follow us in feedly
Finland unveils its new Tom of Finland emoji character
02.10.2017
01:31 pm

Topics:
Queer
Science/Tech
Sex

Tags:
Tom of Finland
emoji


 
Last year Finland became the first country to produce its own set of national emojis; last week the country enxpanded its collection from 49 to 56, and one of the new additions represents legendary gay icon Tom of Finland.

Keeping in the spirit of emojis, Finland’s full collection of emojis is quite whimsical. There are icons dedicated to “Headbanger,” “Fashionista Finns,” and “Four seasons of BBQ,” for instance.

The images of Touko Laaksonen, published from the 1950s to the 1980s under the catchy pseudonym Tom of Finland, consisted largely of fantastically muscular sailors, bulging cops, and lascivious leather enthusiasts, and rapidly became a key part of the gay aesthetic of the 20th century and beyond.

An article on This is Finland’s website states:
 

[Laaksonen’s artworks] made, and continue to make, a significant contribution to the way sexual minorities perceive themselves. Laaksonen is often considered Finland’s most famous artist internationally. His work has adorned postage stamps–the most popular stamp set in the history of the Finnish Postal Service–and now it has also become an emoji. The emoji recognises the impact and importance of Tom of Finland’s art, and appears just before same-sex marriage officially becomes legal in Finland (as of March 1, 2017).

 
Here’s what the emoji looks like:
 

 
It’s clear that whatever discrimination and abuse Laaksonen may have experienced in his lifetime, Finland has recently made a concerted effort to embrace its country’s most famous artist. As mentioned, three years ago the country released a line of Tom of Finland postage stamps, sparking international headlines. Now you can find an emoji of his likeness on the country’s main website.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Finland has made a movie about Tom of Finland—and it looks pretty good
12.19.2016
12:47 pm

Topics:
Art
Movies
Queer

Tags:
Tom of Finland


 
Dome Karukoski, one of Finland’s most successful movie directors, has completed a biopic of one of the country’s most distinctive exports, a man whose name isn’t just synonymous with Finland, it IS Finland. That’s right, Karukoski has made a movie about the life of Tom of Finland, the erstwhile Touko Laaksonen, whose bulging drawings of muscular sailors and leather enthusiasts did so much to define the gay aesthetic of the 20th century.

Playing the role of Tom is Pekka Strang, a Finnish actor who has been the artistic director of Lilla Teatern in Helsinki since 2005. The movie, which is simply titled Tom of Finland, tells the story of his days as a soldier in the Winter War against the Soviet Union and his later artistic career, with emphasis on the success his work would find in the United States.

Of course, Laakonsen’s wartime experiences not only exposed him to men in uniform, which would become one of his major fetishes, but it also placed him in close proximity to Nazis, which would also become a significant motif in his work. Years later, Tom of Finland would be quoted as follows: “The whole Nazi philosophy, the racism and all that, is hateful to me, but of course I drew them anyway—they had the sexiest uniforms!”
 

 
The movie appears to make the case that after tussling with the Soviets and the Nazis (and even the prudish Finns), Tom had a hard time developing any particular fears of the censors that would threaten him with imprisonment. As the movie depicts him saying (referring to Finland), “I would have an easier time publishing these in the Vatican.” The movie also has Tom saying of his work, “If I have a hard-on, then I know it’s good.”

It’s safe to say that this is one of the few biopics that has ample justification for combining the World War II movie genre with coke’d-up and sexy scenes from the swinging ‘70s that would be at home in Boogie Nights.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Riot grrrls: Homoerotic Tom of Finland-esque images, only this time for the ladies
02.25.2016
01:50 pm

Topics:

Tags:
Tom of Finland
G. B. Jones


I am a Fascist Pig, #3
 
In our post-Stonewall world, the homoerotic imagery of Tom of Finland (born Touko Laaksonen) is familiar to any culturally literate person. In Finland they put his art on a postage stamp. Next month sees the release of a new book by Wallpaper* editor Michael Reynolds about Tom of Finland’s Los Angeles house, which since the artist’s death in 1991 has become a kind of informal (yet comprehensive) museum to Tom of Finland’s work as well as a mecca/commune for like-minded homoerotic artists (pre-order it here).

One of the most interesting heirs to Tom of Finland’s lineage is G. B. Jones, an artist from Toronto who has been active in the queer scene since the 1980s. In 1985 she and Bruce LaBruce put out an influential queer zine called J.D.s (short for “juvenile delinquents”). In February 1989 Jones and LaBruce wrote a manifesto titled “Don’t Be Gay” that appeared in the pages of Maximum Rock and Roll. According to ZineWiki, the article did have the effect of sparking a a queer punk culture.
 

J.D.s, issue #3
 
In the 1980s Jones started a series of drawings that depicted Tom of Finland-style cops, criminals, and so forth having macho gay fun, only with a twist: all of the characters in the images are female. Jones called the series “Tom Girls,” a pun referencing Tom of Finland as well as an appellation for girls-acting-as-boys with which a good many lesbians are probably all too familiar.

On the closest thing Jones has to a homepage, the artist is descrbed as “an openly queer, self-made in the punk rock tradition, artist, film maker, rock musician, writer and publisher of zines”; her “Tom Girls” series is characterized as a “detailed reworking of Tom of Finland’s stereotypical gay male erotica.”

There’s a book dating about G.B. Jones from 1996 edited by Steve LaFreniere, but it’s dauntingly difficult to find.
 

Fuck the Police
 

Riot Girls
 

Skateboard Girls
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Tom of Finland safety blankets, in case a really gay fire breaks out
10.12.2015
01:47 pm

Topics:
Queer

Tags:
Tom of Finland
fire prevention


 
Jalo Finland is a Finnish company that specializes in stylish fire prevention and safety products. The company’s slogan is “Safety Can Be Beautiful.” Most of its products are expertly designed, hipster-ready smoke alarms, some of which are shaped like moths for some reason.

A few months ago Jalo Finland introduced a line of Tom of Finland-themed fire blankets. In case you’re not aware, Tom of Finland, born Touko Laaksonen in Kaarina, Finland, was almost certainly the 20th century’s leading practitioner of homoerotic fetish art of the “leather daddy” variety, often involving muscled and hypermasculine sailors, bikers, lumberjacks, construction workers—and possibly firemen??

Each one costs 44.90 Euros, which is about $50.

The following product descriptions, which come straight from the Jalo Finland website, are pretty hilarious too.
 

The Leader”: “Rugged, masculine and ripped. The Master has a ‘take charge’ attitude, always ready to be in control in case of fire. Not sure how to use a fire blanket? Craving further instructions? Just turn it around and look at the rear. Never keep your fire blanket in the closet. This couple demands to be out.”
 

The Hero”: “If you’re holding out for a hero to pull you from the rough surf and give you mouth-to-mouth, then this is the duo for you! The Hero is strong and dependable. He’ll sweep you up in his muscled arms - and put out any small fires. Keep this lifeguard’s best assets on display at all times, and be ready to grab hold in case of emergencies.”
 

The Aviator”: “Primed for action in their uniforms, these airmen wearing a leather aviator jacket and a flight suit unzipped to a perilously low altitude, are clearly qualified to put out small household fires. Just give the straps a good tug to release the fire blanket inside. Like a parachute, this product could save your life.”
 

The Dog”: “Down boy! This K9 owner is classically geared up, dressed head to toe in leather, with his pup between his legs, he’s ready to put out any small kitchen fires, even if it means getting down on all-fours. You certainly won’t be in the dog house if you always keep this fire blanket ready.”
 
via Trey Speegle
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Finland to release Tom of Finland postage stamps
Move over, Tom of Finland, George Quaintance is the gayest artist of them all

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Move over, Tom of Finland, George Quaintance is the gayest artist of them all
07.17.2015
01:58 pm

Topics:
Art
Queer

Tags:
Tom of Finland
George Quaintance


 
Tom of Finland‘s remarkable work has been a familiar wellspring of homoerotic imagery for decades; less familiar, perhaps, but every bit as striking is the work of George Quaintance, who specialized in men’s muscle magazines starting in the 1930s. The list of magazines for which Quaintance worked makes for amusing reading: Gay French Life, Ginger, Movie Humor, Movie Merry Go-Round, Snappy Detective Mysteries, Snappy Stories, Stolen Sweets, and Tempting Tales.

