Tag Archives: queer art

Queer portrait drawings from a benefit at Ludwig!

Sigrid at Ludwig Sept 16 2018 by Suzanne Forbes in installationI am on a big gay drawing binge!

Kaey onstage at Ludwig Sept 16 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI was asked by Maurus, our friend who runs Ludwig bar and art gallery in Neukölln, to do some live drawing at a fundraiser. Of course I said yes! And I think I hit it out of the park.

Above is singer Sigrid Grajek, who the benefit was for. I snuck the portrait into the installation currently in Ludwig’s main exhibition gallery, The Serpent Eats its Tail by Russell James Redwood Harris.

Harris‘s work features textiles, textures and rich symbolism, like the men’s y-fronts (tightey-whiteys!) soaked in a salt solution until they became a pure crystalline mass of snow-white glitter.

And several beautiful feathers carefully cut out of gold leather.

Kaey and Transophonix at Ludwig Sept 16 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI also drew Kaey, the MC, both while onstage and while chatting at the bar with a friend from “queer trash orchestra” Transophonix.

And amazing multi-talented singer-dominabondage artist Kristina Marlen, who was there with her lovely mom. Ms. Marlen knocked the room out with a classic Berliner cabaret tune.

singer at Ludwig by Suzanne Forbes Sept 16 2018Her mom bought the drawing in the fundraiser auction, which delighted me!

It is my goal to always make myself available for LGBTQIA, sex-positive, kinky, and alternative community benefits if my spoons/health allow. In the Bay Area I did a ton of benefits and fundraisers, and I am slowly ramping up here!

I can do this work because of my wonderful Patrons on Patreon, who provide the monthly financial support that makes it possible for me to document queer life in Berlin!!

If you want an art donation for a benefit or want me to draw at an event, just let me know 🙂 I’m on Instagram here.

Queer elders at The Ballery on Folsom Europe Weekend.

Laura Halding-Hoppenheit and friends at The Ballery Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThere’s no Elders like Queer Elders.

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 the Jewel 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.

Rinaldo Hopf and Durk Dehner at The Ballery Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI 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!”.

Otto and the drink line for Tom of Finland vodka at The Ballery Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThe beautiful boy with the long hair is Julian, visiting from Taiwan. He is one of the artists in the show.

Artist Otto Oscar Hernández Ruiz, assistant director of the gallery, is mixing drinks with Tom of Finland vodka, an organic vodka made with arctic water. They sponsored 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.

Diva Tomast at Bucherei Lindinger Folsom Europe Sept 8 2018 by Suzanne ForbesFolsom 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 vodka here, a percentage of sales goes to the Foundation! I’m sure it is delicious for people who like alcohol 🙂

A gorgeous night at Uke Boogie, featuring local music heroes.

Gorjeoux at Uke Boogie Sept 13 2018 by Suzanne ForbesIncluding Gorjeoux!

Gorjeoux has a sparkle ukulele and performed “Toxic”, which I think is a Britney Spears song? With her own pun-ny lyric enhancements. In the funny songs category, The Ukelele Bandit performed a really good song about Brexit, but I did not draw him.

Rah Hell and Roberta at Uke Boogie Sept 13 2018 by Suzanne ForbesHowever I drew hostess Rah Hell and her roomie Roberta singing a Grimes song!

and this lovely fellow who performed a virtuoso piece on the musical saw. There’s always some mystery at Uke Boogie, someone who shows up and does a spectacular turn on some instrument you’ve never heard of. It’s part of the Uke Boogie magic. I don’t know why he removed his shoes to play the saw, but he did.Musical saw at Uke Boogie Sept 13 2018 by Suzanne Forbes

And I drew co-host the Great And Famous Crayon Jones in his marvelous cape and his very shiny very tight outfit!Crayon Jones at Uke Boogie Sept 13 2018 by Suzanne ForbesAlert readers will recall Crayon from my “Loving The Alien” drawings last summer.

