The Hooker’s Ball - 1995

Thanks to Dave Richoux for sending in this historic photo!

The Hooker's Ball was a Margo St. James production in San Francisco, 1995. Lots of freaky people in all sorts of costumes doing all sorts of kinky stuff. We lead a procession into the main hall and then spent the rest of the evening ogling the other participants. Maybe one of the strangest events we ever did...

Here’s an excerpt from Liz Highleyman‘s “Black Rose“ writings:

After a hiatus of several years, the Hookers Masquerade Ball returned to San Francisco just in time for Halloween. While perhaps a bit more sedate than its reputation as an infamous institution of the 1970s might have led one to expect, the event was replete with several good performances, including Carol Queen, Scarlot Harlot and company, a corset fashion show by Romantasy, Mimi=Freed, Elvis Herselvis, and the Sun Dogs.

The event began with an early “VIP” reception. While the food was hardly worth the $75, some of the best performances occured during this part of the evening, and the less-crowded atmosphere allowed for socializing with the movers and shakers of the San Francisco sex scene. The ball’s hostess, Margo St. James, was carried into the Galleria Design Center on a throne while a costumed marching band played “As the Saints Go Marching In.” St. James will no doubt be increasingly prominant as she turns up the heat in her campaign for city supervisor, with an emphasis on the decriminalization of prostitution.

The evening dragged on a bit despite the best efforts of Mistress of Ceremonies Kat Sunlove, as long music sets were interspersed with other types of entertainment -- some enjoy dancing and some enjoy cabaret-style entertainment, but for me the two don't mix very well. Some of the best performances unfolded on a smaller second stage, including several talented exotic dancers (mostly members of COYOTE, the sex workers rights group founded by St. James in the 1970s) and a fire show featuring Crimson Rose of the Burning Man festival.

The amateur strip contest proved a most interesting spectacle, as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence encouraged dancers to bare all for the crowd. I missed the promised “bondage demo,” perhaps while I was perusing the bazaar on the upper floor which featured leather and fetish wares, body painting, and other erotic goods and services. The smallish size of the crowd kept it mostly free of the obnxious groping that tends to keep many women and queers away from large, heterosexually-oriented sex-related events. Here's hoping the Hookers Ball will develop and flourish as a truly pansexual celebration.

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