More than 400,000 people from around the world attend the Folsom Street Fair each year, making it the largest leather/fetish event in the world and the third largest outdoor one-day event in California.
Only San Francisco's Pride celebration and the Rose Parade in Pasadena top it in number of participants, but you can't be flogged in public for charity at the Rose Parade.
"One of the great things about the leather community is the creativity and openness around sexuality and self-expression," said Jacob Richards, president of Folsom Street Events, during a recent coffee date with the Bay Area Reporter. "It's not specific to the fair, but the fair is a wonderful celebration of this aspect of the community."
Folsom is just one day, but there's plenty of buildup.
It starts the last Sunday in July with Up Your Alley Street Fair – Dore Alley, in common parlance. Last Sunday, September 18 saw Mama Reinhardt's Family lead its annual Leather Walk (now in its 20th year) to fight AIDS and breast cancer. The Leathermen's Discussion Group holds a Fetish Fair.
Preceding the main event this Sunday, September 25 is Leather Pride Week: seven salacious days of film screenings, discussion panels, spanking parties, motorcycle rides, and a formal dinner, climaxing with the world-renowned street fair.
For some, kink is confined to just one weekend of each calendar year or their tourist photos of San Francisco. To others it's a pervasive hobby, even something approaching a philosophy, code of conduct, or way of life. ...
An Italian man is on trial for the death of his girlfriend during a Japanese bondage scene. Barbie Latza Nadeau on what happens during 'Shibari'—and why extreme sex is on the rise.
Apparently monogamous sex gets tedious even when you’re tied up with rope.
Italian engineer Soter Mule, 42, and his girlfriend Paola Caputo, 24, were avid practitioners of Shibari, an ancient Japanese erotic art. More refined than your typical night of bondage, Shibari involves the use of thin pieces of rope to bind the submissive partner in ways that are meant to be both artistically beautiful and also heighten the sensation of his or her orgasm.
But last Saturday night, the couple was looking to spice things up even more. They met up with a friend of Caputo’s at a local pub in Rome and, after drinking heavily and smoking hashish, the three headed to the parking garage where Caputo worked as a daytime attendant. The dimly lit space was closed and desolate, the perfect setting for a kinky sex act. Mule strung the two women, with their consent and help, from a rafter with strategically placed soft ropes. He used their weight to counterbalance them, each with one foot on the ground. When one woman moved, it tightened the ropes and intensified the sensation for the other, and vice versa.
Everything was fine until the less-experienced woman fainted. The force of her sudden dead weight quickly lifted and strangled Caputo, even though Mule quickly tried to cut his girlfriend free. She died of asphyxiation, and the couple’s new friend nearly suffered the same fate. Mule was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, and later released on house arrest.
In detailed testimony to the arraigning judge on Wednesday, Mule described how extreme sex like Shibari involves total control. He explained how he alternately teased and penetrated the women for maximum pleasure. He admitted that he made a mistake by not cutting Caputo from her bondage ropes sooner, but insisted that the extreme sex was consensual. “No one forced anyone,” he told the court. “Paola and her friend consented, but I was the master and I ultimately made the fatal mistake. I should have had the knife closer, as they suggest when practicing this type of bondage. By the time I found it, it was too late.” ...
A New York assistant attorney general who has brought lawsuits against Bank of America and Royal Bank of Canada has come under fire for her salacious personal life--one that involves whips, dominating, and S&M.
Alisha Smith, 36, who won a $5 billion combined settlement from the banks through her work in the Investor Protection Bureau of the AG's office, has been suspended from work without pay for possibly earning money in her side-job as a dominatrix performer, according to the NY Post.
A story in the Post alleges that Smith works as a performer at S&M events and may have violated internal rules of the department that require employees to consult with supervisors when earning more than $1,000 for outside work.
A spokesman for the attorney general's office confirmed that the employee has been suspended without pay. ...
A well-respected lawyer in the state Attorney General’s Office spends her days toiling in securities fraud -- and her nights moonlighting as a dominatrix, The Post has learned.
Alisha Smith, 36, who dresses demurely as a buttoned-down prosecutor, turns up the heat when she becomes perky persecutor “Alisha Spark,” a nom de dom she uses when she performs at S&M events for pay, according to a fetish source.
“They pay her to go to the events. She dominates people, restrains them and whips them,” the fetish source said.
At a recent event in which she posed for photos with fellow fetishists, she was espied wearing a skin-tight, see-through latex dress with heart-shaped pasties.
Now Smith is on the receiving end of some serious discipline from her bosses at the AG’s office.
Yesterday, she was removed from her duties -- for which she earns $78,825 annually -- after The Post inquired about her saucy S&M lifestyle.
“The employee has been suspended without pay, effective immediately, pending an internal investi-gation,” said a spokesman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The spokesman would not elaborate on why Smith was being professionally spanked.
It comes just three years after she was lauded by then-AG Andrew Cuomo for her role in obtaining a $5 billion settlement from Bank of America and others in a securities-fraud case.
Smith declined to speak to The Post when approached outside her Manhattan home.
Her attorney, Marshall Mintz, would not comment on her side work or on whether she’s been paid.
Sources familiar with the issue say Smith’s punishment has less to do with her personal pleasure and more to do with the possibility that she profited from it.
It is common in the S&M community for dominatrixes to receive payment for appearances at fetish parties, where they unleash tawdry torments on eager submissives.
