TOM House

Artist-in-Residence program

In 1980, Tom began to stay at Durk Dehner’s home in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, becoming the original Artist-in-Residence. Eventually the residence became known as “TOM House” and now serves as the Foundation’s HQ. Over the last 15 years Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) has hosted our Artist-In-Residence Program. 

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Every year Tom of Finland Foundation invites between eight to nine erotic artists to stay at TOM House. The program highlights and encourages a diverse selection of artists who incorporate the erotic in their discipline. This can include photographic, painting, traditional or non-traditional work, sculpture, writing, or any other form in the visual arts. Tom of Finland Foundation continues to encourage the work of erotic visual artists regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, sexual identity, medium of expression or any other censoring criteria.

During the three month residence, artists are required to work on a proposed project and present it to the public near the end of their stay. While in residence, ToFF encourages artists to access the Foundation archives which include more than half a million images, artworks, books, magazines, films, sculptures and more. ToFF traditionally houses two artists simultaneously, and during the summer months up to three artists.

LOCATION AND ACCOMMODATIONS

TOM House is located in Echo Park which is a neighborhood found northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The home sits on top of Laveta Terrace, once known as Sunset Boulevard Heights, and was one of the first structures on the street. It is a old Craftsman house, built in 1911, with three floors and a luscious back garden known as the Pleasure Park. In 2016, Tom of Finland House received Historic-Cultural monument status from the City of Los Angeles making TOM House a Historic Landmark.

TOM House is walking distance from a busy strip on Sunset Boulevard where residents have access to groceries, coffee shops, restaurants, bars and more. It is also just a short stroll from the picturesque Echo Park Lake and Elysian Park.

Getting to Tom of Finland Foundation.

There are many rooms in TOM House that host both Staff and Artists-in-Residence. Two of the bedrooms at TOM House are dedicated to Artists-in-Residence. They are located on the second floor, which also has residences for the staff and the book library. There can be anywhere from five to nine people staying in TOM House at a time; three full-time staff members, two artists-in-residence and up to three guests. There is also one cottage located in the back garden which is used to house an Artist-in-Resident during the summer months. If you would be interested in working on an outdoor project and staying in the cottage please make sure to mention this in your application.

Artists staying at TOM House will be charged rent which differs between the rooms. Artists will pay $550 per month to stay in the Michael Kirwan Solarium and $275 for Lawton’s Lookout.

Lawton's Lookout

Lawton’s Lookout
$275/month

Michael Kirwin Solarium

Michael Kirwin Solarium
$550/month

RESIDENCY STAFF

ToFF staff, including our President, Cofounder and Director of the Program Durk Dehner; Vice President SR Sharp; Curator and Community Development Executive Marc Ransdell-Bellenger; and Artist Coordinator hatt Merlino.

hatt Merlino – Artist Coordinator


hatt assists to facilitate the residency program in administrative and program activities. hatt helps to take care of the administrative activities around the program as well as assisting Residents with anything that they might need during their residency.
hatt very much enjoys spending time with the Artists-in-Residence, often taking them on trips around Southern California.

CURRENT ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE


Due to COVID-19, ToFF has temporarily closed our Artist-in-Residence program and sent our residents to their respective homes.

We hope to invite Artists David Lindert and Rinaldo Hopf back soon and continue regular programming.

PAST ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE

Rinaldo Hopf's current project at TOM House:

Meet David Lindert, artist-in-residence

David and Gina

David Lindert (1992) is a Czech-born artist living and working abroad, mostly in Berlin who is currently in residence at TOM House. Lindert presents an extensive work spanning different media, including recent poetry, sculptural assemblages and photographs. Deploying an autobiographical approach, the works mirror, process and translate his daily experiences. Recurring themes include anxiety, alienation, vulnerability, addiction and childhood trauma. The relentless self-exposure stemming from social media’s sharing imperative and evidenced in Lindert’s practice explores the affective impact of commodified individuality as well as fractured identities and offers greater insights on the dark sides of contemporary gay life.

 


“DAVID LINDERT leather, but better” | ONLINE

“This selection captures last days of free living, free spending the leisure time in California and now we’re waiting for the sunset to come.” -David Lindert, March 2020 All works are for sale. For inquiries, contact Registrar

Poetry Reading – David Lindert

15th Feb 2020 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm –     Join David Lindert as he reads selections from his new book Teargarten. The book is a collection of 40 poems and will be available for purchase. I believe in poetry because poetry is a whole story and stories are short Energy flows through the shortest path While writing long stories I start losing […]

Meet Marcel Alcalá, artist-in-residence

Marcel Alcalá (b. 1990 in Santa Ana, CA) is a queer chicanx artist currently living and working at TOM House. Their work has been featured at the Hammer Museum, MCA Chicago, Swiss Institute, Ekebergparken, Rogoland Kunstsenter, Blum and Poe, Queer Biennial, Tom of Finland Foundation, Consulate General of Mexico, Los Angeles LGBTQ Center.

I come from a history of border culture and as a queer person of color, I use art to explore very real concepts that effect our everyday lives: ideas about the “American dream,” the history of western expansions, and how Christianity affected indigenous beliefs, for example around gender. I too participate in the system I criticize, and there is something important in that notion. Being a Mexican-American is to be someone influenced by both aspects of capitalist and socialist rhetoric, so I choose to combine ancient and new techniques to make work that critiques heteronormative structures. Structures meant to tear down people like myself. My body speaks, through performance and writing I can talk directly to the audience, creating custom outfits that become stand alone works by themselves post-performance. I attribute a lot of my aesthetic to my families religion Santeria, a pantheistic Afro-Cuban religion developed from the beliefs and customs of the Yoruba people that incorporate some elements of the Catholic religion. Mud, pieces of animals, plastics, my personal hair; it is in these objects that speak to my spirituality that is almost a form of shamanic expression. I am a teacher. Whether it is learned through my oil pastel drawings, sculptures, or performances, my focus is to give out important information to a public that may not know whats going on south of the border and in my own backyard. Creation is self identification. My goal currently has been to teach others about identities like mine and it’s place in art historical discourse. How can my voice be accessible to a larger audience outside of the Americas and how can I learn from others not like me.

MARCEL ALCALÁ Putas Unidas | Opening

22nd Feb 2020 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm – WORKS FOR SALE A broken heart brought me back to LA, my long awaited home. In search for truth and comfort in self, I was brought to Tom’s. A melting point diverse in experience. Our elders still teach and this place is proof. Never have I had space to focus on my work, trying new […]

MARCEL ALCALÁ Putas Unidas

22nd Feb 2020 – 8th Mar 2020 @ All Day –           WORKS FOR SALE A broken heart brought me back to LA, my long awaited home. In search for truth and comfort in self, I was brought to Tom’s. A melting point diverse in experience. Our elders still teach and this place is proof. Never have I had space to focus […]

Meet Jared Carlos Cabrera, artist-in-residence

Hovvrad photographed by Marilyn Rondon

Jared Carlos Cabrera (America, 1997- ) goes by the artist name “Hovvrad” (pronounced how rad). He’s a 22 year-old, multi medium artist, working in cinematography, painting, and photography. Hovvrad grew up in Ontario, California as an IE gay cowboy. He created most of his work out of pure emotional pains or triumphs because a part of him has a lot to say about certain parts or experiences of life. He coined the name Hovvrad when he started making films around the age of 17, and the idea was purely a mix of wanting to standout on a list of directors as he navigated through his video career in the beginning which just ended up turning into what many people know him as today.

He began a creative career around the age of 18 when he would skip classes in college to go take photos of his friends or film his little journeys to LA, and beyond. It all started with a love for fashion, rap music, and the creativity of the street photographers at the time. He loved creating look book visuals, curating looks for photo shoots and styling. From the age of 18 he really took his creative career serious by dropping out of his 2nd semester in college and leaving home to have the freedom of being able to be a creative without worrying about what his parents thought, which was a very hard lesson.

