A Weekend of Sex, Bondage and Other Assorted Debauchery

Folsom Street Festival weekend is always an interesting time in San Francisco. This weekend, we doubled our sexual voyeuristic fun by coupling a visit to the festival with a tour of the San Francisco Armory, which is now the headquarters for San Francisco’s X-rated entertainment business.

The Folsom Street Fair, for those who don’t know about it, is the annual celebration of San Francisco’s leather and bondage fetishes where participants dress in their best leather, chains and latex trusses (assuming they dress at all) and shorten their leases to allow their masters to retain complete control in the packed 13-block confines of the fair.

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The clothes-optional festivities include stages of off-beat, gay-themed entertainment, booths where you can buy leathers, sex aids and whips, and of course, charity stands where your donations buy minutes of spanking, whipping or flogging time (as you choose) or an opportunity to by elaborately tied and hung out for public viewing.

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Nor do you have to see the stage, visits the booths or get spanked to partake in the festivities. A walk though the fair should be almost enough to fulfill most of your voyeuristic urges. Or, if you live on the street, you can participate directly from your home.

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But who needs stages and booths when the entire street scene, not to speak of all the street’s many leather bars, are filled with wall-to-wall exhibitionism and erotic entertainment. And this does not even count the big all-night, men’s-only Magnitude dance party with free clothes check, hot male entertainment and a demonstration torture dungeon.

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And speaking about dungeons, we saw plenty of these at our evening tour of the 200,000 square foot armory building, which was purchased from the city in 2007 and converted into sets and production facilities for X-rated sex, S+M and fetish porn videos. The tour, which is led by one of the company’s 100+ models (models, rather than actor and actresses, since they don’t learn lines or act), explains the operations of the studio, what they look for in models and provides tours of many of the sets and the prop room.

 

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Sets include everything from fancy sitting rooms to doctor’ offices, speakeasy rooms and dungeons to plain everyday bedroom: even a meat cooler with artificial sides of beef hung on meat hooks. And if you’re in a sporting mood, a gym with a full-size mat for nude wrestling matches.

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Props: every imaginable type of cage, sex machine and torture device. Many of the walls, as may be expected, are covered with suggestive or explicit pictures.

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As for the models, they get to select exactly which types of sex they particularly enjoy, absolutely want no part of, or are willing to consider, after learning more. And they all learn the standard vocabulary of “safe words” and gestures to signal when a particular activity threatens to exceed their comfort levels. Visitors who are interested in learning more, can sign up for private tours or attend workshops that promise to “demystify and celebrate alternative sexualities.” Those interested in going even further are encouraged to register online for consideration as a Kink.com model, and can even find posted schedules of compensation for different types of activities.

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The facility, however, also stages non-sexual events, as in its huge community room (the Armory’s former drill floor), which is available for local events, plays and fundraisers.

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