“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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RICK CASTRO “Fetish King: Seminal Photographs 1986 – 2019” | 6th April | TOM House

RICK CASTRO (American, 1958-), French Kiss-Ass, 1994, 20″x16″

The artist’s sex positive imagery is darkly erotic, elegant, and at times, sinister. A powerful and imaginative figure that emerged in the Los Angeles underground during the late ’80s, His photographs are characterized by potent and visceral tableaux, tinged with sadomasochism, leather and sexual pleasure. From the artist’s fetishizing of Tony Ward in the ’80s, to capturing moments, places and the people of the underground scene in Los Angeles nightlife in the ’90s and ’00s, he continues his pictorial career and fascination with lust, desire and kink producing elegant portraiture of celebrated artists and the demi-monde.

Curated by Rubén Esparza

RICK CASTRO (American, 1958-), Caught Smoking, 1992, 20″x16″

I consider myself a fetish artist.
Be it thru photography, film, writing and blogging; this is who I am.
I understand the term fetish to be broad, more so than most people are aware, or would like to admit.
Fetishistic desire reaches all aspects of life.

fet·ish ˈfet̬·ɪʃ
-A form of sexual (not exclusively) desire in which gratification is linked to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, person, practice, etc.
-Fixation—obsession—compulsion—mania—a driving force.
-An object thought to have magical powers; something that is empowered by something else.

The sexual revolution began in the late ’60s through the ’70s, perhaps ending in the ’80s with HIV/AIDS.
The ’90s marked the beginning of the fetish revolution, my most prolific period.
Early twenty-first century is all about fetish.
This is my time. I was once labeled “the fetish king” by the press. I accept the title.

This exhibition is a comprehensive journey of my photography, 1986 through 2019. Besides the themes of BDSM, lust and desire, I am presenting an in-your-face pushback to American censorship. If we accept these restrictions as a community, we’re doomed.

-Rick Castro, 2019

RICK CASTRO (American, 1958-), Perfect Bondage, 1998, 20″x16″

Born in Los Angeles in 1958, Rick Castro began his early career working as a fashion stylist and clothing designer. His clients over the years have included Bette Midler, David Bowie, Herb Ritts, Joel-Peter Witkin and magazines like Interview, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. He first became a freelance photographer in 1988, with his work appearing in international and local publications.

His first solo was at A Different Light Bookstore in Silver Lake, California, in 1988. Over the decades he has had numerous international exhibitions. Notable films includes his short films of hustler interviews in 1994 that inspired Bruce LaBruce to make the film Hustler White in 1996, in which he was co-director/writer. The film garnered great success internationally and is listed by the Los Angeles Times as one of the top 100 underground films of the twentieth century. Castro also directed a documentary for MTV called Plushies & Furries in 2001, a film which focused on the furry communities.

Over his 30 plus career, Castro has photographed producer Alan Poul, porn star Peter Berlin, author Gore Vidal, director Kenneth Anger, performance artist Ron Athey and the 14th Dalai Lama. Castro has created editorial photos for Christian Dior Homme, Cartier jewelry and other international fashion houses. He works closely with his friend, and designer, Rick Owens, realizing photographs that are notably more art than fashion.

Castro’s films are archived by UCLA Legacy Projects and his books and photographs are archived by the Alfred Kinsey Institute and Tom of Finland Foundation. He continues his art practice and commissioned photo shoots.

Reception 6-9p
On view through 27th April by appointment


Durk Dehner, cofounder of Tom of Finland Foundation, was one of Rick Castro’s first collectors, and his first publisher. TOM House is where Castro hosts a tea salon every Wednesday and a monthly book club.