Hovvrad’s fun, childlike nature of creating work, slowly developed into an emotional, manic depressive way of creating voicing his opinions on topics and events in his life. He started to suffer from depression and anxiety to the point where all the fun fashions films stopped, the photography got darker and a lot more centered around love, and emotional stories he was dealing with at the time. He caught my biggest break after he moved back home at the age of 21 grabbing jobs with his friends clothing line “Threaded in thought” where for the 1st time he worked with models, budgets, studios spaces, and the freedom to script something from start to finish on such a beautiful story behind it. As time progressed he was able to dive deeper into his creative passions of film making and photography, jumping on  more projects with Nike, Vapor Fashion, NBA, to name a few clothing brands and designers. Also at this time he was working a lot in the music arena of art, creating music videos, photo shoots and album art for many music artist.

Around April of 2019 he dove into painting and caught his first solo exhibition with the help of Rudy Garcia, and some close friends. From there he’s been able to meet so many more talented artist who have made names for themselves in their mediums and has gained a new perspective on what being a creative really is.  Since April he’s done a few more exhibits leaving him with a multi-medium series of works that have been able to tie all together from short films to paintings right back to photography.

As 2019 wraps up his prolific year with the opportunity of being an artist-in-residence at Tom of Finland Foundation. He believes he’s developed work from a space of innocence to something that speaks for his emotional journey called My life, being a little extra sad along the way, because remember Boy should cry.


HOVVRAD | TOM House Exit Interview

Winter 2019-2020 artist-in-resident, Jared Carlos Cabrera (Hovvrad), discusses his time at TOM House with Durk Dehner.

HOVVRAD “There is no such place” | 28th December – 12th January | TOM House

  New Works for Sale This project is a follow up to Stuck in my room where we follow the narrative of a boy’s view on love and peace from his bedroom window. Hidden in this was finding out there was no resolution to this desire, once the boy experienced his desires first-  hand, we… View Article
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Meet Bas Kosters, artist-in-residence

“In my work there is always a strange contrast between outspokenness and tenderness, childlike optimism, and provocative aesthetics.”

“My stay at Tom Finland Foundation is truly magical. It is a place with a strong energy, which is great to indulge in. The rich history, which the Foundation represents, has proven to be so meaningful, yet it is still necessary to keep pushing boundaries and create space for our community. I am really excited to shape the future landscape of erotic art, as it is one of my great interests. With this I can contribute to people’s personal and sexual development. For me my time until now has been very open, and full of experiments, which lead to a large variety of works, but themed by my personal fascinations and points of view.” -Bas Kosters, 2019


Bas Kosters’ self created world of graphic designs and sketches of typical characters form the basis of his studio’s distinctive visual language. Kosters’ profound belief in the strength of combining different disciplines to develop one brand is acknowledged by his winning of multiple awards. -Not Just A Label

BIO



BAS KOSTERS | TOM House Exit Interview

Fall 2019 artist-in-resident, Bas Kosters, discusses his time at TOM House with Durk Dehner.

JACOB LOVE “FUCKUTOPIA” | 29th August | TOM House

Meet the Artist in His Studio

“I tend to think that the human tendency to move toward and into orgasm is a sign of an embodied belief in the possibility of a state of being within which something akin to orgasm (at least a higher state of physical and emotional bliss) can and should be normalized. Porn is utopian, argues for better conditions for the body, argues for the ease and infinite availability of “pleasure” and, more important, “fun,” which I read as social creative chaos, almost manageable chaos—the necessary chaos of queerness.” -Paul Morris (Treasure Island Media)

 

This work in progress includes imagery of the vegetation found on LA sidewalks. It appeals to me because it feels like it’s bursting out of the ‘civilised’ city, wild, taking up space, being magnificent and fierce. There are also portraits of men; traces of cerebral fantasies linger in their costumes, poses and props, but the real attention is on the visceral experiences of the body. Interfering with these images are slogans from cigarette advertising of the past. Grand, macho statements about the primacy of pleasure in the construction of the ‘self’.

I am interested in exposing the implicit psychological notions of fantasy and utopia embedded in our culture through the use of corporeally explicit content. What is utopia if not a condition ripe for flourishing? All political movement forward is guided (at least outwardly) on utopian ideas of ‘making things better’. Better for who or for what? What happens in the margins of the fertile ground?

 

 

Fantasy, utopia, pleasure; how do these words resonate in queer bodies? Can acting on desires, aberrant to the norm, position us as significantly ‘other’ that we may be able to see the world critically and strive to make it better?

6-9p

 

FACEBOOK EVENT

 

GIO BLACK PETER Summer Presentation | 27th July | TOM House

Bird Song (Detail), 2019, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 66″x 50″

2019 Tom of Finland Foundation Artist-in-Residence
New Works and Works for Sale

Everything I want to say to you is in my work.  x Gio Black Peter, 2019

 

In every generation, there are those who resist the sweeping tide of proscription and conformity. For New York based artist Gio Black Peter, such a reaction comes naturally. Through his work, he is able to break through the hardening shell of uniformity and tap into something more honest. While undeniably modern in his approach—often utilizing technology to offer a multimedia-fueled commentary on current issues—the artistic results are irrevocably rooted to the past.

 

In his bold use of color and shape, Peter’s work is perhaps most reminiscent of the French post-impressionists. Sensual and emotive, he has a Paul Gauguin style primitiveness to his art, where the everyday and the natural are fused with an almost dreamlike sense of the fantastic. Picking up from where Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat left off in the 1980s, Peter is steering the downtown New York art scene back to the unapologetic celebration of life-outside-the-mainstream that it was before complacency began to take hold.

 

At its core, Peter’s art is a provocation and, whether addressing issues of violence or oppression, alienation or love, it seeks to spark a reaction in its audience. While that reaction may be visceral and dejected, or ecstatic and inspired, the ultimate aim is to fuel awareness, both of the self and society. In that, Peter’s art is a mirror of his own life—the two are, at times, indistinguishable.

 

Like Jean Genet, there is a bit of an outlaw in Peter, a bit of a fighter—he doesn’t back away from the demands of his artistic expression. Equally willing to strip down on camera for a blood soaked orgy as he is to work through sleepless nights when in the grip of inspiration, Peter breathes a life unfettered by shame, unencumbered by fleeting notions of morality. His work is a testament to the belief that it is possible to celebrate life without being bound to the form most common. He reveals the truth that unexpected beauty and unanticipated vitality can be found by challenging the norm, by pushing past our collective comfort.

4-8p

PRICE LIST

 


Bring a picnic, we’ll have drinks, and stay for the screenings.

“NonSeance” | 23rd June | TOM House

Hosted by The
BRONTEZ PURNELL DANCE COMPANY

A Site Specific Immersive Theater Night Time Happening

With
Malcom Scott
Ryanaustin Dennis
Gary Fembot
Antone Martinez
Rubén Esparza
Vice Cooler
Graham Kolbeins
Zac Benfeild

7p

FACEBOOK EVENT


AURÉLIEN NOBÉCOURT-ARRAS “Enough Man” | 8th May | TOM House

The artist presents a series of photographs created during his residency at Tom of Finland Foundation.

Incorporating them into his recurrent practice of collaborative self-portraiture, explores representation, power and consent through his encounters with men living in, or passing through, Los Angeles.

Aurélien Nobécourt-Arras questions the foundations, evolution and plasticity of sexualities. He is dedicated to a medium-format analog process, which molds and informs his vision. He is based in Paris.

On view in the second floor gallery though 31st May by appointment.

Closing reception: Thursday, 30th May, 6-9p
FACEBOOK EVENT

BEN YOUDAN “MASC – The Men of Los Angeles” | 16th February | TOM House

BEN YOUDAN (Briton, 1979-), Marc, 2019, Mixed media on canvas, 48″ X 36″

A series of six mixed media portraits has been created in the unique and inspiring atmosphere of TOM house and has been facilitated by having the opportunity to make incredible connections within the Leather community of Los Angeles. The work seeks to embody the message of freedom contained in Tom of Finland’s oeuvre and attempts to contextualise this in a contemporary way that is a direct response to a variety of external influences.