The evening ended with Crayon, a bit drunk, playing the piano and singing “Heroes”. To hear “Heroes” in Berlin, played by someone who loves it deeply, in a roomful of people you care about, after midnight in the early Fall – well. Life is full of magic.

You can catch Uke Boogie the second Thursday of every month at Lagari. You never, ever know what’ll happen.

And keep up with drummess and ukulelist Rah Hell on the twitters and Instas. Of course, thanks to my goooorgeous Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly financial support that makes it possible for me to document queer life in Berlin!!

Previous Uke Boogie drawings here and here.

Drawing portraits of young Berlin folx at queer art space Ludwig.

S at Ludwig Sept 7 2018 by Suzanne ForbesI went to our much-loved art hangout Ludwig on Friday for my friend Sue’s birthday.

Sue is an artist and curator and we have done lovely art events at Ludwig, however this time we were just checking out the current show and chilling. I made drawings of some friends who were there. S. was wearing their internal clitoris necklace from a local Berlin artist!

Super pleased with this likeness of E., who I was meeting for the first time.

E at Ludwig Sept 7 2018 by Suzanne ForbesAnd as always, incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to make portraits of these Berlin folx and share them. 

Ok not much else to say cause I got SO MANY drawings to finish and scan and post from the rest of this Big Gay Weekend!

Finished for Folsom Europe: Bi Pride Corset!

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018 front viewThis project took an entire year! About 200 hours of work! Dang!

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018I started this beaded corset project last fall when I got a great price on a used lilac 426 Standard mesh corset by Orchard Corset. It was always my intention to have it finished for the Motzstr. Festival, a special Pride event in Berlin in July.

But I wound up taking an entire year to finish it, and I think that’s good. Because I made it to affirm my fundamental identity as a queer woman, and I stitched that identity and pride and love into it thousands and thousands of times.

Last summer, while writing this post, I realized I’d developed a lot of internal biphobia over the last thirty years.

As a person who has been married to three men and who has almost only dated men in sobriety, I felt like a “retired” queer person. I stopped thinking of myself as bisexual.

And as a “retired” queer person, I felt so much safer.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018It’s terrible to know that, to realize I took some comfort in the reduction of my vulnerability that living a straight life meant. Because I never for a minute stopped being aware of the consequences and dangers of living an out gay life.

I knew I couldn’t blame my cowardice on my upbringing. When I was fifteen and my mom opened the door to my bedroom to see me and my friend Jenny in bed naked, she asked if we wanted to go out for brunch. She accepted my girlfriend Pam into our home for years without question.

And I am no fan of my father, but he took me to Stonewall and told me what happened there before I was ten.

So my change in identity wasn’t about shame, it was about fear.

I felt guilty about living in the Bay Area as what appeared to be a straight person. I felt guilty about the privilege that accorded me. But it seemed like compared to the people around me, I was functionally straight. When you regularly attend sex parties where you draw a trans man fucking a trans woman while she gives oral sex to a nonbinary person, being a married cis-femme seems really conventional.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018Plus, as a portrait painter who often asks women I’ve just met to come to my home and pose for me, I felt less creepy identifying as cis-straight-married!

Then I moved to Berlin.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018 right panelLiving in Berlin has connected me to my youth and my New York identity in so many profound ways.

There was a jump-cut that happened when I left New York at 22, in 1989, to go to treatment.

I moved to St. Paul, where the halfway house was, for six years, and then to Hartford, then to DC, then to the Bay Area.

In all those places I drove a car everywhere, lived in wooden houses, people were polite in the stores… It was like a different world.

I had all these adventures in this different world, and then in 2015, I got on the subway and went home.

Or so it feels. To live in a big apartment building, take the subway everywhere, walk the city streets at 3 am, eat a slice of pizza in a doorway just out of the rain, be yelled at by a shopkeeper – this reconnects me to my fundamental self.

And of course, even though married and cis, my fundamental self is queer as fuck.

