The doc ‘College Boys Live’ looks behind the flesh of an online sex site
3 out of 5 Stars
Out Takes Dallas pre-screening mixer at Gardens at 6 p.m. (free);
screening at the Magnolia Theater at 7:30 p.m. ($10).
3699 McKinney Ave. Dec. 10. OutTakesDallas.org.
For any gay guy with a DSL line and a libido, the allure of online sex sites is a reality that’s difficult to escape from. If you’ve heard of YouTube.com, you’ve probably heard of Xtube.com; if you’ve visited a gay Web site for any reason, even briefly, there’s probably a cookie in your cache reminding you about SeanCody.com or Manhunt.net each time you log on.
So the existence of a Web site like CollegeBoys Live.com probably doesn’t come as a surprise — though some of what happens in the documentary College Boys Live, screening this week at Out Takes Dallas, may. The title may sound like a titillating sex romp — and there is definitely explicit content — but the tone is somber and thoughtful.
For those who have become inured to the dynamic of true life filmed and released raw, College Boys Live exudes a familiarity that will make it appear like a racy version of a TV show: There’s the drama in the lives of the cam boys and their confessional chats which reveal some shocking motivations.
In some ways, the entire movie is armchair psychologizing about what drives young men — most are in their early 20s, some still teenagers — to spend their lives 24/7 being streamed on the Internet. Most have bodyimage issues and low self-esteem and come from repressed and violent or abusive home lives, and being on camera offers them the opportunity to come into their own — to "be gay" for the first time, as the owner of the Web site, Zac, explains. (But is it only me puzzled that most of these dummies don’t even have a GED, but are on a college boys site?)
Zac spends a fair amount of time justifying himself as something other than a pornographer and flesh-peddler, offering free rent (and no money) to the residents of the house. Unlike reality TV shows like Big Brother, Zac isn’t trying to sow conflict in the house, he’s trying to create chemistry.
Like a whorehouse madam in an Old West horse opera, he cares about his boys, who strip for tips and get naked a lot. I’m not quite sold on the innocence of it all — it feels exploitative — but that’s part of the mission of the film: To spark that conversation.
Within the confines of its familiarity, the film is also unusual because it is about a gay sex site: You simply don’t see this on Oxygen. Is that good in itself? Certainly it has one thing going for it: You don’t need to pay $29.95 a month to see these guys on a laptop monitor; you can luxuriate in them on the big screen.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 4, 2009.