If you haven't been paying attention, San Francisco has been changing. While there may be a leather-themed public park in the works, the New York Times reports that on a Tenderloin block with $70-a-night S.R.O.s, a chi-chi doggy daycare charges up to $90 nightly to board a dog. But somehow the annual Folsom Street Fair manages to keep things kinky. This year the organizers commissioned Aron Kantor to create a short film to celebrate the infamous fetish extravaganza, which takes place Sunday, September 27.
"I always aim to explore themes of gender, challenging masculine ideals and celebrating atypical expressions of identity, individualism, and sexuality," Kantor explains. "My form of activism is celebrating 'otherness' in a style usually reserved for glossy Hollywood productions, bringing the fringe into a spotlight, and giving unique individuals and ideas the center stage treatment they deserve."
Featuring Broadway performer Colin Cunliffe, nightlife promoter Mario Diaz, gender-queer drag queen Grace Towers, and a variety of San Francisco dancers and performers, Kantor's short film serves as both a metaphor for the Folsom Street Fair and a joyful example of the possibilities of queer community effort and activism. As he explains:
"As San Francisco's unique culture faces the unstoppable forces of gentrification, I felt it necessary to create a time capsule to celebrate the diversity and sexual freedom that make this city so vital and special. The city's queer community is tremendously diverse, talented and beautiful, and the production of this film became a celebration, a joyful homage to this city's sexually deviant history and gloriously seedy heyday. 'Community' has always been a key to the underground world of kink and leather. It is often thought of as existing only in secret backrooms and darkened bars but in fact it has long formed a strong community that shares joys, bonds, and activist pursuits that go way beyond fetish and sex.
"The film Folsom Street is a celebration of this community and the positive impact the kink and leather subcultures can have. In the face of cultural-whitewashing and rampant gentrification, celebrating the seedier side of San Francisco and the impact leather and kink communities have is of the upmost importance to maintaining a balance in the face of the complete and total gentrification of San Francisco.
"As homosexual experiences gain significant public visibility in popular culture, what was once a matter of Pride-as-survival has become an opportunity for playful and joyful self-expression. We've arrived at a place where we have the freedom to play with gender fluidity within historically "masculine" ideals. It is now possible at the Folsom Street Fair to see a sexy Leather Daddy in heels, which might arguably render him even sexier.