Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Better Than Santa: The 12 Acts of Christmas

Take a dash of burlesque, a scoop of modern dance mixed with classic ballet, plenty of candy cane-colored costumes, some sultry cabaret lighting, a rocking score stuffed with updated versions of holiday standards, sprinkle generously with vaudeville, then toss it all up in midair and you’ve got “The 12 Acts of Christmas” presented by Suspended Cirque, the sexiest troupe of aerial performers on the other side of the Hudson. I trekked through a blizzard to get to the warm intimate setting of the Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO for the only evening performance of their winter spectacular this year. (The weather outside was frightful but that dominatrix Santa sure was delightful!)

The entire show was one euphoric toy train ride, from its opening winking catfight routine and Santa riding a unicycle on the ground, to “Michelle on Fabric Skating in the Air” and “Angela and her Rope on a Silent Night” high above. There’s a touching, old-fashioned sensibility to this troupe, a reverence for burlesque and vaudeville, for slapstick and flappers. (“Michelle Drunk at a Party” could be a Chaplin routine – if Chaplin were a yogi.) Suspended Cirque combined the bawdy fun of the holiday season with the true beauty in its meaning via ropes, trapezes, sturdy fabric and hoops – not to mention the Peter Pan aerialists whose own bodies manage to defy both gravity and the human form itself. And the childlike thrill these talented folks take in performance is both exhilarating and downright contagious. For them the sheer joy of flying is a calling, and we as the audience are merely being allowed to live vicariously through them, to feel a part of their fantasy made real for a couple of hours. This is nothing less than transcendental performance art. Laced with Viagra.

For there’s a deep rooted sexiness that lies in the mingling of physicality and spirituality, allowing a transcendence of the self. With the dexterity of jungle animals and the enthusiasm of kids climbing trees the company uses each other’s bodies, even their own limbs as ropes, utilizing flesh on flesh to create. As they seamlessly move from floor to ceiling, as if walking on air is the most natural thing in the world, the need to be air born becomes a palpable hunger, an orgasmic drive. There’s a lust for life that encompasses the room. Indeed, watching “The Ladies of Suspended Cirque on the Triangle Trapeze” camp it up in miniskirts and glitter, mock pushing then catching one another from on high to a club mix of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” it’s hard to believe that any dream wouldn’t come true.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So Cold He's Hot

“Race,” the latest David Mamet play to open on Broadway, stars the effortlessly brazen James Spader. Spader, of course, has fashioned an entire career playing slick, sexy scoundrels whose looks allow them to get away with behavior a lesser nebbish like Woody Allen would get locked up for. For nearly three decades(!), and in a feat incomparable to any other actor of his generation, Spader has repeatedly and subversively performed his own form of jujitsu on Hollywood typecasting. Consistently he's cashed in on his leading man, pretty boy looks while simultaneously embodying character actor assholes—in the process exposing the very essence of sex appeal. In contrast, a star like Tom Cruise is a good guy at heart, forever excusing his high wattage looks in an "Aw shucks, don't hate me because I'm beautiful" appeal. Spader is Cruise's polar opposite, both refusing to apologize for the genes life dealt him and not caring one iota whether we like him or not. Frankly, my dear, he doesn't give a damn. Spader's sexiness—as opposed to mere physical attributes—lies in his flaunting of genuine self-confidence through his characters.

To read the rest visit my “Sex Beat” column at Carnal Nation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beyond Queer: "The Lily's Revenge"

Once upon a time, there was an entity called community. It evolved out of the retro notion that people needed one another both to survive and thrive. It began with blood ties, since in the old days most of the support network around an individual happened to have a biologically-related component. But as people ventured out of these clans and the world became more global, communities became more fluid. Those whose blood ties fell short of support suddenly began to band together to form new families. These new outsider families were given labels—Beat, hippie, punk, queer—and often overlapped in their membership. But then a strange thing happened. As those communities grew, they began to splinter into ever more niches until identity suddenly required the individual to choose sides against oneself and family. Were you a lesbian first and a black woman second? And why would a black lesbian set foot in a white gay male bar? Where once there was a GLBT community that felt unrepresented in the media and in society at large, there's now a queer silent majority reeling from the over-saturated mainstream images of a cookie-cutter gay life they don't conform to or recognize at all.

To read the rest visit my “Sex Beat” column at Carnal San Francisco.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

CineKink: San Francisco, November 19-21


Mark your calendars for the west coast edition! Our “Un Piede di Roman Polanski” will be screening Saturday, November 21st as part of the Best of CineKink/2009 Shorts Sampler program. Stop on by!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sexual Violence and "The New Guignol"

My most delectable Halloween treat last week was attending “The New Guignol,” an evening of short, ripped from the perverse-but-true headlines plays presented by The Blood Brothers and Nosedive Productions at my new haunt, The Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Of course a Grand Guignol show, theater's answer to a haunted house, is pretty much critic-proof, akin to reviewing a night of campfire tales. Either you delight in the horror – which I unequivocally did – or you find yourself nodding off anxious to crawl into the nearest sleeping bag. (I was especially fond of the patter and chemistry between “blood brother” actors/directors Pete Boisvert and Patrick Shearer, who served as our Uncle Fester looking guides through the simultaneously gory and hilarious vignettes.) Acting, directing, sets, lighting and costume design are mere accompaniments to the spectacle of body parts and stage blood, and savoring that which is taboo in proper real life.

