some tips for Folsom St. Fair visitors

The Folsom St. Fair is coming up on Sept. 30 and thousands of people will descend on the South of Market neighborhood to see and be seen. And every year, I hear many of the same complaints and issues, so I thought I’d give y’all some tips for making sure that the day is fun for everyone.

First off, the fair is a sexually-oriented event. You’ll see folks in all sorts of outfits from nothing but a pair of sneakers to lots of leather to amazing costumes that took hours of devoted labor. If such things make you uncomfortable, you may want to reconsider your reasons for attending. Also, you’ll see lots of hot men kissing, spanking, flogging and paddling each other, and every year, I see a few people who are definitely squicked by that. Here’s a hint- this started off as an event by and for the gay BDSM community, so don’t be surprised by sexy men having fun. (Here’s a few photos to give you a glimpse.)

Second, just because folks are in skimpy outfits and you have a new digital camera doesn’t mean that you can take photos of them. It’s rude. Actually, it’s really obnoxious. Last year, some guy with a camera got really angry when my friend put her hand in front of the lens and told him to stop, as if his right to take photos of anyone he wanted was being violated. If you’re a professional photographer, you know all about model releases and the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act, which requires any person who photographs or films sexually explicit situations kee[ documents that everyone involved over 18. Given that you’ll see some topless women and quite a few folks of all genders getting getting caned, spanked, etc., play nice and don’t take photos without the right paperwork. And if you’re taking photos for private use, get over it and pay for a subscription to a website. You’ll get thousands of photos and videos to enjoy and you’ll stop pissing people off. At the very least, ask before you take a photo and listen when people say no.

Third, if you’re going to go, dress up for it. You don’t have to wear leather or spend hundreds of dollars, but showing up in the same clothes that you’d wear when you go to Safeway is just not cool. It’s a theme event and if you’re not going to participate, you might as well stay home. Club Slick has a great piece about making the effort here. Swing by Hot Topic or Forever 21 for something disposable and sexy.

Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t touch anyone without permission. That includes anyone wearing a leash and/or collar. If you’re not familiar with the etiquette around such things, take a workshop or two at the SF Citadel or the Society of Janus and stop impinging on other people. And if you can’t resist touching a gorgeous person in the crowd, then maybe you need to not be in situations where you’re going to do something you shouldn’t be doing.

OK, I think that’s everything you need to know to make sure that you and everyone around you has a great time at the Folsom. Have fun!

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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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