Some spaces are full of magic. TOM House is undeniably one of them. Nestled in the hills of LA’s Echo Park neighborhood, the residence houses the Tom of Finland Foundation along with a vibrant community of gay crusaders, not to mention one of the largest collections of homoerotic art in the world.
In the summer of 2016, I was fortunate enough to be inducted into TOM House as its artist-in-residence, where I could work on a (forthcoming) collection of erotic nonfiction stories inspired by the space. In the beginning, I couldn’t comprehend how living there would completely transform me. Beyond my exposure to the archives housed onsite, I was embraced by a gay family, one that supported and encouraged me to develop into a more realized version of myself. TOM House, I learned, is home to a collective vision: to celebrate our nature as sexual beings.
As I write this, the whole place is bustling. The foundation is creating artwork for three European exhibitions shipping out this week. This kind of rumpus is common, but beneath the wild operation and the frequent events and artist collaborations, we are a loving ménage. In a rare quiet moment, I was able to snatch away the current head of the foundation and the house, Durk Dehner, who is, among other things, the former lover of Touko Laaksonen, the late artist originally behind the Tom of Finland moniker.
Durk is the head of our tribe. He’s the one who brought the magic and, ultimately, Tom of Finland to this very house. …
A video to support sex workers at risk during Covid-19
From Sydney to London and on, she's producing her own path
If we harnessed the anxious repression behind every fake smile on Zoom—let’s say on a Wednesday at 5pm—we’d solve the energy crisis. Or, we’d get “Block Colours” by Aria Wood! Currently based in London, Aria Wood is a singer/songwriter/producer/savage who left Sydney, Australia, to go get hers. “Block Colours” is a single in anticipation of her upcoming debut EP, Groovy Tunes, to be released independently. “Block Colours” takes what kills in dealing with shit people—the shut-in, useless emotion when someone tries you and you can’t react—and spins that into something that shimmers and shakes.
As March collapses into May, and the seasons lock themselves indoors, we need pop that processes dark thought to motion. Turn “Block Colours” on at 3AM, when you’ve lost yourself online, and see where it takes you.
Wood set off for London in 2019, her luggage stuffed with production gear. She doesn’t arrange on others’ beats; she creates and arranges her sounds alone. This means her songs are married to themselves at every layer, like Valentina’s makeup. The beat and the fantasy express one message, together (also like Valentina). When asked about producing, Wood replied:
“I like making sounds, continuing to try and understand what textures go together. Layering and shaping sound in different ways is like painting a picture. Even if I’m tired and unmotivated, I sit down and can’t stop doing it. I’ll work at it eight hours and somehow it’ll still feel good.”
Here for anyone who works eight hours to help us shake the demons off our backs. …
Charles Leslie is the renowned co-founder and owner of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York. We visited Charles in his iconic SoHo loft, often referred to as The Phallus Palace for its rich penile motifs. Surrounded by a small army of phalli, our conversation touched upon his acting career, his love life, the city’s gentrification, and Frank Sinatra’s dick.
Where did the name “The Phallus Palace” originate? It was a girlfriend who said, “I’m going to dub your place ‘The Penis Palace.’ ” I told that to another girlfriend, and she said, “Oh, Charles, that’s so crude. It needs a classier name — I’m going to call it ‘The Phallus Palace.’ ” And that stuck.
What was her name? Rita Kallerhoff, who is an artist. She lives in Morocco — she’s 72, living with her beautiful 39-year-old Moroccan lover. When she first came to New York, she didn’t know how to speak English. She was put in the hands of a woman who said, “Now darling, first I’m going to dress you properly. Then you’ll smoke a cigarette, read a magazine, and sit in the lobby of the Plaza Hotel. Sooner or later, someone will speak to you briefly and leave a room key in your hand. When you have that room key, you go to that room” — where she found some jerk waiting to fuck. She was told to accommodate him, which she did. Overnight, she became a very high-class call girl. …
We approached the GAYLETTER 420 community to show us how they are celebrating
The New York based performer has made quarantine more bearable with a series of spontaneous performances as Auntie Glam. We chatted with Auntie Glam about these strange times, and the joys of a Gin Daisy.
Where’s Auntie Glam’s accent from? Well, I wanted to do an accent that sounded fantasmatic — A fantasmatic accent, darling. I wanted something that was heightened and glorious. I wanted to emulate great, grand actresses of a certain age in a certain era. Just anything so I could have an opportunity to roll my tongue, darling.
It’s a little bit British but also a little transatlantic accent. Yes, well you know somebody who’s not really classy is going to try very hard to pretend they are.
How was Auntie Glam born? Well you know, darling, in the 89 to 90s I had a column in San Francisco called Glam on the Rampage where my character was Glamoretta Rampage. And Glamoretta Rampage covered the underground queer scene in San Francisco for the gay papers because in that time the gay papers there were relatively mainstream and I started writing about the queer kids and all the sort of shenanigans that was happening in the nightclubs. Then, when Kiki came along she got busy and moved to New York and just sort of forgot about me and left me back in San Francisco. At the time I was married to Elvis Herselvis, a lesbian Elvis impersonator. We went on Montel William’s show where the theme was Crossdressers Who Marry. It was very extravagant. A while ago, earlier this year Justin Vivian Bond was very tired, darling. She got very tired of talking about herself. She didn’t feel like leaving the house with the kittens. …