The work seeks to be an exuberant celebration of male beauty, the male form and its erotic nature, by exploring the archetype of the Leatherman and challenging preconceptions of masculinity. There is a visual subtext of sensuality contained within the works that attempt to promote a sex-positive attitude.

I feel this is important, as it has been created against a backdrop of troubling times. With the Internet being cleaned up, and the neoconservatives appearing to have a prevailing influence in our culture that flies in the face of societal progression made from the 1960s to the present day, I strongly believe artists should make a conscious decision to react against this and fight back. Queer art is a protest.

Youdan is a visual artist from Liverpool, U.K. His work employs a wide variety of techniques and processes including collage, painting, printmaking and photography, to create imagery that takes inspiration from the iconography and ephemera of popular culture as well as Queer identity. His elaborate pieces explore themes such as fetish, glamour, masculinity, and sexuality. They are a handmade product of the machine age, and a comment on the human condition in the context of the new media landscape.

The artist has been involved in a wide variety of creative endeavors throughout his career. Before beginning his artist residency at Tom of Finland Foundation in December 2018, he has had three solo shows in the U.K. and his work has been acquired by the Museum of Liverpool for their permanent collection. He has participated in the Homotopia arts festival, as well as the Liverpool Biennial, and Liverpool Pride. He also set up a successful pop-up shop that sold his work. In addition to this, his work has been featured on Madonna’s latest world tour and a wide variety of group shows in the United States and across Europe. This exhibition is his first solo show in North America.

Reception: 6-9p
On view through 26th February by appointment.

FACEBOOK EVENT

“LOVE SONGS” by Phuc Le | 17th November | TOM House

PHUC LE,
Self Portrait w/ Durk’s Chain Link Vest & Boots,
2018, C-print, 16×20 inches

LOVE SONGS is a photographic series I made during my residency at Tom of Finland Foundation. This body of work focuses on idolizing and celebrating Queer Asian guys through a romantic narrative. It’s also my personal journey of exploring desire, community, and self love. I dedicate it to all Queer Asian-Americans. I want us to be proud, be visible, love ourselves and each other. So when people look back, they will see that we were here and we didn’t get erased.

Concerning gender, race and sexuality, it’s easy to feel invisible if one’s identity doesn’t belong to a delineated group. During my formative years, the absence of Queer Asian representation in porn and pop culture contributed to my skewed sense of self love and an inability to love a body and a narrative that reflected my own. LOVE SONGS is my effort to increase Gay/Queer Asian-American visibility.–Phuc Le, 2018, TOM House

PHUC LE, Duke and Me from Song 1, 2018, Xerox print, 36×36 inches

Born in Vietnam (1985) and grew up in Orange County, Phuc Le is currently living and making work in Los Angeles. Focusing on social structures and relationships that exist in his immediate reality, Le makes photographic prints utilizing a combination of analog and digital photography. He was a collective member of Flux Factory in New York City, and is currently a part of the Navel Collective in LA.

Opening reception: Saturday, 6-10p.
Performances by Tyler Holmes, Moises Josue Michel and Duke Tran.

On view through 25th November by appointment.

Joel Parsons, with pleasure

I’ve spent the majority of my time as a resident artist at Tom of Finland Foundation immersed in an archive of Tom’s sketches and preparatory drawings.

I’m endlessly fascinated by the way Tom’s unfinished work allows me to see his brain and hand collaborating, to understand the choices he was making as he crafted his images. In the process of gathering and abstracting his images to inform my own drawings, I was often caught between erotic and analytical responses to his work. As a casual viewer who is attracted to men, Tom’s work is, to put it blandly, easy for me to simply enjoy. As an artist and an academic, I was inclined to engage with the context of the work, to find the politics and the art historical importance. In grappling with these modes of viewing the work, which we are often told are mutually exclusive (especially in academic settings), I’ve come to believe that the only way to understand the work is through the erotic, not in aside from it or even in addition to it.

JOEL PARSONS (American, 1985-), Study #1, 2018, Graphite on paper, 14 x 11″

The drawings have immense intellectual, political, and art historical importance, absolutely, but that content is pinned under the pleasure, smothered in it, dripping with it. A viewer has to first admit desire and open themself to the murky, irrational erotic depths of the work. Reach elbow deep in there, and everything else can be found. (In particular I think that Tom’s work is incredibly political – as the pleasure of the sexual outlaw always is – but he isn’t often credited with this precisely because the politics are bound to the pleasure, and pleasure gets messy.)

JOEL PARSONS (American, 1985-), Study #2, 2018, Graphite on paper, 14 x 11″

In fact, Tom’s bodies are impossible to reconcile in a purely intellectual way. They don’t make sense without an understanding of the pleasure that motivated their making and the pleasure they are meant to incur. They’re recognizable but illogical, familiar but impossible, real but fantastical – which is, not coincidentally, a fairly good definition of art. It’s that intercourse between imagination and reality that makes his work so impossible to divorce from an erotic impulse (although museums and academics have tried), and so powerful as art and erotica, simultaneously.

JOEL PARSONS (American, 1985-), Study #3, 2018, Graphite and gouache on paper, 14 x 11″

The desire to which he gives form is richer and more complex than popular conceptions of his work, or even of erotic art in general, often allow; I think we might still be catching up to it. For all the macho energy attributed to Tom’s drawings, and taken up as a primary signifier of sexuality by many of his acolytes, if you really trace his lines and indulge in his forms the way I’ve been able to these past few weeks, you can also find incredible sensitivity, even softness. The men in Tom’s drawings are comprised of mounds upon mounds of rounded masses, gently rolling into one another, without a sharp angle in sight. Their shirts are somehow both tight and billowing. Their pants ripple luxuriously, gathering into an impossible number of folds as they slide down thick legs toward slick, glossy boots. The content on the surface of the work, the images and scenarios depicted, is aggressively sexy, but at their contours the images are supple and sensitive, at times extravagantly so.

JOEL PARSONS (American, 1985-), Study #4, 2018, Graphite on paper, 14 x 11″

I think that Tom, great artist that he was, knew that this tension would stoke erotic heat far more than straightforward masc energy alone ever could. He knew it so well that he embedded it in the process as well as the content of his work. Tom’s characters and scenes are sexy, but the way his pencil hugs, nudges, pulls, and shapes the line itself is erotic. In his preparatory sketches in particular, you can find his own erotic pleasure in the places where his lines pile up, where you see him spending the most time (his depictions of the creases and folds of leather boots, for example, are almost baroque in their exaggeration; they coil and vibrate with desire that transcends their subject and their materiality). More than just depicting pleasure, I think Tom’s drawings are made of pleasure, just as much as they are made of ink or graphite. His brain and hand were collaborating, but also his cock.

Joel Parsons, Artist-in-Residence, TOM House, 2018

Like Tom, I’m interested in making the world that I want to live in, embedding pleasure and politics in not only the imagery of my work, but in the material and process of it. My time at Tom of Finland Foundation, thanks to the incredible people here who secure, promote, and live out his legacy, has underscored for me the primacy of pleasure, and the potential of erotic art to move us beyond the familiar in search new and better pleasures.

-Joel Parsons, 2018
@joeltparsons


JOEL PARSONS | TOM House Exit Interview

Summer 2018 artist-in-resident, Joel Parsons, discusses his time at TOM House with Durk Dehner.

Developing new collaboration in Finland on Tom of Finland Day

Antti Kauppinen, chair of Tom of Finland Seura; and Gary Everett, director of Homotopia; travelled to various parts of Western Finland and Helsinki. The trip included a visit to Åbo Akademi University Archive and Manuscripts Department, Touko Laaksonen’s (Tom of Finland’s) home and schoolhouse, and a meet-up with Tapani Vinkala, nephew of Touko’s.

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Tapani, Antti and Gary celebrate with TOM’s birthday cake in Turku.

Antti Kauppinen reads through some of Touko Laaksonen's correspondence at Abo Akademi.

