Thursday, June 14, 2012

Folsom East Responds

Yesterday we heard from a resident of one of the luxury condos that have recently gone up along the High Line on formerly desolate West 28th Street. He told us about how the new residents are trying to shut down the Folsom Street East festival, now 16 years strong in Chelsea. I got in touch with Susan Wright, Media Liaison for Folsom Street East, and asked for her response.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you found out from my blog that the new condo residents of West Chelsea have been organizing against Folsom East?

A: We were surprised because we haven't been contacted by anyone. Folsom Street East is a community event, and is eager to work with the neighbors. We observed certain issues last year, so one of the ways we have adjusted the fair this year is to provide a 5-foot-wide sidewalk along the buildings that goes from 11th Avenue down to the condos at 540 W. 28th Street. That way residents don't have to walk through the attendees in the street. They will be able to walk alongside the buildings and enter their own home as usual.

Q: Residents are petitioning the Community Board to eliminate or move the fair. Has anyone ever complained directly to the organizers of Folsom East?

A: Folsom Street East has not received any complaints from anyone about the fair.

Q: How do you respond to the people in the new condos who don't want to see nudity and "lewd" acts from their windows? Or who don't want their children to witness the fair?

A: The attendees at the fair must follow our Code of Conduct, and that includes no lewd acts or full nudity. Attendees are allowed to wear street-legal clothes, which in NY city is fairly liberal, as it should be. There are some entertainment pieces that take place on the stage, at the other end of the block, that enter the "burlesque" realm, but legally it doesn't fall into the "lewd conduct" category. Security volunteers are in place to be sure that all the rules are followed by the attendees.

Q: The residents have also suggested that Folsom move "to the next block where it's bordered (for now) by commercial on two sides, Con Ed to the north, and West Street." If anything, I think that could only be a temporary solution, because certainly more condo development is coming. What are your thoughts about this suggestion?

A: Folsom Street East is willing to work with the community to ensure our fair is low-impact. We would be willing to discuss any potential options with Community Board 4 and the neighboring community. However, the current location adjacent to the Eagle is ideal for this street fair, and moving would cause difficulties.

Q: How long has the fair had its home on West 28th?

A: Folsom Street East has been on West 28th for 8 years, ever since we moved from our location outside the Lure in the Meatpacking district.

Q: How did the fair get started and what is its mission?

A: Folsom Street East is a celebration of the SM-Leather-Fetish community in New York City. Like the great Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, we thought New York City should have its own leather street fair.

The BDSM-leather communities should not be pushed underground, and sponsoring our own street fair is a way of highlighting the existence of our community and the fact that we must fight against persecution and stereotypes every day. Folsom Street East is a nonprofit event run by volunteers--all of the funds that are raised are donated to charity. The three beneficiaries this year are the LGBT Center, the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

Q: What do you think is the future for the queer and kinky of New York City? What will the city lose when this culture is pushed out?

A: Leathermen and women will never leave New York City! We are as much a part of New York as bagels and the Empire State Building. What would New York City be without its diversity? Folsom Street East intends to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we can continue to come out as a group and celebrate our culture.

Come on down to Folsom Street East [this weekend] and see for yourself the spirit of togetherness and celebration that inspires Folsom Street East.

Folsom East and the Eagle
Folsom Under High Line
Eagle Under Siege


ROBOCUB said...

This just burns me up and is more evidence of what a sanitized suburban-esque shit hole NYC has become (the Sex in the City effect). Why these puritan people move to edgy neighborhoods and then expect to live the high life as if its Park avenue is beyond me. Case in point, the Meatpacking district (a once very fun edgy neighborhood to go for nightlife, but now a sickening glamourous shopping mall over run by tourists). People should be moving to edgy neighborhoods because... ta da! THEY'RE EDGY and present a lifestyle that isn't the boring touristy uptown environs.

I'll see y'all at Folsom East this Sunday!

the Publishers said...

Just to point out the obvious, but this is more than a local NYC neighborhood problem. The homogenizing of culture is happening worldwide, and while New York is becoming Cincinnati is becoming L.A. is becoming Hong Kong is becoming Mumbai. This leveling goes both ways to some extent. The irony is that erstwhile insular, exotic subcultures are less mysterious now to the little old lady in Dubuque, (thanks, internet!) and thus somewhat more acceptable. I'm actually glad there are still a few things left that some people find edgy — it fills me with hope! I applaud the goals of FSE festival as stated above. We should be thankful the fetish-folk still have a unique identity to celebrate as we rapidly advance toward a excruciatingly boring mono-culture.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Thanks for this update.

