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My Uber driver was confused. "Where am I dropping you off?" he asked at a red light. I wasn't sure what to tell him, since I did not know where exactly the entrance to the fair was. We were on Folsom Street in San Francisco's South of Market District. I looked around and said, "Follow those guys," pointing to a posse of muscle bears in leather harnesses and jock straps. I had written about the significance of going this year, and now here it was: the Folsom Street Fair, the world's largest leather, kink, and BDSM festival, and a free space for anyone whose particular perversions fell outside the norm. I wrestled in the puppy kennel for a bit, then made my way through the horde of nearly half a million people in attendance. These are the snapshots I took along the way.
Paul has danced at the Folsom Street Fair for the last three years.
The fair is very pet-friendly, in more ways than one.
I asked her if I could take a picture. "Of course, darling!" I snapped the picture and she blew me a kiss. "Happy Folsom Day!" she said with a wave of her hand, then disappeared into the crowd.
These three leather bunnies are regulars at the fair.
Leather harnesses of every style, color, and function can be found at the fair. The world-famous leather supplier Mr. S Leather is right down the street.
Of course, there were quite a few dominatrixes in the crowd too.
I was wondering why everyone was keeping their distance from me until this handler (left) and his pup (right) from Seattle filled me in. "Many people here respect collar etiquette," they said. "If they see a pup in a collar, they assume his or her handler is around and they're off-limits. If you're not off-limits and want people to flirt with you, leave the lock on your collar open." It worked.
Woof! Leather daddies everywhere.
It's not just the world's biggest leather festival. The Folsom Street Fair is also one of the largest clothing-optional events in the United States.
Interestingly enough, this Sir (far left) and his boy (middle) are also from Seattle.
There are no rules at Folsom.
I always knew Maleficent was a kinky villainess.
Bondage, rubber, and boys, oh my!
Brent is a professional at suspension and rope bondage. "Normally I'm doing bondage demonstrations and tying guys up the entire time," he said. "This year it's nice to just be able to walk around."
Hot leather daddies!
I told them I'm actually going to Seattle next weekend. "The pup scene there is great," they said. "You should check it out."
"Good afternoon, and happy Folsom!" she said as I walked by.
This vixen triad was trying on various harnesses and leashes in one of the leather stores on Folsom Street.
Eric from Houston was loving the Fair.
"This is our first Folsom!"
His nipples are pierced. I couldn't help myself.
Many people come just to stand and watch.
Kevin wanted to prove he had the cutest, furriest butt ever. He was right.
This obedient pup was in a demonstration that was equal parts punishment and performance art. Only at Folsom!
More hot leather daddies! Woof!
"Come here, puppy. Good boy."
Sir Nick (right) came all the way from South Africa to visit the Folsom Street Fair.