By Benny Cartwright
Mardi Gras season is coming up, and to celebrate, a group of event producers are organizing the first-ever San Diego Fetish Gras, scheduled for Feb. 9-11 at venues throughout Hillcrest.
Produced by Mr. City Entertainment, Raul Noel Productions, and Alberto Bernal, the weekend will include three fun dance parties with a kinky twist. According to event organizers, the events are dedicated to the leather/fetish community, and will be the first Mardi Gras-themed fetish weekend in the United States.
University Heights resident Joshua Simmons, owner of Mr. City Entertainment, was the visionary behind the weekend of events and has been hard at work for several months to produce an experience like no other for San Diegans.
“I love our leather/fetish community and have argued that in the years I’ve been here [in San Diego], this community has grown significantly to the point that a lot of new events have had some kind of leather/fetish element inserted into them,” Simmons told LGBTQ San Diego County News. “My travels to multiple fetish street fairs and events throughout California has led me to the conclusion that one of [San Diego’s] key missing elements is a fetish weekend. Many have told me that the powers that be may not be ready for it – but I know the community is.”
And ready Simmons and his team are to show San Diego what a fetish weekend can look like. Party-goers will be able enjoy two distinct events at The Rail, and a third event at Rich’s San Diego.
The weekend opens with “a detour down the seedy alley” to Kink Street, taking place at The Rail, on Friday, Feb. 9, from 9 pm to 2 am. Simmons said that the Kink Street party was inspired by many of the leather bars he has visited over the years.
“It will have darker music and a more gritty vibe, but still encapsulates the over the top, whimsy feel Mardi Gras is known for,” Simmons continued.
The event will include a BDSM demonstration by Alpha Rob of Detoxxx Leather, and Sir Francis, along with interactive kinks throughout the night that will give guests the chance to earn their beads. DJ Alex Ferberye from Miami will spin.
On Saturday, Feb. 10, guests are invited back to The Rail for an after hours party from 9 pm to 4 am, called Revolution Decadence, presented by Alberto Bernal.
“Alberto’s love of circuit and production elements will bring us a kinky, seductive masquerade,” Simmons shared.
The Saturday event will be headlined by DJ Arno Diem from France, with opener DJ Venturo. There will also be drag performances and other surprises that Simmons said he has to keep secret for now!
Those who are still up for partying on Sunday, Feb. 11, are invited to a special tea-dance style event from 5-10 pm, at Rich’s San Diego called Krewez Tea-Dance.
“Krewez takes inspiration from Southern Decadence, Carnaval and Bourbon Street in New Orleans,” Simmons said. “Rich’s will be transformed into Bourbon Street style with leather/fetish vendors, street performances, tarot card readers, and much more.”
Along with performances by saxophonist Nightshade Navarro and Scarlett of Scarlett Fever, DJ Shane Marcus from Atlanta will spin during the tea-dance.
And there’s more! Simmons has partnered with other venues and events like PECS, AWOL, the San Diego Eagle, Humanity! San Diego, the San Diego Leather Boot Black Competition, and Scarlett Fever, to bring a weekend of events throughout the city. More information on these additional events will soon be posted at mrcityentertainment.com.
“It is so important to us to be able to work with as many people as possible to create something exciting for the entire community,” Simmons said.
For those who may feel shy about attending a leather or fetish event, Simmons wants to assuage those fears.
“Fetish Gras Weekend is all about anyone and everyone accepting their uniqueness, and exploring their kinks and fetishes,” he explained. “I see Fetish Gras as an entry event into the leather fetish community and a way for people to explore without it seeming dark and foreboding.
“A lot of people tell me they don’t have any kinks, but once I talk to them for a bit, I am able to point out their kinks to them,” he continued. “It doesn’t have to be big and scary. It could be simple and sweet.”
Since moving to San Diego in 2019, Simmons has produced several events around town and said that he loves creating immersive, interactive experiences that transport guests to a new destination.
“It is important to me that all your senses are activated when you come to my events,” Simmons said. “Production and set design have always been something I have loved ever since I was a young kid growing up watching Pee Wee Herman and the WWE. I personally don’t feel enough events use props and sets in their shows. When you come to one of my events it should feel like you’re getting a sneak peak into my wild and imaginative mind.”
When he is producing events, Simmons said his favorite part is seeing the entire picture he envisions come to life.
“When I was younger, I thought I always wanted to be the center of attention, but as I get older, I find myself getting the adrenaline from seeing all of this work and time culminate into the final production,” he said. “Seeing all the different gears of the machine do their part all at once is exciting.
“Producing events teaches me new capabilities that I can achieve,” Simmons continued. “I never want to be comfortable when I do events. I want to constantly push my boundaries and take risks, because when the dust settles, I get to look back and see how much experience just one event gave me.”
Outside of his work on Fetish Gras, Simmons is an active board member of Big Gay California (BGCA), the nonprofit organization that produces the annual Festival of Trees San Diego. He is also a lead organizer of the The Big Gay Picnic, a monthly potluck held in Balboa Park during the spring, summer, and fall seasons, which focuses on creating activities outside of the bars.
The next Big Gay Picnic actually returns after a break for the holiday season on Fetish Gras weekend, Sunday, Feb. 11, from 11 am to 3 pm.
Once this year’s Fetish Gras weekend passes, Simmons is looking forward to getting some rest.
“It has been a long, arduous journey to finally get to the finish line, so for a moment I’m going take some time to step back,” he said.
But he said that doesn’t mean he’s done.
“I have some new ideas I’m working on, such as a recent fixation on house music and its history. I would love to put together a fetish night infused with classic house or maybe tech house. I may have something planned for Pride weekend too, who knows.”
Simmons said he is really excited to share what his team has been working on for months to make Fetish Gras a reality, but also noted that in this first year of the event, they may not be able to do it the justice it deserves.
“We are putting down the building blocks for something that, I hope, can outlast me,” he explained. “Maybe we can even build this into San Diego’s own fetish street fair down the road!”
Those interested in attending Fetish Gras can buy a weekend pass for $75, which includes admission to all three events, or can purchase tickets for individual events, ranging from $15-$30. Tickets and more information can be found at mrcityentertainment.com.
–Benny Cartwright can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Instagram @BennyC80.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and hope you will also consider supporting our independent news organization. LGBTQ San Diego County News is one of California’s last LGBTQ print newspapers. But we are in danger of going out of print. During times of crisis, celebration, and mourning, crucial information about our community comes from local reporters and writers. LGBTQ San Diego County News needs your help and support in order to continue printing.
Please consider supporting LGBTQ+ San Diego County News. We are one of just five California based LGBTQ+ newspapers that are still in print. Donate. Subscribe. And if you have a business that’s able to, advertise with us. Your support is critical to sustaining the dedicated journalists serving our communities.
Our local LGBTQ+ newspaper helps keep us safer. We keep an eye on city hall, on corruption, and shady business practices. Together we can ensure our local news is covered for years to come.
-Eddie Reynoso, Publisher