Antti reads through some of Touko Laaksonen’s correspondence at Åbo Akademi.

Antti and Tapani in front of Touko Laaksonen's parents' schoolhouse where the artist grew up. in Kaarina.

Antti and Tapani in front of Touko Laaksonen’s parents’ schoolhouse where the artist grew up in Kaarina.

 

Art & Culture

Late August, 2016, Fire Island Pines, NY.

We sashe barefoot down the boardwalk.

My friend Arthur is gabbing incessantly about something I am too drunk to comprehend while the sun beats down on us, soft fists against our chlorinated, ocean-weather skin. We are headed to our glamour-friend Don’s, who no doubt has lined up jack and cokes beside the pool we intend to bask in.

Out of the corner of my eye I watch the passing men; they are square chested and ultraviolet-kissed and smell of salt and sunscreen. Every hair that spills from their elastic waisted swimwear arouses me. Arthur is visibly annoyed at my indiscreet eye, but fuck him because he has a boyfriend and I am freedom. This is a gay man’s paradise, an island of faggy excess and frivolity, which is rapturous.

A man passes who I recognize, although I don’t know where from, which is not uncommon, and before I realize it, I have stopped this stranger and asked if he is Gio. Yes, I am Gio. And suddenly I recognize him. My friend Alex photographed this boy, who is odd looking and too thin with alien sex appeal. I was drawn to the photo and I am drawn to Gio and we are moving in different directions but in a still corner of time I manage to punch my number into his phone. He is going to a “cool party” later tonight if we want to come.

Running down the boardwalk to catch up with my friends I fantasize about Gio. He is an artist, I remember, and many of my friends in Los Angeles know and love him.

I will not receive a text from Gio tonight, and this will be disappointing, but not debilitating.

It is sometime after dinner and we have not stopped drinking but we are still thirsty. My faggot posse treks along the beach from the Pines to Cherry Grove (a neighboring community that hosts the infamous underwear party). Many of us are half clothed. All I am wearing is a tight pair of leather bikini bottoms and black converse. I know that my ass is the bomb because I have been aware of my body and what it can do for some time now.

Fire Island is full of fuckery and dancing and play without inhibitions–it is a sanctuary of sin. When we arrive at the underwear party all primped and toasted and nearly naked, we scatter like a pack of wolves on the hunt. Every man is a tree to sniff and piss on, and the forest is so dense that I am overwhelmed. My senses are spilling in every direction.

On the pool deck outside the dance floor I find a small patch of air to breathe in. In this open air an old crush of mine is smoking a cigarette–New York is like that. His big dick hangs proudly in classic white bikini briefs. He has never noticed me before, but he notices me now. Javi is the editor of a magazine I am fond of. I have been fond of Javi for some time, too. I chat with Javi politely, and when he says he is going to fuck me tonight I smile and I kiss him on the cheek and I shimmy to the bar where someone called Daddy buys me a drink.

Tonight I am too tired to coordinate with this magazine editor and I am still spiteful he has ignored me for all of these years and maybe there is a part of me that is longing for that mysterious Gio. I walk home through the dunes with Arthur and I sleep until noon. In the morning we wake up, we have coffee and a mimosas by the pool, and we take the ferry to the bus to the train back to the city.

Early October, 2016, Los Angeles, CA.

My house is throwing an art and culture festival this weekend. I live in the Tom of Finland Foundation. It is Friday night and we have invited the artist that are in town to walk through the space. By ten o’clock I am drunk and wearing my pajamas–tonight a red calf-length moo moo with a baseball t neckline.

Gio: That’s a nice dress.

Me: Would you like to try it on?

Gio: Yes.

Gio steps out of his cotton shorts and stands naked before the small crowd I am a part of, an eclectic collection of queers smoking cigarettes in the jungled backyard of Tom House. We are reminiscing with each other and meeting each other and warming up the night with our drunkenness. No one takes note of Gio’s naked body, but I take note of Gio’s naked body. Probably 110 lbs of lean boy, ribs smiling, little tattoo on his little chest, shaved head, big uncut dick, hairless except for shadows of coiled man on his pubic bone, on his low belly, in his armpits and shading his thin but sturdy legs. For unknown reasons he has no eyebrows. His wide engaging eyes are heavy with eyelashes and he blinks anticipatingly at me and I am so afraid of him, but my desire is overwhelming.

By Jamison Karonerotiq

I slide the red cotton tunic off over my head and pass it to Gio. He wiggles into its looseness. I like this. He says. You should know that Gio is unlike any other human. Gio is Technicolor. He pokes at my soft navy underwear and asks why I am wearing them, and I feel so afraid of him still, but I want to do everything that this skinny Guatemalan boy says. Before I can take off my underwear, Gio takes off the dress and replaced it on my trembling body. Still naked, he sits in the chair beside me and removes my underwear from beneath the tunic with one hand. With his other hand he gestures wildly because to our small crowd he is telling the story about why he shaved off his eyebrows.

One of the queens is asking for coke and we quickly make a plan to mobilize to West Hollywood. Our friend Alex is beckoning us from his throne of cocaine. I get up from Gio’s lap and slink upstairs to put on a pair of stiff blue jeans. By the time I make it downstairs a car has been called and all the faggots are shuffling distractedly to the front of the house being loud but trying not to (it’s past midnight). Gio takes hold of my waist and kisses me on the neck and I whisper into his ear that he can have the dress. Elated, he tells me he will find something to trade for it.

We pile into the car that is waiting on the palm tree lined street of Tom House. In the back seat Gio sits me nearly on top of him, picking up my hips and setting them in the crook of his lap. A smell of overripe fruit affronts me. Gio throws my head toward his lap, where a hard and glorious cock is standing straight up from the corner of his cotton shorts; the sour sweet smell nauseates me. Fear sets in, and in a moment of clarity, or perhaps obscurity, my mind asks a series of rhetorical Who am I and Where am I going and Is Gio the love of my life or the Devil? I wonder if they can smell what we are doing in the front seat. Gio throws my head back down and I am not ready to eat so ripe a fruit but I kiss his mouth and rub the cock that is begging for me, for any orifice, for the hot mouth of a hot boy.

In the front seat my darling Stuart and Ruben talk about the upcoming festival at my house. I am embarrassed to writhe like a slut in the back, but Gio is not embarrassed by such human things. I push away from his freedom, but inside I want to cut the rope free, to fly, to tumble, to fall to the ground, get fucked on the ground, get dirt in my ass, be spit on, spit in, to spit upon.

This night is getting stale, but we will not. We bound up to Alex’s apartment and we knock on the door. Alex answers with a new book of photos in one hand and Astro the cat in the other. He is so handsome and for a moment I feel lustful toward him.

In the narrow kitchen lines of cocaine and a freezer bottle of vodka are waiting for us. Alex and Gio are close friends, and for some reason this make me so self-conscious. I feel like an accessory. Gio’s hands are like magnets and I am made of tinfoil and I thought I was liberated until I met Gio who is boundless.

Ruben is all of our mothers if our mothers were coke sniffing artists and he sets to work making cocktails. Something industrial strength or light and breezy he asks. I don’t care and so Ruben hands me a drink that is vodka on ice with a drop of lemonade–his specialty. He is going on about how the old faggots have got to pass everything down to the young faggots. He has a new tattoo that is a crown with the word QUEER  inside of it and this is the right tattoo.

Stuart is impatient. He hovers while Alex makes an orchard of delicate lines. Before Stuart and I became friends we tried to date, and I love him dearly, but we are so wrong for each other and how special are gay people?

I slip into the bathroom to try and remember anything about my life prior to tonight. In the bathroom there is a photo of Gio (the one I recognized him from on Fire Island). He is naked, of course, and stood in front of an American flag. He is the same strange boy who is in the other room, but in this photo he looks like something that is holy and suddenly I want to own this photo. I want to wake up every day to this holy image of Gio

When I get out of the bathroom Gio asks where my drink is. It is in my hand. I do my line of coke before someone else does and Alex makes us more lines. Ruben says only one more drink it’s already late and the festival starts tomorrow, and Gio says where is the next place we are going.

