1 The event started in 1984 and is California’s third-largest single-day, outdoor spectator event and it is the world’s largest single day leather event and showcase for BDSM products and culture. The multi day event record is held by IML Chicago and Leatherpride Antwerp depending on criteria.
2 It gives all its money away. It has grown as a non-profit charity with all donations at the gates going to charity groups as well as numerous fundraising opportunities with games, stunts and even spanking for charity cash – to date Millions and Millions of dollars have been raised.
3 The predecessor of the Folsom Street Fair was the CMC Carnival (California Motorcycle Club Carnival), a gay leather BDSM dance with DJs, a rock band and fair with vendors and a back room for casual sex, held on the second Sunday of November every year rather than the late September it is now from 1966 to the last one in 1986 at various indoor venues including most often at the Seafarer’s International Union Hall.
4 The Fair was set up to counter the effects of the AIDS epidemic which arrived in San Francisco through ‘patient zero’ at the start of the eighties. The authorities over reacted closing down bath houses and bars and stigmafying gay men and the fair was a positive event for the community most notably it put education and information at the forefront at a time when there was immense fear, rumour and misinformation.
5 Many well known chart bands and acts have appeared over the years including Little Boots, The Beat, Nitzer Ebb, Ladyhawke and even Berlin sang ‘Take My Breath Away’ The number one Theme From Top Gun there. Top DJ’s have included Tony Moran, Jack Chang and Mark Moore of S-Express fame. Britney Spears Madonna Cher and Bette Midler have all attended the Fair.
6 Thirteen years after its beginnings in 1997, a smaller event called Folsom Street East was organized in New York City by GMSMA it still runs today but there is no affiliation between Folsom Street East (NYC) and Folsom Street Events (SF). Folsom Europe started in Berlin in 2003 and is just celebrating its 15th truly massive and very sleazy party this year. It has much closer ties with San Francisco. Less successfully Folsom Fair North started in Toronto in 2003 but it only ran 5 years.
7 Many gay porn studios had huge booths at the fair and in the heyday of the big corporate porn palaces and DVD’s they all flew in hundreds of porn stars from all over the World. Titan were the biggest with 20 superstars signing their annual calendar like Francois Sagat, Damien Crosse and Tony Buff. Other studios were keener for the oxygen of controversy with home based TreasureslandMedia being the most successful getting banned a record 5 times from the fair for public fucking, blowjobs and group sex in the street a ban whch is now permanent. They simply moved into a local garage and then their studio whch is half a block away where the stars fuckbareback on the desks and the lines are around the block.
8 At midday at the start of the event all leather title holders attending gather on the main West stage for a large photo opportunity. They have previously all been for a private brunch in a luxurious house on a hill overlooking the Castro. No other fetish title holders are included due to tradition and the original leather routes of the fair. The photo op is lead by that years current IML but if you miss them the sashed guys walk the fair all day and always end up in the Eagle beer bust later.
9 The biggest controversy ever was over the poster and promotion artwork n 2007 whch depicted the famous Leonardo Da Vinci Last Supper painting with various fetish people including Sister Roma as the disciples. The table cloth was changed to the leather flag and it was covered with sex toys, dildos, whips and restraints. It was attacked by various conservative groups who did not have a leg to stand on as that picture has been lampooned in everything from the Simpsons to MASH. Therefore they went for the Fairs biggest sponsor Miller Lite Beer Brewing company who gave in under the threat of a boycott from the believers who think a burning bush can actually speak and that God took a really nice long holiday between 1939 and 1945 rather than living in the real world.
10 The Fair happens the last Sunday of September. It attracts 400,000 people many of whom are straight and it is their one interaction with the gay and fetish world and boy do the gawp and take pictures. It covers 13 City blocks and a donation of $10 is collected for charity on the gate for entry by the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence which covers your first drink. You can strip naked and walk the streets with your todger getting a suntan as their is ample lockers and look up as their is always a lot of public buttfucking in the windows. The main party is the night before ‘Magnitude’ with over 2500 party goers live sex shows and it always sells out – it is in different venues each time recently including on an island in San Francisco Bay. After the Fair on the Sunday the main event is Deviants with 2000 players and it is much more leather and fetish than Magnitude the night before.