“Circus of Books” | 16th March | NY

Curated by David Fierman and Rachel Mason

Wilder Alison, Ron Athey, Adam Baran, Bengala, Erik Bergrin, Michael Bilsborough, Raynes Birkbeck, Seth Bogart, Chris Bogia, Kathe Burkhart, Deric Carner, Chivas Clem, Scott Covert, Vaginal Davis, Anne Doran, Thomas Dozol, Zackary Drucker, Ruben Esparza, Tom of Finland, Karen Finley, Benjamin Fredrickson, ektor garcia, Mariah Garnett, Mark Golamco, Jeff Grant, Michelle Handelman, Charles Hovland, Scott Hug, David Hurles, Stephen Irwin, William E. Jones, Wayne Koestenbaum, Mike Kuchar, Bruce LaBruce, Lucas Michael, Billy Miller, Bob Mizer, David Mramor, Narcissister, Dominic Nurre, Mel Ottenberg, Jack Pierson, Breyer P-Orridge, Pre-Echo Press, Fay Ray, Mariah Robertson, Dean Sameshima, Stuart Sandford, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Margie Schnibbe, Michael Stipe, Chris E. Vargas, Mark Verabioff, Jan Wandrag, Karlheinz Weinberger, Jimmy Wright, Dorian Wood

Growing up, I always assumed every store had an over 18 section. It was only when I got older that I realized my parents were in the business of hardcore gay porn. This was a completely strange thing for me, because this was not the world I knew to be of my parents; straight-laced, boring, and in my Mom’s case, religious. The world of sexual deviants, gender nonconforming transgressives and weirdos, that was my world, not theirs. And yet, it took me leaving Los Angeles for over a decade to fully comprehend what a massive role their two Circus of Books stores served for the community. It took making a documentary film to realize that they had nurtured a second family to the family they had at home. They had carved out their own special place as trusted shop owners who never judged anyone who showed up in their surreptitious aisles, even as the rest of the world cast down condemnation, to say nothing of other parents at our school. As the store was closing last week, a Vietnam Veteran walked through the doors and stood, unmoving in front of the register. My Mom had protested against Vietnam, and she proceeded to tell him how terrible the Vietnam war was, and he looked at her and said, ‘Thank you. This store is part of my history, and some of the best years of my life happened here.’
Rachel Mason, Director and Producer, Circus of Books (2019)

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (Preparatory Drawing), 1977, Graphite on paper, 16 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches (48.7 x 36 cm), Framed: 21 7/8 x 17 1/8 x 1 1/2 inches (55.6 x 43.5 x 3.8 cm)

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“Joy of Sin” | 2nd March | LA

This exhibition features Los Angeles based artists exploring cultural taboos and the liberation we can find by breaking them. The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, and that road is littered with both good intentions and shackles of societal restrictions. Cast off your hang ups, leave your baggage at home.

“I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.” ~ Oscar Wilde

The fifteen artists being shown have the courage to commit to their art with some very enjoyable sins: Ron Athey, Rick Castro, Zara Monet Feeney, Jennifer Precious Finch, Brian Grillo, Stephen Holman, Pleasant Gehman, Steve Diet Goedde, Linda Jacobson, Patrick Mcgilligan, Yasaman Moradi, Robert Rosenblum, Ken Salter, James P. Scott, Melinda R. Smith, and Rodriel Trammell.

Reception 6-9p
On view through 23rd March

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Ben Youdan’s “MASC – The Men of Los Angeles”

BEN YOUDAN (Briton, 1979-) at TOM House

I first met Ben when he was visiting Berlin for Folsom EU and must say that not only is his intricate art amazing, he is also one of the nicest people I have ever encountered!

Over afternoon coffee and cake as in Berlin tradition, he shared his story and about the processes he uses in making his artworks.

Ben’s pieces employ a wide variety of techniques and elements including collage, painting, printmaking and photography, to create imagery that takes inspiration from the iconography and printed collectibles of popular culture as well as Queer identity. His elaborate pieces explore themes such as fetish, glamour, masculinity, and sexuality. They are a true handmade product and a comment on the human condition in the context of the new media landscape.

Everybody needs some sparkle in their life

He has participated in the Homotopia arts festival, as well as the Liverpool Biennial, and Liverpool Pride. In addition to this, his work has been featured on Madonna’s latest world tour and a wide variety of group shows in the United States and across Europe. Since then,  Ben has had he has had three solo shows in the U.K.and an exhibition at the Liverpool Museum of Art in his hometown.  Then he accepted an offer to be an Artist in Residence of the Tom of Finland Foundation house in the Echo Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles.

Specifically for this Los Angeles exhibition Ben has created a series of six mixed media portraits in the unique and inspiring atmosphere of TOM house and has been facilitated by having the opportunity to make incredible connections within the Leather community of Los Angeles. The work seeks to embody the message of freedom contained in Tom of Finland’s oeuvre and attempts to contextualise this in a contemporary way that is a direct response to a variety of external influences.

The work seeks to be an exuberant celebration of male beauty, the male form and its erotic nature, by exploring the archetype of the Leatherman and challenging preconceptions of masculinity. There is a visual subtext of sensuality contained within the works that attempt to promote a sex-positive attitude.

This is all very important, as it has been created against a backdrop of troubling times. With the Internet being continually censored, and the neoconservatives appearing to have a prevailing influence in our culture that flies in the face of societal progression made from the 1960s to the present day, I strongly believe artists should make a conscious decision to react against this and fight back. Queer art is a protest. (bw)

OPENING 16th February

By Black Boot

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