Get Ready for Folsom with Damian Dragon

Damian Dragon with chain

Written by Reece Sisto

Damian Dragon has the kind of online presence — tattoos and leather head to toe, intricate shibari suspensions in anonymous Hell’s Kitchen apartments, merciless poundings from all angles—that made my heart drop straight through my ass; in person, however, he reveals an unexpected softness. “Despite my outward appearance,” he confesses, “I’m a very quiet and introverted person.” As an Asian dom, Damian is used to, and loves, subverting our expectations. For him, it’s an important part of advancing his community’s representation. “I get messages from people in Asia saying they’re really happy to see people like them in front of the camera… showing that you cannot be assigned your role.” Damian enjoys bringing both these on- and offline versions of himself to Folsom, an annual leather and BDSM street fair in San Francisco. 

Damian in Leather

Folsom is our history 

The Folsom Street Fair was born out of the AIDS Crisis. Barred from attending bath houses and facing increasingly stringent bar regulations, San Francisco's LGBTQ+ community organized the first Folsom Street Fair to circumnavigate the Draconian crackdown on queer life and bring the community together. It has been a tradition ever since, and it’s that history that draws Damian to the festival. “The BDSM scene evolved during the AIDS pandemic as an outlet for sex that didn’t involve the exchange of bodily fluids,” Damian reminds me. “There’s a lot of Old Guard rules and regulars on how doms and subs should act. I love knowing all of that, but now we’re not living in [that time], so [I] can learn from it, start fucking with it, and start creating and making it my own.” He’s been going to Folsom since 2009. 

 Folsom is community

For Damian, and many at Folsom, kink is about more than getting off—it’s about coming together (pun intended). “It’s bringing a whole set of fetish enthusiasts together to share what they love with each other and bringing it into the open, into the public. You see the full spectrum of the old school guys and new school guys, they’re intermingling and socializing. I think that’s important.” At Folsom, this intermingling is about as literal as it gets: bondage and flogging demonstrations percolate the entire festival. But for Damian, what turns him on most is what initially so surprised me about him: the gentleness that often goes unseen. “It’s a really special moment to see the dom and sub interacting—and not just the hard edge of what is [typically] portrayed in mainstream porn but the before and aftercare. Those are tender moments that people don’t think are involved in BDSM.”  

Damian Dragon in cage

Folsom is HOT! 

According to Damian, getting amped for Folsom is all about what precedes it: putting on the gear, riding the streetcar in full leather, hearing the pounding of the music as he arrives. “It’s sensory overload,” he says, grinning mischievously. That kind of energy is paramount to Damian’s experience and work at Folsom. This year, he’s doing a performance with Steamworks, cherry picking boys from within the sauna for cage and sex play that will be broadcast on CCTV throughout the venue. “That’s gonna be hot,” I said, evidently flustered. Damian just laughed knowingly—he’s prickling with anticipation. 

In an effort to cool off, I asked him if he has any advice for first time Folsom attendees. “Get out there and talk to people,” he said, immediately. “Wear your best gear… and really interact with people. People are so friendly there.” If Damian is any indication, that’s absolutely true. 

You can catch Damian and Sniffies at the fair on Sunday, September 24, at Folsom Street in San Francisco. Cruise by Powerhouse from 11AM - 6PM to grab some Sniffies merch. 

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