Tom frequently exchanged letters or talked on the phone to men whom he had never met; and he tended to picture these unseen communicants as looking like his Tom of Finland drawings: impossibly handsome and muscular—godlike. He enjoyed it a lot more when he imagined he was dealing with men who looked like the characters he drew. Unfortunately, as time passed, he eventually met many of those same people. He would walk into a designated meeting place—a bar, a hotel lobby, wherever—and look around hopefully for a muscular young god. Alas, the person who came up and greeted him was never anything like a Tom’s Man.
This time he had an actual photograph of the man. At least, he thought he did. He had clipped out a picture from After Dark magazine, a popular 1970s publication with a closeted yet obviously gay-oriented point of view. The man in the photo was naked to the waist and he was a muscular blond god and his name was given as “Jonathan from Hawaii.”
While he was in America, Tom was to stay with a stranger, Durk Dehner, a man he knew only through correspondence.
The Tom of Finland image from 1974 (above) was used by a motorcycle club to announce a bike run. Durk saw the flyer pinned on the bulletin board at the Spike bar while he was cruising. Durk was compelled to pocket it. He then showed it to a recent good friend, Etienne the artist. Durk asked him if he knew who the artist was, Etienne said, “Oh sure, I know him, he’s Tom of Finland. If you really like his work, I know him by mail and can give you his address.”
SEE THIS PHOTO OF DURK BY TOM IN NY EXHIBITION ⬇️
Published: 16th August 2021Tags: #TomOfFinland101, 101 Quiz, The Official Life and Work of a Gay Hero