Thank You, Sir

Out in swingin’ San Francisco, the long-running annual Folsom Street leather/S&M festival has taken on a state-fair quality, attracting not only fetishists but also hordes of good-natured voyeurs. Its Gotham spawn, Folsom Street East, is still a smaller and more subdued affair. Marking its tenth year June 18, the event—on West 28th Street near tough-guy gay bar the Eagle—drew some 8,000 devotees of leather, rubber, whips, and masks as well as the merely curious. Gay and straight, dominant and submissive, they braved 90-degree heat to watch the drag acts and boot-licking demonstrations, schmooze with State Senator Tom Duane, and raise more than $20,000 for charity.

Kevin Wright
36, bank-operations assistant

What’s this about today?
This is a Leather Pride event, just like Gay Pride. It’s about coming out with your secret desire to be spanked, whipped, or flogged.
How does race play into this?
Some people do get off on, like, the usual S&M slave stuff with that extra historical touch. I let people know I’m not into that.

Baroness Helga
“early forties,” dominatrix at Pandora’s Box

What’s your role in the scene?
I’m a sadist, dear. Heavy corporal is my favorite—whips, flogs, canes, paddles, and strops.
What’s a strop?
It’s like a split piece of leather on a handle.
Oh. So is it true that it’s mostly powerful businessmen who like to be dominated?
I get pizza-delivery boys, too.

Stephen Lane
31, hairstylist

When did you get into this scene?
I have the look, but I’m not into the lifestyle. I just like tattoos. I started getting them when I was 16. My arm tattoos are Japanese art representing spring, summer, and fall.
Is there an S&M-tattoo link?
Getting tattoos feels good and hurts at the same time. That’s kind of masochism, right?

Lady Sabrina
50, and

How did you two meet?
Sabrina: Six years ago at a spanking event in the Poconos.
How does this relationship work?
S: I’m in charge.
Are you allowed to disobey?
P: I’m allowed to say, “Ma’am, I’m tired.”
What would you tell Sabrina to do?
P: She needs to eat healthier and get more rest. Next: The Last of New York’s Green-Card-Lottery Winners

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Thank You, Sir