I don’t remember how we get there but we are back in Echo Park on Sunset and Alvarado and we are trying to get into an afterhours party, but none of us have cash. Ruben is no longer supervising us and we fumble down the broken sidewalk to an ATM. A straight guy cuts in front of us and Gio asks if he likes it from behind, which makes us all snicker. We snicker because we are gay in numbers and for once this guy is the faggot in a crowd.

When we get back to the afterhours party we are lead off the street by a security detail. He pats us all down and when he pats Gio down, Gio makes sex faces, which makes us all laugh. We pass through an iron gate toward a dark house that is applauding from the inside. Stuart pays my cover.

We are in a dirt backyard with bonfires and a swarm of nocturnal creatures. Gio buys me a shot of whisky that is really a glass of whisky. We all salud and drink and wander the grounds. Gio touches me the way I like which is endlessly.

There is a backroom that is for dancing and when we arrive Gio says he is a good dancer and I say so am I and when we dance neither of us is lying so it is good fun. There is busty girl who looks like she likes getting fucked, all spilling out of her tight white shirt, and she is smiling at us. She asks if we are together and even though we both say no she does not believe us. She tells us we are sluts, and we tell her she is a slut, and we all begin to sing I’m a slut she’s a slut he’s a slut slut slut slut slut slut and never once do we stop dancing.

Gio orders me another tall glass of whisky. We are talking to a girl at the bar and I am complimenting her and then we realize we don’t have money for the drinks. I ask the girl for money and she thinks I am kidding. When she realizes I am not kidding she buys us the drinks. The bartender looks annoyed and to that Gio and I salud and take the shots.

We wander into a courtyard where people are smoking and we smoke some weed that is going around. Gio befriends the girl beside us like he befriends everything. She is a middle aged Jew named Rachel. When she tells us her age I pretend to act surprised, but I am not surprised. Rachel says what a cute couple we are and we tell her we are not a couple and it takes some convincing, but she believes us. Rachel gives us bumps of coke off of her key. She gets up for a moment and tells us not to go anywhere and we do not but we never see Rachel again.

Gio and I take turns peeing in a port-a-potty and in the meantime make friends with everyone around us. Our friends have gone and we do not have keys to the house, but Durk, the maitre d’ texts me and tells me he will let us in.

Gio wants to take a car to the house, but I live just down the street and so I convince him to walk. The night feels good. What we talk about on the way home I cannot tell you.

Tom House is quiet. Everything was immaculate for the festival when we left, but now garbage is strewn across the yard and nothing looks tidy and I feel as worried as a person as fucked up as me can feel.

Durk answers the door, all messy haired and crazy looking like the yard, and inside, the house is a mess too. I ask what happened and he says there was a flood. We ask if we can help, the festival is tomorrow, but Durk ushers us to bed.

Gio is rough and his dick is big and it hurts me, but I like it. That ripe smell is back, but something has changed in me and I want to eat the fruit. Gio pulls his cock from my ass and shoves it down throat. He asks if I have a rubber band and I do not have a rubber band so Gio pulls a shoelace from one of my shoes and wraps his balls and cock in tight loops. His genitals look like they are suffocating, but how can a cock breathe when it is so deep inside of me anyway.

I say I am cumming and Gio says he wants me to cum and both of us release our orgasms.

Durk is in the kitchen when we come down for water, and we are naked and the shoelace is still wrapped around Gio–knotted and messy–and all three of us smile at each other. All three of us understand this moment. Gio and I both drink one full glass of water. We ask Durk if we can help, the place looks a mess, but durk says there are people coming soon. I wonder what time it is. I wonder who is coming.

Gio leads me toward the back door to the garden. Durk says it’s cold out there, but we cannot feel temperature and so we venture outside anyway.

The garden is designed for fucking and we find a crooked bed on one of the terraces and we fuck in the garden as the sun comes up. The wool blanket scratches my back and Gio scratches my insides and I am falling asleep but Gio is pulling me upstairs.

It is morning now and I want to fall asleep before it gets too bright out, but Gio only wants to keep fucking and fucking and fucking me. If there was any sensation left in my body it might be sore, but right now I have become a pocket of flesh for Gio to fill with his cock and his cum and whatever else he wants to put inside of me.

I am not sure if I sleep, but when I hear people setting up for the festival outside I get out of bed. Gio is passed out and when I try to wake him he says ten more minutes.

Downstairs the house does not look as immaculate as it once did, but by some small miracle there is no trace of the flood. It looks like we are having a festival. On the north end of the house there is a lounge next to the new Homo Riot mural. In this lounge people will smoke cigarettes and take photographs all weekend. There is a bar on the back porch, stacked with bottles and beer and little things to nibble. I will not attend this bar because I will only drink alcohol from other men’s glasses and I will only nibble on men. Wrapped around the south side of the house art vendors have pitched tents for selling their work and inside the entire first floor of the house there are book vendors like Taschen and Rizzoli and Bruno Gmunder. Everything is erotic and romantic and queer as fuck.

Ruben and Gio are selling work next to each other. Between them there is a chaise lounge which we will lay memories across for three days. Behind the chaise we keep a bottle of jesus juice AKA the martini bar, which is really just more of Ruben’s specialty (a bottle of vodka with some soda water and lemonade). We will swig this from the bottled because we have no cups. We all kiss on the mouth anyway.

When I go back upstairs to wake Gio he will not leave my bed. This annoys me because he has kept me up all night, but I let Gio sleep halfway through the day anyway. I wander the grounds downstairs. I take off my clothes. I stand in for a figure drawing session. Miguel asks me to pose like a hustler, only I don’t really know what a hustler poses like, so Miguel ends up directing me. He paints me more butch than I am, which I like. He signs the painting and he gives it to me.

I bring the artwork up to my room where I now have a growing collection of gifts. Gio is still sleeping. There is a piece of chocolate cake on my desk and I take a few bites. Suddenly Gio is awake. He asks me how I can eat cake when he is going to fuck me all weekend and I tell him to figure it out. Gio pulls me in bed and he fucks me until he is awake enough to get on with his day. I am happy to have more of Gio to carry around inside of me. Gio puts on the little red dress from last night, and it suits him. We both go downstairs.

Now the festival is really alive, with people buying art and books, but mostly drinking and smoking and talking about fucking each other. The dj is playing every gay anthem that was ever made and I know in this moment that being queer is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I make the rounds passing out kisses and letting festival goers slap my ass. Javi is at the front of the yard selling his magazines. He is staying in the house all weekend, and he is as handsome as I remember him. Before there was Gio my sex plan was Javi, but Gio stormed into the picture like the first day of my life. Now all I want is Gio’s uncut piece of paradise. I wonder if Javi can tell that Gio has had me seven times since yesterday. I wonder if festival goers can recognize his smell on me. Javi and I talk pleasantly and he touches me in a cordial I want to fuck you way, which is nice enough, but also makes me nervous if someone is watching.

I do not belong to Gio and Gio does not belong to anything, not even his husband in New York, but this weekend I want him to be my man. I think I am in love with Gio. Everyone is though.

For a while Gio is busy and so I decoupage a boot black chair where a dyke is shining leather boots. My friend Joe meets me there and we get fucking high, which eases our hangovers, and for a few hours we dip our hands in glue and we paste old magazine cutouts onto the wooden box. When the weed drops out I remember to remember Gio. I wash my hands. The day is late now. I am tired of my outfit so I go upstairs and I put on a little black dress. This dress is tight and leather and even though it was made for a woman it looks like it was made for me. The dress makes me look masc as fuck. When I wear this dress I look like the type of bottom that can take a big piece of flesh.

Downstairs I promenade my new look and everyone asks if they can fuck me to which I tell them I am already sore on someone else. When I see Gio he slides his hand up the backside of my dress and this time I am not wearing underwear and his finger feels a place that no one can see.

