A new U.S. trailer and poster have been released for Tom of Finland, filmmaker Dome Karukoski’s biopic about the legendary gay erotic artist born Touko Laaksonen.
In the trailer, the Finnish artist is seen leaving behind his homophobic homeland to make a splash in California with the hypersexualized drawings of macho men that ultimately made him a gay icon.
Laaksonen, who passed away in 1991 at the age of 71, is played in the film by actor Pekka Strang, who calls it “the role of a lifetime.”
As seen in the biopic, Laaksonen’s life was just as fascinating as his art: Born the son of schoolteachers in 1920, Laaksonen was drafted into the Finnish army during WWII and served alongside Nazi officers, who inspired his fascination with men in uniform.
“The whole Nazi philosophy, the racism and all that, is hateful to me,” Laaksonen once remarked. “But, of course, I drew them anyway. They had the sexiest uniforms!”
In the 1950s, he lived a double life, working in advertising by day and making erotic masterpieces by night under the moniker Tom of Finland. His depictions of cops, bikers, and construction workers were the only sexual outlet for many closeted men in the ’60s and ’70s.
“They understood through his art that they didn’t have to feel ashamed—they could be sexual, they could be lustful, they could be whatever they want,” Karukoski told NewNowNext in April. “Even in wild and sexual fantasies there is no shame. That part changed the lives of so many men.”
In the decades that followed, more artists, filmmakers, and advertisers followed Laaksonen’s lead in sexualizing the male form.
“It’s impossible to overstate the impact Tom’s work has had on the image and self-image of gay men all over the world,” Tom of Finland screenwriter Aleksi Bardy told Variety. “He created the archetypes that now form an integral part of the iconography of popular culture, both gay and straight.”
Finland’s Academy Awards selection committee announced earlier this month that they have selected Tom of Finland to represent the country and compete in this year’s Best Foreign Language Film category.
Tom of Finland opens October 13 in New York and October 20 in L.A. and San Francisco, followed by a national release.
See the new trailer and poster below.