To read the rest visit my “Sex Beat” column at Carnal San Francisco.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

“Un Piede di Roman Polanski” To Screen in Germany!



Our award-winning, G-rated homage to Roman Polanski’s foot fetish will be playing in the Experimental Porn, Short Films section of the Pornfilmfestival Berlin, which takes place October 22-25.

And since these feet were made for walking “Un Piede di Roman Polanski” will then screen at the Fetisch Film Festival, taking place October 29-31.

Who knew our feet would be so big in Europe?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It’s Only A Flesh Wound: In Defense of Lars von Trier’s "Antichrist"

If you’re a fan of cinema with a capital 'C,' you’re surely aware of the buzz surrounding “Antichrist,” the latest from Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier (he of the Dogme 95 manifesto, that phobic and depressive auteur rumored to have driven Bjork to eat her own sweater during the making of “Dancer in the Dark”). The film garnered a Best Actress prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival for its leading lady, Charlotte Gainsbourg, who was upstaged only by her director proclaiming to be the Holy Father himself. Gainsbourg plays “She” to Willem Dafoe’s “He”—they're a couple whose toddler crawls right out an open window while they’re engaged in some hot, slo-mo, B&W-shot sex. Unable to come to terms with her child’s death, She spends an unproductive month drugged out in a hospital before He, a therapist by trade, decides the only cure is to whisk her away to a cabin in the woods called Eden for some intense fear facing. Of course, since this is a von Trier film, things can only get devilishly nasty.

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Titus Andronicus: Shakespeare as Torture Porn

“Titus Andronicus” is the first show in the "Grudge Match: DMT Vs. Shakespeare" series ("in which nearly all of the Bard's great works will be ruthlessly mutilated, bent, battered, cut to ribbons and otherwise manhandled," so sayeth the program) from Danse Macabre Theatrics, the good folks whose critically-acclaimed S&M futuristic fantasia “Bitch Macbeth” likewise played to enthusiastic audiences at The Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you're not familiar with the Bard's goriest work, which pits the titular Roman general against the queen of the Goths Tamora in a setting in which vengeance reigns king, all the better. Director Frank Cwiklik's multimedia production dispenses with the modern parallel-drawing yawn inducements to do something even more important than simply making Shakespeare relevant to today's world. He's made the Bard's text actually come alive in a riveting and twisting thriller, honoring the playwright through the "mutilation" of his work.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Buy Ultimate Decadence!

And read my short story Swing Town. Proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Art, Madness, and Sex Work: An Interview With Director Karen Gehres

In “Begging Naked” Karen Gehres documents her friend Elise, a painter and sculptor and former Times Square stripper, as she succumbs to mental illness and homelessness. What struck me most about this little gem of a film was that it isn't just another journalistic investigation of a crazy artist, but a beautiful, selfless call to save a friend's life and art, rather than a calling card for the filmmaker. (Even the photo montage of Elise through the years at the end, which also sums up in title cards that most of her creations were salvaged and reside in a Brooklyn warehouse, that she's been living in Central Park since her eviction five years ago—and that she continues to work on her art—is astounding in its compassion and humility.) I spoke with director Gehres a few weeks before the award-winning doc's latest screening at the Women Make Waves Film Festival in Taipei.

To read the interview visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Playboy of The Western World

So Roman Polanski finally got busted in Switzerland for fucking an underage female in California decades ago. Which reminds me what a hypocritical sham our politically correct “age of consent” rule really is. Should Polanski have done what he did? Absolutely not. But why is this transgression any more heinous than screwing all the equally mentally immature, just barely legal bombshells he did during his swinging Tinseltown days? In other words, why is his having sex with a barely illegal non-virgin a crime while banging a barely legal virgin (something that many men of Polanski’s stature do every night) met with a wink and a nod? And why do we view adolescent sexuality through a simplistic, cookie cutter lens when in fact consent is not dependent on age at all, but on each individual’s emotional maturity? I say if Polanski is forced to serve prison time then Hugh Hefner – and every other Lolita-loving mogul of his generation – should plead guilty as well.

Justice served.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Banned from The Land Down Under: An Interview with "Matinée" director Jennifer Lyon Bell

I met Amsterdam-based director Jennifer Lyon Bell in person this past February at a Sunday brunch at Monkey Town, a performance space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where we were both screening our CineKink Film Festival award winners. Her “Matinée” had just garnered a Best Narrative Short prize while “Un Piede di Roman Polanski,” the homage to Roman Polanski's foot fetish I co-directed with Roxanne Kapista, had taken Best Experimental Short. So when I received word last month that “Matinée” had just been banned from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (yes, the irony of the acronym did not escape me either) by the Australian Film Commission the week before it was set to screen, I knew I had to get in touch with Jennifer and find out the 411 on getting the bum's rush in the land down under.

To read the interview visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Bacchae: Sexless in New York

Summer in NYC is always the sexiest time of year, so to me it made hot and sweaty sense that following on the high heels of Shakespeare in the Park's Anne Hathaway Bard vehicle “Twelfth Night,” arrived “The Bacchae,” the Euripides tragedy directed by The Public Theater's former artistic director Joanne Akalaitis with an original score by her former husband Philip Glass. It starred miscast cutie pie Jonathan Groff (“Spring Awakening,” “Hair”) as the god Dionysus who whips his Theban female worshippers — a.k.a. The Bacchae, which has a better ring to it than Dionysus-heads — into a lustful frenzy. This in turn stokes the ire of the uptight king of Thebes, Pentheus, played by the usually nuanced Anthony Mackie, who instead chose to channel the god of bellowing Al Pacino. With a setup like this it's nearly a given that things take a turn for the worst both onstage and within the Greek drama.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interview with Erotica Diva Emily Dubberley

For those who think, "Dog collars — they're not just for Fido anymore!" and prize Hitachi's Magic Wand over their microwaves, Emily Dubberley has been a household name in the U.K. for years. Since the prolific sex writer (eighteen books and counting) has been bouncing between print and the Internet with a shameless hussy ease for so long I could think of no better pervert to deliver the down and dirty on the part of the English sex industry that transforms words into wet dreams.

To read the interview visit Carnal San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sex and The Subject: Confessions of a Critic

As a freelancer who writes almost exclusively for online film publications I often find myself wearing more than one mismatched hat. Sometimes I'm a critic picking apart larger than life images, and sometimes I'm a reporter picking the brain of a real live filmmaker or random porn star. Interviewing the delightful Sasha Grey for SpoutBlog one week while trouncing the atrocious film that marks her mainstream debut, Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience," at The House Next Door the next, is just par for the modern day journo's course. As the walls have tumbled down in cyberspace, so have the boundaries that used to separate critic from subject. Or at least what were once sturdy facades.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Queer Theory: Sex and the Other Gender

“New York” magazine recently ran an article by Mark Harris called "The Gay Generation Gap," in which he describes that chasm perhaps best summarized as the binary thinking of the old versus the non-thinking of the new. As Harris rightly notes, "There's nothing duller than a young gay man whose curiosity about the world doesn't appear to extend past his iPod." While the lack of critical thinking skills in both old and young is disheartening, as a genderqueer person balanced between both gender and the gap (as a 39-year-old gay man in a bio female body I'm on the young side of Harris's 45 divide, though not by much) I found myself rooting for the bubble brains if only in self-interest.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal San Francisco.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Now Playing at a Newsstand Near You



The good news – the Summer issue of Filmmaker magazine is out! The bad news – you’ll have to get hold of a print copy to read my interview with Maria Beatty in the Reports section.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interviewing Michelle: Unraveling Michelle


What thrilled me most about the documentary Unraveling Michelle, which follows the ups, downs and in-betweens of MTF transsexual Michelle Ann Farrell as she transitions into her new life as a physically female being, has nothing to do with gender issues. No, the most subversive part of Michelle isn’t her tits, but her profession – indie filmmaker, her choice to turn the lens on herself merely an extension of her art form. Just as capable directing low-budget horror as she is reminding her cameraman to be sure to shoot wide during her surgery, Michelle’s most powerful declaration is simply, “I want to be a female filmmaker.” From an early age the former Joe loved to play at being a girl, then became an elite hockey player in high school – not because Joe was in denial of his feminine side, but because he loved to play hockey and was great at it! This is the next step in the gender revolution (as it was in the sexual) – defining ourselves by who we are not by any cookie cutter expectations of the mainstream. For electrolysis and facial reconstruction, red lipstick and high heels, are only as deep as icing on a cake.

To read the interview visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation .

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Filmmaker Maria Beatty Removes The Leather Restraints

Recently I interviewed director Maria Beatty for the upcoming issue of “Filmmaker” magazine. Best known for the lesbian BDSM movies she's been creating for the past decade and a half, Beatty and I discussed the challenge that awaits every growing and changing niche artist sooner or later—how to move beyond the "ghetto" that once defined the art without losing the support of the very community that allowed the artist to blossom in the first place.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

London Calling



Yet another reason to move to Europe.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Be Like Others

It's rare when a documentary comes along that truly shines a light on a virtually unexplored issue, and Iranian-American director Tanaz Eshaghian's “Be Like Others” is gripping drama because it does exactly that. Sure, taking a camera to Tehran to follow the lives of several young men awaiting sex change operations in a country which punishes homosexuality by death would be intriguing in and of itself. But that the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa two decades ago allowing for these "diagnosed transsexuals" to legally undergo gender reassignment is nothing short of astonishing.

To read the rest of my review visit Slant.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shiny Happy Unclassified People: Why “Hair” Matters

Free love is in the air—and “Hair.” Forty years after the summer of ’69, the greatest tribal love-rock musical ever sung just won Best Revival of a Musical at the Tony Awards, while Pola Rapaport and Wolfgang Held’s documentary “Hair: Let the Sun Shine In” recently made the micro-cinema rounds.

The film’s clips from recent rehearsals notwithstanding, I’ve yet to see the musical in any of its incarnations (as I developed an aversion to peacenik shit during my punk rock youth). But after watching “Hair: Let the Sun Shine In” which mixes archival footage from the era and the production (along with its surrounding hype) with present-day interviews with the original cast and creative team, I feel like at least I’ve gotten the hippie Cliff’s notes version.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Burning Bush!

Like the very best preachers Tracey Erin Smith in her one-woman dynamo show “The Burning Bush!”, which follows a rabbinical school dropout named Barbara who discovers the true meaning of spirituality at the Tit for Tat strip club – and takes both miraculous message and exotic dancers on tour to spread the holy word – doesn’t actually preach to her congregation. Instead the exuberant and passionate Smith actively listens to her audience, connecting, engaging and adjusting as she segues effortlessly from embodying the uptight Barbara to becoming a variety of diverse characters. There’s Christie, a Marilyn clone who worships Madonna, Sammy the homegirl stripper, a southern Jewish Martha Stewart, a Texas handyman who’s a dead ringer for Matthew McConaughey – and even the nebbish Jackie Mason himself who serves as Barbara’s guide and inner compass. Smith has taken Barbara’s revelation that strippers “listen” to their customers while giving lap dances to heart.

To read the rest of my review visit Theater Online.

For HALF PRICE TICKETS THIS THURSDAY, JUNE 11th at 10PM email

tbb.productions@gmail.com

with “Half price tickets: The Burning Bush!” in the subject line.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Hottest Ticket on Broadway



Literally. And this theater critic can be bought for the price of a backstage ménage a trois.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Outing the Outers

“Roy Cohn is not a homosexual. Roy Cohn is a heterosexual who fucks around with guys!" So proclaims Al Pacino as the notoriously ruthless McCarthyite in a clip from Mike Nichols' film version of Tony Kushner's “Angels in America.” While the lines are meant to play for camp laughs, the words astonishingly morph into something absolutely revelatory in Kirby Dick's latest documentary about the outing of gay Republicans, “Outrage.” Kushner penned the lines in an effort to understand Cohn's way of thinking, to humbly step inside the head of someone whose life experience was so foreign from his own. Which is something the self-righteous, outing bloggers and journalists profiled in Dick's documentary never even attempt to do. For what Cohn is really saying is just an extreme version of what the Republicans who "fuck around with guys" are really thinking. Which is, "I am not your definition of homosexual. I have a right to decide my own identity, and I will not be pigeonholed to fit your narrow-minded, simplistic point-of-view."

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Soderbergh Experience: The Girlfriend Experience

According to IMDb’s plot synopsis, Steven Soderbergh’s latest indie tryst, “The Girlfriend Experience,” starring porn star Sasha Grey, is a "revealing look at the world of prostitution from an elite call girl's point of view." While it’s true that Ms. Grey plays high-priced hooker Chelsea (a.k.a. Christine), the film is less a "revealing look at the world of prostitution" than it is a narcissistic indictment of the director’s own world. Rather than bravely and avidly explore lusty new territory, Soderbergh merely grafts the wheeler-dealer movie industry he knows so well onto the sex biz and calls it a day.

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

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sasha Grey Interview

“I have to say that the adult films have been a total pleasure. They were like getting paid to live out my greatest fantasies. The rest of the stuff … sometimes got to be a real grind.”

So sayeth the late, great Marilyn Chambers. And though porn star Sasha Grey, who makes her “mainstream” debut as a high-end call girl in Steven Soderbergh’s "The Girlfriend Experience," would most likely disagree with the latter part of that sentiment, I couldn’t help but think of Chambers’ often wasted talent as Grey and I sat down to chat. This self-proclaimed “performance artist” is every bit as intelligent and articulate as Soderbergh’s latest HD fling is tedious and condescending. Here’s hoping Grey’s next experience is worthy of her wonderful lust for life.

To read my interview visit Spout.

Love in the Time of Terror

Though the press notes cite Brecht, Beckett, Ionesco and Lynch as inspirations for “Love in the Time of Terror” there’s a Dada feel to this WOW Café Theater production. Right from the start three characters, at turns sexy and bedraggled, announce to the audience that the play may not necessarily make sense to us. To offer a plot summary of a show that includes a Rubenesque diva in a sequined, aqua blue number straight out of “The Little Mermaid” (belting out sultry tunes in a dynamic voice that seems to weigh more than she does), bickering lesbian couples, and a blind woman whose family and cat were murdered in a genocide is to merely fall down a rabbit hole.

To read the rest of my review visit Theater Online.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We're Here! We're queer! So what?

What do the monolithic letters “LGBT” truly stand for nowadays?

The LGBT community that once served to fight for the very survival of its people (and that still does in certain cultures and parts of the world) is a nostalgic vestige of the past for the majority of 21st century America, as unnecessary as saving the Big Three in Detroit. The reason that most young Americans support gay marriage isn’t because they’ve accepted the queers – but because the “other” no longer exists when it has been integrated into your own community! And beyond irrelevancy, the LGBT label has become downright stifling for most of its wearers. The number of gay men and lesbian women met with disapproval from a homo community, hypocritically preaching diversity while commanding conformity, when they’ve found themselves attracted to the opposite sex is certainly equal to those straights sick and tired of having to pretend they’re 100% hetero.

Indeed, this identity labeling has reached a menacing tipping point, wreaking more havoc than it is saving souls. When someone recently referred to me as a “gay male trapped in a biologically female body” I took offense. I’m not “trapped” – I’m perfectly content that my insides don’t match my outsides. It’s only the LGBT community that perpetuates such nonsense, thereby encouraging sex change operations and chemical enhancements to align with society’s expectations, over the choice of acceptance of the gloriously imperfect bodies we’re all born into.

From Stonewall to the gender revolution, “Come out of the closet!” has been replaced by the new rallying cry of “Jump out of the box!” (Or as my heroine and favorite transvestite comedian Eddie Izzard so clearly puts it, “I didn’t jump out of a not-wearing-dress box into a have-to-wear-dress box.”)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Little Ashes review

“Little Ashes” examines a love affair between renowned poet Federico García Lorca and surrealist genius Salvador Dalí during their college days in Madrid in 1922, where the legendary Luis Buñuel formed the husky hetero point to their bizarre triangle. But you won't buy any of this while watching British director Paul Morrison's predictable flick, whose characters bear absolutely no resemblance, physical or otherwise, to their real-life namesakes. We get no inkling that these amigos would go on to become three of the greatest masters in their respective crafts since they've been reduced to a stereotypical sensitive poet, a goth Johnny Depp type, and a raging homophobe. The movie stars exactly one actual male Spaniard, Javier Beltran as the doomed writer, and two of Morrison's fellow Englishmen, Robert Pattinson as Dalí and James Dean lookalike Matthew McNulty as Buñuel. Indeed, beginning with the ridiculous casting, “Little Ashes” is less a film than just a series of bad ideas piled on top of one another, many courtesy of first-time screenwriter Philippa Goslett.

To read the rest of my review visit Slant.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Wink and a Smile Review

The ten brave students at Seattle’s Academy of Burlesque, who shimmy in pasties and heels, unexpectedly and touchingly reveal themselves in more ways than one in Deidre Timmons’ “A Wink and a Smile.” The film combines talking head interviews with the mostly average Jills and their anything-but-average headmistress Indigo Blue (who also serves as an enlightening guide and narrator through the burlesque scene of both today and yesteryear) with actual performances courtesy of the exhibitionist men and women of Seattle’s vibrant scene. But the biggest revelation of all is that this breathtaking doc just might be the sexy feel-good flick of the year.

To read the rest of my review visit Spout.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Putting the T&A in “Namaste”: Enlighten Up!

I always felt that yoga was something for closet perverts, not out-and-proud pervs like me. (Personally, I'm a Thai boxing enthusiast, martial arts being the Zen physical activities of choice among a heck of a lot of BDSM aficionados. But that's a movie yet to be made.) Right or wrong, I always associated the practice with the granola, free love, hippie shit that I've hated since my punk rock youth. So I was relieved to see that Kate Churchill's "peek behind the curtain of a 5.7 billion dollar 'spiritual' industry," according to the press notes for her yoga doc “Enlighten Up!,” stars a skeptical journalist named Nick Rosen whom Churchill enlists in her attempt to prove that down the road and past the hype lies a very real path to enlightenment.

To read the rest of my Sex Beat column visit Carnal Nation.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sexonomics: Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" as Lust Story

"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac," Kissinger once famously proclaimed, and he should know. When someone as hot as a hobbit lands babes like Shirley MacLaine and Candice Bergen it certainly can't be the hairy feet. Of course, in a capitalist society the one sure way to power is through money, which means greedy richies with bad combovers like Donald Trump also can snag bombshells as easily as "Henry the Kiss." So as the countdown to April 15th begins let's look back at how we really arrived at our current economic crisis—the inevitable result of the pursuit of dirty sexy money, of too many aspiring Gordon Gekkos speculating on Wall Street's lusty wild west.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation.

Friday, March 27, 2009

American Swing interview

As someone who has been to an untold number of swing parties in NYC, and often had a hilarious time, I’ve never found them the least bit sexy. Truth be told, average Joes engaging in group sex is rather boring to me. So I was hoping that through interviewing Jon Hart and Matthew Kaufman, co-directors of the Plato’s Retreat doc “American Swing,” they’d upend my POV, get to the essence of why the notorious 70s sex club was so alluring. I spoke with the filmmakers during their opening night screening at the Museum of Sex.

To read my interview visit Spout.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Glory Hole Days: American Swing

Though I've been to many underground sex parties in NYC I can't say I find them all that sexy. Hilarious—quite often; sexy—not so much. Maybe this is because I come from the BDSM world, which means I'm usually the biggest perv in the room. A lot of the swingers at the parties I've attended tend to get wide-eyed at the mention of something as ho-hum to me as caning, and mere screwing ain't enough to turn me on. Or maybe it's because I'm just a shallow genderqueer chick who won't touch any body that doesn't have muscles attached to a big dick. Or maybe it's because I was swinging on the playground when the original deal, NYC's notorious swing club Plato's Retreat, was in full swing.

But after watching “American Swing,” Jon Hart and Matthew Kaufman's doc about the infamous '70s sex club, I can safely rule out that last possibility. Nope, I still don't get why average people having group sex is hot.

To read the rest visit my column at Carnal Nation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Un Piede di Roman Polanski" on YouTube















CineKink Film Festival 2009’s Best Experimental Short.

Watch it before we get sued!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Stay alive for as long as you have to stay lost": This Beautiful City

As someone who grew up in the hardcore/new wave/goth scene in Colorado Springs in the late 80s, and who recently reviewed Alexandra Pelosi’s “The Trials of Ted Haggard” and penned a column entitled "In Defense of Ted Haggard," I was anxious to wrap up my trip through Pastor Ted-land with This Beautiful City, the latest production from The Civilians, the acclaimed “documentary theatre company” that this time around has immersed itself in the mega-church movement (and its opposition) in Colorado Springs. It’s now playing at the Vineyard Theater through March 15th—so you still have time to catch it before it wins a well-deserved Obie and transfers to Broadway.

To read my review visit The House Next Door.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Looking Back at The Notorious Bettie Page

On the surface it would seem that cerebral Mary Harron would be the perfect director to craft a biopic from the many dueling facets of the mother-of-all-fetish-models’ life. Unfortunately, as I’ve written before, brainy Harron also has a terrific knack for choosing the most interesting, sexy subjects and just draining the life out of them. Watching both “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “The Notorious Bettie Page,” I found myself thinking, "the book would have been better" – if only there were a book. It’s the same feeling I get sitting through French "provocateur" Catherine Breillat’s films. Having intellectually astute women at a flick’s helm is a grand idea in theory, but often all this thinking just gets in the way of an entertaining story.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Porn, Torture and Torture Porn: “Graphic Sexual Horror,” Interview with co-director Anna Lorentzon

Watching “Graphic Sexual Horror,” Anna Lorentzon and Barbara Bell’s nonfiction look behind the rise and fall of heavy BDSM porn site Insex.com, the first thought that came to my mind was from my film critic’s perspective: “How’s this gonna play in Peoria?” And the second thought was inevitably from my submissive’s perspective: “Is this gonna give my lifestyle a bad name?”

There is no pat answer to either question, which is why I was so thrilled that co-director Lorentzon found time to let me pick her brain prior to the film’s East Coast premiere at this year’s CineKink Film Festival, on Friday, February 27th at 11:10 pm at Anthology Film Archives. (Full disclosure: “Un Piede di Roman Polanski,” an homage to Roman Polanski’s foot fetish by myself and Roxanne Kapitsa, will screen the following evening as part of the festival’s “Twisted Knickers” shorts program at 6:45 pm. Stop on by!)

To read the interview visit Spout.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Sneak Peek at Bandaged

“Bandaged” is S&M filmmaker Maria Beatty’s foray into the indie mainstream – if one could call a flick best described as “Mädchen in Uniform” meets “The English Patient” meets “Eyes Without A Face“ “mainstream.” Fittingly, none other than Abel Ferrara is serving as executive producer, though it just as easily could have been David Cronenberg since Beatty’s stunningly visceral cocktail of sex and bodily terror would surely merit that auteur’s seal of approval.

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

Monday, February 23, 2009

CineKink Film Festival: The Auteur

With as succinct a title as Bertolucci’s “The Conformist,” James Westby’s “The Auteur” follows Italian director Arturo Domingo, a man of uncompromising vision. (“We don’t have the budget for rose petals,” a production designer patiently pleads onset, to which Domingo replies, “Do you not hear what I’m saying?” then continues with his explanation of how he wants those rose petals to fall.) Unfortunately, Domingo has fallen on hard times. Having lost control of his masterpiece to scissor-handed producers years ago, financing for the epic that will return the Italian auteur to his once celebrated status now has been pulled unless he can get his onetime muse to work with him again.

Never mind that Westby’s film is fiction, and that the title of Domingo’s masterpiece is “Full Metal Jackoff” – nor that former muse Frank E. Normo (a hilariously happy-go-lucky John Breen) won’t consent to play Bob the Banger in the epic “Gangbangs of New York” because the part requires circumcision. Westby has crafted a brilliant little indie satire – a “Blue Movie” for cinephiles.

To read the rest visit the Screengrab at Nerve.

CineKink Film Festival: The Agony and The Ecstasy: The Workshop

So as someone who has never desired nor even understood the appeal of monogamy in the first place (and who spent nearly six enlightening and loving years as the personal slave to a married, gay-for-pay hustler, the first year of which I chronicled in my own memoir “Under My Master's Wings”), and who has yet to discover my own sexual hang-ups, perhaps I’m the wrong critic to review “The Workshop,” Jamie Morgan’s documentary that chronicles a 10-day sexual seminar in the woods outside of San Francisco led by a British spiritual guru named Paul Lowe. While participants are shown the way to enlightenment via getting naked and fucking like rabbits, it’s nevertheless a brutal course for Morgan and his fellow polyamorous newbies, filled with conflicts about body image and fidelity, the playfulness giving way to tears of pain, and proclamations of feeling “vulnerable.” Yes, as someone who would answer the question, “Wanna go to an orgy?” with “Sure, if there’s gonna be bodybuilding strippers there, preferably Latino,” I guess I’m just too shallow to relate to all these emotional “issues.” What’s with all the bitching and moaning? I wondered. I wanted to scream at the screen, “It’s only sex, people! Get over yourselves!”

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fusion and CineKink Film Festivals – Save the Dates!



Thursday, February 26th at 4pm at NYU (721 Broadway, 9th floor)







I will be appearing on the “Smart Talk: Women & Film in the Blogosphere” panel at this year’s Fusion Film Festival (and best of all, all events are free!)



Saturday, February 28th at 6:45pm at Anthology Film Archives



Un Piede di Roman Polanski – Roxanne and my warped homage to the master director’s foot fetish will be premiering in the “Twisted Knickers” shorts program at this year’s CineKink Film Festival.

Hope to see everyone there!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

In Defense of Ted Haggard

Larry King’s interview with Ted Haggard – the pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals until his meth and rentboy proclivities forced his ouster – on CNN Thursday night blew my mind more than the charges that brought the former tweaking queen into the spotlight in the first place. Though he’s been making the talk show rounds to help promote Alexandra Pelosi’s The Trials of Ted Haggard, which also aired Thursday night on HBO, the real revelation is that Haggard has actually got something important to say in lieu of the predictable, anti-gay bible thumping we’ve all come to expect from the fundamentalist movement. In fact, how Haggard views his sexuality isn’t that much different from the viewpoint I’ve advocated in Whose Gay Pride? in which I called for a reevaluation of the very definitions of gay, straight and bi.

To read the rest visit my new Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday to Henry Rollins

Flipping channels the other day I was surprised to see that the rock and chat show hosted by hardcore icon Henry Rollins (who turned 48 on Friday the 13th!) on the Independent Film Channel still hasn’t been given the boot. I still remember one of the original episodes years ago that literally made me cringe when the middle-aged punk rocker, absurdly deferential and so clearly out of his league, interviewed maverick director Werner Herzog. It was the first time I realized Rollins’ problem, that in his thirst for knowledge he devoured facts that he was unable to digest, only spew them back up like after a bad drinking binge. He’s an intellectual poseur really, a geek wanna-be, and what’s so ironic and disturbing is that he’s forever going against one of the founding tenets of punk rock – just be yourself. Longing to be part of an intelligentsia far out of his reach (“If only I read enough books about black holes maybe I can get Stephen Hawking on the show!”), Rollins ignores his own talents – and remains painfully unaware of his own limitations.

But for me, the truly defining moment came during a segment showing Rollins typing a tongue in cheek letter to ultraconservative pundit Ann Coulter who undoubtedly wouldn’t know Rollins from a roach spray salesman (or did she, in fact, meet him back in the day when the singer achieved what was probably one of his lifetime goals of appearing on her friend Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect”? I certainly could picture Ann and Bill in a prizefighting debate while Rollins looked on like an eager puppy begging to jump in, oblivious to the truth that no matter how hard he worked he’d never have the skills to turn pro). Yet what bothered me most were his smart-ass suggestions to her, that the Republican cheerleader become his “domestic-concubine” who would just “shut the fuck up” and worship him. Hot and bothered me most. With every “shut the fuck up” typed by fingers connected to those brawny tattooed arms I imagined dropping further and further to my knees in adoring submission until I would finally take that punk rock cock in my mouth. So in a sense my sexual frustration watching the beefcake Rollins mirrored his own frustration with himself. I would fuck him in a heartbeat, I thought, if he would only just shut the fuck up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Trials of Ted Haggard

Alexandra Pelosi’s “The Trials of Ted Haggard” is a behind-the-scenes peek at the fallen pastor post meth-and-male-escort-scandal as he struggles to rebuild his life now that he’s been banished from his Colorado Springs mega-church and forced into exile in Arizona. Traveling from “safe house” to “safe house” with his loving wife Gayle (who explains her decision to stand by her man with a no-nonsense, “I don’t believe in writing people off”) and well-adjusted sons, they literally rely on the kindness of strangers. And if you think I’m being metaphorically melodramatic describing Haggard and his kin in biblical terms of banishment from their holy land, forced to wander like ancient Jews, think again. One of Pelosi’s frequently used title cards actually explains that the New Life Church inexplicably fixed it so the sweet-natured Haggard not only can’t preach in Colorado or anywhere else – he’s been booted from the entire Rocky Mountain state!

To read the rest of my review visit Spout.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Absolutely Fabulous

From New York magazine's recent feature on Demetri Martin, whose upcoming Comedy Central show contains a sketch called:

“This Is an S&M Couple Whose Safe Word Is ‘Bill Pullman,’” which ends with a man in leather being hit with a cricket bat and yelling, “It’s that guy! You know! The actor! What’s his name!”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

“Sex Scenes” column at Spout

Well, the higher-ups at Spout finally pulled the plug on all weekly columns – which means my “Sex Scenes” column in which I view cinema through a sexy lens is up for grabs (I’ll still be freelancing for Spout, just not in a sexy way;). If anyone has any ideas or suggestions regarding websites or print publications I might approach I’d be very grateful to hear ‘em.

Thanks!

Lauren

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sex Scenes: 5 Golden Girls

Recently, at age 50, Emma Thompson became a first-time blogger –– a term which, according to her, “as a computer illiterate, I get confused with ‘snog’ (British slang for kissing) and ‘shog’ (Shakespearian word used by Pistol in Henry V meaning ‘leave’) neither of which – I realize – is the correct interpretation.” The email missive posted by Melissa Silverstein was part of Thompson’s promotion for “Last Chance Harvey,” an older-woman-meets-even-older-man romance co-starring Dustin Hoffman (ah, but for the days of Mrs. Robinson!)

The still-radiant Thompson expresses relief that maturity has given her the freedom to let it all hang out rather than nip and tuck it all back in, but she ain’t got nothing on a few women a decade and more older whose sex appeal (plastic surgery aside) is decidedly more French Riviera than Fort Lauderdale. So to welcome this seasoned British actress/ blogging novice to the wild wild world of cyberspace, here are my picks for an international GGILF club.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What Do Women Want?

My thoughts on Daniel Bergner's article in this week's NY Times Magazine...

Fantasies of submission – of the “caring caveman” – as a cornerstone of female desire makes sense if viewed through the gender-neutral lens of BDSM. All slaves – male or female, straight or gay – long for that powerful, compassionate caveman or cavewoman to seize control of them, body, heart and soul. Could this simply be a longing to experience female desire in its purest, most explicit form? As a gay male born into a female body I know that certainly could be one explanation for why only a master can make me feel complete. (And for why so many dominant men and women get turned on by making visible this ultimate expression of female desire.) Only BDSM allows me to comprehend that magic that women talk about when they talk about sex.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sex Scenes: Robert Redford, Indecent Proposal

When I was a kid growing up in the west the dueling sex symbols were Burt Reynolds and Robert Redford, and I was solidly in the Redford camp (though by the time I reached adulthood I’d switch sides and bat for Burt). In fact, Redford became my first movie star crush after I watched him light up the screen in Sydney Pollack’s 1979 “The Electric Horseman” opposite (post-bombshell Barbarella) Jane Fonda. Sure, the sight of pretty boy Redford as former rodeo star Sonny Steele reduced to donning cowboy duds trussed up with lights worthy of a Christmas tree to hawk breakfast cereal is ludicrous, but Redford managed to suavely pull it off with his inherent masculine dignity. Sonny, like The Sundance Kid, is a physical man’s man, his frat boy looks belying a passionate rebel who clearly identifies with those wild horses that can never be tamed.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sex Scenes: Sex and Drugs and My Way

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the Sinatra standard “My Way”, while sitting in the balcony of an art house in Denver, chain-smoking Benson & Hedges ultra-light menthols, staring nearly hypnotized by the sight of sexy Gary Oldman transforming himself into the swaggering embodiment of punk rock, tearing through both cover song and screen. “Sid and Nancy” (along with Howard Deutch’s “Pretty In Pink” which also came out in 1986, and Martha Coolidge’s 1983 “Valley Girl”) was nothing less than a revelation to this teenager with Aqua-netted hair, Doc Martins and ripped fishnets, because it actually portrayed “my people,” spoke to me in my own musical language.

To read the rest of my column visit Spout.