The gang’s all back together now. We have never once stopped drinking. We are tired and we are hungry, but the sun is still up, and the night ahead is only the second bend in this marathon. Like a film played backwards we trip upstairs to my room for some powdered willpower. On my copy of Metamorphoses Alex arranges our dinner in tight white lines and we are already more awake before he rolls the dollar. I am looking Ruben in the eyes when Gio lifts the back of my dress and slides his perpetually erect cock inside of me. Ruben can see the size of Gio on my face, and before today I might have pushed Gio away, but something inside of me has let go. Gio is right where I want him.

We all line up for dinner and Gio is kissing me and his large hard cock is making a tent out of his red dress. He poses for a photo opp, and when the photo isn’t right it becomes a full production photo-shoot. The only problem is that Gio has lost his erection. I am sitting on the bed and Gio is sitting on my face and his cock is swelling inside of my throat and even though the dress is covering us there is no mystery in this moment. Gio is hard again and we get the photo for his instagram.

Ruben and Stuart leave the room and Alex lies down on my bed and Gio asks to fuck me. I look over my shoulder and Alex’s eyebrows are raised in a dare and when I protest Gio tells me that Alex is like a brother to him. We do not take off our dresses but Gio is already inside of me. It is hard not to moan because that is how big Gio is, but I am trying to be considerate of Alex. Each time Gio thrusts inside of me, my head knocks against Alex’s head and I can’t see Alex but I am pretty sure he is taking photographs. My legs are draped over Gio’s shoulders and he is standing in front of my backside holding up my ass to penetrate it. The view has got to be incredible.

Gio yanks himself from me in one quick motion and I am worried about shit getting on the front of his new dress. He takes me to the bathroom and leans me over the tub and now I am moaning a little louder than I was before.

Alex is knocking on the bathroom door. Someone wants to buy one of Gio’s paintings. I sit on the toilet and wipe myself clean. While Gio is washing himself in the tub, I slip out of the bathroom and back to the festival. Javi compliments me, and I twirl, and I remember that he is staying here tonight if I need him.

Stuart has artwork showing at an exhibition in West Adams. It is the opening night and we decide to stop by for a quick once around. For some unknown reason I offer to drive. It takes a while to get everyone organized but we are barreling down I-10 now. We are sort of in a hurry to get back but we are also happy to have a change of scenery. Alex has left to meet a friend. Stuart sits shotgun because after all it is his exhibition and Ruben and Gio and Joe sit in the back. Gio has sold a painting and he is a small fortune richer.

I shuffle through my phone for some rap because that is what I am in the mood for and Ruben tells me to get off my phone while I am driving and I do not get off my phone because at this moment that is the least of our worries.

We make it to the hospital alive and I detach from the group, I guess because I need a moment. I don’t care about art for a little while and so I muse through the halls and stare through the paintings and I focus on my breathing. As I round a corner of the hospital (the exhibition is in an old abandoned hospital) Gio is at the end of the corridor. He is talking to some thinner younger version of me who is blue haired; his eyes are sparkling with Gio’s reflection. I can see that the boy is smitten and Gio is happy enough and I want to be jealous, but I can’t be. Every man I have ever loved has wanted me put in a cage (except for Gio) and I will not do the same to him.

I roam the halls a while alone and then I feel Gio at my side and he is kissing my neck and saying, let’s find the others and get back to the festival.

The gang takes a photo in front of the hospital and all of us look like madmen. We frighten a few people in the parking lot which gives me pleasure. When we ride back to the festival we listen to something soft and low and the boys complain, but I don’t care.

The night has fallen. Everything is lit up and we are lit up and I didn’t realize how long I could sustain a buzz until I became a funnel to be poured into.

I let my girlfriend Houston into the front gate. The ticket man asks what I am going to pay him and I tell him I will sit on his lap later. He laughs because he knows it is a joke.

Houston enters the party. She is thin and gorgeous like me, but she is not drunk and high and sleep deprived like me. For a long time we share a big leather chair in the lounge while everyone drones on and on about some thing or another. Gio comes by and lets me pick out one of his pieces and I don’t realize until later that this is his trade for the dress.

Houston is not wild like me, but I can tell that she loves Gio too and I wonder if he really is the devil. I make circles around the party until everyone slowly starts to dissolve from the grounds.

Houston and I wind up on the front porch with my housemate Sharp, who is a tattooed biker gay of a bygone era. He is dripping in silver chains and he has the same long hair and bangs he had in the ’80s–his smile is warmer now. Sharp is just as cool as he was then, but now he doesn’t have to try. Now he requests Whitney for the last song and we all sing into the night that we wanna feel the heat with somebody. We all wanna dance with somebody who loves us.

The exodus is to the mouth of Silver Lake where a gay dive bar sits precariously on the corner of a 5 way intersection. My memories are fragmented but I remember sitting in the back seat with Gio and the blue haired boy. I can smell Gio’s ripeness but this time it is that younger thinner boy who is tugging on him.

I stand alone in the bar. Houston is gone. And as soon as everyone knows that Gio has someone else I become an easy target. Javi makes it to me first and all I want is to leave with him, but before we leave we round up some boys and do more coke in the girls bathroom; there are no girls here.

I lay naked in my bed waiting for Javi. There is a part of me that is so afraid that Gio will come home, but I know that is wishful thinking.

Javi lets himself into my room all gentle. He is sweet and he tells me over and over that he just wants to make me feel good. I don’t want to have sex, but I am naked in bed with a man who desires me. These are the situations you cannot find your way out of. I conceded hours ago that Javi would have me; under different circumstances I would have wanted it more.

Javi climbs on top of me and puts poppers beneath my nose and even though I do not want them he keeps them there until I have to inhale. I am dizzy already and so the drug is only a smell. Javi tells me he is clean but that we should use a condom and I tell him I am too reckless for condoms. At this point what does it matter. He tells me that I am a slut, and that he likes that about me. In my head I am saying feminist things but outside I am broken by sex and booze and drugs and three days without sleeping and so when Javi slides his large cock inside of me, I lie mostly still. I hope that Javi is enjoying himself–I think that he cums inside of me.

After sex Javi holds me and he is a soft sheet of leather. This is my favorite part.

In the morning, I meet Houston at our favorite spot in the neighborhood, a little streetside cafe where you order at the window. I eat the first full meal I have eaten in days. I drink a black coffee. I drink water. I tell houston all of the things that I have done. Even though I eat as slow as I can, it doesn’t take enough time. Houston is not dressed for the festival, she was supposed to wear a sexy white dress, but I cannot be alone right now and so I convince her to come back to the house with me as she is.

At the house we lie on the outdoor bed where two nights ago Gio fucked me. We look at the sky. We don’t talk much, but I am happy she is with me. Today I am reading some of my writing at the festival and I am so nervous. It has been some time since I have read before a crowd. I want to start drinking, but I promise myself to wait until after the reading.

I am afraid of seeing Gio, afraid that something has changed, afraid that life has moved on from us, but when I see him he is as warm as ever. He kisses me on the mouth and says hey baby, how was your night. I am embarrassed even to look at him, but I tell him my night was good. Good. He says.

The day continues. I read my words and then chase them down with mezcal. It is the last day of the festival. It is that type of day.

My body is so tired but I don’t want anything to end. In my bedroom there is a pile of artwork that has been gifted to me. There is also a pile of magazines from Javi. I count my gifts and each one is a memory. On my way downstairs I run into Gio. I left something in your room, he says. I follow him back up.

Can I help you with anything? I ask him. He asks if I want to give him a blow job. I do. He takes of his pants and says maybe we should just fuck, which I am very grateful for. I pull my shorts to my ankles and I climb onto the bed and Gio fucks me from behind while I take it on all fours. I never get hard and it doesn’t take long, but Gio comes inside of me one last time. He is the first person I am happy to take with me like this. Most days I am looking for an orgasm, but Gio gave me more than that. He gave me his baby (that’s the stupid joke Gio would make).

