In Mike Skiff’s new documentary, “Folsom Forever”, audiences will learn not only about one of the largest street fairs in the country known as Folsom Street Fair, which has catered to the leather, kink and fetish communities for 30 years, but they will obtain a history lesson about a fair that speaks to human rights and sexual freedom, while teaching newer generations about the many layers a neighborhood has made on the San Francisco community.
Skiff has assembled a cast of iconic San Francisco figures, activists and scholarly historians who guide us through the history of the fair and the incredible impact it’s had on the city both financially and liberally. Cultural Anthropologist, Gayle Rubin, helps paint a historical map of the neighborhood known as South of Market from the 50’s and 60’s as a working class neighborhood, that later was inhabited with a plethora of leather bars, while San Francisco Activist, Audrey Joseph, speaks to the importance women had on the festival with the fight against AIDS. It was women who were the most accepting of AIDS victims, that showed up at the fair, helping to create a space without judgements. The initial Folsom Street Fair began in 1984, which was also the height of the AIDS crisis.
Writer and Historian, Jack Fritscher Ph.D, who has documented the San Francisco leather scene and worked for the former leather magazine, DRUMMER, gives a key insight in the film, about the pivotal period in gay history, where a sub group of gay
men were not interested in the stereotypical roles of gay men of the time, and instead emulated the hyper-masculine men of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. It was this group that gravitated to the early leather bars in San Francisco that were popping up in SOMA, like the Ramrod.
Throughout “Folsom Forever”, Skiff features the current director of the Folsom Street Fair, Demetri Moshoyannis, who guides us through the huge undertaking of putting together this mammoth festival year after year, while trying to create a
unique fair each subsequent year.
Probably one of the most enlightening aspects of “Folsom Forever”, is the economic aspect the festival has on the city of San Francisco (35.4 million estimated in revenue), and funds it raises, and distributes to important organizations like the Golden Gate Wrestlers, Project Open Hand and Positive Resource Center. The donations that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, lead by the iconic Sister Roma, acquire at the entrance of the festival, make an annual difference in the lives of these vital organizations.
“Forever Folsom” plays Saturday night at the CineKink Film Festival in New York at 9:45 PM at the Anthology Film Archives: 32 Second Avenue (@ 2nd Street), NYC. For tickets: http://cinekink.com/programs-and-events/nyc/cinekink-nyc-2014/folsom-forever/