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OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.

DISPATCH AUTUMN 2006

an even dozen:
the 12th annual west hollywood -
los angeles erotic art fair weekend

by dan berkowitz

On Columbus Day Weekend, in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park, the Foundation will present its 12th Annual West Hollywood - Los Angles Erotic Art Fair Weekend. The first Fair was the brainchild of artist and former Foundation administrator Valentine Hooven, and when it happened in 1995, it was the first — and only — such gathering of erotic artists in the world. In the intervening years, other Fairs have sprung up, and some may be larger, but the Tom of Finland Fair is still the original and the best, natch!

However, what’s most remarkable is not that the Fair has expanded every year — which it has — or that the quality of the art keeps getting higher — which it does — but that it has become a genuine cultural milestone, eagerly anticipated and embraced by both the gay community and a widening circle in the mainstream.

Since 2003, the Fair has been co-sponsored not only by the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, but also by the City itself: each year since, the City Council has unanimously voted to make the Foundation’s Fair a “City” event. This not only bestows enormous prestige upon the Fair, but has the very practical effect of allowing the Foundation to hold the event on city property for no charge. — Before 2003, we’d had to pay about $10,000 in rent to hold the Fair at a private space.

Last year, the City’s Convention and Visitors Bureau came onboard as a co-sponsor as well, and began promoting the Weekend as a “destination event” at gay travel expos across the U. S. and in Canada. The CVB’s help also enabled us to move our annual Awards Banquet, held during the weekend, to a posh West Hollywood hotel — the sight of dozens of leather-clad Tom’s men and women in a gold-and-white banquet room was a hoot!

And the people! The straight male Deputy Consul General of Finland welcomed the crowd to the Fair by telling them Tom was Finland’s “favorite son,” the straight female mayor of West Hollywood presented the Foundation with a proclamation signed by the entire City Council, and a number of heterosexual couples and groups of straight women showed up to browse the artists’ booths and buy some much-needed erotica. (Don’t worry, though, it’s a Tom of Finland event: straight people are still in the minority.)

West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land (left)
presents a proclamation to the Foundation.
Receiving are Foundation board members
Dan Berkowtiz, Scott and Durk Dehner.
Photo: Jay Lawton

This year, the Fair will be even bigger and better, thanks in part to our first government grant! The City of West Hollywood, on the recommendation of its Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, made an “arts grant” of $6,750 to the Foundation, to help in presenting the Fair. This will come in incredibly useful, as we are moving to our largest space yet — Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park — and will need to construct an elaborate lighting system to make sure the art is properly displayed.

So if you live in SoCal — or need a long weekend’s getaway to the land of sun and surf — consider coming to the Fair and its attendant activities. The Weekend kicks off with an Artists Reception at the newly-renovated Headquarters on Friday night, and the Fair itself is open to the public both Saturday and Sunday. The Fair features live modeling each day, and a symposium each afternoon, all included in the $10 admission.

And at that swell banquet on Saturday night — once again at the beautiful Wyndham Bel Age Hotel — we’ll induct Michael Childers into the Erotic Artist Hall of Fame, present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Harvey S. Shipley Miller and bestow the Cultural Icon Award to Rod McKuen.

Who could ask for anything more?


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