Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year Wishes For 2009 From Lauren Wissot

In 2008 we began the year in entertainment by bidding a premature goodbye to hottie Heath Ledger, his death casting a shadow on summer blockbuster “The Dark Knight”; and ended it by delivering a fond farewell to “The Dark Angel,” the Marilyn Monroe of the fetish world, “Queen of Pin-Up” Bettie Page. In between we lost numerous other screen sizzlers: Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Suzanne Pleshette, even Vampira! But since the New Year is a time to look forward as well as pay tribute to the sexy stars we leave behind, I’ve compiled my wish list for a very steamy 2009.

And many thanks to my SpoutBlog editor Karina and her twisted photo-shop skills!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Home for The Holidays: Sexy (And Family-Friendly!) Cinema Suggestions

Yes, it’s that “most wonderful time of the year” again. And unless the scent of pine turns you on or you’ve got a fetish for glittery objects (like the crazy queen who must have designed this year’s Macy’s window display after watching “A Beautiful Mind” on acid – there’s even a borderline creepy ode to the “diva Tinsel” stenciled on the glass. Check it out if you’re in NYC, it’s a must!), you’re probably feeling about as sexy as eggnog right now. But don’t despair. If Macy’s can turn a stalwart tradition into an LSD trip I can find the perversion in “The Sound of Music.” So without further adieu, visit Spout for some sexy, family-friendly suggestions for gathering around the DVD player with the clan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Antidote to Sexy Nazis: Mädchen in Uniform

Hollywood’s holiday season has been synonymous with Holocaust-themed films –– see this year’s entries “The Reader,” “Defiance,” “Valkyrie,” etc. – or not. But only after reviewing The New Stage Theatre Company’s titillating “Oh, Those Beautiful Weimar Girls!” did it hit me that revisiting the tragedy of WWII every winter makes no sense. For ‘tis the season to be jolly––not watch a Nazi! So I propose to start a new tradition: to stop equating Germany with SS boots and “Seig heil!” salutes every December, and instead go further back in time to when Deutschland was synonymous with sex, drugs, and decadent fun. Yes, this month let’s raise a toast to the high-spirited sleaze of the Weimar years; let’s celebrate the country that, before it gave the world the most notorious psychopath of the 20th century, birthed the first sexy, pro-dyke flick in 1931(!), Leontine Sagan’s “Mädchen in Uniform.“ And you can watch it on YouTube!

To read/view the rest of my column visit Spout.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sex and Violence & "The Wrestler"

Most porn is about as titillating as a Yule log on a loop, which is why I never watch it. Except if I happen to be flipping channels on a Friday night, when World Wrestling Entertainment broadcasts its Friday Night SmackDown, a steroid-enhanced, S&M-laced, hard-bodied orgy of enormous proportions. It’s long been my fantasy to sit ringside, to smell the virile sweat and gape in awe at the blown up muscles, so freaky they’re sexy, akin to any porn star’s massively inflated tits. The homoerotic, dominant man on dominant man action, each bulging star vying to become the ultimate top, to slam his rival to the mat and make him his bitch, drives me wild. To this day The Rock’s “The People’s Champ” still ranks right alongside the remake of “Casino Royale” as my favorite gay porn.

So naturally I breathlessly awaited the press screening of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” starring Mickey Rourke – who decades ago honed his S&M chops in “9 1/2 Weeks” – as Randy “The Ram” Robinson.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Oh, Those Beautiful Weimar Girls

“Oh, Those Beautiful Weimar Girls” is The New Stage Theatre Company’s attempt at crossing Fosse with Genet (plus a sprinkling of Grand Guignol) to explore the life of Anita Berber – “Weimar Berlin’s Priestess of Depravity,” according to her biographer Mel Gordon (who decades ago taught my freshman year, theater history class at NYU, and whose “The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber” inspired artistic director Ildiko Nemeth to direct and co-write, along with Mark Altman, the play). But as its title suggests the true star of the show isn’t Sarah Lemp, who plays Berber, but the campy, vaudevillian chorus girls who perfectly execute the down-and-dirty, dynamic choreography of conceptual artist Julie Atlas Muz (Miss Exotic World and Miss Coney Island ’06) like a lusty, peep show version of The Rockettes.

To read the rest of my titillating review visit Theater Online.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Transporter Gay?

Since I’m not a fan of Luc Besson any more than I am of Guy Ritchie, I’ve avoided the “Transporter” franchise from the start. Sure its star Jason Statham has a to-kill-for bod, but then that’s part of the action hero job description. And compared to hot he-men with a wicked, up-for-anything gleam in their eye like the Governator or The Rock or Daniel Craig, well, Statham’s just a little too bland for my taste. He’s someone you’d take home to mom for the holidays, not blow in an airplane bathroom along the way, having to dodge dirty looks at baggage claim upon landing. Never mind.

But after reading Chris Lee’s “L.A. Times” piece, in which director Louis Leterrier claims to have added a gay subtext to Statham’s character in “Transporter 2,” I knew I just had to take a peek.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

And on a heterosexual note…Lolita lovers and film fans rejoice!

Michael Cieply at the “NY Times” writes Film Cited in Request to Dismiss Polanski Case.

“Pianist” fingers crossed.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Insensitivity Via Fertilization

As the economy collapses and millions of children around the world await adoption to a loving home, what does the “New York Times Magazine” (11.30.08) choose as its cover story? Her Body, My Baby by Alex Kuczynski, a writer for the paper – and, unsurprisingly, the author of a book titled “Beauty Junkies” – who laid out 25 grand (in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars she spent on failed rounds of I.V.F.) to “rent” the womb of a surrogate mom, and goes to near apologetic lengths to justify her narcissism. (Longing for a genetic attachment to her child and unable to carry a pregnancy to term, Kuczynski felt it just made sense that Cathy – who has a husband and children of her own and wasn’t living in poverty, hence she had to have been doing it for more than college tuition for the kids – would bear the burden for nine months.)

“She wasn’t desperate for the money, so our relationship wouldn’t have to feel like a purely commercial enterprise, or a charitable one,” Kuczynski writes. Somehow it would be easier to believe her sincerity if the lead photo accompanying the article didn’t include Kuczynski’s African-American “baby nurse,” dressed in servant white and standing at attention beside mother and newborn on their plantation-like, Southampton front lawn.

4 Gay-For-Pay Action Heroes

“In other words, one of the few industries left in which gay white men (actors) don’t make pay (i.e., wield power) equal to that of their hetero counterparts has churned out a movie (Gus Van Sant’s “Milk”) about a gay white man who demanded equal rights. Which is ironic enough. And yet even while homo thespians don’t make the serious money in Hollywood some of the biggest box office draws have been allowed to play gay!”

To find out who read my column at Spout.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beautiful Dreamer: Milk

“Milk,” Gus Van Sant’s labor of love biopic about civil rights leader Harvey Milk (the first openly gay man elected to higher office in the United States and later gunned down, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, three decades ago this month), is mainstream filmmaking at its finest and a perfect wedding of subject matter to director. For Milk, like Van Sant, was a former “radical” who learned to work within—even to embrace—the system, stealthily turning it to his advantage. What Milk is to extremist activists like Larry Kramer, Van Sant is to fellow filmmaker Todd Haynes—no longer a director of experimental art in the moving picture medium, but a maverick of the mini majors.

To read the rest of my glowing review visit The House Next Door.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

MILK and Irony

Irony held center stage at the press conference for “Milk,” Gus Van Sant’s passionate biopic about the first openly gay man elected to higher office in the United States, that took place at The Regency Hotel in Manhattan a little more than two weeks after the passing of California’s (heavily financed by the Mormon Church) Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. It was Supervisor Harvey Milk himself who had been instrumental in the defeat of California’s Proposition 6 (a battle featured prominently in the film), which had been openly opposed by everyone from Governor Jerry Brown to Carter and Reagan. The victory over the measure that would have effectively banned homosexual teachers and their allies from the public school system occurred in the same (non-election) year Milk was assassinated along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, exactly three decades ago this month. Since those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, it’s no surprise Harvey Milk is not a household name, not even to the many young actors starring in Milk, who became aware of him only upon receiving the script.

And this is something Van Sant, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (who grew up gay and Mormon in California, and was the sole Mormon writer/producer on the Mormon-themed “Big Love” – yes, as I said, irony ruled the day!) and the panel of actors, including Sean Penn (Harvey Milk), James Franco (Milk’s lover Scott), Josh Brolin (assassin Dan White), Alison Pill (campaign manager Anne Kronenberg) and Emile Hirsch (Milk protégé/activist Cleve Jones) have set out to rectify.

To read the rest of my report visit Spout.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why Daniel Craig Must Get Naked In The Next Bond Movie

When I heard “Quantum of Solace” director Marc Forster say in the promo trailer that he tried to make the Bond film he always wanted to see, I thought “Uh-oh.” But my “Uh-oh” turned to “Oh, shit,” once I got to the screening and saw Paul Haggis listed in the credits as one of the writers, my distaste for “Finding Neverland” Forster trumped only by my loathing of faux-deep Haggis. And yet none of this mattered in the least because I was going to see “Quantum of Solace” for one reason and one reason only: to watch Daniel Craig get naked. (Heck, I’d have happily sat through “Crash” a dozen times if Haggis had tossed in a naked Daniel Craig every once in awhile!)

To read the rest of my op-ed visit Spout.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Proposition 8 and "Lotte's Death"

Even as the champagne was still flowing across the nation in celebration of Barack Obama’s historic victory, protests were raging in California after Proposition 8, defining marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, passed with nary a hitch. By chance this was also the week I finally got around to watching Fatih Akin’s stunning follow-up to his rightly lauded “Head-On,” “The Edge of Heaven,” recently released on DVD. It’s hard to believe Akin, the biggest talent to come out of German cinema since Fassbinder, is only 35 years old. Indeed, the depth of the script, the subtlety of the Turkish score, the nuanced camerawork and self-assured editing are that of a master director. As is the poignancy with which Akin invests the breathtaking lesbian love story, which both connects the first and last parts of his international trilogy, and is the beating heart of the film. If those same-sex marriage advocates are ever in need of a cautionary tale that could serve as a Prop 8 teaching tool, “Lotte’s Death” (as part two is titled) is it.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Morality For Sale

The same week that historic progress was made in the form of the nation’s first elected African-American president, our nation took a giant step backwards with regard to liberty and justice for all. Even as former NYC attorney general and governor Eliot Spitzer was cleared of all charges in the prostitution ring scandal that he himself set in motion with his financial indiscretion, 40 other state attorneys general strong-armed Craigslist into “taming” its “erotic services” listings.

