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Photographer Howard Schatz was dropping film off in San Francisco one day about 25 years ago when he noticed something that was immediately fascinating to him — the Folsom Street Fair, an annual celebration of kink and BDSM. Wandering the barricaded section of the street were people in all states of elaborate dress (and undress). Schatz was mesmerized, and knew he wanted to dedicate a photography project to it.
"Like other onlookers, I watched, amazed," Schatz writes in a press release that accompanies his latest coffee table book,Kink, the result of years spent photographing near the Folsom Street Fair. "I am blessed (though sometimes it can be almost a curse), with an insatiable curiosity about people. In all sorts of situations, I find myself wanting to know everything."
For years, Schatz rented a space at the Fair, built an outdoor studio, and took portraits of the attendees. He sent out questionnaires after and promised more photographs to anyone who answered and sent them back. Now, the photographs and information from those questionnaires are published in a coffee table book devoted to the Folsom Street Fair and the diverse kink and fetish community.
Click through to see some of Schatz's selections fromKink, with captions printed in the book
"'Snow White with a twist'" is how I describe my persona. She’s innocent yet cheeky, just like me. I consciously present myself in a way that sets me apart from those around me, whether it is my vintage attire worn in a corporate environment, being ‘high femme’ in a cookie-cutter lesbian community or being a queer woman in a heterosexual society.”
Natalie Grace, 29, personal assistant, from Australia. Photographed September 24, 2006.
Kathryn LeBlanc, from California. Photographed September 27, 2015.
"Sex and sexuality make life much more richly filling than without them, and I have lived without them most of my life. Or I should say, I kept them to myself, which made my life empty, lonely and strangely fraudulent. Sex without love is better than no sex at all, but given the option I’d take love without sex."
Tilda Ampersand (left), 57, retired technology specialist, and Lizzie, from California. Photographed September 27, 2009.
JG-Leathers, 66, retired, amateur writer and inventor, from British Columbia. Photographed September 25, 2011.
"In the past few years of my life my sexuality has been shaped by pain. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune and nervous system disease, pain, illness, weakness and paralysis became the center of my world. For a few years my sexuality slid softly underground as I battled to regain control of my body. When at last I came out of that nightmare I found my sexuality to be irrevocably linked to the pain I felt on a daily basis. Upon further examination I found certain types of pain incredibly erotic."
“7” (left), 34, fertility specialist, from California, and John Baker, from Texas. Photographed September 25, 2011.
Audrey Angel, from Oregon. Photographed September 27, 2015.
"My Folsom Street Fair persona says that I am original, daring, sensual and one who pushes the envelope and seeks attention."
Jose Gonzalez, from Florida. Photographed September 28, 2008.
Amber Shaedow: "I have a passion for the individual and find beauty in all sorts of people. I am a puppy player and owner of two adorable human pups."
Trigger: "I came to the Folsom Street Fair as a puppy, because this is who I am. In my 'normal' free time I play video games, watch horror movies, hang out with family and friends and go shooting with my father. But in my 'kinky' free time I mostly spend time with my boyfriend/owner Stryker. We usually play as pups with rubber squeaky toys, dog collars, dog treats, and belly rubs from our owner Shaedow."
Puppy Stryker: "My Folsom Street Fair persona clearly defines who I am when it comes to the kink world and beyond. I am a puppy true at heart. Ever since I found that type of play, my ability to open up has increased tremendously, from the loyalty I have to my owner to the amount of fun I have being playful when other pups interact with me. My puppy side really interconnects with me as a human because there are times when in everyday life a bark escapes my mouth without me ever knowing it. Hell, I even have squeaky toys in my car if I ever get bored."
Trigger (left), Amber Shaedow (center), 32, science teacher, and Puppy Stryker, 24, security guard, from Arizona. Photographed September 23, 2012.
Douglas Hingst, from California. Photographed September 25, 2011.
Mumman Mark: "I’m a straight heterosexual guy, married until very recently. I love bondage! I’m a bondage-loving guy, always have been, and I’m an extrovert about it. I love to see people’s reactions to public heavy bondage. This depicts my strongest fantasies of being controlled in helpless bondage situations, which I do live out on a regular basis."
Mumman Mark (left), 57, semiretired, from California, and Miss Miranda, from Australia. Photographed September 29, 2013.
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