If you thought San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair was just about leather and kink, FOLSOM FOREVER will give you a whole lot more to think about. This new documentary by Mike Skiff bares the social, political, charitable and cultural underpinnings of the world’s most notorious bacchanal.
In 1984, a scrappy little neighborhood in San Francisco—home to many low-income tenants and the heart of the gay male leather scene—faced destruction from the bulldozers of redevelopment and the AIDS crisis. The Folsom Street Fair was started to call attention to gentrification and raise money for AIDS charities. Incorporating interviews with organizers, scholars and politicians while utilizing archival footage (Harvey Milk! The Village People!) as well as of the 2012 festival, FOLSOM FOREVER tells the story of how this little street fair grew into the biggest outdoor kink and fetish event in the world, and managed to do a lot of good along the way.
At a time when the mainstream response to AIDS was to close bathhouses and sex clubs—described by Drummer magazine publisher Jack Fritscher as a “Puritan reaction to the pleasure houses”—BDSM was marketed as the ultimate safer sex and the Folsom Street Fair became a place for people of all persuasions to express their proclivities in a public forum. The annual Fair now draws 400,000 people from all over the world, supports indie bands, provides a big boost to business and tourism, and last year awarded $330,000 in grants to local nonprofit organizations.
For those just interested in the hot stuff, FOLSOM FOREVER provides plenty of full frontal nudity and a tantalizing array of kink. But learning about its history and contributions to the community will make you feel even better about getting off.