We pull on our clothes and we go back to the festival. Everyone is packing up their things and I am overcome with a heavy sadness. I offer to take Gio to the airport because I am not ready to part with him. As we are on our way out Javi is on his way to dinner and the Dolly Parton concert. He reminds me that he is staying in the house one last night and that he will see me later.

On the way to the airport Gio and I don’t talk much. There are too many things to say. I am happy with our beautiful silence. I know that this is just another page in Gio’s book. Gio is another page in my book too, but for whatever reason he feels like the first page.

Gio kisses me goodbye and he tells me to have fun in Argentina–I leave next week. His last words are, never get in the car with only one other man, make sure there are many men, because you don’t want to put yourself at risk for one dick.

After I drop Gio off, I treat myself like a sick patient. I drink a bowl of hot soup. I take a bath. I get into bed early.

Javi is texting me and I know that when he gets back to the house he will be looking for me. I tell him to come into my room, no matter how late it is. Tonight, I am afraid of sleeping, or rather not sleeping, alone.

When Javi arrives I am lying awake with my eyes open in the dark. The door creaks open and his muffled footsteps on the hardwood floors are welcome whispers. From the folds of my fortress I coo a quiet hello. Javi gets into bed softly. He is so worried that he has woken me from my sleep, but how could I sleep on a night like this. I am so tired, but how could I sleep.

Javi and I talk for a long time. I have sobered up a bit from my bender and I tell Javi right away that I am too sore to be penetrated, at least until morning. He is respectful, of course. Javi is tender. He cradles me in his supple arms and we talk through the night.

In the morning we have gentle sex and this is a nice end to things. We have breakfast and we continue our conversation from the night and Javi is so easy to talk to. This is a nice end to things.

Florian Hetz – “ECHO PARK” | 25th February | TOM House

Shot During the Artist’s Residency at Tom of Finland Foundation

my starting point for this work was a quote
by tom of finland from his first fine art book in 1988:

At the time when I became aware of my sexual direction, before World War II, all Gay activity was forbidden by law in most countries. The Gay men that I met felt ashamed and guilty, like belonging to lower human category because they had no right to enjoy their different sexuality. In my opinion it was very unfair, but even though I had to hide my own desires – or maybe because of it – I started drawing fantasies of free and happy Gay men.

in 2018, when a majority of americans still say
they feel uncomfortable with LGBTQ people,
and the rate of hate crimes against the queer community
is increasing globally,
i felt the strong need to portray gay sexuality and life in
its diversity in the USA.

tom house in echo park, where i have been staying for
three months, is the perfect backdrop for it.
tom of finland (born tokou laaksonen) lived here during the
last decade of his life and established
tom of finland foundation with durk dehner in 1984.
over the years the house and the foundation have been
the home to numerous gay artists and the
playground, shelter and safe space for many queer people.
it functions as a home, a sanctuary and a museum at the
same time.

i had the privilege to live here from
1st december to 28th february 2018.

this work is a little hommage to the utopia
of sexual freedom that tom created for all gay men.

join me at 3p for a small presentation of the work i did during my artist residency.

Florian Hetz – “ECHO PARK” | 25th February | TOM House

Shot During the Artist’s Residency at Tom of Finland Foundation

my starting point for this work was a quote
by tom of finland from his first fine art book in 1988:

At the time when I became aware of my sexual direction, before World War II, all Gay activity was forbidden by law in most countries. The Gay men that I met felt ashamed and guilty, like belonging to lower human category because they had no right to enjoy their different sexuality. In my opinion it was very unfair, but even though I had to hide my own desires – or maybe because of it – I started drawing fantasies of free and happy Gay men.

in 2018, when a majority of americans still say
they feel uncomfortable with LGBTQ people,
and the rate of hate crimes against the queer community
is increasing globally,
i felt the strong need to portray gay sexuality and life in
its diversity in the USA.

tom house in echo park, where i have been staying for
three months, is the perfect backdrop for it.
tom of finland (born tokou laaksonen) lived here during the
last decade of his life and established
tom of finland foundation with durk dehner in 1984.
over the years the house and the foundation have been
the home to numerous gay artists and the
playground, shelter and safe space for many queer people.
it functions as a home, a sanctuary and a museum at the
same time.

i had the privilege to live here from
1st december to 28th february 2018.

this work is a little hommage to the utopia
of sexual freedom that tom created for all gay men.

join me at 3p for a small presentation of the work i did during my artist residency.

Tom of Finland Tableaux Vivant @ TOM House | 16th February | LA

Logo_Tom-Of-Finland-Foundation_sm

and
Mr. Sister Leather 2014

Invite the Leather Community to a Live Art Show

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1987, Graphite on paper, #87.04, © 1987 Tom of Finland Foundation
TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991)
Untitled, 1987, Graphite on paper, #87.04
© 1987 Tom of Finland Foundation

The tableaux vivant (living picture) includes a showcase
of some well known pieces of TOM’s art.

Suggested $10 donation for
Tom of Finland Foundation and Grant Park Foundation

Light Refreshments

Door Prizes from 665, Wet and Tom of Finland Foundation.

If you are an artist, be sure to bring your sketch pad!

Sunday, 3:30p

TOM House
(Echo Park)
1421 Laveta Terrace
Los Angeles, California  90026

Antonio Da Silva – filmmaker

Antonio_Da_Silva_picI am an award-winning Portuguese artist filmmaker currently doing a residency at Tom of Finland Foundation. With the objective of combining my interests in cinema, performance and visual arts, I undertook two master degrees in London, the first in Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins and the second in Dance for the Screen at The Place – London Contemporary Dance School. Experimenting is the core of my work, I am interested in exploring different artistic genres, both in terms of technique and content.

the-penis-can-take-part-in-poetry-01

My practice is driven by daily routines and personal experiences. I have always been fascinated by male sex and sexuality. I became increasingly frustrated with how moving image explored this and have begun to make it the subject of my films over the last four years. My films explore such topics as cruising and public sex, internet hook ups and performance. I do not consider myself a pornographer but a filmmaker who uses my background to choreograph short films with explicit sex themes.

My films are regularly screened at festivals worldwide.

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ANTONIO DA SILVA | TOM House Exit Interview

Summer 2016 artist-in-resident, Antonio Da Silva, discusses his time at TOM House with Durk Dehner, shot and edited by da Silva.

Artist-in-residence Mies Mikkonen

Mies Mikkonen is part of Tom of Finland Foundation’s Artist-in-Residence program. In 2011, he made a documentary about Tom of Finland.

I’m interested in creating metaphysical works where the laws of the imagination triumph over the laws of reality. I believe that art is still something that we don’t understand at all and something that probably has been very ill-defined in the past, mostly by art critics and theoreticians, whose minds are in a prison of academic rigidity. Starting from film school I’ve made movies with both fiction and documentary approaches. I’ve also taught and lectured on film, and I’m a regular writer for the Finnish exploitation/arthouse film publication Elitisti.

I have been tackling two projects both in pre-production. The primary one is an unusual documentary film I am going to direct called DREAMS OF THE BLIND. The film, utilizing multiple visual styles and to be shot on several formats, seeks to convey the experience of blind people regaining their sight and seeing inside their dreams. The film will be a very visually oriented one, with voice-over monologues spoken, and the text being based on interviews I have conducted with blind people. The end result seeks not to be a conventional movie, but more like a cinematic equivalent of the Visionary Art movement. Principal photography on the project will start later this year.

The second one is still more in development, and it is a philosophical science fiction feature film that’s to be directed by my mentor, film-maker Maria Ruotsala. So basically my regiment has been to write these two screenplays while I’m here enjoying the California sun – and doing anything else creative that pops into mind, natürlich. TOM House is a Mecca for the connoisseur and all the folks here are terrific.

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Mies with his Pixelvision in TOM House.

