Tom of Finland Movie Screening at Tribeca Festival

Tom of Finland movie poster

I think of Tom of Finland as a comic artist, but that’s not really accurate. He’s best known for capturing lovingly detailed portraits of classic gay fetish imagery — the well-built biker in leather with a thick mustache, the bulging sailor, the hairy-chested construction worker — all in tight pants, strongly muscled and well-endowed. The movie publicity calls them “iconic homoerotic drawings”, and so they are.

Art of Tom of Finland

I think I associate him with comics because his art was often available, back in the day before the internet gave everyone porn at their fingertips, in comic shop back rooms with XXXenophile and the Playboy back issues. Anyway, Tom of Finland (his pen name) was born Touko Valio Laaksonen and passed away in 1991. Now there’s a biopic movie about his life and struggles, including his time in Los Angeles and his later artistic success.

Tom of Finland is debuting in the US at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month, in Finnish with English subtitles. Here’s the English teaser trailer:

And the original Finnish (with more butts and some English dialogue):

And the official summary:

Tom of Finland movie poster

Touko Laaksonen, a decorated officer, returns home after a harrowing and heroic experience serving his country in World War II. But life in Finland during peacetime proves equally distressing. He finds post-war Helsinki rampant with homophobic persecution, and gay men around him are being pressured to marry women and have children. Touko finds refuge in his liberating art: homoerotic drawings of muscular men, free of inhibitions.

But it is only when an American publisher sees them and invites Tuoko over to the West Coast that his life really takes a turn. Finally being able to walk free and proud in Los Angeles, Tuoko dives head first into the sexual revolution, becoming an icon and a rallying point. His work – made famous by his signature ‘Tom of Finland’ – became the emblem of a generation of men and fanned the flames of the worldwide gay revolution.

And a review that suggests it’s a good film, but not great.

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