Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
The Sisters collect charitable donations at the gates. I was immediately struck by Schwester Francine’s profile. I asked if I could draw her and her husband, who was keeping her company as she worked the gate. And she agreed and we had a nice chat!
Lots of folx had these t-shirts, which said things like “Spanker>” and “Spankee>” and lots more.
This very good-looking “Slut” was kind enough to let me draw him on my way to The Ballery. He was from Zurich, people come from all over for Folsom Europe. His companion’s shirt said “Daddy”. These were the tame shirts 🙂
I raced over to the stage when I heard it was time for the sash-holders’ photo shoot.
It is not a casual thing, not a beauty contest, to be a title-holder in the Leather Community. It requires learning community history, being of service, and being respected by your peers. Anyone who earns a sash has done the work to know what it means.
Next year I will do a sash-holder feature and sketch as many as I can!
Meanwhile, it is possible for me to make and share these drawings of Europe’s leather family because of the monthly financial support of my Patrons on Patreon.
Fearless, generous, battle-scarred by AIDS but refusing to be defined by loss, and still freaky as hell and ready to party. At big leather events they come out in full force, in full regalia. And I get to draw them! During this year’s Folsom Europe, my highest priority was making it to The Ballery for a celebration of “My Gay Eye”, their special Tom of Finland show. (you can see my drawings from the opening here!)
I drew Laura Halding-Hoppenheit, above, right before Durk Dehner announced she had made a generous donation to the Tom of Finland Foundation, which preserves and protects erotic art.
I was so moved that Laura was wearing a red ribbon pin, in an era when few publicly remind us of the presence of HIV and AIDS.
She is known as Stuttgart’s Schwulen-Mutter (Gay Mother) and theJewel of Stuttgart, and was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit for her social work. She serves on the local council and owns King’s Club and the newly opened Tom’s Bar, a quieter bar for the elder queers, in Stuttgart. She has made her life’s work fighting AIDS, working for tolerance for gay and trans people and helping immigrant sex workers.
I got to draw Durk Dehner again, talking about his work as an Art Protector and his curatory collaboration with Rinaldo Hopf.
The show pairs with the Tom of Finland edition of Mein Schwules Augen, a compendium of gay erotic art Rinaldo Hopf has produced for many years. The pin on Durk’s tie says “Support Art!” These older gay men, they look good. They’re fit, virile. They preserve their youth by doing creative work they care deeply about, and by having sex with and choosing as partners much younger men, just as I do!
I also got to meet Henning Von Berg, the premier nude portrait photographer for the discerning private client. He has gorgeous work in the show. I will draw him next time, he is so tall he says people say, “I didn’t see you up there!”.
The beautiful boy with the long hair is Julian, visiting from Taiwan. He is one of the artists in the show.
I chatted with Diva Tomast, below, on my way home. She was relaxing outside legendary Berlin leather shop Butcherei Lindinger. She had been onstage MC’ing earlier and I had wanted to draw her but been drawn away by a photographer who wanted to capture my Bi Pride corset.
Folsom Europe is such a lovely event. So full of power, history and survival. And kissing and spanking!
The Leather community weathered a storm beyond imagining, a generation lost, and came out even stronger. I can’t wait to draw this leather celebration again next year!
I’m so grateful to my Patrons, whose monthly support via art funding platform Patreon makes my work happen. I couldn’t make documentary art of queer Berlin without them.
You can buy the special Tom of Finland edition of “My Gay Eye” here. You can donate to help the Tom of Finland Foundation preserve, protect and support the creation of erotic art here. And you can buy Tom of Finland vodkahere, a percentage of sales goes to the Foundation! I’m sure it is delicious for people who like alcohol 🙂
FInally had a minute to finish the last of the drawings I made at Folsom Europe. I really enjoyed my time there.
It was a very comfortable and relaxed scene. On my way in I saw what I thought for a moment was security frisking backpacks. Then I realized it was just a group of uniform fetish players looking for their beer or gear or something!
Folsom Europe really shines with Tom of Finland archetypes.
Because I was a child in Chelsea in the 70s, I really love the classic leather daddy and uniform looks. It feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket to see gay men rocking the old school Christopher St Clone style.
However there were also plenty of casually dressed lovers just sporting crew socks and sweats, as seen in the first picture!
I was very casual myself, unlike my friend Sadie Lune who wore gorgeous high leather regalia and an Autumn goddess headpiece, which inspired the big diptych of her and her girlfriend Jo Pollux I just finished. You can see my previous Folsom Europe posts here:
I’ve never been comfortable with dogs or known how to interact with them and I’m always a little scared of them. However back when my art business cratered in the Great Recession and I went back to work as a barista, I worked at Wicked Grounds. And the puppyplay munches held there transformed my experience of dogs.
I learned to play with human puppies, how to scratch them and throw things for them and yell “Good DOG!”.
Many of the puppies were over 200 pounds, and as they frolicked in the back seating area (we moved the chairs and tables out) they made the old floorboards creak. Their joy and exuberance was so delightful to me.
Luckily my friend Sadie Lune and her partner Jo were there, dressed as amazing Autumn Leather Goddesses, and Sadie told me where to go.
“There is a puppy play area where you can see puppies at play and at rest”, she said with great warmth and affection. And I went there and played with pups and skritched their heads and drew them and they were SO WONDERFUL.
So curious, so alert, watching me draw with great interest, ears cocked.
The puppies in the first picture above were in the play area and were wonderfully friendly and well trained.
Usually human puppies are much better trained than animal puppies, and I’ve rarely had a human puppy jump up, which scares me. Here in Germany the dogs are generally well-trained, whether human or animal, and I feel very safe around them.
The pups in the second picture were more aloof, maybe they were sporting dogs of some kind? They had those sleek racing stripes!
Obviously, Morgan doesn’t like dogs of any kind, so she had to display her dominance over the works in progress!
You can learn more about Smarty the Pup and his adventures here!