Which would be hysterical if it weren’t so sad. Since “erotic services” is a euphemism for prostitution, this is akin to the A.G.’s telling the online classifieds site to rid their jobs listings of actual jobs. And the fact that Craigslist isn’t removing the “erotic services” listings itself means that the company merely plans on paying lip service to the morals police. Of course, that’s just fine by the attorney generals since it’s all for show anyway. Prostitution, a bedrock of the underground economy, is an industry no government can afford to eliminate any more than it can afford to send all the illegal immigrant laborers back over the border. If the A.G.’s truly were intent on curbing prostitution they could do so easily by prosecuting johns like their former colleague Spitzer.

For one of the considerations cited by the government attorney who chose to let Spitzer walk away scot-free is that it isn’t policy to charge clients in prostitution cases. No, it’s the Emperor’s Club’s managers and bookers still being hung out to dry who will be doing Spitzer’s time for him. I for one can only hope that Obama’s message of change extends to ingrained legal hypocrisy as well.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Presidential Appeal: Bill Clinton By John Travolta

My mom has the hots for President Clinton as badly as I swoon for Arnold Schwarzenegger, both of us turning into goofy schoolgirls at the mere mention of our respective crushes. While the Governator’s arrogant, aggressive virility drives me wild, personally I’ve never fantasized about Arkansas charmer Slick Willy.

And yet I’d be thrilled to bed John Travolta, who embodied Bill Clinton via the character of Jack Stanton in Mike Nichols’ 1998 “Primary Colors,” a thinly veiled account of the would-be president’s rise to stardom during the 1992 primaries, with a swift-moving screenplay by Elaine May based on political reporter Joe Klein’s originally “Anonymous” novel. Travolta as Stanton perfectly captured the sexy essence of Clinton then topped it with his well-honed movie star touch.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Sexiest Vampire Movie Ever: Daughters of Darkness

Most vampire movies suck like most porn, the pleasures of the flesh drained of all life. Fortunately there’s “Daughters of Darkness,” starring the intoxicating Delphine Seyrig as the blonde, femme fatale Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Harry Kümel’s very-70s flick is a sexy roundelay akin to Radley Metzger’s 1973 soft-core “Score,” only in this case the hungry horny couple are the blood lusty Countess and her secretary/lover/protégé Ilona Harczy played by Andrea Rau (with lips to rival Angelina Jolie’s – someone get Brangelina a vampire movie already!), looking like a knockoff Lulu with her flapper haircut. The objects of their carnal obsession, newlyweds Stefan (John Karlen, resembling a cross between Michael J. Fox and Andrew McCarthy but, alas, born a decade too early for a John Hughes film) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet — think Elke Sommer with a French accent) may be unwitting, but Stefan especially is far from innocent. Which gives the standard vampire set up of “Daughters of Darkness” a compelling mystery twist.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Treat Me

If you like what you read drop me a treat. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Deliver: The All-Female Remake of Deliverance

Hearing about Jennifer Montgomery’s “Deliver,” an all-female remake of John Boorman’s 1972 “Deliverance,” having its world premiere at BAMcinématek this evening, I got the same feeling I had when my friend Rose told me about her sister’s all-female, Motley Crue tribute band Girls Girls Girls. How exciting! Upending and giving the finger to notions of gender and sexuality always gets me all hot and bothered. As did watching Burt Reynolds strut his sexy stuff in Boorman’s original (with its screenplay and book by that ornery southern, man’s man James Dickey).

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Working Moms: Who Does She Think She Is?

I’ll admit, as a person lacking in any parental instinct whatsoever, that I thought twice before agreeing to review Pamela Tanner Boll’s “Who Does She Think She Is?” a documentary that asks “Is it possible to be both a mother and an artist?” I’m about as interested in creative mommies as I am in quantum physics, yet that’s exactly why I decided to give it a look. If Boll, the co-executive producer of “Born Into Brothels,” can inspire and enlighten an artist who says a silent prayer of “Thank heaven that’s not me!” every time I see a mother pushing a stroller, then she’s succeeded in crafting a film that reaches beyond its limited theme. That she does so both with humility and driven inquisitiveness is an added bonus.

To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

“Candy Girl” Not Too Sweet

A shout out to my fan turned friend (and fellow author) Patrick Whitehurst, who just finished reviewing stripper-turned-Oscar-winning-screenwriter Diablo Cody’s Candy Girl at his Literary Turns. I’m both flattered and humbled by the mention.

“As an erotic memoir, (“Candy Girl”) pales in comparison to others on the market, such as Lauren Wissot’s “Under My Master’s Wings.” Both follow a “year in the life of,” though “Wings” holds the distinction of being the most ambitious.

Wissot’s 2006 memoir, which details her year as a submissive under the yoke of a gay-for-pay stripper, carries a sense of originality that cannot be duplicated and certainly not guessed at over coffee at Denny’s. Those readers looking for a slice of life that can’t be found in their own pie would do well to sample Wissot’s creative existence.

There is little that can be called mundane within the pages of Wissot’s erotic memoir, from simple, humorous descriptions of one’s carnal appetite to voracious carnal mayhem; her tale is solid proof that an erotic memoir can be an impressive force in the literary world.

Those seeking anything “Cody” should visit her social networking sites. For those seeking an erotic memoir with a bite, read Wissot.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Working Girls (and Boy): Our Five Favorite Movie Hookers

I’m a big fan of the Catholic Church’s consistency. The pope may be anti-abortion but he’s also staunchly against capital punishment. I wish a lot of the most vocal, left wing feminists would take a lesson from the Church. Lately, with the presidential election around the corner the political rallying cry in the Steinem circle has been about those inevitable Supreme Court appointments either Obama or McCain will have to make. Yet many of those same feminists who fear the overturning of Roe v. Wade, want Uncle Sam to keep his hands off their bodies, aren’t the least bit outraged that prostitution is still illegal in 21st century U.S.A. The fact that the government legislates mutually consenting behavior that grown women (and men) engage in behind closed doors if an exchange of money is involved is the ultimate manifestation of government touching our private parts. Not to mention a waste of tax dollars that easily could go to funding Planned Parenthood instead of the vice squad.

So for all those unapologetically shameless hustlers and hussies (and their johns) who will also be going to the polls next month this Spout column is for you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

“Wall Street” and Wall Street: The Lasting Appeal of Gordon Gekko

Stanley Weiser, co-writer of Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” penned a terrific piece titled “’Wall Street’s’ message was not Greed is Good,” for The Los Angeles Times on Sunday, in which he lamented the mythologizing of Michael Douglas’ master of the universe Gordon Gekko. While I can understand Weiser’s horror in this idolization of amoral Gekko, especially in the wake of the real Wall Street’s collapse, I also couldn’t help but think back to a column I wrote in which I dissected Malcolm McDowell’s portrayal of Alex in "A Clockwork Orange." Kubrick also was sufficiently horrified by the hero-worshipping of Alex, by the copycat crimes by droog wannabes that occurred in England after the film’s release (enough to yank it from distribution in that country). But the idea that either Weiser or Kubrick would be shocked (“utterly shocked” in Weiser’s sarcastic appraisal of Gekko’s view of the financial meltdown) by this pedestal raising strikes me as either naïve or disingenuous. Put sexy actors in passionate roles and what do you think is gonna happen?

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hooker with a Heart (and Hand) of Gold: Irina Palm

In the 9/21 edition of “The New York Times Magazine,” Randy Cohen, a.k.a. “The Ethicist,” responding to a writer inquiring about the morality of a professor patronizing a strip club, offered this little admonishment, “Nobody should attend strip clubs, those purveyors of sexism as entertainment. Strip shows are to gender what minstrel shows are to race. But while I endorse your conclusion about these sad displays…”

To which I respond, Oh, brother. (Yes, who better an expert on female strippers than a gay guy who pens a column for The Grey Lady?) Between this sweeping, condescending – not to mention unethical – judgment of “gentlemen’s clubs,” and the latest crackdown on NYC’s houses of domination (which sent the NY Post into a “slap-happy” tizzy) I needed an uplifting, sex-positive view of the industry ASAP. So what better time to Netflix over to London to try out “Irina Palm”?

Sam Garbarski’s lovely gem of a film starring Marianne Faithfull as a grandmother who chooses prostitution to pay for travel expenses to Australia for a last-ditch operation for her sick grandson, is really a journey to self-empowerment, as Faithfull’s Maggie saves both her grandson and herself through the discovery of her own sexuality. Faithfull’s portrayal of a working class widow forced to take matters into her own hands (or rather “palm”) for the first time in her life is as honest and nuanced as anything the royal acting dames of England have done in recent years. Even in her sixties, Faithfull – Mick Jagger’s ex and the great-great-niece of “Venus in Furs” author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch – knows she has eroticism in her blood, which she smartly downplays in favor of her maternal side, letting her natural sexiness merely peek out from beneath a frumpy winter coat and dowdy hairdo.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What Would A Real Director Do?: Choke

“Choke” – Clark Gregg’s film adaptation of the book by literary darling Chuck Palahniuk—is, according to the press notes, “the subversively comedic tale of Victor Mancini, con artist, sex addict, Colonial village re-enactor, angst-filled son, serial restaurant choker … and unsuspecting romantic antihero for our unsettling times.” This jam-packed one-liner should give some indication as to what Gregg was up against in attempting to translate Palahniuk’s prose to the screen. David Fincher had an equally difficult challenge with the author’s “Fight Club,” but unlike Fincher, Gregg is an actor and first-time filmmaker hailing from the theater world (a founding member and former artistic director of the Atlantic Theater Company) whose only qualifications to script-write and direct the cult novel seem to be friends with money, a love of the book, and Palahniuk’s blessing. Well, sometimes love and money and a pat on the head just ain’t enough.

