In my blogging ‘hiatus’, I failed to talk about the Folsom Street Fair which took place last month in San Francisco. It’s an annual event that is held in the SOMA part of the city and celebrates leather/rubber/fetish culture. It attracts people from all over the world but, in the run up to the event, the blogosphere suggested that locals are increasingly drawn to the ‘purer’ Up Your Alley event held in July. Cool name and from the video footage I’ve seen, a much smaller, maybe ‘dirtier’ event (if that’s the right word – some would say ‘hornier’, ‘sleazier’, it all depends on your perspective). In the same way that Pride events can now be packed with straights seeking an interesting day out, there is a danger that these sort of events become a victim of their own success and draw in those seeking to watch a spectacle rather than who identify as part of the sub-culture. Drawing the line between celebrating culture in an open way and turning into a zoo exhibit is a tough call.

It’s an interesting challenge but one that Folsom seems to address in part by having other events throughout the year. However, Folsom itself remains a clearly sexual day with sponsorship from local companies such as the sex Blow Buddies (described brilliantly in the recent book by Tim Dean – Unlimited Intimacy) and exhibitors selling sex realted products and porn. The images from the event raise another aspect worthy of comment – the masculine nature of the day. Folsom is a celebration of the male leather/rubber/fetish scene, or so you could be forgiven for thinking. There is a women’s ‘area’ called Venus’ Playground. It’s interesting to see this gender distinction and the apparent inequality in the projection of the two sides of Folsom.

You can read more, and see some photographs on the official website here. There’s a great history that is worth reading here.

The porn star, Damon Dogg produces a ‘show’ on his blog and his July episode gives an insight into the Up Your Alley event. It does include nudity and the final 30 seconds depict Damon urinating into a mans trousers so you may wish to avoid the final few mins (the screen says ‘thanks for watching’ before going to the final scene). Those easily offended should skip the whole video. Those of you who do watch will see a video that gives a realistic insight into the event rather than a ‘glossy’ brochure. Viewers should look out for ‘The Cowboy’ who says of Up Your Alley, ‘this is our fair’.