Lick Me? Tom of Finland Art Featured on Postage Stamp

Homoerotic artist Tom of Finland gets the official stamp of approval | Art and design | The Guardian.

True. But not in the U.S.

You can’t be shocked. Our postal service is more than a little bit too conservative for THAT!

No, Finland is giving Tom of Finland a place in philatelic history. And the images are, according to The Guardian article, some of the most daring ever put on a stamp, even if they are tame by T of F standards.

Tom of Finland stamps

Finland’s Tom of Finland stamps, some of the most overtly homoerotic images to appear on an official government-issued postage stamp.


A nation’s stamps often mirror the nation’s culture and Finland is notoriously more open-minded to LGBT issues than other countries in the West. Still, times are changing. The Royal Mail issued a stamp commemorating Alan Turing in 2012. And next month, the USPS honors Harvey Milk with a stamp bearing the slain San Francisco councilman’s visage and a small rainbow flag. There is an effort currently underway to get the postal service to commemorate civil rights leader Bayard Rustin on a stamp as well.

Leather gloves and bare asses are, we can safely assume, not going to happen in the US mail anytime soon.

How Closing San Diego Opera Makes Your Life Worse

What follows is the text of an e-mail. I have friends — curiously, a great many really good friends — whip smart people — who work in and are passionate about the world of opera. To butcher Austin Powers, opera ain’t my bag, baby, but I appreciate it as an artistic expression. My particular tastes never get in the way of making sure that others can tell a story and impact lives by doing so.

Anyhow, this is in response to the whole hub-bub that’s happening at San Diego Opera. You can read a primer in this article from the LA Times. Meanwhile, all outrage and expletives below are my own.

I will attempt brevity, but I probably will not succeed because this pushes all of my arts management buttons.


It’s not over, you know, until the fat lady sings. Here’s Amalie Materna as Brunhilde in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen nearly 140 years ago. People are still coming to hear this music. Should we preserve it?

Here’s the bottom line: this is 100% — ONE HUNDRED PERCENT — about the mis-, mal- and non-feasance of this Board. Period. End of. Do not pass “Go.” Accept and move on to the next task. Because….

This is NOT the general director’s organization. This is NOT the audience’s organization. This is NOT the employees’ organization. This is the BOARD’S organization. That’s reality. That’s the legal reality of the situation.

The BOARD let Ian Campbell fail — spectacularly fail — at his job. Why? Because they were lazy. Because they forgot what they were supposed to do. Because they forgot their charge. Because they forgot — or did not know — what their job was. At at the very essence, their job was to shitcan him a decade ago.

Why? Because no one — NO ONE — should be allowed to make a career out of one artistic organization. Why? Because the art gets flabby. OR the leadership gets flabby. OR the Board gets flabby. OR all of the above.

When an arts Board forgets that they are supposed to make ART happen instead of make MONEY happen, well, they’ve lost the plot already.

So, what happens now? If no one pulls their fat out of the fire? Lots of people who can ill afford it lose their jobs. San Diego loses one of California’s/America’s/the world’s cultural treasures. And an art form dies a little. And we’re all a little bit worse off because we’ve contracted the amount of space in our world that we are willing to allot to art. And, thus, we become less and less human. That’s the esoteric nth degree, but it makes it no less sad.

This, friends, is the sad intersection of art and commerce where, unless you are the deftest of traffic cops, commerce always runs roughshod over art.

And I find the greatest of ironies in [redacted – the signature file of the original sender]: Audiences Reimagined? Okay. Good luck with that. But, I will leave you with this tiny tip: that’s a false construct. Audiences are audiences. They do not change. If you want to reimagine something WORTHWHILE THAT CAN BENEFIT SOMEONE, reimagine MARKETING to the audience. And Boards.

This fuckin’ thing raised my blood pressure too high for 10pm on a Tuesday.

Cross-posted to


So alert readers tuned into all things gay (and related) probably already know Steve Grand. He’s the gay Chicago musician who released a self-produced music video last summer and became an overnight gay indie sensation. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s adorable.

Since then, he’s released a second video, been on tour, and this week, launched a Kickstarter to fund his first album. His goal: $81,000 to make the album. In the first 40 hours, he had raised $125,000. And he’s got a month left.