To read the rest of my smackdown visit The House Next Door. (And, yes, I do feel guilty about panning the film after interviewing my fellow Random Houser Chuck Palahniuk, but hey, he didn’t direct!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Interview with “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk, the author behind David Fincher’s “Fight Club” and Clark Gregg’s “Choke,” opening in theaters this Friday 9/26, pens intelligent, well-written junk food. I enjoy reading all his books, and even have a friend I nicknamed Brandy Alexander after the transgender lead character in “Invisible Monsters,” yet whenever someone asks me the plot of a particular novel that isn’t “Invisible Monsters,” I draw a blank. I mean, I’m certain I’ve read his books, just like I’m certain I ate dinner last Thursday, I just can’t tell you exactly what it was.

To read my interview with the author himself visit Spout .

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ultimate Burlesque

Hot off the press release:

The rise of the burlesque movement has brought glamour back into women’s lives and now a new anthology looks set to use that glamour to help people with cancer gain practical, medical, emotional and financial support. Created as part of the Burlesque Against Breast Cancer campaign, Ultimate Burlesque is an anthology of 30 erotic stories with a burlesque theme from best-selling authors including Katie Fforde, Jo Rees, Kristina Lloyd, Maxim Jakubowski and Olivia Darling. Contributions range from sweet stories of couples revitalising their relationship with a hint of glitter and flash of feathers to torrid tales of group sex, domination, bondage and more.

The anthology is co-edited by Scarlet founding editor, Emily Dubberley, Scarlet Cliterature editor, Alyson Fixter, and introduced by best-selling author, Chris Manby. All writers donated their stories free of charge and a minimum of 15% of the book's cover price goes to Macmillan.

My short story “Just Another Night In Paradise” is featured so pre-order now!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sex Industry Stonewall II

It’s ironic that a recent “NY Times” article ‘White Flight’ Has Reversed, Census Finds, detailing the largest return of whites to Manhattan since the 1940’s, in which a demographer states that “a lot of the non-Hispanic whites are plainly associated with the financial community,” would appear around the same time a Financial District dungeon gets raided, that NY Post article accompanied by the requisite quotes from neighbors attesting to the “freaks” coming in and out of the building.

Yes, Rapture is the latest NYC house of domination to go down for the prostitution ring count this year, after Rebecca’s Hidden Chamber and Nutcracker Suite. Time to revisit my essay Sex Industry Stonewall.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sex Workers In Hollywood

I’ll never forget the thrill I felt reading Werner Herzog’s advice on how to become a film director, which boils down to skipping film school, taking up boxing, walking everywhere and working in a sex club. So where’s my Oscar, damn it?

Yet when “Juno” was delivered to theaters around the country I remember feeling nothing but outrage over the stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody hype. I found the film incredibly tedious (though in retrospect I was probably a bit hard on Cody’s writing in my review – after reading excerpts from the script I think I had a much bigger problem with Reitman’s directing), but I had an even bigger problem with the condescension surrounding Cody herself: Look, a stripper who can put together more than three sentences!

For the scoop on four more talented folks who’ve made the transition from sex industry to mainstream screen visit Spout.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

From The Top: The Movie-Going Public, Take 2, On The Role of The Film Critic

Reading the comments thread of my essay “The Movie-Going Public” gave me the same feeling I had riding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World as a kid. This is so bizarre yet exciting, with all these surprising twists and turns. I can’t figure out where I’m being taken and I can’t stop laughing. It would resemble a classic Monty Python sketch if it weren’t so sad.

Because when a deeper discussion I hope to spark fizzles into surreal insanity I take that way more personally than any personal attack. The entire point of my penning the piece was to use myself as a jumping off point, to prompt readers into thinking about their own individual lives in order to foster a meaningful discussion about what it means to be an audience member. Instead, that conversation ended when the focus shifted exclusively to me. And the tragedy is that my particular life isn’t minutely as interesting as the larger picture. It’s disappointing that seven dirty little words referencing sex—in my estimation the least interesting thing about me—out of an entire heartfelt essay could derail the whole critical thinking process.

Catch the entire controversy at The House Next Door.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Eddie Izzard Awards: Films That Transcend Taboo

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again loud and proud: Eddie Izzard is my heroine! I get all happy-go-lucky girly inside just thinking about him. And not only because I spent a good hour and a half doubled over in a folding chair gasping for air like an oxygen-tank-deprived emphysema patient when I saw the John Cleese anointed “lost Python” at a small west side venue years ago, but because of who Izzard is offstage as well: an unashamed cross-dresser with fabulous taste in makeup and heels.

To find out the winners of the Golden Stiletto visit Spout.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Taking The Bite Out of Sex

When I first met critic Matt Zoller Seitz he disclosed that the initial thing he does when having a strong reaction to a film is to look in the mirror and ask, “Is the movie affecting me this way because I’m a white guy with a blue collar background?” It was a “Eureka!” moment for me, a summation of all the reasons I’d been a fan of his film criticism for so long, and why I’d always felt a kinship with his style. For questioning my own POV first and foremost has been my modus operandi for as long as I’ve been writing. And then I realized it’s also what elevates Matt above the rest.

Recently, I had another “Eureka!” moment when what I thought of as a “fairly innocuous comment” about the collective mindset of the movie-going public posted to my “Traitor” review at The House Next Door infuriated me. Instead of degrading the commenter I did what I normally do, took a good hard look in the mirror and asked, “What is it about me and my life experience that’s causing me to react this way?” Then I tried my best to candidly answer that question not as a “film critic,” but as a movie-goer in a personal essay titled The Movie-Going Public. And that’s where I got into a heap-load of trouble.

For any exploration of myself, my personal POV, inevitably includes a discussion of sexuality. For my gay male identity, my sexuality, inside my biological female form is a part of who I am, which isn’t all that interesting in-and-of itself. But that same gay male sexuality also guides my point of view, which is crucially important, since people like me on the margins of society don’t always have our viewpoints acknowledged. Tossing off what I thought was my own innocuous comment, a campy-toned reference to casual sex that didn’t make any of my gay friends bat an eye, I was chastened by the realization that not everyone in my audience understood homo code, taking the bite out of sex with flamboyant words (and perhaps simultaneously exploding the ridiculous myth about the “beautiful, dumbbell muscle boy” incapable of a conversation beyond protein bars and free weights. You know, just in case the governor of California hadn’t done so already).

The truth is I never even would have become an “erotica author” (a term as meaningless as “film critic” in this day and age), had it not been for my hustler/porn star lover who held a mirror up to my face, challenged everything I thought was “true” for six long years, sharpening my critical thinking skills, until he exhausted me – not with sex but with all his philosophizing. People like us are cut from the same cloth as Juan Antonio in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” who Javier Bardem, when asked about the in-your-face sexuality of his character, explained simply views sex as a starting point on a journey, not a goal. For me if the journey takes off great, if not it’s a fantastic daytrip, just another sport like the Thai boxing I’ve been doing for the past dozen years. And it never even occurs to me that someone might think I’d “brag” about an afternoon workout at the gym. But then I often forget my life experiences are not that of my audience, that my words are often lost in translation. Which is why I knew it was time for me to take another cold look in the mirror.

In all honesty, I often err on the side of candor because I packed up and left the world of the mainstream a long, long time ago. I’ve always been acutely aware that, straight guys especially, I make extremely uncomfortable so I’ve usually just avoided becoming close with anyone not on the margins, rather than sucking it up and having to censor myself. Subsequently, I haven’t learned much in the way of mainstream social mores, haven’t been exposed to as many hetero POVs as I should be. I don’t speak the language. (And it took me over a decade to figure out that as a genderqueer person, theoretically, I’m a straight guy’s worst nightmare, as bad as any horror flick body snatcher – a 100% biological female with an inner faggot out to suck their dick. The only difference between me and any other gay guy is I “pass” for a straight chick, foxily making my way into hetero beds without a hitch.)

And interestingly, I’ve discovered that a lot of the people I tend to offend with my bluntness are uncomfortable not necessarily with “strong women,” nor “female sexuality,” per se, but with flamboyant homos like me expressing sexuality if it’s not strictly within the confines of a pride parade, with our social code which very much includes talking flippantly about sex – i.e., with our POV – whether they realize it or not. But for me, not talking frankly about sex harkens back to the societal neutering of gays and lesbians in the fifties, when a seat at the table was dependent upon speaking a language that suppressed our sexuality. And like all those gay men who had to pretend they didn’t actually “do” anything with each other save for listening to Judy Garland tunes together, lest they offend the heterosexual majority by conjuring up horrific images of cock-sucking and anal sex (which, tellingly, are equally heterosexual practices), I instinctively respond with a rebel yell of “I’m here, I’m queer, I screw. Get over it!”

And rarely do I get flack from the margin, not so much because these people are my brothers and sisters, but because collectively we’ve known all our lives that our viewpoints are different from the majority. We try – and sometimes fail like all other human beings – not to blindly assume (like so much of the center does) that just because we think a certain way everyone does. In other words, we’ve been conditioned to be constantly checking ourselves in the mirror, the benefit being that it allows us to be open to self-doubt. So I have to say, the most humbling aspect of interacting with my readers online is I’m being taught to get over my own inexcusably innate, knee-jerk prejudice of straight people. For all those heteros who always seem to be rushing to my aid whenever I get attacked for causing offense aren’t defending a chick – they’re crying “not in my name!” Which is all the more humbling.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Rock + Klaus Kinski = Lust: Jerking Off To Genre

Documentaries and socially-relevant foreign films are sexy, too! To find out my picks for five international hotties who, no matter the plot, create a private porn of their own visit Spout.

