DISPATCH Winter 2001


The 6th Annual Tom of Finland Erotic Art Weekend hit Los Angeles October 13, 14, and 15, and made quite an impact. This largest erotic art gathering in the world incorporated several innovations this year, and became even more of a cultural event for the city.

erotic art weekend

Durk Dehner (2nd from left) speaks to the crowd at the Continental

The normal kickoff for the Weekend is the Friday night Opening Reception. But this year, the festivities were jump-started by a Champagne Cocktail Party on September 22, given for the Foundation by Michael Levine of Levine Communications, who was working with us on public relations. erotic art weekendThe party was held at The Continental – a restaurant partially owned by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. No, alas, they weren't there – but the party did include a number of friends of the Foundation, as well as representatives of the media.

(L to R) Crazy Sharon, Jeff Hill and
Dan Berkowitz drink a toast at the Continental

erotic art weekend

Volunteers Cal Smith (L) and Daniel Singer (R) man the door for the Friday night party

The Opening Reception itself, on Friday the 13th of October, proved to be another big hit. The largest crowd in memory mingled at the Tom of Finland House in Echo Park, enjoying wine and hors d'oeuvres amid a specially selected group of artworks from the Foundation's Permanent Collection.

Volunteer bartenders Jerry Gardsbane and Paul Kraus dispense liquid refreshment at the Friday night Opening
erotic art weekend
Party guests visit Tom's Room - where the artist lived and worked while in Los Angeles
erotic art weekend

erotic art weekend
Saturday morning, a group of Foundation volunteers showed up bright and early at L. A. Lofts for the all-important setup and artist load-in, and by the time the doors opened to the public at 1:00 PM, everything was (almost) in place. That afternoon, and then again on Sunday, record crowds swarmed through the Lofts – three hundred more people passed through the doors than attended the Fair in 1999.

(L to R) Artists Philip Hitchcock, Valentine Hooven and Jay Jorgensen receive their Fair credentials from Mary Jane

At the Foundation dinner on Saturday night, held for the first time in the Penthouse Restaurant of the Metropolitan Hotel with a spectacular view of Hollywood, artists and friends socialized over drinks and food. The program included Erotic Gallery by Mail curator Volker Morlock talking about the huge work by German artist Rinaldo Hopf, a tribute to Tom of Finland recently acquired by the Foundation, and on exhibit for the first time in the United States at the dinner. Volker was the one who actually picked up the artwork in Germany last summer after it was purchased for the Foundation by an anonymous benefactor.

erotic art weekendThen two special presentations were made. The Foundation's first Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Hugh Hefner. Dan Berkowitz made the presentation, and the Award – a clear acrylic obelisk (right), designed by Philip Hitchcock, and featuring an engraving of a Tom drawing – was accepted on Mr. Hefner's behalf by artist Kimberly Fox. And then artist and former Foundation Board member F. Valentine Hooven, author of The Life and Times of Tom of Finland presented the first Erotic Artist Hall of Fame Award, posthumously, to Tom of Finland. The Award, a plaque, was accepted by Foundation president Durk Dehner, who co-founded the organization with Tom. The evening was wrapped up by Board member Mike Goldie, who publicly thanked Foundation Administrator Mary Jane Richardson and co-worker Dan Berkowitz for all their hard work putting the Weekend together.

On Sunday morning, Mary Jane was again in the spotlight, as she moderated a panel discussion on the subject “Is It Art or Is It Pornography?” A small but lively crowd gathered at the Celebration Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood for continental breakfast, followed by spirited sparring with the panel, which included sexual activist and former Miss Missouri Taylor Marsh, artist Robert W. Richards, and Mark Harvey, Creative Director of FotoFactory Press publishers.

Then it was back to L. A. Lofts for the rest of Sunday, at the end of which more Foundation volunteers contributed their muscles and sweat in breaking down the site.

erotic art weekendThe weekend was successful in many ways. In addition to increasing the number of visitors to the Fair, we also were successful in getting more press coverage. In fact, we achieved a coup of sorts on the Saturday afternoon of the Weekend, when all-news KFWB, the most-listened-to radio station in the Los Angeles area, featured a live interview with Dan Berkowitz during the Fair. And on Sunday, anchor Sam Phillips and her cameraman toured the Fair, stopping to chat with a number of artists and visitors.

Artist Karin Swildens plays peekaboo with her sculptures

In another significant way, however, the Fair was not successful: though we had many more visitors than last year, they spent less money on art. Which means the Foundation's revenues – at the Fair, the artist takes 80% of the sales price, and the Foundation gets 20% – were lower. The challenge we face, therefore, is to attract not only a larger audience, but also more actual collectors - those people both here and abroad, who are looking to add to their collections, and would see the Fair as an ideal opportunity to do so. We'll be spending a lot of time this year targeting this very special group.

erotic art weekendNOTE: For the first time, the Foundation published a catalogue for the 2000 Fair. It's 44 pages, many in gorgeous color, and features listings for all the artists and many reproductions of their work – it's destined to become a collector's item. We sold the catalogues for $10 during the Erotic Art Weekend, and we still have a limited number available for purchase. If you'd like your own copy, send your check for $10 per catalogue to the Foundation (we'll even pay the postage!).

Volunteer Scott (R) surveys his domain





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"My drawings are primarily meant for guys who may have experienced misunderstanding and oppression and feel that they have somehow failed in their lives. I want to encourage them. I want to encourage this minority group, to tell them not to give up, to think positively about their act and whole being." (1990) — Tom of Finland