Currently, before leaving I am creating a short film shot on TOM House for the Foundation’s collection, using the PXL-2000 Pixelvision camera, a toy camcorder from the 1980s, which records B/W moving images into audio cassettes (!). This camera was a flop in its initial release, but has developed a cult reputation starting from the early 1990s with a wildly different demographic than the one it was intended for: experimental and underground film-makers. It seems a fitting instrument to create an homage to the place where I’ve dwelled the past couple o’ months. -MMM

 

TOM House – “Botanical Masterpiece”

Creator | Landscape Designer | Horticulturalist | Greenskeeper | Artist 

CARRINGTON GALEN

Spots to lounge and enjoy views of Los Angeles.
And a slightly phallic cactus garden… 

To arrange a tour of
TOM House
please call
213.250.1685 

Meet TOM House artist-in-residence – Stuart Sandford

Stuart is currently staying at Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles.

Stuart and new friend.

Stuart and new friend.

He’s a young artist we met in London who works with the male form and is creating a series of statues titled Sebastian that is inspired by the myth of Narcissus, and Antinous (Emperor Hadrian’s lover).

STUART SANDFORD, Sebastian, 2014, Painted steel, 8' x 4' x 2.5', © Stuart Sandford

STUART SANDFORD, Sebastian, 2014, Painted steel, 8′ x 4′ x 2.5′, © Stuart Sandford

Stuart would like to meet you, and you can view his work here. Please email him and say “hello”.

 


STUART SANDFORD | TOM House Exit Interview

Artist-in-resident, Stuart Sandford, discusses his time at TOM House with Durk Dehner.

Why Queer Art is Relevant

It might seem somewhat self-serving for me to try to make the case for homoerotic art produced within the Gay community (as opposed to the corporate marketing of barely clad sports figures and whatnot). Then again, who is in a better position to address the issue than someone like me who has made a living in this particular field for over twenty years? So if my assessment/argument seems tiresomely biased… well, just take that into account if you feel the need to respond, correct or refute my basic premise.

MICHAEL KIRWAN, Uncut (Detail), 2012, Markers on paper

We as a tribe have existed for thousands of years. Our existence was mostly isolated and necessarily secretive because I imagine that from pretty early on there were elements in society (religious outfits in particular) that abhorred the idea of certain people willingly disregarding the biological imperative to procreate. Queers weren’t following the rules. Queers were actively defying the authorities that determined the “proper” way to live and thus we were relegated to criminal status for exercising our sexual autonomy. We plied our trade in the dark, becoming experts at lying and deceiving in order to survive.

I’m talking about hardcore Homos here, not the Straight guy who occasionally assents to a blowjob in a rest stop or the men who by virtue of circumstances (early cowboys, miners, trappers, sailors, those at all boy/men institutions, prisoners, etc.) had little or no access to women and enough privacy and libido to engage in casual sodomy. We, the real Queers, who define ourselves by our attraction and desire for other men [just an aside here, I speak only for the male population of Homos unless I specify otherwise. Lesbians are capable enough to describe their own views and positions] are a separate and special division of the human race. Once we understand and accept that the cultural insistence that “boy meets girl” doesn’t apply to us, we are given a gift. From an early age (in most cases), we realize that what is taken for granted as “true” is fluid and we can and do question all the other assumptions that society demands we uphold unconditionally. We are armed with the knowledge that they lie or are ignorant; that their interpretation of morality are man-made constructions; and that we must adhere to a level of self-reliance several degrees above what “normal” people require. WE know our truth and are fortuitous enough to glean other “big picture” truths about the world, about human psychology, about social manipulation, and how those who claim the authority to control our behavior are our enemies.

What differentiates us from them is sex. We are HOMOSEXUALS. It’s not the color pink or Judy Garland or decorating skills or our gentle natures that divide us from the breeding population. We suck cock. We get fucked. We go prowling for other horny men to engage in Queer sexual activity. We study the crotches of other males on the bus. We are regularly looking for opportunities to exercise our faggot imperatives. That is our defining characteristic. That is who and what we are. It is what connects us and the graphic representations of our “life” give us all a measure of strength and confidence that for hundreds of years was denied us. You know who originally stole our imagery? The Catholic Church. They controlled the art and the myriad examples of naked and near-naked men usually depicted in situations of helplessness. St. Sebastian was an iconic “gay” figure for centuries, writhing in pain/pleasure while tied to a tree and pierced strategically by arrows. The Catholic elite sold their entire “faith” on the portrayal of Christ, almost completely naked and nailed to a cross. It’s no wonder fags were always drawn to that institution, spending their entire youth staring at the crucified Jesus and being indoctrinated with the belief that this man loves you and needs you to love him, fervently and forever. Of all the episodes attributed to Christ’s life, why did they select this part of the fable to exploit? There are no statues of John Kennedy with a massive hole in his head or old, fat Elvis collapsed on a bathroom floor. No, the Roman Catholic Church from almost it’s inception decided to market their organization using Homoerotic themes to lure in it’s target audience, and possibly to fill the ranks of it’s hierarchy with Queers who were unparalleled in their skills of manipulation, creating illusion and orchestrating behind-the-scenes power coups.

I got a little off-track there. The point was that for the last sixty years or so, we Fags have created and disseminated our own artistic vision of ourselves and did not have to rely on sources that might inadvertently show some cock or muscle or Queer affection in a different context. The iconography of Tom of Finland absolutely unified the Gay community to the extent where the Gay Liberation movement was possible. We suddenly had a sensory commonality that was exclusively our own, not patched together bits and pieces from the detritus of the Straight culture. It’s important that we control the language that describes us. It’s important that we produce the visual archaeology of our existence. It’s important that we retain our own voice, our own power, our own unique sensibilities.

So, please help keep people like me in business. The Gay-porn, print magazines have mostly dried up and now there are hardly any commercial venues open to people who create Gay erotic artwork. I know of at least eight very good artists who have had to get out of the business because there no longer is a reliable industry from which we can derive adequate incomes. If we are not doing it anymore, some corporate entity who has never been on his knees covered in cum from multiple sources somewhere in a park at 4:00 a.m. will be tasked with telling the world who we are. Do not hand over our self-identification to folks that might not have our best interest at heart. Buy Gay art books from tlagay.com, and other similar outlets, but I would suggest getting it from a Gay bookstore —they too are dying out and we really need to support ALL Queer businesses), go to Queer film festivals, dine at Queer-centric eateries. The more independent money we have invested in our community, the better off we will all be when the Straight people decide to vilify us again in the future. And that will happen. When times get tough, scapegoating weaker sectors of society becomes a blood sport. As so many of us disperse out of the Gay ghettos into new territories in an effort to assimilate and be “just like them,” we are weakening our safe havens, our communal identity, and ultimately the core essence that provides whatever protection we might have in a decidedly hostile world. Buy original art. Of course I’d like to have hundreds of collectors from all over the world determined to own scads of Kirwan drawings, but there are plenty of other artists that also need the funding, the accolades, and the financial security to continue telling our own stories. Our identity is based on our sexuality and we need those representations to affirm and express our very being.

Hang a drawing of some cocksuckers at work on your wall TODAY!

Gay Pride, my brethren, Gay Pride. Nothing else matters.

Michael Kirwan

ARTIST TESTIMONIALS

“I’m honored that my first touch with the USA was an historical space – TOM House. Thank you for the feeling of home and safety.”

– David Lindert


“It was quite unclear and exciting what would be awaiting me in Los Angeles at the Tom of Finland House. From a personal interest in erotic art, and wanting to develop my skills as an artist I was lucky to find out about this special residency. A residency cultivated with so much passion and intention, and a place of great knowledge. It was a true adventure, and a possibility for me to grow as an artist and as a person. It helped me to sharpen my vision, but also enjoy the safe and inspiring surrounding, with its great history. All in all a fantastic heartwarming experience.”

– Bas Kosters

HOW TO APPLY

APPLY NOW

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Applicants that are not selected for this upcoming cycle are encourage to apply once again next year.

Applicants must also choose what time of year they would like to be at the house. (Winter: December through March,  Summer: June through September, and Fall: September through December).

Applications are open until 11:59p PST 31st October, 2021.

QUESTIONS

Any questions can be directed to Hatt Merlino at Residency@TomOfFinland.org.

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