As told by Berlin-based photographer, Spyros Rennt:
“Folsom street fair? What’s that?” Folsom is a street in the San Francisco SOMA district. The fair takes place on this street once a year — it’s a BDSM/fetish event. Folsom Europe is its little sister and takes place in Berlin every September (because of course Berlin wanted part of the action). But as my interested, but clearly clueless heterosexual friend asked, “Is it gay or queer?” I laughed. The truth is, Folsom feels like a fashion show to me. I doubt its attendees are interested in identity politics, but I could be mistaken.
So what are this year’s trends? Well, leather is always king but latex is becoming a strong competitor. Cop uniforms were also a hit, in different variations: some men dressed like part of a SWAT unit, others like german Polizei. Gays and their fetishising of authority figures is still a thing, I guess. And then there were the sporty looks: bikers, divers, motorcycle racers. There is a strong performative angle to Folsom: masters interact with their slaves in public. Small groups of men dressed like pups move around on all fours. Public whipping or spanking takes place.
What makes it special to me, an outsider? Experiencing the community aspect of Folsom brings me happiness. Seeing all these looks, with no sense of shame, in broad daylight. Capturing these men in their costumes and the boyish joy in their eyes has been a rewarding process of documentation, which is exactly what I look for as a photographer.