event and am honored to be affiliated with an event that directly embraces not-so-young men like myself. Even the gogo men (not boys) dancing on the boxes will all be hot 50+ guys.

Also Friday, the guys from the famous New York Brüt parties and Brian Kent Productions again team up to bring you another San Francisco edition of Brüt. When the Brüt producers decided to take their highly successful dance events to other parts of the country, San Francisco was lucky enough to be one of their destinations.

Typically, the centerpiece dance event of this leather weekend is Magnitude, the official Saturday night dance party of Folsom Street Fair. As always, they promise world-class lighting, live stage shows, and big-name DJs along with thousands of dancing men.

So, you can see my growing dilemma with my limited space here. I've mentioned just a few of the more than 30 events taking place over just the next four days that cater to the LGBTQ kinky communities. And that doesn't include the many other events that might not target LGBTQ communities, and are therefore not the focus of this publication, but that are welcoming to the entire range of orientations.

If you see a leathered-up blur zoom past you sometime this weekend, it just might be me trying to run around to all of these amazing events. Hopefully I'll see lots of my readers out and about.

Have fun. Be safe. Watch out for each other. And do all that while being as kinky as you want to be, because this is the weekend to do that!

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist.


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