When Rick Castro shared our article about his upcoming exhibition opening this Saturday at the Tom of Finland Foundation, Facebook barred him from his account for 30 days. There was nothing in the promotional image of sexual content or nudity. Read Rick's statement below.
For better or, (mostly) worse, the largest social media platforms have become the dictators of culture for the early 21st century. They do this by deciding who and what can be posted. Ironic since WWW (worldwide web) was created as a way for everyone to express whatever they want to without corporate input.
These social media platforms have become the harshest censors using Trumpworld’s Russian hackers as excuse to remove content. Homeland security may be the impetus, but this quickly overreached to include sexual content.
Social media uses faux community standards and religion as justification for discriminatory practices that are blatantly hypocritical. Not surprisingly LGBTQ postings have become the hardest hit with rampant over-censorship and arbitrary removals.
This is unfortunately nothing new. “Blame the gays” rhetoric has been part of the American justice scapegoating for as long as we care to remember.
I have always been, and always will be, a sex positive artist.
My exhibit at the Tom of Finland Foundation, "Rick Castro: Fetish King", is a comprehensive journey of my photography from 1986 thru 2019. Besides the themes of BDSM, lust, and desire, I am presenting an in-your-face pushback to American censorship.
If we accept these restrictions as a community, we’re doomed. Fuck censorship. — Rick Castro, April 2, 2019
Born in Los Angeles in 1958, Rick Castro began his early career working as a fashion stylist and clothing designer. His clients over the years have included Bette Midler, David Bowie, Herb Ritts, Joel-Peter Witkin and magazines like Interview, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. Castro first became a freelance photographer in 1988, with his work appearing in international and local publications.
His first solo show was at A Different Light Bookstore in Silver Lake, California, in 1988. Over the decades he has had numerous international exhibitions. Notable films includes his short films of hustler interviews in 1994 that inspired Bruce LaBruce to make the film Hustler White in 1996, in which he was co-director/writer. The film garnered great success internationally and is listed by the Los Angeles Times as one of the top 100 underground films of the 20th century. Castro also directed a documentary for MTV called Plushies & Furries in 2001, a film which focused on the furry communities.
Over his 30+ year career, Castro has photographed producer Alan Poul, porn star Peter Berlin, author Gore Vidal, director Kenneth Anger, performance artist Ron Athey, and the 14th Dalai Lama. Castro has created editorial photos for Christian Dior Homme, Cartier jewelry and designer Rick Owens, realizing photographs that are notably more than fashion. His films are archived by UCLA Legacy Projects, his books and photographs are archived by the Alfred Kinsey Institute, and Tom of Finland Foundation.
He continues his art practice, and commissioned photo shoots.
Durk Dehner, co-founder of Tom of Finland Foundation, was one of Rick Castro’s first collectors, and his first publisher. TOM House is where Castro hosts a tea salon every Wednesday and a monthly book club. antebellumgallery.blogspot.com. Follow Rick on Instagram.
Rick Castro, Fetish King: Photographs 1986—2019
Presented by: Tom of Finland Foundation
Curator: Rubén Esparza
April 6 – April 27, 2019
Reception: Saturday, April 6, 6 to 9 p.m., Tom of Finland Foundation
1421 Laveta Terrace, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Through April 27th, by appointment. Contact: Ruben Esparza firstname.lastname@example.org, 323-333-5449
About Tom of Finland Foundation
In 1984, the non-profit Tom of Finland Foundation was established by Durk Dehner and his friend Tom of Finland (born Touko Laaksonen). As Tom had established worldwide recognition as the master of homo-erotic art, the Foundation’s original purpose was to preserve his vast catalog of work. Several years later the scope was widened to offer a safe haven for all erotic art in response to rampant discrimination against art that portrayed sexual behavior or generated a sexual response. Today the Foundation continues in its efforts of educating the public as to the cultural merits of erotic art and in promoting healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality. www.tomoffinlandfoundation.org
About Ruben Esparza
Rubén Esparza is an artist and independent curator based in Los Angeles. Esparza’s practice spans painting, analog, and digital work. Using elements of conceptualism, ethnicity and Queer Culture.
His curatorial work focuses on under-represented artists primarily in the queer and POC communities. His work is included as part of the permanent collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Santa Barbara Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, Illinois, among others. Esparza is the founder and director of the Queer Biennial anchored in Los Angeles, New York, Mexico, Miami, Paris, and Zurich. Esparza has worked closely with the Tom of Finland Foundation as producer/co-curator for the Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festival, soon to celebrate their 25th anniversary. www.queerbiennial.com www.rubenesparza.com