Page 81 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 2                         63


                    was  interesting and  L-A  rainy.  N.  Y.  Is  cold  but  warmer
                    weather has been promised in the next days. After two busy
                    weeks here [in New York where he had a sold-out exhibition
                    at Stompers Gallery], I’ll fly back to Finland to start working
                    again.—All the best..., Tom.

                    On July 27, 1978, Tom of Finland once again wrote to Al Shapiro
                and me at Drummer saying thanks to us all for squiring him around
                San Francisco. Tom was also very pleased  with Robert  Opel’s
                “Interview of Tom of Finland” in the four-page layout that Al and I
                produced and edited for my Drummer 22 (May 1978):

                    ...thank you personally for your hospitality during my visit to
                    San Francisco. I enjoyed meeting you and being around in
                    places with you. And I must say I envy you being able to live
                    and work in a city like San Francisco. I found it very inspir-
                    ing. I also want to tell my thanks for the Drummer issue 22
                    which I received some days ago. I liked Robert Opel’s inter-
                    view, the photos were well selected and the whole article
                    looked good, much better than those in local L.A. papers. I
                    am very pleased.....Best wishes, Tom

                    Has anyone ever asked why Tom of Finland never appeared on
                the cover of Drummer while John Embry owned it? Tom was a surefire
                draw for readers. Like Robert Mapplethorpe’s duality of “art and com-
                merce” and very like Peter Schjeldahl’s great assessment of Frieda
                Kahlo in The New Yorker (May 25, 2015), Tom of Finland existed in
                gay pop culture somewhere “between sainthood and a brand”:  gay
                sainthood as sweet man and artist, as well as brand name selling
                Tom of Finland Company cologne and clothing on fashion runways
                sponsored by Absolut Vodka in the way Robert Mapplethorpe sold art
                calendars and calla lily plates and appeared in print ads for Rose’s
                Lime Juice. Even before Tom’s first arrival in the United States, Al
                Shapiro and I invited his work into Drummer in 1977. Tom was, in
                fact, so accomplished professionally that for seventeen years until
                1973 when he retired to devote his time to his own art, he was senior
                art director at the Helsinki branch of the global ad agency McCann
                Erickson featured years later on the television series Mad Men.
                    In my archives exist three letters from Tom of Finland to Al
                Shapiro which tell the tale of how Tom’s offer to publisher Embry
                went nowhere because of Embry’s lack of response to the reticent
                and overly modest Tom who was willing to sell his Tom of Finland origi-
                nal to Drummer for $300, or lease the use of his Drummer-specific
                drawing for $50. It is indicative of how out of touch Embry was with

               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
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