Monday, August 25, 2008

(Bad) Portrait of a Hustler: American Gigolo

Ever since the great humanistic film critic Manny Farber died last week at the ripe old age of 91, writer/director (and former film critic and Kael acolyte) Paul Schrader, who so eloquently has been making the tribute rounds to Farber, has been on my mind. I’ve always been a fan of Schrader’s writing – as much for his fearless risk taking as for his Travis Bickle triumphs. “American Gigolo,” his very-1980 follow-up to Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” in which Richard Gere’s rent boy to rich older women Julian Kaye falls for Lauren Hutton’s senator’s wife Michelle Stratton while simultaneously finding himself a suspect in the murder of a “rough trick,” is typical Schrader, forever probing overlapping lurid worlds with the attention of an obsessive pathologist. Even with mediocre acting, earnest dialogue sometimes bordering on the heavy-handed, and predictable hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold asides, “American Gigolo” is still a fine slice of celluloid cheese, containing camerawork both sleek and fluid and that sexy sing-along anthem (“Call Me”!) complete with Debbie Harry’s French coos. Incidentally, I’ve always been a fan of male prostitutes as well. So why is it that I’ve never been a fan of this flick?

To find out the answer visit Spout.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Neurotic Libertine: Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Polyamory

Queen of Bad Sex Catherine Breillat could learn a thing or two from Woody Allen. Not only is his latest celluloid psychotherapy session “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” a phenomenal work of intellectual porn, but it also happens to contain one of the sexiest, most hysterical and poignant portrayals of polyamory to come along in a long, long time. Allen actually gets that those of us who choose to live outside of hetero monogamy are not voracious sex addicts lacking in morality – on the contrary, we simply abide by a different set of desires and ethics than that of the mainstream.

To read the rest of my rave review visit Spout.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Miss Mae West and Me

One of my earliest movie related memories – from the time I was six or seven – was of parading around the house, hips swishing and purring in my finest Mae West mimicry, “Why don’t ya come up and see me sometime?” I barely remember actually watching the B&W “My Little Chickadee” on the tube, so mesmerized was I by the platinum blonde goddess, a creature clad in ultra-femme garb but projecting an aggressively male body language and distinctly unfeminine voice – like no one I had ever seen on the screen. Years later I would realize it was my first encounter with a woman like me.

Everything I ever needed to know about being a gay male in a female body I learned from Miss West. My most personal Spout column to date.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back in The Swing

After being temporarily laid off from my hostess gig at Erick’s swing parties in midtown I returned to find not much had changed in the past few months. Though the hostess turnover had inevitably produced a few new girls, Star was still monopolizing men; and save for the two black leather padded swings and the long spanking bench Erick had installed on the second floor, all else, including the curtained off beds and massage tables and scent of incense in the lounge, remained the same.

Well, except for the new “bowling for porno” playing on the TV. The big butts had been replaced with a “gangbang in a bowling alley” themed fuck flick complete with extra long shots of, well, actual bowling. As hard balls sailed smoothly down lanes, crashing into phallic pins, and close ups of guys sticking fingers inside dark holes appeared on the screen, I began to wonder if bowling was some newfangled fetish I’d somehow missed. Admittedly I’d never been a fan of bowling, but then I never knew it was an erotic sport.

Technically Erick’s party this night was S&M themed, hence my being brought back into the perverted fold, but I didn’t have time to make an equipment stop at Pandora’s beforehand so I had to borrow a leather paddle from one of the stripper hostesses (who knew strippers carried paddles?!) when the submissive chick and her co-worker kink buddy arrived. They were both newbies so I gently bent the chubby nervous woman over the padded bench on the second floor and gave a quick art of spanking demo. Then I suggested they head over to Paddles (after checking with nipple torture Johnny as to which night was the most happening) to mingle with real lifestyle players.

Returning to the lounge I found that another one of Erick’s personal trainer friends had shown up. I watched curiously as he darted about the room grabbing used plastic cups and emptying trash bins like a coked up maid, wearing a red baseball cap pulled low over his eyes and a loose fitting, white knit shirt that teasingly hinted at steel muscles. Erick caught my eye. “He’s not a paying customer,” he ribbed. I introduced myself just to be cordial then plopped down on the couch to chat with an extremely laidback black guy who surprised me by saying he worked as a trader at Deutsche Bank. As the vibe in the room settled into high school basement party Erick decided it was time for some fun and sex games.

“All the guys line up on the couch!” Erick ordered and as they tentatively did all us hostesses makeshift blindfolded them with Glad trash bags in order to play “Whose mouth is that on my dick?” with a tall, light-skinned black hostess with the comic timing of a bitchy drag queen serving as emcee. After passing out condoms she and Star took part in the first round followed by a game of “Whose titty is that in my mouth?” (she and Star again) and the non-mandatory, extra bonus round of “Whose pussy is that in my mouth?” (Star). The Deutsche Bank trader won but, unfortunately, we’d forgotten to specify a prize. I suggested giving him Star.

After the sex games I finally got a chance to chat with Erick’s delicate but fiercely stylish queen friend, asked if he was a designer. He replied that yes, he was “in fashion.” I became excited as “Daddy Cool” came on over the second floor speakers then frustrated as I blanked out on Boney M. “Damn! Which group is this?” I asked impatiently. The queen shrugged. “You know, the lead singer’s all pimped out, they’re from Berlin,” I prodded. “Kraftwerk?” he guessed. “Does this sound like Kraftwerk?” I sighed and started to ascend the stairs to the lounge but was stopped by the bodybuilder. “Did you just return from vacation?” he asked, referring to my tan. “Nope, just a day at Jones Beach,” I replied from halfway up the flight. We talked briefly and I learned he was thirty-six years old, Puerto Rican and Italian, worked for David Barton’s gym – and couldn’t stand Gio because he’s “arrogant” (wasn’t that part of the personal trainer/hustler job description?)

The conversation seemed innocent enough so I was a bit startled when as I was leaving at the end of the night I again passed him on the stairs. “Can I get your number?” he wondered. “Sure, why not,” I shrugged and gave it to him. He asked to see what I look like so I flirtatiously lifted up my postage stamp print, summer mini-dress and did a silly little whirl around. “Wow, you have a great body,” he nodded then added that he already knew I had great legs. “We’re definitely going to get together, come over to my apartment in Queens, just take a cab and I’ll pay for it,” he enthused the words spilling out of his mouth. I smiled amused and told him I had to get up early. “No, not tonight but soon,” he replied. I just kept walking down the stairs as he sighed, “Now I’ve got a hardon,” and left him all hot and bothered. As I exited onto the litter strewn street I realized his voice reminded me of Javier Bardem’s in Woody Allen’s latest “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which I’d just seen at a press screening two days before. David’s voice had that same ring – the romance-language tinged accent on English the sound of seduction itself.

After sleeping a good seven hours I awoke the next morning to find a text message on my cell delivered at 1:47 a.m. “Good night. I cant wait 2 fuck u.” I made a mental note to call my swing party "cougar” friend Jude to ask about the latest stud. I couldn’t remember his name.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Notes On A Sex "Scandal"

In celebration of my latest hero Max Mosley, son of Britain’s prewar fascist leader and head of Formula One racing, who refused to passively be set up in a “Nazi orgy” sting operation by the shameful “The News of the World,” who bravely took his invasion of privacy battle to court where he proudly invoked his inalienable S&M right to be spanked – and won! – I say, here’s to you, my fellow perv. And the next time you’re in the States the caning’s on the house (of domination. But feel free to tip a portion of that 120 grand in damages awarded).

So with that case now out of the way, let’s revisit Michael Caton Jones’ 1989 take on the Profumo affair that brought down the Conservative Party in the early 60s, the original British, S&M sex Scandal at Spout.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

That Sexy Psychopath: Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange"

For over 20 years I’ve had a thing for Malcolm McDowell – or, more precisely, the proudly nihilistic Alex he brought to life from the notorious Burgess book. I first saw “A Clockwork Orange” around the age of ten (note to liberal academics attempting to enlighten their young offspring through art films – Kubrick? Not a good idea) and again later in high school. It was this teenage viewing of McDowell as the violent anarchist leader of a group of hoods, who is ultimately “rehabilitated” by an equally sadistic society, that stuck with me.

For more on the dreamy droog visit my column at Spout.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just Say No

For all of former Bush administration official Thomas Schweich’s talk about the “myth that poppies are grown by destitute farmers who have no other source of income” – while the reality of an insurgency cultivating to wage terror is ignored – in today's "New York Times Magazine" article Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?, the larger taxpayer-funded myth is lost on him. Perhaps the better question would be, “Why is America even fighting a war on drugs in Afghanistan when it’s been losing that same battle at home for decades?” The most surefire way of eradicating the heroin trade does not involve aerial spraying Helmand and Kandahar but (as Schweich alluded to almost as an afterthought) America taking responsibility for its own culpability on the receiving end by reducing its demand. The “old-school Pentagon view that ‘we don’t do the drug thing’” that Schweich writes of so dismissively happens to be plain old common sense.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hot in the City: Body Heat

If there’s one film that epitomizes the power of environment over libido, it has to be Lawrence Kasdan’s directorial debut, the totally-80s noir “Body Heat,” which takes place during a Florida heat wave (does it get any hotter than that?) In fact the balmy weather is a character unto itself, so much so that Kasdan’s production designer Bill Kenney should have gotten top billing right along with the spectacularly sexy duo of William Hurt as smalltime lawyer Ned Racine and Kathleen Turner as the femme fatale Matty Walker, out to wield him as a weapon for murdering her wealthy husband. Never a moment goes by where the third character of heat and humidity isn’t enveloping the pair in a passionate ménage a trois.

For more sweat visit my column at Spout.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Surreal Sex: L'Age d'Or

Thanks to the Museum of Modern Art’s recent exhibit Dali: Painting and Film (through 9/15/08), which features over 130 of the artist’s paintings and drawings, scenes and films brilliantly juxtaposed side by side, I feel I now understand Salvador Dali for the very first time. Though erotic Freudian imagery, sexed up amoebas and disembodied cocks, may be what draws one into the Surrealist’s paintings, it’s his use of lighting and perspective that keeps you coming back for more. For Dali never was a painter at heart, but a man possessed with (by?) a cinematographer’s eye. Within the limits of the flattened canvas Dali’s mind was able to create – see into the future – that which modern day CGI allows for the screen. In fact, both showman and visionary, this master of the bizarre does not even make sense outside of filmmaking! A piece of the puzzle is missing when his paintings are seen alone and static, not in conversation with Bunuel or Hitchcock (or even Cocteau). Viewing Dali’s artwork without a cinematic context is like trying to talk about (his friend and sometime collaborator) Warhol without mentioning The Factory. Now that I’ve seen “The First Days of Spring” holding severed hands with “Un Chien andalou,” I don’t desire to ever view “The Persistence of Memory” again unless Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” is somewhere close by. Or unless the wall it’s hanging on is actually moving.

And for another “eye opening” take on Dali and Bunuel’s classic study in sexual frustration, the erotically surreal “L’Age d’Or,” head trip on over to my column at Spout.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Sexy Tramp: Monsieur Verdoux and Charlie Chaplin as Stud

“Chaplin wouldn’t have been believable mesmerizing his prey in Monsieur Verdoux if he hadn’t finally allowed his natural sexual charisma to shine through. For his entire career up until then Chaplin had been masking his virility beneath a shabby overcoat like a drag queen packing away her package.”

To read the rest of my appreciation of the Little Tramp visit Spout.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

When Bobby Met Ariane: Maitresse

How often do you get Barbet Schroeder, Gerard Depardieu and Nestor Almendros together to shoot a film about a burglar who ends up falling in love with the dominatrix whose dungeon he’s unwittingly tried to rob? In a scene at the very beginning of Schroeder’s exquisitely paced, beautifully executed “Maitresse” the tone is brilliantly set for the relationship – and thus the film itself – through Almendros’ meticulously composed images. His camera captures Depardieu’s fair Olivier and his dark-haired partner-in-crime (whose bad idea it was to burglarize the “downstairs apartment”) in a hornet’s nest of their own making, caught in the act by Bulle Ogier’s “Maitresse” Ariane, and subsequently handcuffed to her radiator and guarded by a vicious Doberman named Texas.

But wait––if this doesn’t sound like a setup straight from the twisted mind of David Lynch I don’t know what does.

To read the rest of my take on the 1976 classic visit Spout.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stress Testing Me Out

One sentence from today's “New York Times Magazine” article Stress Test by Peggy Orenstein really stressed me out!

“A Danish study of 6,689 women, published in 2005, found that those who were highly stressed were 40% less likely than others to get breast cancer.”

The only thing surprising about this statistic is that bunk like this is believed. Unless these Danish guinea pigs were being monitored night and day, the sentence should read “those WHO REPORTED BEING highly stressed were 40% less likely than others to get breast cancer.” In other words, those “40% less likely to get breast cancer” were fully aware of their stress, and thus able to confront it and, one assumes, better deal with it than, say, those who reported low stress levels as a result of being in sickly denial. And just like some people have bodies that naturally burn off excess calories, some people have minds that easily burn off excess stress. It’s not the amount of stress but how the organism handles it, the crux of the issue, that Orenstein unhealthily overlooks.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Top Hot Pride Pics

Are you a supporter of gay marriage?
“I know nothing about it. I don’t follow that.”
Why doesn’t it interest you?
“The same reason heterosexual marriage doesn’t seem to interest me.”

–From “Questions for Gore Vidal” in “The New York Times Magazine,” 6/15/08.

Amen, sister. One of the perks of being queer is that you’re not expected to engage in unnatural acts like high school proms and monogamy. So in honor of the hedonistic right to our own guilt-free, queer Mardi Gras, here are some subversive suggestions that will get you in the mood and take you back to that more innocent, less commercial “Over The Rainbow” time.

For my five recommendations for celebrating Stonewall in sexual style visit Spout.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Don’t Call Me I’ll IM U

Recently I received a call from someone I haven’t spoken with in twenty years – or more accurately, from someone I can’t recollect ever having spoken with at all. This sweet-voiced female was phoning to get my address so she could send me an invitation to my high school reunion. Now, I left the small town I grew up in about two and a half seconds after graduating valedictorian (not much of a feat as Canon City, Colorado is not what one would call, um, an “intellectual hotspot”) and I am very happily still in touch with exactly three people from the class of ‘88. (Hi, Vanessa, Michelle and Jen!) Which made me wonder:

1) Why would I want to give my personal information to someone I don’t know so she could send me an invitation to gather with a group of people who I also don’t know and never did? And, just as importantly,

2) Why on earth would any rational individual in my graduating class (other than those three friends who, like me, left Colorado years ago) want me at their high school reunion? For I was simultaneously the school rebel who refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance, brandished anarchy signs whenever possible and generally attempted to show my contempt for anything and everything that had to do with the status quo – which meant mostly my peers.

I don’t mean this as a slight to the poor dupe who made the call, for she was probably just going down a list of all the names given to her by someone else that she herself, until recently, hadn’t spoken with in twenty years. I just find this whole “high school reunion” ritual a bit bizarre, the way I find the whole “MySpace friends” thing odd. Why all these efforts to reach out to strangers? What does this say about the society we live in? And why not just have a MySpace high school reunion?

After all, wouldn’t that be the best way for me to catch up with the friends I never had?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Five Unsexiest Movies About Sex: The Breillat Awards

I can think of no better poster child for celibacy than Parisian “provocateur” Catherine Breillat, the director of such erotic misfires as “Fat Girl,” “Romance,” and more recently “The Last Mistress,” which stars another over-hyped “hottie” Asia Argento. Exiting the theater after a Breillat flick, I never want to have sex again. Ostensibly concerned with digging deep into the beating heart of female sexuality, Breillat creates characters that are writhing bundles of drama and pain, anger and confusion. There is no laughter, never any levity nor celebrations of desire at all – just academic intellectualization in lieu of visceral heat, cardboard cutout chemistry between actors, dire emotional consequences hidden in every fuck. The Breillat canon would make for a wonderful addition to those abstinence-only programs George W. loves so much.

For my list of groan not moan inducing winners visit Spout.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Swing Down Memory Lane

Within an hour of my arrival at Thursday’s swing party, another one of Erick’s muscle-bound, “Gaiety material” friends appeared. Sauntering through the door he looked my way, flashed a catlike grin, so I soon walked up and introduced myself, received a kiss on both cheeks. “Very European,” I noted, though he turned out to be Puerto Rican with his own “entertainment company.” “So you’re a stripper,” I guessed. “Not anymore, but I used to be,” he replied. “You worked the gay clubs because that’s where the money is,” I added, reading the open book. He was somewhat surprised that I knew the hustling spots all the way to Chicago so I explained I’d been in a relationship with a guy who danced at the Gaiety. “I worked the Gaiety!” the stud declared wide-eyed. “Who?” When I told him he laughed then added, “I know Dave very, very well.”

Why I’d never met Gio until then was a mystery since we knew all the same sex industry workers going back nearly a decade. When I brought up David’s former boy toy Cameron who couldn’t stand me (no love lost as I thought him a stuck up drug addict) Gio gave a knowing smile. “A lot of people didn’t like Cameron.” By the time he asked to check out my ass, inspecting my butt cheeks beneath my blue undies with firm hands as he inquired if I do anal, I knew I could overlook the fact that he was too nice to be my type. I’d be getting some action tonight.

Or maybe not. I was hanging out with Jude, who I’d taken with me the evening before to a press screening of Catherine Breillat’s predictably boring “The Last Mistress,” when a cute, young Asian chick arrived by herself. “She likes Gio, too,” Jude whispered. Well, any girl with the guts to go to a swing party alone surely deserved whatever cock she desired! Wrapped in a white towel she took a seat on the couch in front of the bad porn. Curious, I joined Jude who’d gone over to greet her. Turns out the woman’s husband worked for a company in Dubai and knew exactly how she filled her free time without him. You go (Gio), girl!

While the Gaiety boy and the single swinger went to get it on near the curtained massage table on the other side of the room I chatted with beautiful twink Andre, offering that my friend Roxanne would eat him up. Inspired I decided to call her so she could practice her Italian on him. “He’s twenty-one,” I added once I had her on the line. “Oh, wow,” she sighed like a mooning schoolgirl (after excitedly disclosing the best thing about the “green” man – yes he was rich and older but he also owned an environmental company – she was seeing. That he had two sons, ages twenty-one and twenty-three. “They’re of legal age!” she explained, making it O.K.).

Since the single chick proved to be an insatiable nymphomaniac, monopolizing Gio’s dick for most of the night, it’s a good thing the master and slave arrived to give me something to do. Luckily I’d stopped by Pandora’s beforehand so I had a flogger and paddle on hand (swingers bring condoms, kinksters bring equipment) which I used on the master’s pig-tailed, white stocking and red heel wearing wife after he’d bound her with an orange extension cord Gio had found on the second floor. The husband, soft-spoken and sporting a long dark ponytail, who hailed from Albuquerque and had been in the scene nearly twenty-five years, nodded that he recognized me though I’d never seen him before. (After he’d politely asked Erick if he could use the decorative birch twigs arranged innocuously in a vase I knew he knew what he was doing.) I verbally humiliated his slave a bit (“You nasty whore!”) while she was getting fucked by one of the random white guys at the party while her master covered her mouth to stifle her moans. I was way more jealous of this woman as she sucked off another dude while her master slapped her ass than I was of the single girl getting her pussy licked by the Gaiety stud.

Taking a break I found Liquid wandering the party like a lost soul, looking devastated. “I haven’t had sex once – and I use three holes!” she announced to the busy room. “This is really sad.” I suddenly felt guilty. Here I was flogging a chick in front of bisexual Liquid – and I don’t even like girls. But there was no time for sorrow as another bodybuilder arrived. As I put down my paddle Jude jokingly declared, “Hands off! He’s mine,” then gave the guy a big hug. “Doesn’t he look like a Bollywood star?” she asked me, running her hands over the clean cut Indian’s bulging biceps. I nodded though he struck me as more Wall Street than Calcutta, especially with a California accent to rival Liquid’s. When I went to the bathroom to get a bottle of alcohol for Star (who was on her sixth or seventh victim of the night and couldn’t be bothered to leave the well-pounded mattress) I noticed Gio had been granted a much-deserved break. He came over to give me a devouring kiss. I breathed a sigh of relief that his lips didn’t taste icky then knelt to the floor and opened wide in nostalgic longing for big Gaiety cock. After I’d used my tongue from head to shaft, gotten him all ready for another round, I rose to my feet.

“You’ve got some wild mouth there,” he stated a twinkle in his eye. “You know what I haven’t done in a long time?” I reminisced. “What?” “Two guys. You know anyone?” I asked. Gio nodded with certainty then inquired, “Do you like Brazilians?” Uh, hell yeah! I took Gio’s number then got scared. “Not Victor!” I cried, remembering the last Brazilian hooker I got hooked up with – an aggressive, six-foot tall thug with a foot-long dick who was best kept a safe fantasy. “Nah, not Victor,” Gio assured, adding that the guy he had in mind wasn’t juiced up like that, wasn’t even a stripper in fact. Happily I returned to the mattress where the Bollywood star lay naked, still chatting with Jude, and urged me to join him. The cougar had to leave so she gave her blessing for us to have fun then said goodbye to the master and his slave, exchanging emails so they could arrange for a more intimate S&M encounter. I tweaked the guy’s nipple piercing, toyed a bit with his dark-skinned dick as he removed my tank top to kiss my tits – then told him to jerk himself off. It was all too straight-laced for me.

The following evening paled in comparison to the previous night’s exploits (especially since Erick had decided “Tonight’s theme is foot fetish - encourage that!” Ugh!), with only a middle-aged couple from Montenegro – he a big burly bear, she his high-hairdo, bottle-blonde, pot-smoking girlfriend of ten years (“She’s not my wife,” he’d corrected when I’d mistaken his mistress for such) – to while away the time watching. It was so slow we all ended up gathered around the new video monitor, more exciting than the urban porn, voyeuristically viewing Erick’s conversation with a couple guys outside. “Wow – look how short those guys are!” Liquid exclaimed. “Yeah, it’s almost like he’s talking to midgets,” I agreed. As I made my way over to the curtained boudoir area to see if anyone besides Star was getting any action, another one of Erick’s black personal trainer friends (in baseball cap, muscles announcing themselves from a wife-beater T) approached me. “I’ve seen you around. Are you a fighter?” he inquired. Noting that this most definitely was not a pick up line I asked where he trained. “All over.” I told him he might have seen me doing pad work and light sparring at Crunch. I thought of last night’s master. Why did everyone seem to recognize me from somewhere?

But I didn’t have time to ponder this puzzle as the midgets arrived with Erick – well, not midgets, just a couple of very short queens who climbed the stairs behind two of Erick’s very tall friends who were lugging an air conditioner to the top floor. One of the fags was an older man in leather boots and straw cowboy hat, his companion a young, nervous, hand waving Nelly who couldn’t stop asking questions. At first I got a kick out of them – especially when I found out they were looking to move their gay sex party to Erick’s pad after having been booted from the S&M club Paddles – but the drama twink soon began to grate on my nerves. “And you work with Erick? What kind of party is this? See – our real issue is a clothes check because we have sixty people and those lockers are just much too small,” he motored on and on as if his fuck fest were “Vanity Fair” at the Oscars. I was hoping the grey-haired master in cowboy hat would pull a gag from his back jeans pocket, but alas, no such luck. Erick shot me a look of “Why the hell are you still talking to them? Get them out, out!” so since I was leaving anyway I suggested we talk on our way downstairs where I blew them each kisses as we parted. I headed for the subway glad I would never be that kind of a queer.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Better Than Sex: David Lynch's Wild at Heart

“No tongue – my lipstick,” Diane Ladd’s conniving Marietta Fortune admonishes at the beginning of “Wild at Heart,” flirting with Harry Dean Stanton’s Johnnie Farragut, while perfectly setting the tone for the tantalizing sexual games to follow. Lynch’s typically bizarre noir contains one of the steamiest foreplay scenes ever to grace the indie screen. Strangely, this kinky non-sex scene involves not Laura Dern’s Lula and Nicolas Cage’s Sailor Ripley (whose love scenes are saturated with such hyper-real color and artistic angles as to overshadow the screwing), but the childlike Lula and Willem Dafoe’s greasy, so-creepy-he’s-charismatic Bobby Peru (”Just like the country,” he drawls, introducing himself to Lula and Sailor outside the hotel they’re all staying at, sliding snakelike into “Wild at Heart” nearly an hour and twenty minutes fashionably late). Dressed in black, sporting a Clark Gable moustache, Bobby’s the ultimate contrast to Dern’s big blonde hairdo, red lipstick painted, 20-year-old piece of mentally damaged white trash. That the episode doesn’t culminate in predictable fornication only proves that the iconoclastic director truly understands how to harness the power of the erotic chase––that is, that it’s hotter than the catch.

For more on my take on the best non-sex scene ever to grace the indie screen visit Spout.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Still Swinging

Just when I thought my job prospects couldn’t get any weirder there came the ad on Craig’s List inquiring, “Do you write erotica?” But no, this wasn’t some Internet site looking for free content, just a pleasant, middle-aged white guy working in PR who wanted some chick to read sexy stories to him. Yeah, I could do that.

So after about an hour of chatting and reading most of the first chapter of “Under My Master’s Wings” aloud on a bench on a sunny day in Chelsea Waterfront Park, I headed uptown to the swing party with cash in my pocket – where I was met by the sight of Erick’s gorgeous new twink, a 21-year-old from Florence, Italy with shaved head and solid young bod. I told him all about how my sister had spent the last few summers in Florence then asked him if he was a stripper (he had just arrived in NYC from southern Florida, the hustler’s route). Turns out he worked in a restaurant and for an Italian shoe designer in her store. Of course I had to cut the conversation short when Erick’s other new pal swaggered in, a cocky black guy in tight black jeans and a tight black T-shirt that showed off his tight rippling torso. I walked up and introduced myself, asked where he was from. “An island far, far away,” was his singsong reply. “Which one?” I asked, guessing Trinidad. “Dominica,” he answered, looking at me in the same sleazy way I was trying to penetrate his clothes with my gaze. Dominica. Hmm. Where is Dominica? I wondered, glancing over at the “Big Bubble Butt Brazilian Orgy” playing on the TV. I’d never done Dominica.

We kept our eyes roaming towards one another as I mingled with Liquid, Jada and the other black girls (well, not Star as she has a fucking only policy) and the few white guys who’d stopped by (well, not the annoying schmoe who kissed my hand then kept trying to touch my knee and arm as I conversed with a gay porn connoisseur hostess like myself. After forcing him to sit on his hands if he wanted to have a word with me, the sniveling slave admitted he’d been to the S&M club Paddles. Naturally.)

Unfortunately, the night was filled with more talking than fucking. The Caribbean stud wouldn’t even take off his shirt, his coy routine starting to grate. He asked why I was still dressed – “because you’re shy?” I replied that I wasn’t shy at all. “Show me your kitty,” he said. My kitty? I flashed him my slave rings instead and his eyes grew as wide as if I’d shook out my dick. Finally he agreed to strip in an empty corner on the couples’ floor, letting me remove his cock from a black vinyl jock strap. He got beneath my mini-dress long enough to kiss my tits. “I want to fuck you. Do you have a condom?” “No,” I replied hard-on in hand. “Let me run upstairs and get one. Wait here. I’ll be right back,” he begged, stuffing his dick into his jeans. Well, that seemed rather silly. “No, I’ll come with you – I’ll blow you in front of everyone!” I enthused, trailing behind. Dominica man stopped in his tracks, a mortified expression upon his face. “No way.” “But we’re at a swing party!” I reminded exasperated. “Yeah, but that’s not why I’m here,” he huffed.

And suddenly my own hard-on wilted. I did not come to a kinky party to have boring hetero sex in some dark corner. As it was late and I was getting nowhere fast I told him that next time we’d negotiate a compromise. I’d suck him off in front of the crowd and then he could screw me in private. I may be a pushy perverted queen but I’m nothing if not reasonable.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My New Spout Column

Hot off the SpoutBlog press releases:

“Later today, we’ll be debuting a new column from Lauren Wissot, whose work you might have also read at The House Next Door and/or The Reeler. Lauren, who will be tackling (no pun intended) sexual themes in indie and classic cinema every Wednesday, will begin with a revisionist take on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie.” We wanted to call her column “Art Films To Jerk Off To,” but in the end that might be too limiting––after all, who’s to say what qualifies as art?”

To check out Dial S&M for Marnie visit Spout.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lust Bites Interview

"The blog on everyone's lips" has crowned me slut of the day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Sweetest Swing

I received an Evite for my friend Lisa and her hubby’s annual “Sex and BBQ in Suburbia” shindig. That night in honor of Jude’s fiftieth, the swing party became a birthday bash with Trader Joe's chocolate cake and chocolate Liquid serving as the naughty games hostess, presiding over spin the bottle and “dirty dice” (one die had commands such as “eat” and “blow” inscribed, the other body parts both specific, “breast,” and subject to interpretation like “below the waist”). An adorable, young, black bi couple proved the most adventurous with the huge boob female half devouring pussy and locking lips while everyone else shyly did a lot of kissing of knees and backs (though I did manage to “eat” Wilson’s “breast”). Liquid dribbled candle wax over her cunt, peeled it off and offered the mold as a present to Jude. Even so it was way more sweet sixteen than debauched swing.

That is until the master and his slave girl showed up. Jude had met them at a party awhile back so she knew that the master was a Russian in his forties, his slave a bit younger – and that she lived five blocks from Jude! Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to meet them as the master immediately got naked and forced his peek-a-boo lingerie clad slut to suck him off in the middle of the lounge. Soon several other men began to saunter over to grope her tits and ass. Her eyes were closed and I knew she was floating high above on another planet, her physical form safe in the hands of her master. I couldn’t help but become nostalgic for David.

Luckily a tall muscle boy wearing a baseball cap to the side, Eminem style, appeared to jolt me out of my reverie. I plopped myself down on the arm of the chair he was sitting in and introduced myself, asked what he did, where he was from. He was a construction worker from Brooklyn but the accent wasn’t. “I’m Polish,” he disclosed. It seemed Jude wasn’t the only one with a neighbor at the party. We started talking about Greenpoint, about my landlady’s penchant for elaborate ornamentation and kitschy Polish eagles (“Did drag queens design your building?” my friend Derek once asked me), and about the local nightclub Europa – which made me nostalgic for all the men I’d met there, flirted with, screwed, and wished I hadn’t. “Those buildings are so ugly!” he complained about my landlady’s taste, and “The crowd’s too young!” about Europa. “How old are you?” I wondered. “Twenty-nine.” He asked what I did so I told him I was a dominatrix. “Oh, boy,” he sighed, shaking his head with a look that said he thought I beat people up for a living. Minutes later he was up wandering the room. C’est la vie, I thought. I wasn’t about to go backwards, pretend to be a normal straight chick. I’d already learned my lesson long ago – that bad sex comes in even the most incredible packages.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Swingtown Today

Odd that I would pass a bus ad for “Swingtown,” a new, retro TV show that follows the trials and tribulations of those wacky 70s wife-swappers, on my way to my latest gig. Having been happily ensconced in an “adults only” world off and on for over a decade, I thought I’d pretty much sampled every non-sex job the sex industry had to offer, from receptionist (at a body rub biz and at a house of domination), to pro-dom, to stripper (albeit briefly as I lack the hustling gene). So when I saw the ad on Craig’s List for “swing party hostess” I thought, “That’s a job? And why hasn’t anyone ever told me I can get paid to watch folks screw?”

Well, yes and no. The standard swingers party is for couples and single women only – no single men allowed, thus no need for hostesses. But because Erick – the fabulous black queen at the other end of the Craig’s List ad – admits single guys to his debauched shindigs he needs extra women to even things out. The hours are 7-11 on most weeknights, 10-2 on weekends, the pay twenty bucks an hour “plus tips,” which could mean nothing if you’re mostly voyeur like me, or rent if you’re an insatiable fuck freak like Star, a towering Amazon of a black woman with huge tits and ass, which she parades around free of charge as she methodically attacks each and every man that enters Erick’s candlelit and incense drenched, three-floor midtown loft. (In all fairness to the sexual Energizer bunny, I honestly don’t know which men Star is charging for her services as she’s like an indiscriminate tornado, sucking up every penis in her path, business dealings seeming a mere afterthought. Erick is forever asking her to slow down before she wears out all the customers.)

I know she’s not charging Wilson. Ahh, Wilson – one of the many former/current/aspiring porn stars that form Erick’s vast entourage. (Did I happen to mention Erick is my new best friend?) The first time I saw Wilson enter the top floor lounge my Pavlovian response to muscled Adonis’s kicked in and it took all my willpower not to drop to my knees, begging to body worship. Wilson is straight out of my “Gaiety guys I must fuck” category. A pierced and tattooed Puerto Rican bodybuilder and personal trainer with a killer smile who eventually confided to me that he’d done gay porn in his “younger days” (he’s 26!) for Tony and Michael over at Lucas Entertainment, Wilson’s only flaw is that he’s, well, nice. Sweet and shy. A good guy supporting his girlfriend and four kids, not a bad boy bone in his body. Ick. Though I did manage to wrangle a taste of his big fat dick – after Jada, a sweet black stripper from the Bronx with enormous T&A had had her way with him, that is. While he was eating her out, she and Bianca, a young, innocent Latina hostess from the Bronx, gushed over how sexy Paris Hilton is. Wilson held up his pinky and waved it. “Eew. You like her, too?” I asked. He removed his face from Jada’s vagina long enough to explain that he doesn’t like thin girls. As my hard-on wilted freestyle music filled the room, taking me back to those long gone 80s. “Oh, yeah, my mom used to play this when I was little,” Wilson added. I felt like a skinny, creepy old queen.

So I just contented myself with sitting temptingly near the Adonis, to playing with his nipple piercings, to inhaling the glorious testosterone – when he wasn’t being greedily gangbanged by Star and her aggressive body parts. Technically Wilson’s job is security “plus” (wink, wink) but Erick’s parties are so laidback that security doesn’t seem to be an issue. Not like the weird mix of cute couples, young, single and surprisingly decent-looking guys (everyone from white shoe lawyers to blue collar construction workers), the porn stars and ghetto strippers all lounging around in towels are suddenly going to get up and riot. To wit, the only tense moment occurred when the crap freebie “NYC condoms” kept slipping off Wilson’s dick the one time I was trying to blow him. (I threatened to call 311 to complain. “The mayor keeps cock-blocking me!”)

Of course, where there’s a cock there’s a way. Right off I’d suggested to Erick that he put an ad for “Str8 Guys on the DL” on Craig’s List so I could watch some live gay porn. The number of responses Erick received shocked him. Within a week I’d climbed the ladder from lowly “hostess” (dispensing towels and locks for the lockers when not cheering on the players, shuffling between the sparsely furnished, downstairs “couples room” and the upstairs lounge with giant couch, urban Brazilian porn on the TV, and a curtained-off boudoir area) to the chick who walks around flirtatiously whispering in every man’s ear, “So. Do you suck cock?”

Such are the times when my gay male soul can shine through my biological female body without getting punched in the nose. Though for every “yeah, sometimes” there are several “no, thanks” the effort can pay off. Like the night I got a cute black guy with an enormous cock to blow Erick’s friend Anthony, a pretty Latin boy with dreamy eyes, as he was jerking him off. The black guy was a cock-sucking virgin, Anthony an eager young thing on the DL. Yum. Needless to say, I decided to hook enthusiastic Anthony up with my gay porn contact. “Why are you trying to get all my friends to do gay porn?” Erick cried. (Uh, maybe because you have friends like the cute, straight Latin stripper who works the gay clubs – and even knows former Gaiety boy Tyler who now manages Club 20!) “He sucks cock? But he’s my friend! I never knew! How can you tell?” Erick endlessly wondered about this one and that, professing shock at my bi and gay-for-pay radar even as he was using me as an undercover DL spy (“Ask him!”). Simple, darling. I can pick up the scent of hustlers and rough trade from a mile away.

Not that these swing parties are all about the cock. No, there’s erotic yoga as well. Jude, the fantastically fit, nearly fifty-year-old, pot-smoking “cougar” hostess, a forensic psychologist who’s married to her master and has been friends with famed BDSM filmmaker (and submissive) Blue for thirty years, has been known to perform a calisthenics regimen in front of the TV porn from time to time. (So what makes this yoga erotic? The setting – duh!) And Jude isn’t the only crossover from the S&M world to grace Erick’s parties (not that Jude doesn’t cross over from several scenes herself, having worked at the iconic punk rock Mudd Club – I was shocked when Thrill Kill Kult’s “Sex On Wheels” blared from the speakers courtesy of Jude, and more recently joined the political performance pranksters Billionaires for Bush). Johnny, a nipple torture enthusiast who plays at Paddles and has known the legendary Lenny of Hellfire Club for decades, is a regular. And Jude also has some flexibility competition from Erick’s friend Legend, a well over six-foot-tall black man with a to-die-for bod who I asked if he played sports in addition to personal training. “Yeah, I used to be in the circus,” he replied, detailing the years he spent with UniverSoul.

Then there’s Liquid, a black bisexual hostess who won’t do girls darker than she. “She’s a white girl inside,” Erick laughed, and indeed, Liquid sounds exactly like Elle from “Legally Blonde.” And there’s also the sharp, twenty-something, Latin female/ black male couple that arrive suited up in business attire – only to immediately strip, never to leave the boudoir area for the rest of the night! (Turns out they’ve been together for three years and public sex is how they decompress after a long hard day. I have a feeling this relationship will last, with lots not to tell the grandchildren about someday.) And of course I can’t forget to mention Erick’s cousin George, a tall teddy bear of an ex-con with gold teeth, who bounces around the room like a kid in desperate need of Ritalin. “It’s my wife. Hi, baby!” he exclaimed, answering his cell during one of his rare moments of sitting still on the couch. “I’m sitting next to a dominatrix!” he added, handing me the phone. “Beat his ass for me!” the voice on the other end yelled. When the entire room suddenly disappeared to the second floor while I was in the bathroom I immediately went downstairs, looking for the orgy. What I found instead left me aghast. Everyone was gathered around the speakers, shaking their towel covered booties to salsa music like at some high school basement party. I was the resident pervert for sure.

When Star started devouring a little Puerto Rican guy half her height Erick coaxed me over to watch the show while he gave a play-by-play. “Oh, her wig is gonna fall off!” he whispered as Star’s weave began to wave. “She’s gonna crush him!” he exclaimed as Star flipped the small man onto his back with a move straight out of WWE. The guy turned out to be quite cool, though. After Star had had her fix he tried to pick me up but I demurred, letting him in on my “secret.” Being a guy on the inside I fuck vicariously through man-on-man action. “That’s very interesting,” he nodded, accepting and intrigued.

And I guess that’s the best part of the swing “gig” for me, the freedom to be my male self (swingers parties are just gay bathhouses for straight-identified people after all!) I can wear undies and a T-shirt, no makeup, not like when I have to pretend to be a girl at Pandora’s, posing as a corseted, high-heeled dom. When Erick shouts, “This is my favorite song!” he looks conspiratorially at me as the hip-hop lyrics sing, “Wave your dicks in the air!” It’s me he sends over to freak out the straight black guy who does odd jobs for him, who he can’t seem to get rid of. (“You fool around with guys?” I bluntly asked the paint-covered dude. “Nah, I’m forty. I’ve got kids at home,” he answered uncomfortably. “I won’t tell them,” I countered sweetly. “Nah, I’m good,” he added, starting to panic.) I guess the only drawback is the low pay so I still troll Craig’s List. Matter of fact, I just emailed a guy – a bi hustler in search of a girl to do joint sessions with his clients. According to Lorenzo’s website he’s an Italian-American, 6’3”, 210 lb. bodybuilder.

To be continued.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sex Industry Stonewall

Rebecca’s Hidden Chamber, an S&M dungeon in midtown Manhattan, got busted for prostitution the other week. Now I know next to nothing about this house of domination that bills itself as “the polite dungeon” (whatever that means), but I do know about BDSM, having been both a personal slave and a pro-dom, as well as prostitution, having been involved with a high-end male escort for six years.

And I say, “Enough!”

When are sex workers finally going to come out of the closet and take to the streets? Instead of denying that one agreed to engage in sex for $220 (if Rebecca’s mistresses did indeed consent to that paltry sum then they got busted and low-balled to boot!) or tearfully pleading guilty, why not try some dominant defiance? “Yes, officer, I did agree to fuck you, but I didn’t consent to my hard-earned tax dollars – yup, many of us do vanilla gigs, too – going to the prosecution of “vice crimes” when education budgets get slashed, when infrastructure repairs get tabled, when men and women lacking body armor are dying in Iraq.”

Where is the outrage?

Instead of focusing on “sex slaves” (apples to the oranges of run-of-the-mill hookers) and the myth of prostitution as a non-victimless crime, let’s focus on the bogus “morality” nonsense that keeps the vice unit in business – a unit as antiquated as prohibition. The government has no right telling me what to do with my womb, or so the pro-choice voice would say. Then why in 2008 is there not an equally strong sexual rights lobby, one demanding that government stop making decisions for the rest of my body as well?

At the beginning of the last century, in “Tropic of Capricorn,” Henry Miller wrote,” “I meant by that a very simple thing – The Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western had been electrified, the Seaboard Air Line had been electrified, but the soul of man was still in the covered wagon stage.” We should be embarrassed that those words still ring ominously true today, ashamed of our puritanical laws, and not by the acts they futilely attempt to prevent us from engaging in.

For more sex workers advocacy head over to Bound, Not Gagged.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Homos In Distress

“It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt)” is the earnest title of Rosa von Praunheim’s 1971 PG-chaste first feature, which has aged like good cheese from a scandalous sensation (a political wakeup call to gays) into a textbook example of classic camp—and a delightful time warp trip through queer cliché. The very colorful color film (shot MOS) opens with von Praunheim’s camera trailing two fags—one blonde, one brunette—walking down a sunny Berlin street. Daniel, the shy brunette, is new to the big city and blonde Clemens is generously offering him a place to stay. (We know this by the heavily German-accented English, dubbed and spoken in a “Sprockets” cadence.)

To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Private Bitches in Public Places

At the end of “Stalags,” Ari Libsker’s engrossing documentary about the Israeli Nazi-themed porn paperbacks that became a bestselling phenomenon at the time of the Adolf Eichmann trial, a survivor declares that the genocide should be spoken about in the simplest terms since the grandest words and images couldn’t come close to approaching the true horror. And Libsker, a grandson of Holocaust survivors, takes this advice to heart through a deft combination of voiceover (lurid excerpts from the stalags read by a somber baritone), archival images of daily life in Israel (mirroring the disjunction between normal appearances and the corrosive truth lurking beneath the surface), and talking head experts—both consumers and creators of the “anti-Semitic porn”—shot in B&W, juxtaposed with cutaways to the stalags’ colorful cover art (perhaps the only sign of life in the “shadow of trauma” that defined the time, each image worth a thousand words and then some). Simply put, this film is a revelation. Like the best investigative journalists, Libsker patiently sifts through each and every contradiction to discover that something that would seem so horrifically paradoxical on its face proves ultimately inevitable beneath the surface. How could Israeli Nazi pornography even exist, let alone be a widespread phenomenon? “Stalags” answers, “How could it not?”

To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Not Playing at a Theater Near You

It’s the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Museum of Modern Art’s “New Directors/New Films” series time! Check out my reviews of “Japan Japan” (small town fag in Tel Aviv) and “XXY” (Buenos Aires, inter-sex teen in small town Uruguay) at The House Next Door.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gay for M.M.A.

“The New York Times Magazine” has done a public service by publishing Gladiator, Paul Wachter’s article on the underground versus state-sanctioned arenas of mixed martial arts, through the lens of an ex-con named Shad Smith who’s participated in both. Shad Smith also happens to be openly gay and, rightly, Wachter does not dwell on this detail any more than the other fighters do. As Smith himself allows, while fans will sometimes taunt him, the world of M.M.A. is “like a fraternity…once these guys see you in the cage, as long as you don’t make a fool out of yourself” you’re treated like everyone else. Finally one of the biggest misconceptions about fighting (boxing, muay Thai, M.M.A., jujitsu, etc.) as a macho, misogynistic, homophobic sport – when it’s actually the opposite – has been exposed. Anyone who’s ever spent time around serious fighters knows they dedicate themselves to what happens inside the ring. And gender and sexuality are checked before you set foot inside that space. There’s no time for categorizing people when your life is on the line. The only relevant question is, “Can you hold your own?” Fighters don’t distinguish between men and women, straight and gay. Everyone trains the same and is held to the same standard. Sports where opponents draw blood are very often the most civilized.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Revolution Will Not Be Categorized

Finally a "Times" reporter gets it right! When Girls Will Be Boys by Alissa Quart delves much deeper than just the dilemma faced by women’s colleges when students transition from female to male. Unlike the Stonewall generation, the Genderqueer Revolution is not about fitting easy definitions – “gay or straight” does not translate neatly into “male or female.” We’re transmen/women as well as gender nonconformists who’ve never desired hormones, and we run the gamut from post-op transsexuals to those that “pass” as the biological sex we were born into (“trans” being the operative word – we transcend gender in a way that the gay and lesbian community does not transcend sexuality). That society reduces us to a group “born into the wrong body” is offensive, for it implies that there is a “right” body to be born into. This revolution is not about making it easy for society to categorize us. (As Eddie Izzard eloquently put it in his recent “Times” interview, “I have fought for the right to be able to wear a dress, not that I have to wear a dress. I didn’t jump out of a not-wearing-dress box into a have-to-wear-dress box.”) It’s about making it easier for us to live comfortably inside our contradictory selves.

(An edited version appears in “The New York Times Magazine” Letters to the Editor section.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Eddie Izzard Is My Hero(ine)!

Never underestimate the power of comedy to illuminate. The “NY Times” published an intriguing piece with “lost Python” (John Cleese’s words) and actor Eddie Izzard who still happens to be happily cross-dressing despite masculine appearances to the contrary. Caryn James’ interview excerpted below:

“(Izzard) said he is clueless about Broadway shows because “I’m a straight transvestite; I know nothing about musicals.”

He doesn’t always mention being a transvestite in his shows, he said. But he did in the two I saw, and it worked as a disarming strategy: acknowledge it for fans who are wondering what happened, then move on. “I am a transvestite; I’m just off-duty at the moment,” he told the audience, and immediately went on, “I never was a transvestite; it was a tax thing.”

As he explained later: “Some people would heckle me and say ‘Where’s the dress?’ and I’d say ‘Don’t oppress me, you Nazi’ — tends to shut them up. Because I have fought for the right to be able to wear a dress, not that I have to wear a dress. I didn’t jump out of a not-wearing-dress box into a have-to-wear-dress box.”

But isn’t he now in a have-to-wear-pants box for career purposes?

“Slightly,” he acknowledged. “Socially, politically, the number of out transvestites in the public eye are few.” And in American-accented voices he imagined one studio executive trying to persuade another to hire him:

“ ‘Yeah, he’s a transvestite — but he hasn’t been wearing a dress for a while.’ ”

“ ‘Yeah, I suppose that’s O.K.’ ”

Being a transvestite is “still not part of the establishment,” he said. “ ‘Twelve transvestite senators turned up today’ — it hasn’t been said yet. You’re always sort of outside the loop.”

When he started performing in England, he wore ordinary men’s clothes but worried that the press would learn of his transvestism and run with the news in a lurid way. He told reporters that he was a transvestite; they thought it was a joke. “So I thought, I’ll wear a dress and wear makeup,” he said, “and they wrote, ‘O.K., he is a transvestite, but he looks a mess.’ ”

“By the time I got to America in ’96, I thought, I’m going to bring it to America so I don’t have to do a two-step here,” he said. Eventually people saw him only as the cross-dressing stand-up, though, so he veered again, and here he is as Doug Rich.

Sort of. In the poster art for “Stripped” he is wearing an open lacy shirt, suit and jeweled collar pin, an image he described as rock ’n’ roll. He may be wearing a bit of eye makeup — more than most men but less than Keith Richards. It’s a dandyish, Beau Brummel look that hints at the balance he has to find at this stage of his career.”

And life, I might add. In fact, Izzard is just going through what every one of us whose gender and/or sexuality don’t match society’s “norm” eventually face. How do you come out without having that part of yourself define you completely? It’s really no different from what any minority throughout history has had to deal with. How does Spike Lee go from being a “black filmmaker” to being just a filmmaker who happens to be black? In the same way Izzard is attempting to become a comic and actor who “happens to be” a transvestite. You start out by acknowledging the thing that defines you – and then move beyond it, others’ reactions be damned. It’s the only way for one to grow both as an artist and as a human being. “She’s Gotta Have It” Spike Lee is no less black for having directed the conventional crime thriller “Inside Man.” Likewise, Eddie Izzard will always be a transvestite whether he’s wearing sequins or suits (or both). (In fact, “straight” Izzard in pants is more a true transvestite than gay Divine – who only did drag onstage as part of his shtick, and indeed was gearing up to play a male role on “Married With Children” when he died – ever was.) “Lost Python,” dramatic actor and trailblazing pioneer. That’s Eddie Izzard defined.