The Daily Agenda for Thursday, May 8
May 8th, 2014
TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:
Tom of Finland: 1920-1991. Born Touko Laaksonen, Tom of Finland was famous for his stylized homoerotic and fetish art. Over a forty year career, he produced some 3,500 drawings in his unique exaggerated style. If Barbie dolls proportions represent an anatomically impossible ideal for women, Tom of Finland’s hypermasculine characters were portrayed in similarly fantastical idealizations of manly men, although Tom didn’t see it that way. “All my drawings are grounded in reality,” he said. “I use models, whom I initially photograph and then later refer to when I draw. People complain that I exaggerate. My fantasies often take over, of course, but I want to offer the viewer something that he can’t get in a photograph.”
His style was partly influenced by beefcake and physique magazines which skirted on the edges of U.S. censorship codes in the 1950s and 1960s. But as the codes were struck down in the 1960s over First Amendment issues, his drawings became more explicit and more overtly sexual. They became the definitive style guide for leathermen through his portrayal of policemen, lumberjacks, sailors and bikers, and they’ve inspired such artists as Robert Mapplethorpe (see Nov 4), Freddie Mercury (see Sep 5) and the Village People.
He died of a stroke brought on by emphysema on November 7, 1991. Several examples of his “dirty drawings ” — his unabashed description for them — have been acquired by New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This past winter, works by Tom of Finland and “physique” photographer Bob Mizer (see Mar 27) were featured in a special exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. On September 8 of this year, his native Finland will honor him with a set of postage stamps which have been described as ” considerably more erotic than those usually seen on any nation’s envelopes.” A documentary film of his life is in the works and is slated for a 2015 release.
Darren Hayes: 1972. The singer-songwriter was the front man of Savage Garden. Their 1997 album by the same name peaked at #1 in Australia, #2 in the U.K., #3 in the U.S. Their biggest American hit was “Truly Madly Deeply.” Their follow-up album yielded another #1 hit in the U.S. with “I Knew I Loved You.” In 2002, he launched his solo career, and by 2005 it was clear that Savage Garden was through.
Hayes married his “childhood sweetheart” in 1997. They divorced in 2000 after he told her that he was gay. After years of public speculation about his sexuality, Hayes came out on July 18, 2006, when he announced that he had entered a civil partnership with his boyfriend, Richard Cullen, a month earlier. In April, 2007, he told The Advocate, “First of all, it took me a long time to even accept that I was gay. And then it took me a long time to be happy that I was gay.” That summer he headlined London’s Gay Pride at Trafalgar Square. You can see his video for “It Gets Better” here. His fourth solo album, Secret Codes and Battleships, was released in 2011. He and Cullen upgraded their partnership in 2013 to full marriage soon after same-sex marriage resumed in California.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?