Sources cited a standing executive order in the Attorney General’s Office that requires employees to “obtain prior approval from the [Employment Conduct Committee] before engaging in any outside pursuit ... from which more than $1,000 will be received or is anticipated to be received.”
Smith has left traces of her secret S&M life online. ...
A bizarre case reached its conclusion when a bondage master accused of kidnapping and choking his slave pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and walked away with no jail time.
Richard B. Wise, 43, whose first trial ended in a mistrial after a juror turned up drunk, pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor domestic abuse and received a suspended sentence after prosecutors dismissed felony kidnapping and domestic abuse charges when they couldn't find his accuser for a second trial.
Prosecutors alleged Wise beat his girlfriend, Nanette “Gina” Larsen, Feb. 17, 2010, because she wanted to leave him after catching him having sex with another woman in the parking lot of an Oklahoma City nightclub.
Wise, an Oklahoma City sex fetish enthusiast who calls himself “Lord Wraith,” denied he attacked Larsen, who signed a contract to be his slave. He practices BDSM, short for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission and sadomasochism.
Prosecutors went forward with their case even though Larsen claimed she made up her accusations. She told friends, police and an emergency room doctor in February 2010 that he handcuffed, choked and beat her against her will. ...
Upper Darby police have yet to close their inquiry into last month's odd death of engineer Peter Stelzenmuller.
That is partly due to how and where Stelzenmuller was found: clad in a scuba suit in the corner of his attic.
Investigators are also intrigued by the bizarre history of Stelzenmuller's girlfriend, Edythe Maa, who reported finding his body Aug. 18, Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said.
In 2008, Maa was working as a dominatrix when her boyfriend, a New York lawyer, was fatally shot near her Philadelphia apartment by an angry former client. The killer then kidnapped and sexually assaulted Maa before killing himself after a nine-hour standoff with police.
Today, using the name "Jade Vixen," Maa describes herself online as a "fetish model" who likes latex clothing. Chitwood said her website also makes mention of erotic oxygen deprivation.
Chitwood stressed that police "don't have anything to say that this was foul play at this time," and that Stelzenmuller's body showed no bruises or other injuries. Determination of the cause of death is pending toxicology results, he said.
"I think you have to look at all the circumstances," Chitwood said. "When you look at [Maa's] history of sadomasochism, and find some stuff on her website about oxygen deprivation and all that, you need to find out if it's accidental or something else."
Maa could not be reached for comment.
Police were called to the couple's Drexel Hill home about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 18. Stelzenmuller, 49, lay dead in the attic near a cutup scuba suit and a mask with two tubes protruding from it, Chitwood said. ...
An Arkansas weatherman didn't predict he would wake up in a hot tub with a naked dead man, but that's exactly what police say happened.
Now authorities are trying to determine what killed Dexter Williams, whose body was found with a "dog collar" around his neck, according to a police report.
The mystery began Monday night, when KARK 4 News meteorologist Brett Cummins arrived at the home of John Barbour around 11 p.m. in Maumelle, just north of Little Rock, the report stated. The 33-year-old weatherman brought Williams, 24, with him. Barbour said he did not know the doomed man.
"They then began to drink and use illegal narcotics," Officer Gregory Roussie said Barbour told him. "Mr. Barbour stated he was not sure of the drugs that they were using but that they were snorting them."
About two hours later, Cummins and Williams went into the Jacuzzi to have a drink, and Barbour later joined them, police said. Shortly afterwards, Barbour said he left the two and went into the living room, where he fell asleep on the couch.
Barbour told police he awoke about 8 a.m. Tuesday and could hear Cummins snoring in the hot tub, the report said. He proceeded to gather glasses in the bathroom and wake up Cummins before realizing Williams was dead. ...
An Arkansas weatherman woke up in a bathtub with a dead body this week after an evening of alcohol and drugs, according to a police report. The meteorologist’s friend Dexter Williams, 24, was found dead, wearing nothing but a dog collar.
Brett Cummins, 33, is a meteorologist for KARK, the NBC affiliate in Little Rock, Ark. On Sunday, Cummins’ friend Christopher Barbour, 36, invited Cummins to his house in Maumelle. Cummins arrived at 8 p.m. with his friend Williams.
According to a police report Barbour said the trio “began to drink and use illegal narcotics.”
“Mr. Barbour stated that he was not sure of the drugs that they were using but that they were snorting them,” Officer Gergory Roussie wrote in his report of the scene. He also said that they consumed alcohol in a hot tub.
Barbour said that around 11 p.m., he left the other two men in the jacuzzi and went to sleep on the couch. When he woke up at 8 a.m. the next morning, he found his bed still made and the two men in a bathtub with no water in it. Barbour began to clean up glassware from the previous night and woke Cummins up.
They quickly realized that Williams was unconscious and looked discolored. “Brett screamed and became ill and left the bathroom and vomited on the carpet in the living room,” Roussie wrote in the police report. Cummins left the house but eventually came back to give a police statement.
The men called the police, who arrived shortly after. Officer Roussie entered the bathroom and saw a naked, white male in the bathtub.
“The subject was lying on his right side in a fetal position, his face was blue and purple in color with a chain around his neck,” Roussie wrote. He also wrote that he believed the chain was a dog collar and that he “observed a small ring of blood around the bottom of the tub.”
Neighbors noticed the party on Sunday night but were shocked to hear about the mysterious death. ...