We have talked with Demetri about the gay sides of San Francisco, the Folsom Street Fair 2016 and the fetish world.
MasterMarc: Hi Demetri. It’s nice to talk to you again. As Executive Director of Folsom Street Events you are a professional fetishist and you’ve to know the fetish community very well. How is the fetish world changing? Can you recognize any trends in San Francisco, the U.S. and the world?
Demetri: Hi, MasterMarc! Good to talk with you. The biggest trend in the fetish world is the rise of the pups. Many guys are interested in pup play, joining groups that cater to pup play, and seeking out pup play opportunities. Many of my friends now have Handlers (as opposed to Sirs or Masters). It’s been fascinating to watch the scene take off. The K-9 Unit of San Francisco is probably one of the most well attended sections of our fairs, too. And, even the online shop for Mr. S Leather has a section called the Puppy Park where you can get hoods, muzzles, tails, and more.
Beyond that, I think that the freedom of expression is gaining momentum. People, at least at Folsom Street Fair, feel free to let their freak flag fly proudly. The diversity of fetish expression is broader than it ever has been. You’ll see women in high fashion head-to-toe rubber, men in diapers or corsets, and folks of all gender expressions experimenting in new and different kinds of play – things that you might not have seen 10 or 20 years ago. I think it’s great! It’s a unique and interesting time to come out of the fetish closet.
MasterMarc: Why do you think that the pet play community has such a success? What are in your eyes the differences to the classic fetishes and what the outstanding characteristings which make it so attractive for a lot of guys, specially for young kinky people?
Demetri: I think people are fascinated by a new scene and like to try it out. But, there are many reasons why this kind of fetish would appeal to younger people. In particular, this is the kind of fetish that one could explore without much investment in gear. And if you can explore a fetish without putting down a lot of money, that certainly makes it more appealing. And, so many of us have dogs or have had dogs, so that kind of role playing is something that can be fun because it’s something we’ve experienced in playing with our own animals. It’s also an interesting way to explore domination and submission, right?
MasterMarc: For me one of the interesting aspects of the pet play fetish is that it is a new fetish which can be cmbined with the classic fetishes and that it is accepted. Leather man accept dogs as sportswear guys do. Can you tell us, how you see it?
Demetri: I do believe that pup play is the kind of fetish that has a broad appeal. So, yes, it’s the kind of play that might appeal to classic leathermen, rubber guys, skinheads, anyone who really likes to explore a different aspect of submission and domination. I do believe that there will be new forms of D/s play in the future that we might not yet even conceive of now. But, I think all aspects of BDSM are about exploring the bounds of human sexuality in fun and creative ways – that’s what keeps it interesting to people over time. It’s never the same.
MasterMarc: Can you tell us, how the Folsom Street Fair has changed during the last 10 years?
Demetri: Folsom Street Fair certainly isn’t the same now as it was 10 years ago. The diversity of fetish expression is much broader than it once was. Certainly, the classic leather man is our core audience, but there are so many people coming in other types of gear now – rubber, latex, and neoprene, punk and skinhead looks, all kinds of role playing – not just pups but ponies and other animals. And our vendors tend to me small businesses that can cater to the demands of our community by designing and creating new gear and fetishwear quickly. Another major way in which we’ve changed is in our Entertainment. 10 years ago, no one knew the people we were putting on our stages. Now, we feature big name alternative and indie bands and rising DJs. Over the past decade, we have featured the likes of The Presets, Dragonette, Nitzer Ebb, Little Boots, Monarchy, Shiny Toy Guns, Ladyhawke, MEN featuring JD Samson, Light Asylum, Horse Meat Disco, DJ Harvey and so many more. It’s become a big draw for us.
MasterMarc: You’ve told us, that the classic leather men are still your core audience. How has the leather community, which was for a long time a well organised community and the leader in the fetish world, changed in the last ten years?
Demetri: Your question implies that we are no longer a well organized community and/or a leader in the fetish world…to which I would have to disagree. Are things different than they were 10 years ago? Sure! Some shops have closed or relocated, such as the recent departure of Stompers Boots. But, there is still an embarrassment of riches when it comes to San Francisco’s leather and fetish community. We have the Leathermen’s Discussion Group meeting regularly to do education as well as many other groups like Society of Janus and The Exiles among others. San Francisco has its very own kink cafe known as Wicked Grounds (just downstairs from our offices). We also have one of the biggest and best leather shops in the world – Mr. S Leather. And, we have many sex clubs, bars, bathhouses and clubs that cater to the leather and fetish community – Powerhouse, Steamworks, SF Eagle, 440 Castro, Blow Buddies, The Edge, Hole in the Wall, Lone Star, etc. So while gentrification has made it more difficult to stay, leaving just isn’t an option for many of us; we’re here to stay.
