SF Chronicle Glosses Over Reality in Listing for Folsom Street Fair

Imagine you're a new resident to San Francisco and you and the kids are looking for something to do on the weekend.  You pick up your local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, and turn to the “Events” section.

You see an item for Sunday, Sept. 28, and it reads “Folsom Street Fair.” Under that headline you read the following: “The world's largest leather event featuring alternative rock acts and up-and-coming talent.”

If you were to take your kids to this particular street fair – because when you look at the section of the listing where it says “age suitability: none specified” - you'd learn that “leather event” is a code word for displays of sadomasochistic and homosexual acts, commodities and entertainment.  For seven hours, Folsom Street is turned into perhaps the most depraved stretch of pavement in the entire United States of America.  Public sex acts abound.  Nudity is rampant. Torture is celebrated.

But you don't see any of that mentioned in the “Events” section of the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to the Folsom Street Fair's web site (CMI cannot in good conscience provide the link because it contains pornography), 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of this, uh, event.   It is the culmination of San Francisco's Leather Week (September 20-28). Keep in mind all of this occurs in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's congressional district.

Organizers of last year's fair used a loathsome take-off of da Vinci's The Last Supper to promote its vulgarity.  The Miller Brewing Company's logo was prominently featured on the sacrilegious ad and the company came under fire from many religious groups for sponsoring the fair.  The company eventually withdrew the logo from the ad, but not its support of the fair.

Miller/Coors will be sponsoring the festivities on Folsom Street again this year. While the logo doesn't prominently appear on fair advertisements, the company has taken out a full page ad in the Folsom Street Program Guide.

The fair's web site boasts that there will be “250+ exciting and sexy exhibitors and vendors,” as well as “a dedicated area for women” known as “Venus' Playground” and a “newly inaugurated artist's area."

Clicking on the link for Venus' Playground the following is revealed. The area includes:

·        “Two large tents, including an educational area with awesome demos where you can learn about your favorite kink.

·        “An enclosed sexy and fully-equipped dungeon where you can indulge your fantasies.  What other city in the world would let us raise a dungeon in the middle of the street?

·        “A mixed gender reception and educational area for women and their friends of all genders, featuring live Burlesque and demos.

“Stop by for a visit to meet other leather women, watch the demonstrations, create your own hot scene or simply rest and refresh.  Whether you are turned on by leather, kink, breast, beatings and or boots … this is the place for you.”

That part didn't make it in the San Francisco Chronicle either.  And remember, according to the paper's editors, there is no specified age suitability for attendees.  In fact, in coverage of last year's Folsom Street Fair, pictures of children attending the event – some in dog collars – were featured in the local press.

Perhaps the Chronicle editors assume their readers know what the Folsom Street Fair is all about.  But that does not excuse them from sanitizing the description of what really occurs there.  Nor does it excuse their complete lack of civic responsibility by allowing the “Age Suitability: None Specified” descriptor to stand unchallenged.