Tag Archives: Rinaldo Hopf

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 🙂

Drawing Durk Dehner as “My Gay Eye” opens at the Ballery.

Durk Dehner Henry de Winter and Ronald Klimmek at the Ballery by Suzanne Forbes Aug 17 2018I went to The Ballery last night for the vernissage of an amazing show of historic and modern gay erotic art.

The show and this special edition of the “My Gay Eye” book are presented by Rinaldo Hopf and Durk Dehner, the President of the Tom of Finland Foundation. Durk was representing in his Tom of Finland Foundation shirt! Rinaldo, a master of German erotic art, was so friendly and kind to me!

The show has Tom of Finland originals and vintage gay comic pages as well as gorgeous contemporary works on display. Lots of West Berlin queer elders were present, including legendary performer and dandy Henry de Winter, left above, who I drew at a birthday party this winter. And Olaf of Berlin Cigar Men, another favorite subject of mine. Photographer Ron-Berlin, on the right above, told me a beautiful story about his time in San Francisco in the 90s.

It was very important to me to draw Durk, center above and left below, because I wasn’t able to when I met him in Los Angeles in 2005.Durk Dehner at the Ballery by Suzanne Forbes Aug 17 2018

Durk IS living queer history, a million stories of passion, friendship and loss alive in one veteran of the war for the freedom to love.

He is full of love and light, always moving forward, always looking to help young artists. His lifetime of advocacy for queer art and queer culture has made an enormous difference in what was saved and who can make art. I watched exhilarated young queers thanking him for the work he has done with the Foundation to protect gay history.

And the Tom of Finland Foundation made a huge difference to me, on the second worst night of my life.

On December 10, 2005, the day my second husband finally told me he was leaving me, I was in Los Angeles. I drove away from him forever on a Culver City street and went to Hollywood to see a portrait client. She hugged me as soon as she saw my face, and we were suddenly friends. To have my impossible grief received with compassion was one of the greatest gifts my work has led me to, and the portrait is one of the best I’ve done.

Then I changed into fetish wear in the car on the street in Echo Park and went to the Tom of Finland House.

TOF house photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

TOF house photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

My eyes were swollen from crying, and it was really hard to put my false eyelashes on, but I had been invited to the Foundation’s Holiday party and I wasn’t going to miss it. I came up the walk to the beautiful Craftsman house (now a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument site), and friendly leather folx waved at me from the porch.

The house was glowing with light in the winter dusk; I went in the open door and found myself in history, hope and family. The kitchen was full of potluck dishes; there were clusters of people laughing in every room, and everyone welcomed me.

I wandered the house, looking at the art on the warm walls, thinking about the queer lives and stories the house holds. An adorable twink sprawled on the bed in the Artist’s Residency room. Someone offered me a tour and I was lovingly led to see Tom’s studio and the spooky, kinky basement. I felt pregnant with pain, every cell in my body was poisoned with pain and loss, but I knew my work mattered and that it mattered in the context and embrace of this living museum.

The community was like a beating heart, and I was just one random corpuscle, safe in its pulse. I knew people cared about me and about art and that I was going to survive this terrible day and keep making sexy queer art. Just as the house had survived the AIDS crisis, just as queer life has survived and blossomed in the 21st Century, I was going to keep working.

Thirteen years later Durk hugged me in the heart of Gay West Berlin, and he is still strong and vital and working his ass off for art, and so am I.

visitors at the Ballery by Suzanne Forbes Aug 17 2018An absolute must-see of exuberant gay love and gay lust, the “My Gay Eye – Homage to Tom of Finland” exhibit is up at The Ballery through mid-September. If you go on a Tuesday evening you can enjoy cocktails on the street and Otto playing the grand piano like the folx in the picture above!

You can buy the special Tom of Finland edition of the queer art anthology “Meine Schwules Auge”  in the TOM store here or in Germany here.  It’s in both German and English!

The Tom of Finland Foundation protects, preserves and promotes erotic art.

You can become a member right here! The work the Foundation does to preserve queer creative history is beyond price, but you can always help with donations! It’s a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Educational Archive so donations are tax-deductible 🙂

And of course, I am able to do this work making art about queer history because of the generous support of my Patreon Patrons. I make this live art and share it for free because of my Patrons, and anyone can help for as little as a buck a month.