Actually, what we have seen is that many more people are coming to Folsom Street Fair from outside of San Francisco. Actually, 71% of our attendees do not live in the city. That means fetish enthusiasts are traveling by car, train, and plane to get to our city to enjoy what we have to offer. So, I believe that the community has become much more global. You can just take a look on RECON and see the geographic diversity of our community. I think it’s great, and we love hosting people here in San Francisco too. Many of us who live here are very proud of the city and we like to show it off when we can.
MasterMarc: I’ve to be honest. I never was in San Francisco yet but I hope that will change soon. All my friends who have visited your city love it. What makes San Francisco such a special place?
Demetri: It’s not just our dynamic community, but we also have great weather (perfect for leather) and, with our hills, there are amazing views around every corner. There is a rich history here with many iconic attractions as well. It’s just a very comfortable city to be gay and open with a leather lifestyle. San Francisco has a reputation for being very liberal, so many Europeans like it here for that reason. We have a very active street life so you can shop, sit and have a coffee, hike around town, cruise. Frankly, I moved here because San Francisco made me feel sexy. I got a lot more attention here as an edgy young man – bald, tattoos, etc. The people here tend to gravitate to the unconventional, so that’s always a plus. It’s probably that value among our city’s residents that make something like Folsom Street Fair possible.
MasterMarc: Your description doesn’t really sound like a description of a U.S. city …. Beside the Folsom Street Fair Weekend which are the best dates to visit San Francisco?
Demetri: Anytime in the spring or fall is actually quite nice! The weather is great. We don’t have much of a traditional summer (in July and August); it’s usually fairly cool around that time and it takes most tourists by surprise. Folsom Street Events does produce a much smaller, more male-oriented fair always on the last weekend in July called Up Your Alley. Sometimes people refer to it as Dore Alley as well. That fair is about 10,000-15,000 people. That’s much more intimate compared to the Folsom Street Fair. But, getting back to your original question, there really is no bad time to come. Our winters are quite mild and there is never any snow. So, in my opinion, I think it’s a great international destination any time of the year. My one tip: bring a great pair of walking shoes and boots! This is a walking city with decent public transportation. There is really no need for a car here unless you want to travel out to the wine country.
MasterMarc: I can not talk to the Executive Director of the Folsom Street Fair without asking about the upcoming event. Which date has the fetish community to reserve for a San Francisco trip and what can we expect this year? What are you planning and can you tell us about some coming highlights?
Demetri: San Francisco Leather Week starts on Sunday, September 18th, kicking off with LeatherWalk. That event is the only one of its kind that I know about – with hundreds of leather and fetish folks marching down Market Street, holding banners, chanting, singing and dancing. It’s a lot of fun. We stop at several bars along the way for entertainment and it’s also a fundraiser for Folsom Street Events (like all of our other events). For the whole week leading into Folsom Street Fair, there are loads of bar nights, play parties, and fetish events. You’ll have to check out our online schedule with over 30 events! One of the biggest is Magnitude, the Official Saturday Night Event of Folsom Street Fair. This year, the party celebrates its 20th anniversary year. There is the party and then there’s the dungeon…and, as much as I’d love to share it with you, we’re eyeing a new venue which is incredible! Our headliner DJ offerings are also going to be like none we’ve ever had so we are getting very excited. Closing the week is the fair, and we’re already lining up top-notch alternative music acts and hot underground DJs, too. I think this is going to be an especially great year so it’ll be good to check it out. Oh! And we have our closing party, DEVIANTS at Mezzanine which is also the perfect way to wrap up the week.
MasterMarc: Wow, sounds that it will be a lot of fun …. even if you don’t tell us everything you know. Hope you will update us soon, Demetri. Btw. You’ve told us, the kick off will be September 18th. When will be the Deviants closing party?
Demetri: All of the festivities end on Sunday, September 25th. That’s the day of the fair and the closing party follows immediately after the fair. People should follow us on Facebook. Alternatively, people can check out our website for more updates and details as they become available. On our website at the bottom of the homepage, there is a SIGN UP NOW feature, if you want to be added to our email list; that way, you won’t miss a thing when we have important announcements to make!
MasterMarc: Hey Demetri. Thank you for this nice talk. I am sure we will continue with it in summer.
Folsom Street Fair San Francisco
London Fetish Week
Parties & Events
Kinky Travel Destinatioins
How do you like San Francisco and the Folsom Street Fair? Do you want to know something? Leave us a comment!