Out There :: Tom of Finland, Jazz Greats and Coward-mania

  • by Robert Nesti, EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
  • Sunday May 10, 2009
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The mother of all art books landed with a wallop on the arts desk... Two music legends come to town... Michael Feinstein's restaurant picks... and Coward-Mania continues.

Erotic master gets his due

he mother of all art books landed with a wallop on the arts desk. Tom of Finland XXL (Taschen), oversized at 11.4 by 15.9 inches, fills 666 pages with over 1,000 images. Editor Dian Hanson, whom we met when she launched her Big Penis Book, drew examples from all the known collections of Tom of Finland works, and the bounty here includes many drawings and paintings never before published.

The masterful art of Touko Laaksonen ("Tom") has been hugely influential, not only in erotic art and gay wet-dreams, but in the way we have come to dress, accessorize, body-build, and fetishize. Hanson commissioned essays about ToF’s impact on our gay world by the likes of Camille Paglia , John Waters, Armistead Maupin and Todd Oldham. Art historian Edward Lucie-Smith offers analysis of the illustrations. It’s a mammoth pachyderm of an art book stuffed with erotic spirit that really gives Tom of Finland’s big, bulging brutes their due.

Music legends around town

Springtime has brought bouquets of arts and cultural events, and Out There will try to catch you up with a few. We were excited to attend the annual SFJAZZ Gala at the Four Seasons two weekends ago since it honored jazz legend McCoy Tyner. The only living member of the great John Coltrane Quartet, Tyner sat down for a session with the SFJAZZ Collective, then a duet with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. It was like living a little piece of jazz history.

Then we enjoyed the last installment of this year’s Talking Music series presented by City Arts & Lectures, avant-garde performance artist Laurie Anderson interviewed by Rolling Stone writer Michael Azerrad at the Herbst. As always, Anderson was stimulating, recounting her offbeat adventures toiling on an Amish farm, and working the breakfast shift at McDonald’s. She will be back in the Bay Area next spring with her Two-Sided Plays, a multimedia series co-commissioned by Cal Performances and Stanford Lively Arts.

But we didn’t stop there! On Dining Out for Life night last Thursday, when 25% of the food bill was donated to the HIV prevention programs of the Stop AIDS Project, we pulled up to local fave La Mediterrane for their vegetarian Middle Eastern plate and a tasty Cotes de Rhone. On Tuesday, we joined throngs of Seal fans for The Man’s rare appearance at the newly restored Fox Theater in Oakland. Tonight, we’ll be at the SFIFF’s closing-night screening and party for Unmade Beds. About which, more anon.

Feinstein’s dining choices

Pop pianist Michael Feinstein is appearing with his Sinatra Projects show at Davies Symphony Hall on Sun., May 10, at 7 p.m. Tickets and information: (866) 920-5299 or www.sfjazz.org. Feinstein shared his picks for the Top 5 Places in SF .

Lucky Creation Restaurant, 854 Washington St.: "This Asian, exclusively vegan hole-in-the-wall serves delicious faux meats and fake pork buns that are seductive and addictive."

Fields Book Store, 1419 Polk St.: "Venerable metaphysical bookstore with a world-class collection of rare volumes. Great for browsing, and a peaceful respite from the outside world."

Foot Reflexology Center, 662 Jackson St.: "With all of the walking around in San Francisco, I inevitably find my feet begging for a return visit to the Center for a 40-minute foot massage. Nirvana!"

Rrazz Room at the Nikko Hotel: "One of the last bastions of cabaret, and a worthy successor to the much-missed Plush Room."

Jack’s Record Cellar, 254 Scott St.: "Of the very few remaining used record stores, there are even fewer that offer a proliferation of 78 rpm discs. A little digging will inevitably turn up a treasure."

Coward-mania continues

"Wit ought to be a glorious treat like caviar; never spread it should like marmalade." So spoke Noel Coward , who treated the world to his wit. Continuing the celebration of the famed British playwright and raconteur’s 100th birthday, former SF Chronicle arts, culture and theater critic Steven Winn will discuss his place in theater history by way of introducing Easy Virtue, Thurs., May 14 at the Vogue. This is a screen adaptation of Coward’s witty 1924 play, sort of an early version of Meet the Parents. Set in the 1920s, it looks at what happens when a young man from an upper-crust British family impulsively marries an American racecar driver after a wild romance in France, then brings her home to, yup, meet the parents. Kristen Scott Thomas plays the snobby mother who is appalled by the young woman. Colin Firth is the dad who takes a liking to her - maybe too much of one. As the new bride, Jessica Biel is in daunting company acting beside Thomas and Firth, but manages to acquit herself fairly well. She looks terrific in flapper styles. Director Stephan Elliott displays the light touch he showed in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It must have been a little intimidating to know the play was filmed once before, by Alfred Hitchcock. The evening is a benefit for the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, May 14, 8 p.m., Vogue Theater, 3290 Sacramento St., SF. Info: (415) 346-2288, www.voguesf.com.

With the 52nd SF International Film Fest coming to a close, thoughts race ahead to Frameline 33, the SF International LGBT Film Festival , coming June 18-28. We’re already starting to get the advance dish, and here is the tiniest sample of the goods in store. Closing-night film Hannah Free, directed by Wendy Jo Carlton , will bring star Sharon Gless (Cagney & Lacey, Queer As Folk) to the glory of the Castro Theatre. Coming attraction!

Robert Nesti can be reached at [email protected].