Partying on the patio and inside with the archives at the cocktail mixer on Friday night at the Foundation

Though it's only five years old, the Foundation's two-day fair and exposition is now the granddaddy of erotic art. Artists and collectors from around the world know to come to the Fair to see an incomparable variety of erotic art, and to meet and buy directly from the artists who create it. This year's events are planned for October 15, 16, and 17. As usual the weekend starts off on Friday evening at the Foundation's headquarters in Echo Park with a cocktail mixer and exhibition from the Permanent Collection. Tom's L.A. home, a cozy 3-story craftsman style house, is the perfect setting for socializing (and cruising) and all the remarkable art is a great conversation starter for the attending artists and art-lovers.

The centerpiece of the Weekend is the Erotic Art Fair which starts on Saturday at 1pm. The venue once again is the bright and spacious upstairs space of L.A. Lofts at 6442 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood (enter on Cole). [Please note that the venue has changed for future fairs.] Once again 50 artists have been selected to provide a thorough variety of media, styles and erotic content of every orientation and gender. The price range is equally broad, allowing everyone to take something home for their `intimate' enjoyment and to support the artists at the same time. Nude models will show their stuff in the popular artist-at-work demonstrations and refreshments will be served at our Café Eros. If looking at the art (and the wide variety of equally exciting patrons) isn't enough, there are also lectures on artistic styles, motivation, marketing and other topics going on both days of the Fair. The Fair runs 1 - 7 pm on Saturday, and Noon - 6 pm on Sunday. Admission is $7 for members and $10 for non-members and all tickets are good for both days.

An artist's model ready to go to work and a small part of the enthusiastic art-loving crowd at the Fair

Also on Saturday, from 7 - 8:30 pm, the Tom of Finland Company Gallery will host the opening reception of an exhibition of work from the Foundation's latest Emerging Erotic Artist Contest (see article above). The Gallery is located at 1601 Griffith Park Blvd. in Silverlake at the intersection of Sunset and Edgecliffe. For information call 323-666-1052. Following the reception at 8:30 pm will be a reservations-only dinner at a nearby restaurant. Awards will be presented to the winners of the Emerging Artists Contest and a slide show will illustrate the history of erotica from material in the Foundation Archives.

For `early risers’ on Sunday a light breakfast will be served at L.A. Lofts from 10 am - Noon before the Fair begins. Interested parties will discuss methods for getting erotic art into mainstream galleries and media.

For dinner reservations or host-hotel information contact the Foundation at 213-250-1685 or for recorded information call the Hotline: 323-769-6292.

(L) Earlybirds explore one of the Art Fair's spacious light-filled rooms; Patrons enjoy refreshments at the Tom of Finland Company gallery opening. (R)

by Tony Mills, International Mr. Leather 1998

Honorary Foundation Board Member Tony Mills (L) examines the goods at last year’s Fair

On a sunny weekend afternoon I climb the stairs to the LA Lofts. A part of me wants to be at the beach on a beautiful day like this but I am curious. Half hoping to see some exciting artwork, and half hoping to see some, ah, `stimulating' sights, I make the decision to forego the lure of sand and sun and enter.

I am surprised. While Tom of Finland events I have attended were dark and somewhat ominous, I find myself in a large light-filled loft space with soaring ceilings more suited to a gallery showing. I am greeted by several hand-some faces familiar to me from the leather scene in Los Angeles and ushered into the first of three rooms filled with the works of talented artists. At each table sits the artist, readily available for conversation about his or her work. I find the entire spectrum of artists here from the well-known to those who are showing their work publicly for the first time. Nearly every genre is represented, not only paintings, sculpture, and photography but also truly innovative works in every possible form and medium. I am occupied and amused for hours.

The show in the audience rivals that of the event. The crowd at the Erotic Art Weekend is itself worth the cost of admission. As with Noah's famous Ark, there seems to be at least two of everything, demonstrating the universal appeal of the erotic. The Foundation has always worked very diligently to achieve diversity in its holdings and in its audience. Perhaps the only people who might not enjoy themselves are those who are too close-minded to appreciate this diversity. However, if you are like me and thrive on it, then you cannot help but have a great time. While the artwork is certainly formidable, it is the attitude of the artists and the people involved in the event that I find the most impressive. Rarely have I been amongst so diverse a group of individuals and never have I seen a group work so closely together. It was a far more rewarding way to spend a sunny afternoon than getting a tan.


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“…I named what I thought was an enormous sum. Without blinking an eye, he gathered up my life work and handed me the amount I asked for: $70… I didn’t expect more. Remember that homosexuality was forbidden in most of the Western world; so all those businesses were illegal, black market. I knew that they wouldn’t have paid me more anyway — or so I believed then.”
— Tom of Finland