So over this year, over 200 hours, I made this corset, beading and sewing and hotfixing crystals. I will wear it with Pride at Folsom Europe next month, and I’ll get some pictures of me in it!

 

Rainbow Magic at Peaches’ Experimental Art Show in Mitte.

In line for Peaches August 12 2018 by Suzanne ForbesThe hero of the hour was Sue, who queued in good time for the experimental art piece Peaches did Sunday at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein.

You know how sometimes you go to meet your gorgeous friend and they are with their new hotness and they’re smooching on each other and you’re so happy to see beautiful humans being happy together your mind is just blown? Anto, seen above preparing inhalable refreshments, didn’t know Sue or Zuzana before, but since I know Anto it seemed completely natural to me that they were all hanging out together!

And of course Anto was wearing one of her amazing wearable art crochet art pieces, which I always love to draw.

You can see more drawings of her, at Bordello Bizarre, here and here.

Nico, below, is from Oz and actually a friend of Gaff-E, who I drew a while back, also at Bordello Bizarre.

We chatted while in the line and he told me his lovely coming-out-to-his-best-friend story and also about his fabulous outfit which was entirely borrowed except for his shoes. The ombre shrug, made of a gradient of vintage leather opera gloves and organza ruffles, was a showstopper.Nico in the queue for Peaches August 12 2018 by Suzanne ForbesAnd then there were all these other beautiful queer nonbinary agender drag kinky folx who were dressed in feathers and glitter and balloons, and everybody was really happy like it’s when Pride falls on perfect weather or all your friends meet up at your favorite con or something.

Well that’s a Peaches show in Berlin!

The show itself was amazing, and it turned out I knew several of the dance/movement performers, and I made lots of drawings, but they are pretty sketchy so it will take a while to finish them up. I wanted to finish these two first while my memory of the vibrant colors was strong enough to give me the courage to try and capture them! I am not sure I succeeded, you can’t imagine how vivid and luminous and alive everyone was out there on the street against the grey cobblestones, but I tried. And I will keep trying.

thank you, my Patreon Patrons, for making it possible for me to do this work and draw these beautiful people!!

I make this live event art and share it for free because of my Patrons, and anyone can help for as little as a buck a month.

Last Days of the Bassy Club, part two.

Vicki at Bordello Bizarre at Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes July 29 2018Wow it took me forever to finish these drawings from one of the very last parties ever at Berlin institution The Bassy Cowboy Club.

Maybe because they are such complex scenes to do in mixed media, or maybe because it’s always sad when a beloved venue leaves the cultural landscape of your city. Above, Vicki and her consort, on the right. I could not believe how beautiful she was.

Puck the hare at Bordello Bizarre at Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes July 29 2018

Above, Puck the Hare dancing.

Puck is a terrific photographer and professional artist’s model who also makes cool costume art like the headdress she’s wearing. I first drew her at Kitkat, where I confused her rabbit ears for pony ears! I had a hard time drawing the transparent rain ponchos the guys in the band, Cloud Kinski, were wearing and I’m not sure I fully succeeded.Backstage at the Bassy Club by Suzanne Forbes July 29 2018

The darkroom/outer backstage area of Bassy Club was done up with real prison bars like a jail cell.

I imagine this clever conceit was more enjoyable for people who have not been to jail.

Last Days of the Bassy Club, Part One.

More Bassy:

You can see my drawings from Chantal’s here and here, and the previous Bordello Bizarre here and here

Work in progress: Painting Shakrah, while being photographed by Mirella Frangella!

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Shakrah and I had our second sitting for the new portrait the day before I was in a bus crash.

Work in Progress portrait of Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes June 2018It was very lucky timing, as we had also scheduled with amazing portrait photographer Mirella Frangella.

Mirella is a career photographer whose personal work focuses on intimate character studies.

My friend Miss Natasha Enquist met her when Mirella’s photos of gauchos in South America were exhibited at The Ballery.

Mirella did a shoot with Miss Natasha, and was looking for other artists to photograph. Natasha suggested me!

