A history of leather
After World War 2, disillusioned men found solace at the biker bars that flourished in the United States during the late 1940s. Some men wanted more intimate solace, and the real cuddle monsters among them created gay biker bars.
Every gay sub-culture needs a dress code, and the gay bikers took their inspiration from Marlon Brandon’s 1954 film The Wild One. Thus the leather daddy was born, crowned with a Muir Cap.
San Francisco has always been the city of choice for deviants, including the gay leather community. By the late 1970s, they had created ‘miracle mile’, a stretch of Folsom street that featured over 30 gay leather bars and bathhouses. Miracle mile was a festering wound in the eyes of City Hall, but the leather community was a strong force in the city and fiercely defended their sanctuary.
In the early 1980s, HIV and AIDS tore through miracle mile like the ten plagues of Egypt, severely weakening the leather community. City Hall took this opportunity to push through a series of redevelopment plans that, together with AIDS, spelled the end of miracle mile as a leather sanctuary.
In a desperate attempt to keep the leather spirit alive, the pundits of Folsom came together to create the annual Folsom Street Fair, which I just happened to stumble across today dressed in the finest leather a nomad can carry.
Folsom Street Fair today
Folsom Street Fair has served the San Franciscans for 28 years. It has changed from a purely gay leather event to a celebration of every fetish under the moon, although the biggest group represented is still the leather daddies.
The street fair attracts a whopping 400,000 slaves, masters, mummies, ponies, puppies, pigs, trannies, nudists, fakirs, boot boys, jocks and people-with-such-crazy-sexual-interests-that-there-are-no-noun-for-them-yet, all crammed into 13 overcrowded street blocks of fun.
Even if you are not a pervert (yet!), you are still welcomed at Folsom. It is the perfect eye-opener for the uninitiated and the curious. The atmosphere is playful, friendly and inclusive. Above all, it is public and thus feels a lot safer than the dungeon under the abandoned steel mill at the edge of town.
In short, Folsom is the perfect place to people watch and experiment!
The event is not just fun and games though. It is also a platform for organizations that work with issues such as safe sex, community support and charity. The latter is an important part of Folsom, which annually donate all profits to local and national charities. In 2010, the amount donated was a whopping $326,000!
Finally, the event demonstrates perfectly that the fetish community is founded on mutual respect, safety and pleasure.