Leather-clad, burly young men, in various stages of undress and often indulging in sexual shenanigans, are standard scenes in the artworks created by Finnish Touko Laaksonen, known as homoerotic artist Tom of Finland and professionally and personally as Tom. His Echo Park home, nestled within the suburbs of Los Angeles, has been preserved, down to the pillows, and is the home base for Tom of Finland Foundation and the revolving door of characters that make the pilgrimage to the famous—and infamous—compound.
“It’s an extraordinary place, equal parts frat pad, utopian collective, art historical archive, sepulcher, community center, and den of iniquity,” writes Mayer Rus, in his foreword to TOM House.
Tom’s artwork, which he called “dirty drawings,” is no longer relegated to back rooms in kinky New York City gay bars. At the Whitney Museum’s Biennial of 1991, his drawings held court alongside iconic works by Cindy Sherman and Roy Lichtenstein.
Today, Tom House is still home to many of the original residents, while also welcoming new arrivals, often at-risk youth and struggling artists, looking for sanctuary. The Foundation also uses the home as a backdrop for countless fundraisers, art exhibitions, and community meetings.
Rus writes: “At Tom House, everyone is welcome, everyone is accepted, and all things considered.”