4 – Cynthia Slater Celebrity Fist – Paige Gratland


Paige Gratland
Cynthia Slater Celebrity Fist
wax, plaster, leather
Fist Pendant $5, Glow in the Dark Fist Candle $50, Celebrity Lezbian Fist series $250.

Cynthia Slater Celebrity Fist

My installation references a previous body of work called Celebrity Lezbian Fist in which I cast the hands of famed and favorite queer cultural icons. For The Gay Wax Museum I will ceremonially add Cynthia Slater’s fist to the collection with honorary stand-in, theorist, Gayle Rubin.

Cynthia Slater 1945-1989: self-proclaimed gay man with a cunt.

Slater was a leather pioneer, bisexual organizer, S/M educator, consent advocate, AIDS activist, co-founder of the Society of Janus and volunteer at San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI), a telephone hotline that provided reliable sex education to the public. She was the first woman to establish a permanent presence at the Catacombs, an all-male fisting club in San Francisco (her smaller fists sought out by new members). Her fearless pursuit of pleasure and transcendence changed the sexual culture around her, which influenced the late 80’s/early 90’s LA sex and art scene, typified by Ron Athey, Cathy Opie and Bob Flanagan. Slater is celebrated for creating the first mixed gender/mixed orientation S/M events in the Bay Area. Gayle Rubin, Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, has written that Slater’s events promoted an “attitude of respect for difference” and that her invitation of women to the Catacombs taught S/M lesbians “how to party.”

Slater died of AIDS related complications in 1989.





For the past decade I have combined interdisciplinary forms to create conceptual work through a pop aesthetic. I locate my practice in a continuum of feminist sculpture and artist multiple production in Canada distributing my work through Art Metropole (Toronto) and Otherwild (Los Angeles.) Previous projects have appeared in C Magazine, The Walrus, Geist, Fuse and the Phaidon book Art and Queer Culture, edited by Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer.