Los Angeles, CA- Tuesday, September 25th- Delancey Street Press announces the publication of the limited edition “Folsom Street Food Court,” the new book from irreverent photographer Michael Rababy.
“Folsom Street Food Court” is a documentary photography monograph that captures San Francisco’s infamous Folsom Street Fair (The annual event will occur this Sunday, September 30th, 2018). The unguarded images feature people in various states of dress and undress in the rarely photographed street fair food court. Rababy chose to cover two years shot a decade apart (2007 and 2017) to demonstrate that although the city of San Francisco has gentrified over time, the Folsom Street Fair seems to maintain its authenticity.
The SF community had been active in resisting the city's ambitious redevelopment program for the South of Market area throughout the 1970s. City officials had wanted to "revitalize" the historically blue collar, warehouse, industrial district by continuing successful high rise development already underway on Rincon Hill. But as the AIDS epidemic unfolded in the 1980s, the community's relative autonomy from City Hall was dramatically weakened. The crisis became an opportunity for the city (in the name of public health) to close bathhouses and regulate bars, which they did beginning in 1984.
As these establishments for the leather community were rapidly closing, a coalition of housing activists and community organizers decided to start a street fair. The fair would enhance the visibility of the community, provide a means for much-needed fundraising, and create opportunities for members of the leather community to connect to services and vital information (e.g., regarding safer sex) that bathhouses and bars might otherwise have been situated to distribute. Thanks to the success of the first Folsom Street Fair, the organizers created the Up Your Alley Fair on Ringold Street in 1985. This fair moved to Dore Street ("Dore Alley") between Howard and Folsom in 1987.
“We were accepted. I used to get calls and letters saying ‘why are there so many straight people with strollers walking down the streets?’ and I would have to answer them, “This is what you wanted. You wanted to be accepted just as you are, and you are. Nobody’s making judgment. They’re coming to enjoy it with you.”
— Paul Lester (Folsom Street Fair executive producer 1995-2000)
“I currently live in the Divisadero/Lower Haight district of San Francisco, a spillover neighborhood nestled between tie-dyed Disneyland Haight-Ashbury, the Castro gayborhood, and the historically black cultural center of the Fillmore. The location makes for a motley glory of characters sharing sidewalks: Brigitta, the Rasta lotion-maker; Devon, the fire-eating middle-school teacher; Bob, our whip-smart snarky landlord who helped elect Harvey Milk; let alone my own household of a Mexican-Guatemalan husband, Malaysian artist asylee, and tatted-and-pierced activist Berkeley doctoral candidate. When I first moved to the neighborhood a decade ago, I found it to be the perfect moment— moving to the city I loved more than any other, and to a pocket of it that contained a community art space, Ethiopian restaurant, discount produce market, dive bar with 2 dollar drafts, and Sam’s corner store all on the same strip. But the neighborhood is changing, much like the whole city. The tech economy is booming, and those who are riding the money wave bring a very different character to the place. It has become wealthier, more white-collar, more white-washed, more white. And with that, an exodus of people that attracted me to the city in the first place. It is true what all the magazine articles and culture blogs say: San Francisco is losing something. But what, exactly?…“We need to hang these fierce looks on the walls of our beloved towns before they suffer from too much polo shirt. Now, more than ever. Divisadero has become, in the words of realtor websites, “up-and-coming”. The community art space is now a boutique, the produce market a five-dollar pour-over coffeehouse. Brigitta moved her shop to Oakland. And Vincent recently packed up and complained all the way to Portland. Change is inevitable, yes? Cities change, certainly. But, it isn’t the change that makes me nod with such weight. It is what we are losing in the midst of this change: the loose change, the motley public, that collective push against the conformity that threatened so many of our lives. Most tech bros don’t know this because they’ve only known a picket fence public, and are safely oblivious within the privilege. They can’t acknowledge San Francisco as a sanctuary, because they can’t even see the threat we’re protecting ourselves from. Mapplethorpe died at exactly the age that I write this essay. This fact doesn’t escape me. What have I done to counter the pressures of the picket fence, to liberate not just people like Robert and I, but all those who don’t fit the mold? When I catch myself rolling my eyes, when I judge those who love differently, when I blush at the sight of my own body, this, this is when I now feel shame. Because I now understand it is weakness. Now, when I walk into the swollen throng of Folsom, I know this is what human resilience looks like. Love is resilient. And Folsom may be a lot of things, and certainly has changed over the years — just like San Francisco— but it continues (and must continue) as a beautiful resilience to the forces that made me, made K, made Robert — all of us animals — afraid of their own hearts, by making public all the ways that love exists. It is, indeed — leather and lycra, harness and heartbeat — what love looks like.”
Miah Jeffra, founding editor Foglifter Press
Miah Jeffra bio:
Miah Jeffra is author of the essay collection The First Church of What's Happening (Nomadic Press 2017). They have been awarded the New Millennium Prize for fiction, the Sidney Lanier Prize for fiction, The Atticus Review Creative Nonfiction Prize, The Oregon Writers Colony Award for nonfiction, the Clark-Gross Novel Award, and a Lambda Literary Fellowship for nonfiction. Other fellowships and residencies include Ragdale and Hub City Writers Project. Miah is founding editor of queer literary collaborative, Foglifter Press. They live in San Francisco with their husband and roommates, both human and canine.
michael rababy bio:
lebanese-american documentary / street photographer, filmmaker michael rababy likes taking pictures of people. he studied art history at the university of san diego before spending time in paris. taking influence from henri toulouse-lautrec and henri cartier-bresson. his ethnographic documentary book ‘american bachelor’ details the highs and lows of the single male. his clients / credits include the VICE magazine photo book, mercedes-benz, E!, the style network, fine living, people magazine, LA weekly, the village voice, time-out new york, hamburger eyes, james franco / paul mccarthy, the sundance institute, the yes men, citizen LA, and LA canvas. his street photography was featured in girlfriend confidential:LA and he was the official portrait photographer for TLC’s highly rated series LA ink. michael also curates photography exhibits at the hive gallery in the downtown los angeles arts district. His short film 'still lives', which tells a story through black and white still photographs set to piano music, premiered at the palm springs international short film festival, was an official selection of the miami short film festival. his film ‘january man’ screened as an official selection at at the boston international film festival and the miami short film festival. overall, his work can be described as emotionally charged poetic-realism.
michael lives in southern california with his record collection and is currently at work on his latest masterpiece.
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