The definition of a life well lived


Dan Berkowitz has died of a heart attack 9th December 2019.

Dan was a past president of Tom of Finland Foundation. Among the many things he accomplished here, was a campaign he spearheaded to perform a number of essential repairs to the Foundation’s headquarters, some exacerbated by a 1994 earthquake. He will be remembered for coordinating events with our hard-working ToFF volunteers and contributions to our newsletter.

We can’t bear the thought of the upcoming holidays without Dan. At parties. HIS parties. He always WAS the party – wise, wise-cracking and exceedingly generous.

Here’s raising a Cosmopolitan to you, Dan!

Dan Berkowitz was a writer/producer/director whose credits include television shows, commercials, videos, plays, and musical revues. He was a West Coast member liaison for The Dramatists Guild of America, and a Co-Chair of The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. His stage work has been produced in theatres across the country, and he wrote a regular column for The Dramatist magazine.

So many have kindly asked how they can help, and making a contribution would be a practical, supportive way to demonstrate your affection for our extraordinary friend.

Dan Berkowitz was active in civic affairs. He was a member of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board for many years along with other prominent LGBT figures such as Ivy Bottini, Bill Gordon, Ben McCormick, Jimmy Palmieri, Sue Sexton, Nadia Sutton, and Ruth Tittle. As a board member, Berkowitz spoke out in 2011 when a controversy erupted over the city’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission’s refusal to approve an exhibit of erotic male art at the West Hollywood Park Auditorium. The exhibition was the city’s 16th annual West Hollywood-Los Angeles Erotic Art Fair, sponsored by the Tom of Finland Foundation. Berkowitz opposed the Arts Commission’s decision, and the City Council eventually overruled it and let the art fair take place.

“The most alarming thing is none of the people on that commission are our enemies,” Berkowitz said in an interview published in L.A. Weekly. “When the LGBT community is attempting to censor its own…things are really in trouble.”


A memorial for Dan will be held on 18th January 2020 at 1p.
Arena Stage at Theatre of Arts


Cover story in this week’s print edition. TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Portrait of Durk, 1980, Graphite on paper
© 1980-2019 Tom of Finland Foundation

Tom of Finland Foundation presented a panel in October at their Art Festival, “How Do We Communicate On/With Social Media.” They invited reps from Facebook and Instagram to join the artists, activists, educators and lawyers on the panel.

In April of this year, Rick Castro had one of his first solo shows at TOM House, a retrospective called Fetish King: Seminal Photographs 1986 – 2019. LGBTQ outlet The Advocate advanced the exhibit and posted the article with several images from the show. The more risqué photos required users to press a button confirming they were old enough to view the content; however, when The Advocate posted the story on Castro’s Facebook page, they suspended his account for 30 days. The image Facebook objected to featured two lucha libre wrestlers on top of each other, fully clothed.

“To censor is to kill off the voice of a person,” echoes Danny Fuentes, who co-presents an art show with ToFF from trans icon Genesis P-Orridge. “Art as a whole should never be censored, I still think art is our society’s last sacred thing and I stand with Tom of Finland Foundation in trying to keep art dangerous, provocative and even disturbing, but above all keep the conversation open and ongoing.”

As for the Foundation’s banishment from Instagram, the image that was apparently the final straw was from an art catalogue for a Denmark art show Tom was included in — one celebrating the end of a ban on visual pornography in that country. Yes, it’s ironic.

“An unwritten mission of ours is to make art and beauty a part of your life,” says S. R. Sharp, ToFF V.P. Despite its recent struggles, the group has continued to do just that. Though the internet didn’t exist when Tom of Finland created his original images, the fight for them to be seen then versus now isn’t that different.

And as long as the Foundation continues to fulfill its official mission statement, freedom wins. It reads, “Tom of Finland Foundation shall continue to encourage the work of erotic visual artists regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, sexual identity, medium of expression or any other censoring criteria.”

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1980, Pencil on paper
© 1980-2019 Tom of Finland Foundation

Tom of Finland and Lethal Amounts present Sex Cells X Daddywood fundraiser at Precinct DTLA, Fri., Nov. 17, 9 p.m. (A portion of the proceeds will go to the Tom of Finland Foundation for the preservation of erotic art).

Opening reception for Bas Koster, the Foundation’s artist-in-residence, takes place Sun., Nov. 24. 


Lethal Amounts on 24 February


Homoerotic fetish artist Tom of Finland died in 1991, but his spirit was alive and well at Lethal Amounts on Friday, Feb. 24. The artist’s brand and the Westlake art gallery teamed up to launch a collection of T-shirts, sweatshirts and prints plus a limited-edition zine. At the one-night-only celebration of the collaboration, hot, leather-clad guys and scantily clad ladies mingled while DJ Matthew Pernicano spun tunes. Even a sexy sailor showed up.