Sex tourism: the Folsom Street Fair

Posted by Justin Fox on 10 October 2010

Warning: This blog contains sexually explicit content.

Our Sunday spent at the Folsom Street Fair was much more of an eye opener than the Renaissance caper of the previous weekend. It’s a sex-positive, gay-pride, kink friendly, BDSM, gender-bender festival in which all the sexually alternative people of San Francisco come out to play. A number of streets in South of Market are closed off and tens of thousands of people descend on Folsom wearing the most outrageous outfits, or just plain nothing at all. There’s music by queer bands and drag queens, food stalls (many specialising in phallic sausages) and stalls selling everything from dildos and leatherwear to bondage outfits and whips. Samantha bought a calendar from a group of male porn stars with images of the boys sporting an erection for each month. Mister November’s dick wasn’t as big as the others but he was “˜so damn cute’, admitted Sam.

I spent a goodly time perusing the goods on offer at the Stockroom stand, everything from ball gags and restraints to cages for locking up your victims. There was one device that attached your slave’s lips to your testicles, on a collar, nice and tight, and another that appended a toilet roll to her face, in case you wanted to install her in your bathroom as a loo-paper dispensing statue. There were lovely little nipple clamps going cheap, leather corsets for boys and gals and male chastity devices with padlocks, just in case you thought of being unfaithful while Mistress Samantha was off at work.

But it was the people that held our attention more than the goods for sale. There were drag queens in astonishing getups with teetering heels, feather boas, beehive wigs and layers of colourful makeup. Some were aging and overweight, others were drop-dead gorgeous ladyboys. There were doms walking their chained subs on leashes, and leather lads wearing little save for their boots, caps and a few discreet scraps of thong here and there that covered little and exposed a lot. There was a woman clad from head to toe in leopard-skin print, another flaunting her nipple clamps; yet another was stark naked being led around by her master, possibly for sale. Many simply had tape or clingwrap over their naughty bits, but these soon peeled off in the heat. There were Barbie dolls, whip-wielding dominatrixes and fishnet sirens. And what about the nurse covered in blood and the boy dressed only in feathers? You didn’t know were to look or where not to look.

If anything, the men had outdone the women in the costume department. It seemed that every gay boy in San Francisco had spent months planning his outfit. Some were all in rubber or latex, others in leather. Some wore dog masks, others had created fancy dress themes; one man had a megaphone attached to his head like a helmet. There were ball gowns and fruit outfits, skimpy bikinis and the tallest high heels I’d ever seen. One tranny’s frock consisted entirely of plastic baby dolls roped together (!?).

Some stuff was more comic than erotic. Like the fat girl in leather underwear strapped to a wheel and spun at great speed, her breasts flapping up and down like animated zeppelins. Or the octogenarian gent bending over a chair, his frilly skirt hitched up, getting spanked with a bat. Or the topless granny offering her tits for fondling: five dollars for five minutes. Other “˜acts’ had tipped over into the burlesque, like the lad in a frock posing as a prostitute with a rubber mask that gave him the vacant gaze of a crack ho. Or the horse-and-cart affair in which two fat dykes had harnessed another dyke to be their pony and pull them around the fair. Lucky for some. And then there was the white-trash guy in baseball cap and wife-beater vest dragging a human monkey on a rope, like Lucky and Pozzo from Waiting for Godot. The ape wore a red tunic and a fez and banged a pair of cymbals whenever he grew excited. This was often, as regular bananas were produced from his master’s crotch, which he sucked delightedly, between floggings that is.

If you wanted to win prizes, all you needed to do was toss your cock in the hole. There was a long queue for rubber penises which you lobbed across a short gap and between the splayed legs of a cardboard cut-out. The prizes for those with good aim and a steady cock hand were suitably filthy.

“˜God bless America!’ I kept exclaiming, with each new spectacle.
“˜Oh do be quiet!’ said Sam. “˜You sound like such a tourist.’

The lasting impression of Folsom, however, was unrelenting penis. Everywhere, men flaunted their wares. There were cock rings and ball straps, piercings of every kind, even the odd spiked parachute testicle stretcher. Occasionally someone was so pleased to see an old friend, that they simply had to get on their knees and give Mr Wobbly a peck on the snout. Some appendages were modified to the shape of household appliances, like the man who’s cock resembled a gleaming faucet; another Adonis had attached a dead octopus to his manhood. One gent’s willy looked like the neck of Burmese Kayan woman; even his sack had been alarmingly distended by a row of metal rings. But oh the pride on his face as he presented his paraphernalia for my camera! And here, good sir, the crown jewels, said his look.

After a few hours of idle wandering, the novelty value began to wear off and it all became quite “¦ ordinary. We’d sit in a café beside a couple of naked gents having Cokes and they’d be chatting about penis enlargement and ointments and it seemed perfectly normal: just another kinky day on the streets of San Francisco.

“˜What a lovely body you have,’ says the one.
“˜Why thank you. You’re a doll. And this part’s not even fully hard. I was lucky to be born with this body and the dick came for free.’
“˜Yea, as you can see, I wasn’t so blessed,’ he said, pointing to a shrivelled member.
“˜You must work at it every day,’ chuckled the other. “˜Use ointments and just keep rubbing. You’ll be amazed.’
“˜I think the government should give free liposuction, dick and boob enhancements to all. Then everyone will be happy and the world will be a better place.’
“˜That’s such a clever idea! You should totally run for president.’