I love to see this kind of thing. So different from the experiences of my generation of ancients. When I was working one of my first radio jobs — back, you know, when KDKA first signed on — I lobbied for, and finally received a portable cassette recorder so that I could do on-the-spot interviews and live-to-tape coverage of events. Thought I had died and gone to Heaven!

Oh, how the world has changed in 25-ish years! You go, Steve Grand! Here’s Grand’s new song, released to kick off his Kickstarter.

Last summer’s musings.

Kevin Keller: It Gets Better

It was Kevin Keller Day recently courtesy of the It Gets Better Project and Archie Comics. Keller, you may know, is Archie Andrews’ pal from Riverdale, U.S.A. and, in addition to appearing in other Archie Comics titles, fronts his own eponymous book.

Thanks to Dan Parent, who created Kevin Keller, the world of Archie Comics has gotten exponentially better — not to mention more diverse and incredibly more affirming. Not bad for a town where Archie, Jughead and company have been high school juniors since 1941!


Superman as gay teen … or gay teen as Superman. Works either way. | Image: Dan Parent/Archie Comics. Click image for more Kevin Keller.

Steven Soderbergh on Art

It was on the wall of a cave in France 30,000 years ago, and it’s because we are a species that’s driven by narrative. Art is storytelling, and we need to tell stories to pass along ideas and information, and to try and make sense out of all this chaos. And sometimes when you get a really good artist and a compelling story, you can almost achieve that thing that’s impossible which is entering the consciousness of another human being – literally seeing the world the way they see it. Then, if you have a really good piece of art and a really good artist, you are altered in some way, and so the experience is transformative and in the minute you’re experiencing that piece of art, you’re not alone.

from a speech given by Soderbergh at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival

via The Dish. (Thanks, Andrew Sullivan, for posting this. Most excellent, indeed)

Ace Of Cakes Offers to Make Rebuffed Oregon Lesbian Couple’s Cake For Free

"Ace of Cakes," Duff Goldman. Image: Extended Image Photography/WikimediaCommons

“Ace of Cakes,” Duff Goldman. Image: Extended Image Photography – WikimediaCommons

Things might soon be looking up for the lesbian brides-to-be who were denied a wedding cake by an Oregon bakery.

In the wake of the incident, Baltimore-based pastry chef and “Ace of Cakes” star Duff Goldman is sending out an open offer to the couple, saying he’ll bake and transport their wedding cake completely free of charge.

via Duff Goldman, ‘Ace Of Cakes’ Chef, Offers To Bake Rejected Lesbian Couple’s Wedding Cake For Free.

This makes me happy. I always got a kick out of Duff, plus he’s from my hometown* and he makes the old Charm City look great. I used to work not to very far from his bakery, but have never had one of his cakes. My partner has always wanted one. Maybe when we get married….

*Okay, I wasn’t really born there, but I love Baltimore and the place I am actually from is kind of repellent!

RAW Television — Refine Your Palette with This Treat

Are you familiar with RAW at all?

RAW is set in a restaurant of the same name in Dublin, Ireland and is broadcast on RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the public broadcaster – more or less – of Ireland). This clip is from the current series of six episodes now airing in Ireland.

The show is anchored by the truly astonishing Damon Gameau, an Aussie who plays bombastic and often egomaniacal head chef Geoff. In this clip, you see Geoff returning to RAW after a long absence and you see his lover, Pavel, dead in his arms in a brief flashback. Krystof Hadek gave an achingly beautiful portrayal of Pavel. He humanized Geoff and was a soft-spoken anchor for Geoff and the restaurant.

It’s the type of elegant, yet visceral, drama that is utterly lacking from American television. Especially network broadcast television.

PrideSource Interview with Fun.’s Jack Antonoff: Being Straight With ‘Lesbian Chemicals’

You’re one of the gay community’s biggest supporters, and you’ve been very outspoken about it. When and why did gay issues become so important to you?

I wish there was a great story or a poetic answer, but I just don’t know how anyone could not be outspoken and enraged with any violation of human rights.

via PrideSource – Q&A: Fun.’s Jack Antonoff On LGBT Activism, Lena Dunham & Being Straight With ‘Lesbian Chemicals’.