See you at the fair!

Anonymous said...

The little old lady in Dubuque has already Googled Folsom and is on her way to join the festivities. Who said ALL tourists are bad ?

Anonymous said...

It's a community event...for what community? There was no community here before. Now that people have actually moved in and don't use this place as their playground and toilet, those that did, feel threatened. They say that we are "not in our backyard" yet they are happy to do it in our backyard. New York has since the beginning so change or adapt or get run over.

Vanishing Montreal said...

Gentrification is happening everywhere. Here in Montreal it's especially out of control with hundreds of condo constructions going on or have been going on for the past 3 years.

Great blog even though I don't live in NYC. You can check out mine.

Paul Bright said...

You may have (but probably didn't) notice there's a bar called the Eagle on this street. It caters to Leathermen. It's been here a lot longer than Anonymous has lived in the area. There was a community here before you bought your condo. You just didn't see it.

MasterBlaster said...

What community?!! A damn big one! The leather/fetish/s&m "community" has been declining for years because people like you don't want to feel "uncomfortable". And oh, think of the children!

You have your boring street fairs with the same kitschy crap for sale, the same nasty-smelling food vendors, the same "entertainment", and the same of everything else. Just like the New York you seem to want.

NIMBY. Not in my back yard.

You're like a Bible Thumper who walks right into someone's house and starts preaching about how your lifestyle is wrong, their church is moving into the neighborhood and they are petitioning to have you removed from your own home.

If you want to live the clean, ritzy, "perfect" lifestyle that you see on TV, move to Midtown, NJ, Long Island or Westchester. GTF outta MY town.

Don't like it? Don't look.

There is nothing wrong OR illegal about Folsom. Organizers and us volunteers work very hard to keep a low profile and hold people to the rules, so as to placate assholes like you and to continue our events.

There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people in NYC who are into BDSM - some more than others. You see a cliche of gay men in leather harnesses. Come by some time!

Just because they look mean and raunchy, doesn't mean they are! Most folks are well-educated professionals by day - if you saw me at work you would never suspect. We have an expensive hobby!

Once you see the meanest-looking guy in the harness and chaps smile, you'll begin to see what great people we are. Start a conversation! We have many other interests that have NOTHING to do with sex - music, culture, literature...

My favorite moment is seeing an old lady in a wheelchair unload from the Access-a-ride bus and come see us for the day =)

There are a few bad apples, but I cannot recall any major issues last year, fights or otherwise.

Try finding that at other city events.

Get over yourself and stop acting like you are better than everyone else just because you have money enough to look down on them.

Anonymous said...

Aren't these same residents of the neighborhood complaining about Folsom Street East the SAME people reading Fifty Shades of Grey??? Just sayin'... Can't wait to see you all at the fair!

FarleyNY said...

What is it that we used to chant in marches around 1990?

"We're here,
We're queer,
Get used to us."

Shawn said...

Keep New York wild and crazy!

I support the Folsom East Fair where ever it wants to be!

Bravo people!

randall said...

@ Shawn Chittle


Kevin Donohue said...

These same people would go to Jones Beach and have no problems with women in bikinis and men in Speedos. It is clearly the homoerotic nature of Folsum East that offends them - whether or not they even admit it to themselves, they are homophobes. This falls under the category of "we like gay people as long as they look and act in accordance with our standards" (AKA don't flaunt it).

These people have no idea what it is like to have to conform to the dominant culture 24/7 and then have an occasional chance to walk in the sun, as it were. Straight people enjoy tremendous privilege, which I doubt most of them ever even consider.

For goodness sake, this is a one-day-a-year event, Folsum is more than willing to accommodate by keeping a sidewalk open, and I'm sure a temporary privacy barrier could be put up to keep straight eyeballs from frying out of their sockets.


I went to the gay pride parade with my mom on Sunday, a tradition we've had for close to a decade now, and I kept thinking of this BS with the transplant complaining about Folsom.

Immediately surrounding us at the parade were a father and his three year old daughter perched on his shoulders, three straight African American women who got there early with their lounge chairs to stake out a spot, a middle aged lady in a Fantasia T-Shirt (Disney, not 'Idol'), all of whom were having a great time, taking pictures, laughing, and cheering on the people in the parade. After reading the nonsense about these Chelsea transplants protesting Folsom, all of the positive energy and love that filled my heart on Sunday was desperately needed.

