Folsom Street Fair Not For Children
Parents have mixed feelings about bringing their children to this year's bondage fest
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Some of the most unlikely attendees of Sunday’s kinky leather fetish festival were under four feet tall.

Two-year-olds Zola and Veronica Kruschel waddled through Folsom Street Fair amidst strangers in fishnets and leather crotch pouches, semi and fully nude men.

The twin girls who were also dressed for the event wore identical lace blouses, floral bonnets and black leather collars purchased from a pet store.

Fathers Gary Beuschel and John Kruse watched over them closely. They were proud to show the twins off.

“They will see more than the kids with moms and dads in Iowa,” said Beuschel, who wanted to expose his children to San Francisco’s diverse community. “Every parent has to decide for themselves what is right for them. And I respect that. And we decided that this is right for our children.”

Beuschel and his girls were at the 22nd Folsom Street Fair, an annual leather event in San Francisco’s South of Market district, which showcased outrageous costumes, fetish attire, and a community obsessed with bondage, whipping, and spanking.


Every year unsuspecting tourists and families stroll into the Folsom Street Fair. Some turn away at the gates after being warned by security officials about the event’s graphic sadomasochistic nature, while others saunter in with baby strollers and young children.

Event organizers said that parents are responsible in determining whether the fair was suitable for kids. However, some people said children should not be allowed inside.

“I don’t think that a 6-year-old can understand that S&M is about trust,” said Quincey Justman, a 28-year-old graduate student from the University of California San Francisco. “Showing a kid a bunch of adults hitting each other would be damaging.”

As for Dylan Middlebrooks, it was his sixth year at the leather fair. He is 10 years old.

“It’s pretty nasty because a lot of people here are naked,” said Middlebrooks, who was there with his mother.

Organizers said that they gave families ample warning.

“We do our best – that these people know that this is an adult-natured event,” said Darryl Flick, executive director of Folsom Street Events. “I’ve seen a thousand dotting aunts and uncles, and a kid having the time of his life.”

Security volunteer Adam Hawkins said it is up to the parents to decide what was best for their kids, and that he wouldn’t stop them at the gates.

Some fairgoers said that it was inappropriate to have children at the event.

“Why do (these people) bring kids here? This is a leather fair for god’s sake,” said Bahran Aliassa, who was masturbating in public. He has been doing it annually for the past six years.

Oakland resident Veronica Charles, 36, was with a baby stroller and said her son was too young to understand.

“I don’t think I’ll bring him here when he is 6,” Charles said.

Police officer Mark Lantrip said that families could choose not to come.

Father of two, John Kruse said it is an educational experience for children. He said there were conservative parents against having kids at the event.

“Those are the same close-minded people who think we shouldn’t have children to begin with,” he said.

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PHOTO
Omar Vega | Special to [X]Press
Veronica Kruschel, 2, drinks water while her twin sister Zola enjoys the Folsom Street Fair environment. Their parents Gary Beuschel and John Kruse (not photographed) watch nearby while having a lunch break.

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