Brimming with hotties and savage wit, gay-gigolo drama rises above pure fluff
Director: Q. Allan Brocka
Cast: Patrick Bauchau, Jonathon Trent (II), Darryl Stephens, Derek Magyar, Peyton Hinson
Opens April 13 in wide release.
1 hr. 28 min. Not rated
Gay relationships and straight relationships are equally fucked up.
Queer movies are tapping into a rich resource: More than a century of straight-relationship movies can be ripped off with a simple gender change for one of the protagonists. If a queer filmmaker gets busted, the director can say it was an homage.
Unless you’ve read Matthew Rettenmund’s novel it was based on, you won’t recognize the plot of “Boy Culture” even if you’ve seen as many “prostitute movies” as the narrator, who happens to be a gigolo. “Call me “‘X,’” he says, presumably because Ishmael was already taken.
X may be Seattle’s most successful hustler. He only needs 12 clients because they all pay a lot. I don’t see his appeal, but “eye of the beholder” and all that. Derek Magyar, who plays X, looks like a young Anthony Hopkins. And the last actor with that distinction went on to star in “Prison Break,” so he hardly needs my approval.
Director and co-writer Q. Allan Brocka, introducing “Boy Culture” on an RSVP cruise, described the film very well: “It’s about what happens when you fuck your friends, and what happens when you don’t.”
Inside his Seattle loft, X has two roommates a domestic trip prescribed by X’s accountant to avoid looking conspicuously wealthy. X claims he hasn’t lusted after anyone since he was 12, which was also the last time he had sex he didn’t get paid for. Our protagonist has a thing for roommate Andrew (Darryl Stephens), who’s hot and black and occasionally flirts with X, but Andrew hardly ever has sex with anybody.
The other roommate, Joey (Jonathon Trent) has sex with everybody and flirts with X constantly. Just turned 18, Joey lives at the loft rent-free, has no job and no ambition.
Far too much of the story is told through X’s narration, which is witty but not necessarily funny. While it might qualify as a dramedy, “Boy Culture” is far more drama than comedy, despite the physical trappings of the latter.
Two events set the plot in what might generously be described as motion.
Andrew gets invited to the wedding of the woman he dated for three years before he moved from Portland to come out. He responds first by becoming promiscuous and then by revealing he has feelings for X.
X, meanwhile, replaces a deceased client with Gregory Talbot (Patrick Bauchau), who is “hot for 79,” and who says he doesn’t want to have sex with X “until you desire me as much as I desire you.”
It sounds as much like an old man’s fantasy as Peter O’Toole’s in “Venus.” But hooker and john become friends in their paid, chaste times together, sharing memories of love and lust from their respective youths.
Andrew invites X to go to Portland with him to attend the wedding and meet his family. He extends other invitations too, but while he doesn’t mind X screwing other men, it bothers him that he gets paid for it.
“I make a lot of fucking money,” X says to justify the fact that he makes a lot of money fucking.
The movie’s title apparently comes from Boy Kultur, X’s favorite gay club, where “every flavor is separate but equal,” whatever that means.
The only women in X’s life are Lucy (Emily Brooke Hands), a dyke who reads his mind, and a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary. The script is loaded with Catholic references, and the narration sometimes takes the form of a confession. But there are also references to Oscar Wilde and D.H. Lawrence, so there’s no proselytizing intended.
“Boy Culture” seems like a sincere attempt to raise queer cinema above the level of pure fluff. But “Mysterious Skin,” among many others, did that better. It demonstrates its sincerity by showing less skin and sex than most gay movies, which sounds commercially risky especially when the plot is all about sex. For all its noble ambition, it would be nice to report “Boy Culture” is an unqualified success, but “qualified success” is the best I can do.
As for remaking straight films, I hope someone does “All About Eve” (could that be any gayer?) before I’m too old to play Addison DeWitt. He’s always been my role model.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 13, 2007