In a scant 20 years, the Folsom Street Fair has gone from a local leather-enthusiast happening to an internationally known event drawing throngs of persuasions and people. This year's theme, "Fun, Frolic, & Fetish," denotes what most people already know: This isn't your average street fair. Here, the classic street fair trappings of food, music, and vendors are boldly punctuated by the ideology of sensual self-expression and freedom. While some virginal attendees are put off by the blatant displays of carnal interest, many others escape inhibition and indulge in the pleasingly raucous good time.
Keeping step with the increased interest from novices, the 2003 event includes an area called the "Leather Lounge," where serious visitors can evade the masses and enjoy the benefit of seating, shade, food, and space. This last-Sunday-in-September tradition is the culmination of a week's worth of citywide events known as "Leather Week," many of which raise funds and awareness for various humanitarian groups. When being bad does this much good, you should gratefully ask for another. The fair starts at 11 a.m. along Folsom between Seventh and 12th streets, S.F. Admission is free, but "Leather Lounge" tickets are $50; visit www.folsomstreetfair.com.
-- Will Simmons
S.F.'s Mediterranean accent
Though it's true that North Beach has a certain Italian flavor, the old country doesn't contain nearly as many strip clubs. Those wishing for a whiff of authentic Italian culture should instead hie themselves to "Celebrazione Italiana," a weeklong spree of art, music, fashion, and food (through Oct. 5). Unlike at most cultural festivals, the grub's not the main draw here; instead, "Celebrazione"'s best bets are the arts outings, with offerings ranging from an Italian-language performance by the San Francisco Lyric Opera Company to Sicily's brilliant fresh-flower mosaics to the rarely screened cinematic gems at the Italian Animation Film Festival.
The fete begins today with the Italian Marble Mosaic Competition, during which sculptors carve original masterpieces while festgoers watch. The whittling starts at 10 a.m. at Yerba Buena Gardens' Esplanade Terrace, Third Street & Mission, S.F. Admission is free; call 989-6426 or visit www.focusitalia.org for a complete schedule.
-- Jack Karp
S.F. goes gaga for verse
In our rushed, rattled world, poetry is something of a lost art. Painstakingly crafted words must be absorbed unhurriedly -- a tall order when most people would rather have their entertainment blasted from a TV.
The Other Words International Poetry Festival brings those who find beauty in syntax and rhythm four days of readings from 17 top poets from around the world, who recite their works in their native tongues, with just enough English translation to make sense of the meaning without obscuring the voice. Events begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Lone Mountain Conference Center on the University of San Francisco campus, 2800 Turk (at Masonic), S.F. Admission is free; visit www.culturelounge.org/otherwords for a complete schedule.
-- Joyce Slaton
Forget Mark Twain and Jack London -- William Saroyan deserves local literary lion props. "Celebrating Saroyan," a paean to the late writer, includes a preview of ACT's forthcoming staging of his Pulitzer Prize winning S.F.-set play The Time of Your Life.The remembrance begins at 2 p.m. at the Main Library's Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 664-4418 or visit www.williamsaroyan.org.
-- Joyce Slaton