Described as “an erotic Cirque du Soleil” by founder Perry Mann, the ball will feature bondage and discipline demonstrations, fetish fashion shows, latex body paintings, a First Amendment panel discussion and roughly 15,000 exhibitionists, voyeurs, nudists and others cavorting in the 100,000-square-foot fetish hall to live music performed by Everclear and the Village People.
“The premise to the festival has always been simple,” said Mann. “We give people a safe haven to act out their fantasies.”
The Ball began in 1979 as a political fundraiser for nudist presidential candidate Louis Abolafia, whose campaign slogan was, “I have nothing to hide,” and is probably best known for coining the phrase, “Make love, not war!”
In honor of its political beginnings and the ball’s 25th anniversary, this year’s event will also feature a panel of celebrity guests that will discuss current First Amendment issues in the United States.
“We started our first ball to raise presidential campaign funds,” said Mann. “This year, an election year, when the climate is politically charged, it makes sense to add a political element to your 25th anniversary.”
Scheduled to appear are Everclear’s Art Alexakis, Dennis Rodman, Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof, Adult Industry Mental Health Care Foundation founder Sharon Mitchell, and adult stars Tera Patrick, Ron Jeremy, Christy Canyon, Dave Cummings, Candida Royalle and more.
The first ball, in 1979 drew roughly 900 people. Since then, over 250,000 people have attended the Ball.
“People who are coming to it are not, on a daily basis, exotic or erotic,” J.S. Gilbert, the ball’s general manager, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’ve been associated with the ball for 24 years, and people who know me would say I’m the least exotic or erotic person they’ve ever met.”
“We attract men and women of all ages, heterosexuals, lesbians, gays and transsexuals,” said Mann. “We welcome students, teachers, lawyers, stockbrokers, secretaries, doctors, nurses and government employees.”
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from,” Mann said. “On this night, everyone’s a star.”
General admission to the ball costs $90 at the door. VIP admission costs $200.