Mirella came to the house and photographed me in fancy clothes the week before last.

She wanted to do another session, while I was actually working, so we set up a time with Shakrah, who I had recently started a second portrait of.

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

I love Mirella’s work and her way of using available light and her handheld flash to capture a close and realistic view of her subject.

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

We were so relaxed and comfortable with her presence as she worked.

During the sitting, at one point Shakrah was lounging elegantly on my boudoir chair while Mirella shot some close-ups of me.

I looked up and saw her and I yelled, “THAT is the look!” and grabbed my brush to make superfast big changes to the painting.

I changed her pose from standing to sitting in about ten minutes!

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

Suzanne Forbes painting Shakrah Yves photographed by Mirella Frangella June 2018 all rights reserved

As you can see, I changed the painting quite a lot. I don’t often make such big changes between the first and second sittings, unless some new aspect of my model just captivates me. Or I accidentally painted my model standing on the wrong leg, like in this portrait of my beloved Friend-Muse-Patron Ramon!)

WIP Portrait of Shakrah Yves by Suzanne Forbes first and second sittings 2018Somehow I feel like you have more of a sense of Shakrah as a singer in the new version even though I haven’t painted the mike in yet, like she’s pausing by your table in the cabaret.

You can hear Shakrah singing vintage jazz here and see Mirella Frangella‘s beautiful portraits here.

We had such a lovely time working together with Mirella, it was amazing. Once my hand is healed enough for the cast to come off Shakrah and I will reconvene and finish the painting!

You can see our first sitting here and the previous portrait Shakrah and I did together here. Thanks so, so much to my beautiful Patrons on Patreon for providing the monthly sponsorship that allows me to tell women’s stories and collaborate with women artists!

Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin delivers a gangbuster show for Berlin Burlesque Week!

Betty Fvck at dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018 second lookAnd I brought the drawing magic.

Check out Betty Fvck from Finland! Seriously, I am doing some of the best drawings of my career to date at Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin.

Trixie Tassels 2 at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018Trixie Tassels at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018 detailThe superb models, the wonderful sets and music, and the gorgeous setting of Ballhaus Berlin all come together to inspire me profoundly.

Trixie Tassels, above and below, is a former professional life model.

She combined classic life modeling skills with her bombshell looks and amazing costume. What a fabulous treat!Trixie Tassels at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018

This show had more than fantastic showgirls- it had live singing by some of the best cabaret singers I’ve ever heard.

Among the many performances was an unbelievable version of “Fever” by Rachel Von Hindman, absolutely stunning. She sang classics from Cabaret too, with house-on-fire power!

Rachel Von Hindman at Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018Maya Full Power steampunk queen at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018I found Maya Full Power exceptionally lovely.

I was crazy for both her costumes, a steampunk princess and a hardcore full-on peacock look.

Maya Full Power at Dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018

And Betty Fvck had three different looks!

Sadly, I was only able to draw two of them.

Betty Fvck at dr Sketchys Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 8 2018But I knocked it out of the park for both of them!

Mad kudoes to LalaVox and co-producer Syren Joey for this wonderful, wonderful time.

And I am so profoundly grateful to my Patrons on Patreon. Thank you so very much for making this sweet life possible by funding my art.

Anyone can help, for as little as a dollar/euro per month!

 

Saturday night at the KitKatClub.

Dancers by the stripper pole at the KitKatClub by Suzanne Forbes April 29 2018Always lots of sexy people at the KitKatClub!

This gorgeous ponygirl was dancing in her own world, perfectly happy.

Alex Dermatis at KitKat by Suzanne Forbes April 6 2018Alex Dermatis of 6mmjute was doing his usual suspension art with a lovely, friendly model.

We had a quick chat before he covered her in oil and gold glitter like a statue of a goddess.

Coat check at the KitKatClub by Suzanne Forbes April 29 2018Coat check can be a wait by 4am.

I passed the time drawing some of the lovely coat check staff. Other drawings from KitKat here and here 🙂