One Sexologist’s Quest to Stimulate Las Vegas’ Art Scene
Dr. Laura Henkel showcases her passion for being passionate at '12 Inches of Sin,' an immersive art experience in Sin City.
Yongshin Jo, Mandrak Body. All images courtesy of Dr. Laura Henkel/Sin City Gallery
This article contains adult content.
If there's still a taboo around erotic art in Las Vegas, rest assured: Dr. Laura Henkel is breaking it. The curator and specialist in human sexuality helms the Sin City Gallery, which is preparing for an upcoming show of Hajime Sorayama paintings. She also runs 12 Inches of Sin, an annual juried erotic art exhibition. Now, for the competition’s fifth year, an immersive art experience will accompany the annual competition.
For the April 9 event, Dr. Henkel is taking over the entire Arts Factory complex, the converted warehouse where Sin City Gallery is located, amongst other fine art studios and commercial galleries. She hopes to encourage Las Vegas’ downtown arts scene, and from 1 PM to midnight, the complex will be filled with visual and performance art, lectures, and live entertainment.
“Sin City Gallery is dedicated to providing a serious professional forum, exhibit space, and series of publications for practitioners of provocative art who have too long been marginalized or excluded from so much of the art world,” reads a press release for the event.
The only criteria for entering the competition is that the art explore eroticism and sensuality, and not exceed one square foot in size. 5 years ago, 12 Inches of Sin received 40 submissions. This year, that number has grown to over 300 from around the world. The art, which ranges from sensual oil paintings of pomegranates, to images that could belong on the Look at this Pussy instagram, to Cock A Doo, a digital painting of the Chik-Fil-A logo stylized into a, yep, you guessed it, will be judged by a diverse and powerful panel.
From Oscar Goodman, former Mayor of the City of Las Vegas; to Will Roger Peterson, founding board member and board chairman of the Burning Man Project; Steve Diet Goedde, a photographer whose work delves into the erotic; and Henry S. Rosenthal, producer of, amongst many others, Jeff, Embrace Your Past, the documentary on Jeff Koons that Jeff Koons didn’t want to see, and Blood Orgy of the Leather Girls, a 1988 movie about a leather-clad gang of murderous women. Even more judges with expertise in the obscene will be announced in the coming weeks.
“This truly has been a labor of love for me... and a bit nerve-racking as I want to this to be the first of many annual events to come. I want it to be 'the Armory in New York meets a smidgen of Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco,'” Dr. Henkel tells the Creator’s Project.
The event will benefit the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a charitable organization of genderfucking nuns, founded in 1979 in San Francisco, that promotes safety amongst queer communities, while also raising money to support AIDS research and LGBT-related causes. A portion of the proceeds of the event will go to the Sisters’ community outreach and educational programming.
Additionally, a Kickstarter-funded exhibition text, 12 Inches of Sin: So Much Art You Can Barely Fit It All In, Volume I, will be available to visitors. The five-volume book includes images of art from all previous editions of 12 Inches of Sin.