Daddy wasn't concerned that a float of randy bears or half dressed drag queens were going to morally corrupt his daughter. The elderly women weren't doing novenas when the gay marriage equality floats passed. Instead, everyone was supportive because this is a New York tradition. Can you imagine the city canceling the pride parade because another Jennifer from ___ doesn't like it passing her apartment ONE DAY out of the year? No!

What is the point of even MOVING to New York City only to snuff out the culture that makes this place so wonderful? What next, protesting the Puerto Rican Day Parade because it's too noisy? Or the St. Patrick's Day Parade because of the bag pipes? And those kilts! Do you know what's under them? Scandal!

Folsom is a HANDFUL OF HOURS ONE DAY A YEAR. These transplants really need to pull the sticks out of their asses and be more tolerant of the variety of cultures the city has to offer. Culture that was here LONG BEFORE THEY WERE! In my opinion this feud with Folsom REEKS of homophobia. We've come so far since the Stonewalls Riots and I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to sit by and watch these people push us back a single fucking inch.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

I love you, LIBERATION!


Love you too! :)

ParkAvenueGrinch said...

Hey look everyone!!!! Someone ELSE with overly-streaked hair and Fendi flip-flops moved to the Meat-Packing district from Chappaqua becaue she wanted to live the “edgy” kinda “lifestyle” that a cutting-edge gal like her was meant for. Oh joy.

NOW – all she has to do is erase all of the truly cutting edges from the area and find a really nice nail salon and she will be all set!!!! Pretty soon – she WILL truly be at home...a little slice of Chappaqua whereEVER she goes. Yay.

I wonder if these people would have similar complaints if they plunked down their $2.6 million down on a condo on the beach at Ipanema??? All those topless women and men in thongs!!!! Or St. Tropez. SURELY NO one will be buying on Bourbon Street until they do away with that fiendish Mardi Gras ….correct???

Ya know what I am offended by??? Douche boys in cheap, ill-fitting suits prancing about with backpacks. Women whose nasal yammering and whining into their be-dazzled cell phones can be heard a mile away. Kardashian impersonators not understanding that when 6 of them walk down the sidewalk abreast – GET THE FUCK OUTTA THE WAY!!!! You don't own the sidewalk just 'cuz Mom and Dad always told you what special little girl you are. Your not.

Let's not forget the men / women / couples with industrial strength baby strollers who all feel we should genuflect because they managed to push out a baby. Congratulations – you did the same thing as a cat. Only kittens are cute and adorable and don't scream while Mommy cat stares blankly at an i-device.

At some point, the Culture of the Bland and Banal that is SO concerned with the antics in “their” back yard are going to realize that they are actually in the backyard of a culture that established the city as the kind of place people dream of coming to.

No one ever sits in 8th grade dreaming of the day they can run off to the City and have easy access to Duane Reades and Citi-Banks and REALLY find themselves in chain-stores. The great Melting Pot is in danger of going from bubbling cauldron to luke-warm amusement park ride.

And let's face facts here – call it what you will, blame it on wild wardrobe, racey antics, hair, make-up WHATEVER...HOMOPHOBIA is homophobia.

Not in MY backyard...'nuff said???

laura said...

still makes no sense. i cant believe people did not about this before moving there. even w/out the fair, theres the leather bar. personally i would not live near by, thats my right. for me its creepy, what are you going to do about it? arrest me & report me to to the PC police? seriously, w/me there would not be a conflict, as i would not be living there. i also dont need someone in my face w/an agenda either. after all you guys dont like the carrie syndrome right? same thing. intergration dosnt always work. even in new york. dont blame the residents, blame the developers. bet they told the buyers the place will be "cleaned up" for now its ok for you. when the eagle becomes a condo its time to move on.

gameplayuh said...

I'm surprised no one has made the point that observing sexual things is not necessarily something that is harmful to children. The concept of children changes in different generations, and it is only this current one that somehow believes that a)children are inherently non-sexual, and b) that any interaction with sexuality in any way is harmful to children. I'm not supporting child abuse or anything like that, but the idea that children shouldn't see sexual things (semi-nude men or sexual acts) because it inevitably harms them is socially constructed and rather preposterous. Sorry to drop the F bomb, but a Foucault-ian reading of the situation shows that sexuality is merely a realm of linguistic knowledge to which children are denied access.