A terrific interview with Antonoff.


Good, clean “Fun.” Antonoff is at right.

John Lithgow, the National Theatre, and My Own Name-Dropping Memory of the Best New Year’s Ever

There are about 30 dressing rooms at the National. Some hold up to five people, and a few accommodate just one. They are arranged around a 60-foot-square air shaft, five stories high, at the very center of the building’s sprawling complex. All of the dressing room windows face in on one another. Look out any window at the half-hour call, and you stare right into the windows of dozens of other actors, all readying themselves for one of the three shows they are about to perform.

That cut is from a great article John Lithgow wrote for the New York Times. I’ll link to it at the bottom after I tell you my story about the dressing rooms at London’s National Theatre. Caution: serious name-dropping ahead!!

John Lithgow in his dressing room in London at the National Theater. Photo: Dave Corio/New York Times

John Lithgow in his dressing room in London at the National Theater. Photo: Dave Corio/New York Times

New Year’s Eve: 1997
Four friends of mine and I were in London for a mad week of theatre and touristy fun. One of my friends, an actor, was playing the dual role of Captain Hook/Mr. Darling in a production of Peter Pan in the States. We were going to see a production of the same adaptation in London at the National and the same role my friend was playing in the U.S. version was being assayed in London by Sir Ian McKellen.

And, as it happened, Sir Ian had a connection to the theatre where my friend was performing. On the flight over, my friend, let’s call him Steve, told me that his theatre had given him a press kit and wondered if I knew how we could get it to Sir Ian. (I was working as a theatrical press agent at the time — or as NPR’s Bob Mondello once referred to me in an article: “theatre flack Mark Blackmon.”)

I looked at the information; press kits being a particularly weird specialty of mine. I took out about half of the information and rearranged the rest of it. I handed it back to my friend.

“Do you want to meet Ian McKellen?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. “How?”

“Leave that part to me,” I said. “But if I get you in, you’re taking me with you.”

A few days later — the afternoon of the 31st — we were taking a tour of the National. I made sure my friend had the press kit with him. During the tour, I made him give it to me and dove out of line. Then I did the thing that always works in the movies: I kept looking at my watch, looked harried and confused and walked up to a lobby attendant.

“I’m terribly late for a meeting,” I lied, prominently holding the folder as if it contained life-altering information. “Can you point me to the stage door?” He did and I thanked him profusely. (Seriously, I don’t know why I don’t have a Tony Award for Ballsiness!)

I ran outside, around the building, and to the prominently marked stage entrance. Once inside, I thanked the gods that the desk attendant was a little old lady. I was always better at chatting up grandmas than I was at chatting up cute boys, I’m sorry to say! I told her my story, she promised to leave the material in Sir Ian’s dressing room and told me to return after the show and she’d let us know if we could go back to meet him.

That night after the show, Steve and I left our group as soon as curtain call began and ran around to the stage door. Oh, Ian would be delighted to meet us, I was told, just as soon as he dressed. An interminable 10 minutes later, someone came up and escorted us through the rabbit’s warren that is backstage at the National to Sir Ian McKellen’s dressing room.

I’ve met a lot of famous and near-famous folks over the years, but Ian remains in my Top 5 all-time nicest list. We spent about an hour backstage with him. He cracked open a bottle of wine, which the three of us consumed. He and Steve traded Peter Pan stories and Steve tried on Ian’s hook. Ian kept glancing out of the window — just as Lithgow described it — and finally apologized, telling us that it looked like an elderly actor was waiting to meet him in someone else’s dressing room. “I was secretly hoping he expired during the performance,” he said wryly.

We were shown the door and we giddily walked back up the Thames, crossed Waterloo Bridge and caught the Tube back to our hotel, arriving just in time to grab something overpriced from the mini-bar to toast the New Year and recount our adventures to the rest of our group.

Since that time, Sir Ian has starred in some of the biggest blockbuster motion pictures of all time. Often, when someone begins a conversation about Gandalf or Magneto, I’ll ask the question, “Have I ever told you about spending New Year’s Eve in Ian McKellen’s dressing room?”

Lithgow’s story in the New York Times