Antebellum Gallery: Decadent Charm

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The galleries of Los Angeles are myriad, and none more mysterious than a canopied store front across from venerable Boardner’s bar on Las Palmas in Hollywood. A large painting or photograph hangs in the huge window, indicating this is indeed a gallery. A small sign on the black painted door frames requests that you buzz to enter and states that you must be over 18 to enter. Antebellum Gallery is a specialty gallery.

The “Art of Spanking,” opening December 7, 2013 at Antebellum Gallery, marks the gallery debut of  Copper, who in 1991, became the  first gay LAPD officer to voluntarily come-out to the department. In addition to his regular patrol duties in the Hollywood Division, he was also an instructor at the Police Academy, helping to establish the curriculum for a class in police relations with the LGBT community. In 1992, Copper’s art began to regularly appear in periodicals like Drummer, The Leather Journal, Hot Bottoms and Cuir.  He retired  for the LAPD in the 2000s, and continued his art career.

Characterized by skillful, detailed and at times humorous or poignant paintings of spanking and male erotica, Copper’s work shows a side of sexual interactions that might decried by squares, assimilationists, and uptight conservatives,  but which is part of the psycho-sexual lexicon.

Saturday’s opening will feature men, cigars, and leather. Antebellum is Los Angeles’ only over-18 gallery, and the only fetish gallery in America. Wednesday invitation tea parties are fabulous. Internationally acclaimed performance artist   Ron Athey was feted at Antebellum on his visit to Los Angeles. Recently the gallery held a benefit to raise funds for the artist Carlos Batts’ widow April Flores.

Owner Rick Castro is a noted photographer and filmmaker who worked as a stylist and designer for Herb Ritts, Bette MidlerTina Turner, John Leguizamo. George Hurrell, the style agency Cloutier, ‘Interview‘ magazine, ‘GQ‘ magazine, ‘Vanity Fair‘ magazine, ‘Rolling Stone‘ magazine, and  ‘I-D‘ magazine.  His photography, solely in black and white, focuses on fetish and BDSM, though he also creates surreal tableaux and portraits.  He is also a delightful host and conversationalist, elegant, witty, erudite, and sweet, with a wicked sense of humor.

Antebellum Gallery is  located in the historic building that once housed the legendary Baroque Books where Charles Bukowski would raise hell with owner Red Stodolsky (ask Rick about the ghost, and also about his suggestions for a haunted Hollywood tour).

Antebellum is a treasure in Los Angeles; the art work shown often recalls the time before HIV/AIDS while expressing the sorrow, loss and rage of the 1980s and 90s. The gallery’s vibe reflects a pre-internet culture of decadence, outlaws, and transgressive behaviors.  The prudish or easily shocked might not find it as charming a venue as I; but the curious, queer, and open-minded will discover a truly magical space.

WARNING: SOME IMAGES NSFW. And if you’re afraid of clowns, there’s one of those too.

Antebellum Gallery
1643 La Palmas Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90027
Plese call for hours

IMG_3801Copper and Castro

IMG_3791I walked into the install when I dropped by to pick up a piece of art.





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Dave Naz was among the artists who donated work for Carlos’ widow April.



Shepard Fairey was among the artists who donated artwork

IMG_6023Carlos Batts’ fundraiser. Castro’s photo of a latex purse made from a human mold and Rick Owens designed skulls .
I bid for it and won!

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Much of gallery featured photos of Athey, known for his extreme and durational performance art techniques.


Castro’s photos


Our host, with a few of his photos of Athey


Athey in the gallery’s garden.


Robert Fontanelli, Ring Belll


I could not resist the lure of the hippocampus; Castro’s photos of Athey are behind us


Castro and the hippocampus

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