The City’s Sex Party

This Friday, the Tom of Finland Foundation will open its 17th annual exhibition of erotic art in Plummer Park. As in times past, the West Hollywood City Council has voted to underwrite the exhibition by waiving the $1,800 fee it usually charges organizations to use park facilities. Mayor Jeffrey Prang will speak at the official opening of the event at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Fiesta Hall. And later Saturday night there will be what the Foundation describes in its exhibit marketing materials as “a big, throbbing private, play party intended to inspire action in the deepest depths of your inner artists.” Tickets are $35 and include access to what the Foundation says is “a Full BDSM Playroom – St. Andrews Crosses, Slings, Suspension Rig, P-tub, and dark corners everywhere. Clothes Check, DJ Video and Beverage Bar … Condoms, Gloves, and Pads provided.”

A couple of Plummer Park area residents have spoken out against the City’s decision to let the Foundation stage the erotic art exhibit in the park. They argue that West Hollywood Park, closer to the gay heart of the city, would be a more appropriate place. Last year, similar objections were raised by members of the city’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, whose decision to not endorse the event was overridden by the City Council.

One can debate the appropriateness of “erotic art” and the exhibit’s location. But why is no one asking this question: Is it appropriate for the City of West Hollywood to endorse, by waiving a park fee and sending the mayor to speak, an event that includes a sex party as a major feature?

I think not.

Let me make clear that I am a gay man who believes consenting adults should be free to express themselves sexually however they choose. And I’m not troubled that the City is underwriting an exhibit of homoerotic art (an exhibit which I have attended in the past). After all, the city sponsors numerous arts events appealing to diverse audiences. But the City Council, by unanimously approving the underwriting of an event marketed like this one, and the mayor, by speaking at it, are tacitly investing West Hollywood’s most valuable currency — its reputation — in a sex party. The Council thus risks damaging West Hollywood’s reputation as a city of sophistication and culture. Worse, it risks rending the fragile fabric of tolerance that binds the various communities of this wonderfully diverse city.

A homoerotic art exhibit in the one city park known as a gathering place for the city’s overwhelmingly heterosexual and elderly Eastern European Jews? An exhibit whose major celebratory event is an S&M sex party?

Curious to hear what you think, citizens of WEHOville. Should the City of West Hollywood be supporting, however remotely, an S&M sex party?

Henry (Hank) Scott

For a full viewing of the Tom of Finland ad, click the photo below:

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About Henry (Hank) Scott
Henry (Hank) Scott is publisher of Scott is a journalist and media business executive who has worked at newspapers as varied as the weekly Butner-Creedmoor (N.C.) News, circulation 1,200, and The New York Times.

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You can call me Earl
You can call me Earl

Have to admit that I’m kind of stunned to see that picture of the Tom of Finland flyer with the mayor speaking on one line and the S&M party on the next line. What the hell is the city council thinking? I’m an out and proud gay man — no self-loathing here (and I sure do enjoy sex). But I support the city with my tax dollars and the idea that my city supports an event that includes an S&M sex party is absolutely repugnant to me. I’m in my mid-thirties, and I understand that older gay guys have trouble… Read more »


Sorry, but we haven’t seen any comments other than the ones above. We did switch a few hours ago from a Facebook commenting system to the current one because some users were concerned their comments would show up on their Facebook pages (they won’t actually). So if anyone has posted, and that post was lost in the switch, please repost. Our goal is vigorous debate. We publish all comments that aren’t slanderous and don’t use offensive language.

Ryan Gierach

It only took a few hours for the heavy hand of the publisher’s censoriousness to come down hard on those comments this publisher disliked. Less than one hour ago, the vigorous public dialogue that followed this post disappeared – yes, vanished – all four or five viewpoints and six or seven comments taking issue with Mr. Scott’s playing loose with facts and his apparent cluelessness about what makes West Hollywood the bastion of tolerance it is. This is apparently what we can expect from his publication – no free speech here, only his approved speech. Ask Jimmy Palmieri what he… Read more »

Verrone Lake
Verrone Lake

I live in West Hollywood because it is the kind of place where the city council would sponsor an event that includes an S&M sex party. Nothing made me prouder when I got the announcement from the Tom of Finland folks than to see mayor Prang’s name right above the sex party announcement. People who live here have gotta get real. West Hollywood isn’t about art and culture and style and all that crap. It’s a great gay ghetto. That’s why most of us are here. And thank god we have a gay city council that realizes that and supports… Read more »

Jake Weathers

Boy are you a self-loathing piece of, well, I can’t say that kind of thing on a site like this.
You get the facts wrong and want to make the city the bad guys for something Tom of Finland Foundation isn’t even sponsoring, an independent play party put on by an event organizer not actually connected to Tom of Finland.
Where do YOU get off? Are you some sort of right wing jack off?