Snapshots from the Folsom Street Fair
I am fearless behind a camera. Things change once I get in front of one, however. Recently I had the chance to be both fearless and whatever it is that I become when the baleful gaze of someone else’s shuttered eye is turned upon my trembling form.
It all started in late September when I decided to attend the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. So many things start during the Folsom Street Fair. It had been five years since my last visit to the lovable freak show that is my favorite leather queer family reunion and I was keen to play the shutterbug again – to find people more visibly transgressive than myself and burn the memory of them into my mind like a brand via the magic that is film and digital technology.
But before I could do this, I was a subject for photographer Michael Rosen (http://www.michaelrosen.com) to interpret and immortalize. I had long admired Michael’s work and how he uses it to communicate a glorious spectrum of human sensual diversity. When the Ladies of Liberty had decided that a photo of me wrapped in an American flag was too potentially offensive for their fundraising calendar, I had decided that it was time to pose for a variety of daring photographers. Michael was on the list and amenable to the idea. He wanted to photograph a dominant Darklady complete with whip and Toppish attitude. Naturally, I arrived at his studio in sneakers, ankle socks, shorts, and a punky Hello Kitty t-shirt. This so tickled Michael, who likes to fuck gently with preconceived ideas, that our shoot was strangely whimsical and featured an unexpected degree of naughty tomboy schoolgirl charm and sass.
The next day I packed my petite APS camera into an adorably Goth shoulder purse that I’d decided would work as a camera bag and headed off to join the herd of perverts desperately hoping to bring back wild photo souvenirs from the street fair. All around me were leather daddies and biker dykes, piss play enthusiasts and clown sex practitioners, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and drag queen dominatrixes, uniforms and Utilikilts, tight-laced corsets and fetishy stockings.
When I’m the power behind the Kodachrome I seek quintessential, spontaneous moments. Like Charles Gatewood (http://www.charlesgatewood.com), who excels in capturing naturally occurring social and sexual contrasts and dichotomies, I like the gritty energy contained in candid images, particularly those to be found in group dynamic settings like orgies, street fairs, dungeon parties, porn sets, and people’s homes. I seek evidence that humans can still trust – whether that be me as photographer or one another as lovers, play partners, or companions.
Shortly after I returned home, my Long Lost High School Sweetheart and I got to explore our own capacity to trust when we welcomed Bay Area photographer David Steinberg into our home during his Photo Sex (http://mchester.best.vwh.net/ps.html) promo tour. While another couple stood and watched (and fucked), my darling convivant and I did our best to filter out the quiet and respectful man with the camera that rushed around our king sized bed snapping pictures as we nakedly shared our passion and love for one another. It would be untrue to say we were fearless – but our trembling forms definitely quivered with more than just apprehension and performance anxiety. There is nothing so effective at making one appreciate the courage of a model than taking on the role. Like love and shared delight, practice makes for greater comfort and skill – and a taste of fear only makes them more intense and profound. So bring it on, cuz I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.
– Originally published in Playtime Magazine –