What the Hell Was That?

SharkBoy, BobaDoug and I trotted off to the Church Street Village Fair on Sunday, which use to be called The Church Street Fetish Fair, which is now called Leather to Lace but way back in the day was called The Church Street Fetish Fair, created as competition for Folsom Fair North (or FFN when they lost the right to use “Folsom”) but now is called something else and will probably be in direct competition with Folsom Street Fair on September 25, but not in Toronto.

Confused? Not as confused as the crap we saw on Sunday afternoon!

Gone was the public demos of S&M which I am told by the rumor mill was pre-requisite if the Church Street BIA wanted to get licensing from City Hall. Instead an outside company of carnival like “rides” were inserted to keep the tops and bottoms on their toes. This is Rob Ford’s new Toronto, I guess. We can be gay but just don’t show it.

I could have taken pictures of the ferris wheel or the mechanical bull or the surf board bouncy play thing but I had forgotten to put my freshly charged battery in my camera, which in hindsight was a good thing… there wasn’t much I wanted to take a picture of, compared to the previous years. The Leather and Lace site has photos but metaphorically the gallery is broken and doesn’t work in Firefox.

We walked up and down the street twice and witnessed a few proud individuals displaying their fetishes, but in terms of it being a “fair”, I would say it was more like a funeral. Oh sure there were the trans, the rubbers, the plushies and the leathers, but they didn’t seem to have a place to congregate and the crowds weren’t “sticking” to one place. I saw more hopeful photographers (including the creepy boobie photographer guy from Pride – no, not Councilor Mammoliti) than actual participants in the Fair. When we arrived there was a leather “flash mob” as it were: a large group of people in full S&M gear walked through the crowd but quickly dissipated when they did two circuits of the Fair.

The Lettuce and Lace Fair was the perfect example of “design by committee” ever to come to life.

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  1. just a wild guess (since i know nothing of the makeup of the current b.ia.), but this is exactly what i’d expect from assimilationist types who want to neuter everything and show the prudes that queermos are just like everyone else, so much so that we hide our kinks behind closed doors and never speak about them, preferring, instead, to enjoy bouncy castles when out in public.

    i think i’ll develop a kink for vomiting on them next year. they certainly make me retch.

  2. In years past this has been one of my favourite events on the street (I make no apologies for my fondness for playing dress up). I have seen some pretty creative outfits (costumes?) but this year it felt strange. I didn’t get the midway rides and games at all and I missed the smaller booths / stalls. I hope the fetish community can organize something more like how things used to be. I may even show up in my Boba costume if they do!

  3. Oh it’s very weird: It’s a dumb decision for the BIA to make (“a day for normal people?! Genius!” ugh). I am actually surprised it took this long to neuter the event.

  4. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a “family friendly” (and I hate that term) event on Church St. Not everything on Church St. needs to be sexualized, and I like the idea of a “fair” concept… but this felt VERY contrived. I think the BIA was responding to a general decrease in the visibility the kink community. Even in past events, if you take away the gawkers, there is very little fetish in the Church St. Fetish Fair.

    I think the Fetish Fair worked much better when it was in Alan Garden’s and it was all about the fetish, and not about the gay community as a whole, or BIA specifically.

    I think this fair-concept would have had a better response if people thought this was a new event, and not the neutered fetish fair. As it was, it was a bizarre mix of the two, satisfying neither.

  5. Dan: I guess I’m over-sensitive to the whole City Hall Doesnt Care For Gay People thing.

    But come on… you have to admit it was a bit weird.

  6. The Leatherfolk were at their own event (TLP) at Zipperz, outside of the BIA. They had the option to host in Cawthra Park, but dealing with the City and the BIA (ie. the same restrictions as years prior) proved too burdensome.. so they left the BIA grounds

    You can’t really blame Ford for the choices made by the BIA – it’s a different, and kink unfriendly, board and ultimately, it’s their $50,000 dollars to spend. It’s not an especially smart decision, but there you go.

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