“My aim is not to create an ideal but to draw beautiful men who love each other and are proud of it.” — Touko Laaksonen (Tom of Finland)*
Uniforms, muscles, and same-sex abandon aside, a key component in the liberating force of Laaksonen’s art was the smiles his lumberjacks and leathermen exchanged while they went about their business, giving and taking pleasure.
Laaksonen’s imagery provided a necessary tonic to the “tragic homosexual” narrative that marked much of the twentieth century’s imagery and literature. By creating a shame-free culture, and “eroticizing the symbols of heterosexual musculinity and making them rebound onto themselves, Tom challenged the qualities read into them by straight society… He largely canceled out the image of the male as eternally dominant by consistently shifting the balance of power… His hyper-masculine universe is not a confirmation of male logic, but its violation.” — Micha Ramakers**
Tom’s life and work can be seen on the big screen in the new feature TOM OF FINLAND, directed by Dome Karukoski. Tom is played by Pekka Strang, who will appear in person on opening night.
TOM OF FINLAND, through November 2.
AMC DINE-IN SUNSET, 8000 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood.
TOM OF FINLAND—PEKKA STRANG Q & A, Friday, October 20, after 7 pm show.
S.R. SHARP (Vice-President, Tom of Finland Foundation) and MARC BELLENGER (Mr. Long Beach Leather 2013) Q & A, Saturday, October 21, after the 7 pm show.
TOM OF FINLAND, through October 26.
NUART THEATRE, 11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Los Angeles.
*Interview with Patrick Sarfati, Rebel.
**Micha Ramakers, title essay in Tom of Finland: The Art of Pleasure (Cologne: Taschen, 2004), 28.
Touko Laaksonen/Tom of Finland, untitled (from the story, Beach Boys 2), 1971. Image credit: Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © Tom of Finland Foundation.
U.S. film poster, 2017.
Pekka Strang, as Touko/Tom.