It’s difficult to look at these images and not think of Touko Laaksonen, a.k.a. Tom of Finland. Quaintance was Laaksonen’s senior by about 20 years, and had been active since the 1930s—Tom of Finland didn’t get going until the mid-1950s, which was right around when Quaintance died. All the sources agree that Quaintance was a major influence on Tom of Finland; it seems like one of the easier judgments in the field of art history.

Eight years ago the indispensable John Coulthart wrote of the artist:
 

George Quaintance (1902-1957) was a pioneer of a variety of beefcake erotica that isn’t particularly to my taste but which today looks distinctly…quaint? Also distinctly old-fashioned since most of his men have Burt Lancaster quiffs, even the alleged Spartans towelling themselves. ...

Quaintance’s world is a largely female-free dreamscape of perfectly-muscled glamour boys showing their bodies to one another but never doing anything so salacious as kissing. This is a utopia of good clean fun and fifty years ago was more than enough to pack an erotic charge for men starved of homoerotic imagery. From our perspective today it looks rather innocent; even the bulges in their jeans are restrained by comparison with the later excesses of Tom of Finland.


 
This is quite right. Quaintance’s images are creamy and idealized, certainly without even a hint of violence, while Tom of Finland did far more to set the template for rougher side of gay courtship. Whereas Tom of Finland’s men are often stand ramrod straight, Quaintance’s figures are often contorted in a kind of implied agony.

Most fascinating in Quaintance’s work is the status of the penis. Working thirty years before Stonewall and forty-five years before the rise of AIDS as a national topic of discourse, Quaintance had to occupy a semi-legal space where the homoeroticism was winked at, signaled solely by bulges—but in some of the nude shots, the apparent absence of the penis becomes almost concerning, as in the image of the two men underwater, or the one on the ranch with the narrow wading pool. The best, of course, is the one of a campfire where a perfectly placed cowboy boot serves as a potent visual reminder of, well, what might be lurking behind the boot.

There is an excellent book on Quaintance by Reed Massengill published by Taschen.
 

 
More remarkable images behind the jump…..
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Finland to release Tom of Finland postage stamps
04.14.2014
03:48 pm

Topics:
Art
Queer

Tags:
Tom of Finland
stamps

Tom of Finland
 
You may not recognize the name Touko Laaksonen, but you almost certainly are aware of his attention-getting drawings of gay men, as well as his pseudonym, Tom of Finland. Tom of Finland’s drawings, during the second half of the twentieth century, were some of the most defiant and liberated depictions of gay men, so much so that they unquestionably achieved iconic status—and most likely, dictated some fashion trends on its own.

Yesterday the Finnish Postal Service, known as Itella, unveiled 33 new stamp designs. The most surprising inclusion, and as time passes most likely the most controversial, are the three depicting “male drawings by Tom of Finland.”
 
Tom of Finland
 
According to Itella, Tom of Finland had reached the status of a Finnish cultural hero worth celebrating in stamp form: “His emphatically masculine homoerotic drawings have attained iconic status in their genre and had an influence on, for instance, pop culture and fashion. In his works, Tom of Finland utilized the self-irony and humor typical of subcultures.”
 
Tom of Finland
 
Tom of Finland
 
Same-sex marriage in Finland is currently illegal, if you are under the mistaken impression that all Scandinavians are reflexively tolerant and thus won’t even blink at a little male sex play on their envelopes. In February the Finnish parliament began to debate a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, but the measure has not become law yet. The stamp issue may put a spotlight on the debate.

Tom of Finland’s images of leather-clad bikers mark the early boundary of what can be considered contemporary queer art designed for mainstream consumption. They shred the boundaries between porn and art. What makes them so intriguing, in a way, is that the male figures have a sensitivity accorded them that makes them something beyond mere “beefcake.” They’re images of pure fantasy, without being oppressive; they are obscurely real. In contrast to the once dominant gay stereotype of the “fairy,” “ponce,” etc., Tom of Finland’s bikers were unquestionably empowering. We salute the progressive minds at Itella who worked to make these stamps a reality.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment