Offering a more adult version of trick-or-treating, San Francisco’s Castro district had been party central for Halloween’s sexy ghosts and ghoulies and their fans for decades, sometimes bringing hundreds of thousands of revelers to the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, starting in 2002, escalating violence brought the party to an end, and the Home for Halloween campaign (homeforhalloween.com) began in 2007 to redirect fun-seekers to other parts of town.
For three decades, an alternative to a growing Castro crush was the Exotic-Erotic Ball, organized by Perry Mann. This year, Mann is pursuing “an international opportunity” and has passed the torch to a new event.
The producers behind Masquerotica — billed as a “sinfully sensual soirée” — hope to create a new annual event intended as “a cornucopia of the sex positive, combined with the musical, theatrical and mixed-gender communities.”
Producer Syd Gris of Opel Productions sees it as “a big-tent event for gay, straight and transgender” partiers, with “much higher priority placed on quality, intention and the safety of the space for free expression.”
It certainly puts a pun in the venue’s name: San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center.
One aspect of that philosophy is mandatory costumes for all and, according to the organizer’s website, “a clown nose and a camera will not be enough.” Attendees must also be 21 or older.
“From a girl’s point of view, nothing is a buzz-kill like a creepy gawker,” says Janine Shiota, a co-producer and organizer of events such as FRESH at Ruby Skye. “We are bringing together a collection of communities that want to participate; that come to add to the party, not take away, consume or be voyeurs.”
Even so, it might be hard to not feel like a voyeur at Masquerotica. Nine stages will offer a wide range of entertainment from music and dancing to body painting, bondage demonstrations and something called “Clowntasmic Debauchery.”
You can visit the Vampyre Village of Voyeuristic Vending, sample the pole gymnastics at the Asian Diva Girls Grotto, or meet up with sex-work advocates Margo St. James and Annie Sprinkle at the Hookers Ball Brothello.
A former prostitute and porn actress, Sprinkle is now a sex educator with a doctorate. She’s involved because of producer Joegh Bullock’s “vision of diversity, inclusivity, variety,” she says. “He’s making an erotic environment where all kinds of folks will feel welcome,”
“This town loves to dance,” Bullock says. “Add in the history — the gold rush days. Prohibition, the Beat generation, the hippie movement, club culture — and it’s pretty much our job to have fun here in the Bay Area!”
IF YOU GO
Where: San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday
Tickets: $45 to $100