The S&M events were, however, not ordinary. A number of stands offered flogging sessions. Passers by were welcome to join in: it was all for charity, come on folks, get your ass whipped for just $5. It’s for a good cause! At one stand, the naked woman with the spectacles tied to a crucifix and being flogged looked more like a mousy librarian than a fetish princess, but she was clearly loving her spanking. When the master began biting her neck with filed down teeth, she couldn’t stop climaxing, her body, despite being chained, bouncing around like a frog in a bucket. Then there was the skinny guy, pants round his ankles, being caned by a young Chinese girl (also the best $5 dollars he’d ever spent, judging by his erection) and the fat girl flogged until her back was a map of bleeding canyons. I wasn’t sure about how happy she was going to feel the next morning when the sheets were stained red.

Make no mistake, there was beauty in all this too. A naked female intricately bound with Japanese rope-work that transforms the body into a macramé sculpture is very comely. If she’s then whipped to the point of orgasm, or way beyond it, there is a degree of poetry there too. Yes, and there’s beauty in a tall tattooed brunette caressing the blonde she has just flayed, whispering sweet nothings to the whimpering wreck, coaxing her back into the headspace that begs another beating. There was the skinny young girl with the Pre-Raphaelite red hair and a white rope wrapped tight around her midriff that stepped from the crowd and asked the fat lady for a beating. Her submission was pretty in its own way. Off with your panties then, and bend over the cage. Soon her face was streaked with mascara tears as the baseball bat walloped her ass and all the while her body quivered uncontrollably with that curious marriage of pain and pleasure.

But this was the light and playful stuff. Other stands were more hard core. At the leather-biker enclosure, naked boys were strapped to motorbikes and had their white and pimply bottoms stripped raw in endless lashings. Other slaves were strung from racks and had their genitals precisely flogged. There was something going on in the back, but I didn’t take a closer look. It involved a lot of blood and claw-like devices. One man’s chest had been gouged into meat and the white sheeting on which the performers stood had turned scarlet. It was too reminiscent of a butchery for me. So I dragged Samantha on.

Tamer and more sexy was a lesbian kink stand where we watched two gorgeous woman tied to a pole that had been tightly strapped between their legs. They faced each other, hands cuffed behind their backs, thighs bound to ankles. Then the master attached a vibrator to the pole and its quivering action sent waves of pleasure through the two women. I liked that one. Sam was a bit bored though.

But it was the stand that attracted the most attention. This notorious website company had taken over an old armoury in the Mission district and did daily S&M shoots which were posted on the net. They catered to all fetishes, from fucking machines and wired pussy to device and water bondage. It had a big following in San Francisco and around the world. In one section of the enclosure a group of buff male porn stars were being flogged. A Chinese master dressed in black leather was laying into them. Their bodies showed the scars of rope and whip, some of it raw and bleeding. When the pretty boy started to howl and tried to leap clear of the lash, his feet were chained to a spreader bar. The other slaves had the glazed looks of men on drugs. The drug of erotic pain. However the other members of hardly noticed what was going on beside them and continued to hand out fliers and free DVDs to onlookers, laugh and gossip about this and that, or go to the toilet in full view of the crowd.
In another section of the enclosure, beautiful young women were being thrashed. One was strung up by her hair with her legs splayed while a man in a leather kilt caned her vagina. Her breasts were bound so tight they’d turned purple. The screaming only seemed to goad him to greater exertions. Next to her, a young redhead lay on the floor, her ankles bound to her feet. A muscle-bound and heavily-tattooed black master was alternately whipping and beating her. Alabaster flesh turned pink, then red, as the network of wheals grew to cover her entire body.

A Mexican guy elbowed through the crowd next to me and called back to his friend: “˜Hey, Jose, come check it out dude. There’s a guy beating the crap of this pretty young ho. It’s so fucking cool man. Go dude, harder!’
Sam gave him a withering look. “˜Hey, it’s cool man, I’m just kidding.’

By this stage, the man had pinned the woman to the floor by her hair and was lashing her back as hard as he could with a riding crop. The crowd drew in its breath audibly with each blow. Her body contorted, trying to break free. But the fucked-up crazy part of it all, was the look of ecstasy on her face.

By now, Sam’s feet were killing her and she wanted a change of scenery. “˜Does none of this turn you on?’ I asked, trying to adjust my underwear to restrict the trouser bulge as we passed another naked blonde with floral nipple caps and a roger-me-on-the-spot expression on her face.
“˜Oh, I come every year, so the novelty has worn off,’ she said. “˜I find the bodies beautiful though, both the men’ and the women’s. But sexually, no. It’s just meat on parade. And it’s getting too crowded. You can only take so many sweaty naked body pressed against you.’
“˜And yet you bought a calendar of porn stars with hard-ons?’
“˜Oh, that’s just fun. My mum will have a good chuckle when she comes over from the UK. Might give it to her as a stocking-filler for Christmas.’
“˜Ah,’ I said.

Meat on parade, indeed, and some of it so damn sexy, I thought. But I agreed with her that the day had been long and we made for the nearest bus stop to ride the good old 47 home. It was fascinating to watch how ordinary San Franciscans responded to the hordes of festival goers spilling into the surrounding streets in their scandalous or non-existent attire. Hardly anyone so much as glanced. That’s the kind of city I like.

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