(March 1, 1939 - living) U.S.A.
Former L.A. councilman
Joel Wachs was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Archie and Hannah Wachs, a teacher. His father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland who ran a grocery and butcher shop. The younger of two sons, Joel suffered from hay fever so severe that at the height of the ragweed season, his parents sat him in the shop's cold storage storage room, in a fur coat, to help him breathe.
They moved to Los Angeles when Wachs was ten years old, where his family became wealthy with a chain of inexpensive ladies' clothing stores. Joel grew up in Vermont Knolls, between 79th and 83rd streets and Vermont and Normandie Avenue. He attended Horace Mann Junior High School and Washington High School, followed by UCLA, where the "gregarious" Wachs was president of his freshman and junior classes, and of the student body, and from whence he graduated in 1961. He earned a degree at Harvard Law School and then a master's degree in taxation from New York University. When in Los Angeles, he lived in Studio City.
The unmarried Wachs was a closeted gay man until he was preparing to run for mayor in 1999 at the age of sixty. He was asked by Bill Rosendahl, the openly gay moderator of a public affairs television show, "Are you a gay man?" Wachs responded: "I am and I'm very proud of what I've done for the community, and I'm also very proud of the fact that what I've done for the community is what I've done for all communities."
He had a boisterous personality. When he was newly elected to the Los Angeles City Council, he distributed a mock ordinance that would supposedly have taxed all male residents on the size of their genitals. Occasionally he would exclaim "This is fun!" in the middle of a committee meeting. His colleagues described him as "a human guy, a lot of heart" and used adjectives that ranged from "very bright and intellectual" to "emotional" to "slightly hysterical."
in 2001, Wachs resigned his council seat and moved to New York City in order to serve as president of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Wachs is nominally the chairman of the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board. Wachs's salary at the charity is over $350,000 per year, which does not include generous expenses and a pension plan of approximately 20%. This is nearly four times the average salary for such a position.
In 2010, Wachs - in his Warhol Foundation role - protested the removal of a David Wojnarowicz piece from the "Hide/Seek" exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. The foundation had supported the exhibition with a $100,000 grant. Wachs wrote to the head of the Smithsonian Institution (NPG's parent organization), G. Wayne Clough, on behalf of the foundation’s unanimous board with the "demand that the Smithsonian restore the work ... to the exhibition or the foundation would reject any future grant requests." Wachs' letter said in part "For the arts to flourish, the arts must be free, and the decision to censor this important work is in stark opposition to our mission to defend freedom of expression wherever and whenever it is under attack.” There were no signs of reinstatement of the Wojnarowicz piece by the NPG.
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia