Megahood2021 to cap SF Leather Week

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday September 22, 2021
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A revitalized LeatherWalk kicked off Leather Week September 19. Photo: Dave Fong
A revitalized LeatherWalk kicked off Leather Week September 19. Photo: Dave Fong

After the lack of an in-person event last year, South of Market is once again ringing out with the sounds of house beats, whips, and howls. Leather Week is here.

The week began with a revitalized LeatherWalk from City Hall to Eagle Plaza Sunday, September 19. Cal Callahan, a gay man who is the district manager of the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District, told the B.A.R. that "we are very pleased at how LeatherWalk has been received."

"Turnout was greater than we expected and when I looked out at the crowd, I saw so much of our community represented," Callahan said. "We wanted an event where everyone felt they belonged, an event that everyone felt was theirs."

Callahan said that he'd heard there was a turnout of about 200-225 people. At the end of their trek through SOMA, walkers reached Leather Pride Fest 2021 at Eagle Plaza, and watched the raising of the Leather Pride flag. Callahan thanked Lex Montiel, owner of the Eagle, and Leather Pride Fest 2021 organizer Jason Husted, for providing "a warm welcome to the walkers."

A ceremony was held at the public parklet to raise the new flag on its flagpole situated near its entrance on Harrison Street at 12th Street after the previous flag had become tattered by the wind.

"It was an exciting moment to watch the new, bright Leather Pride flag being raised," Callahan said.

Callahan also thanked District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, a straight ally, and Honey Mahogany, his nonbinary trans queer legislative aide, for their support. Mahogany is also the chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party.

Anthropology Professor Gayle Rubin, Ph.D., rightt, who specializes in leather history, talked about the history of Ringold Alley during a stop on the LeatherWalk. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland  

Megahood2021 expecting up to 40,000
The premier event, of course, is Megahood2021 — this year's iteration of the Folsom Street Fair — which will be Sunday, September 26, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Folsom Street between Eighth and 12th streets, and on Ninth, 10th, and 11th streets between Howard and Harrison streets.

When asked how many people are going to attend, Angel Adeyoha, the queer and nonbinary executive director of Folsom Street Events, told the Bay Area Reporter that's the "million dollar question."

"Everyone wants to know that — including the city," Adeyoha said, before projecting an attendance of 30,000 to 40,000.

"We'll have the infrastructure — toilets, et cetera — for 50,000," Adeyoha added.

The typical Folsom Street Fair is attended by about 250,000 people.

Because the street fair's size will trigger the city's outdoor mask mandate (10,000), people will be required to wear a mask much of the time.

"We are checking vaccine cards at the gate and will make sure people have a mask," Adeyoha said. "Eating, drinking, or more than six feet away: people can take off their mask. Now in line for a bar or when dancing: those are places we're asking people to put their mask on. Bring your vax card, bring your mask: put it in bold at the top."

The fair has been rechristened for this year to honor its roots, as Megahood was the original name of the event when it was inaugurated in 1984. It also belies the pared-down nature of this year's event.

"The attendees to the fair are going to see something like a scaled-back version with fewer vendors so people have more space," Adeyoha explained. "We do have five community stages — rope and bondage; BDSM; a DJ/go-go stage; a Playground stage, which is for our woman, trans and queer communities; and our drag stage, co-presented by The Stud and Oaklash."

There will be more room for folks to walk around and, perhaps most significantly, there will be no alcohol sales except at bars and restaurants within the fair area.

"We're not selling alcohol at the fair this year, though bars and restaurants will be open in our footprint," Adeyoha said. "We'll have a QR code with a guide of who's open. Most bars and restaurants within our footprint will be providing a little special something if you have a donation sticker.

"This year, we are suggesting people be as generous as they can be," Adeyoha said. "That's what'll help Folsom Street get back on good financial ground."

The organization took on $250,000 in operational debt in 2020, without an in-person fair to sustain its business model. A virtual fair, headlined by Margaret Cho, took place last year due to the pandemic.

Donations will also help benefit Folsom Street Event's sex-positive community center at 145 Ninth Street. While Folsom Street Events currently leases the space, it is hoping to buy it and turn it into a co-op.

"I hope folks recognize that the way we continue to have amazing arts and cultural events is by supporting them," Adeyoha said. "So, please show up and support."

Of course, this is also a big week for circuit parties — the biggest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — with seven scheduled between Friday night and Monday morning.

Cecil Russell, a gay man who is the head of Cecil Russell Presents and Gloss magazine, is producing or co-producing several, including Matinee Pervert XXL at The Midway Saturday, September 25, at 10 p.m. and Hot Tea at Audio the following day at 5 p.m.

Russell, like Adeyoha, said health orders would be followed. He told the B.A.R. all party attendees will have to show proof of vaccination and follow city guidelines for indoor venues.

"Pride was big for us but this is probably more people coming in than Pride," Russell said. "It's going to be great production, great DJs — probably some of the best DJs we've had in a couple years."

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