Porn to be wild

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 at 6:00am

Dan Savage gets pornographic with a sense of humor in the festival of short films, Hump!

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SAVAGE SEX | Gay advice guru Dan Savage continues his mission to destigmatize sex with Hump, his nine-year-old festival of porno.

 

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.36.38 PMWith nearly two dozen films among the slate of offerings, Dan Savage’s Hump Tour can fairly be called a legitimate film festival. But check the run-time: The entire event lasts less than 90 minutes. You could screen it simultaneously with Lawrence of Arabia — twice — and still have time for a bathroom break.

Yes, the movies making up what Savage tags “The Best of the Pacific Northwest’s Sexiest Film Fest” are all shorts, ranging from just 75 seconds to a long of about eight minutes. They are mostly made by different filmmakers with unknown casts, different styles and genres (animation, documentary, fiction). In fact, about the only thing these 20 movies do have in common is the subject matter: Sex.

And not just “sex,” as in male-female issues or love or even romance. Sex as in hardcore, explicit, unbridled fornication — what less sophisticated cineastes might call “porno.” Cuz that’s just what it is.

Yes, Dan Savage — he of the It Gets Better campaign, the Savage Love sex advice column and books about his “monogamish” marriage (he co-parents an adopted kid as well) — has assembled a reel of dirty movies, blessed with the patina of art … pop art, perhaps, but not out-right pornography.

Or maybe it is. That’s sort of the appeal of Hump, which Savage touts as the chance to be “a porn star for a day, not a lifetime.” Accordingly, there are no stills from the films (just the intro reel that accompanies it); no permission to reveal the names of the actors or directors (not that you would know any of them); no post-screening Q&As with the filmmakers. But neither is it meant to be a darkened, shameful screening in a seedy, sticky-floored movie house (it’s screening at the

Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff — porn can’t make you more notorious than being the site where a presidential assassin was arrested). The artists may be anonymous, but the audiences are invited to sit proudly, collectively and enjoy the Art of the Skin Flick.

It fits in well with Savage’s long-standing mission to demystify — or perhaps de-stigmatize — the celebration of sex. Americans are stuffy about such things; we shouldn’t be. And what better way to loosen up than to show porn as something not odious but part of the colorful tapestry of the human experience?

Mind you, movies with names like Go Fuck Yourself and Pie Sluts may undercut that position. But just a little.

Pie Sluts actually isn’t very good (a piece of cinema verite where ugly people do ugly things with pies), but Go Fuck Yourself — a comic sci-fi about a time-traveling man who has carnal knowledge of himself — is good. And you’ll be astonished by how The Beat — which is basically just a cute twink repeatedly violating himself with a dildo — manages in its brief two minutes to surprise you with a twist ending.

Aaron, the director of The Beat, helms another film in the festival, called Ourboros, which tells the story of a hookup in reverse chronological order. Aaron has an eye and a creative spirit that extend beyond the genre of porn, and I’d check out any short films he choose to make.

The same is not of the short Go Ahead, Pee!, which is, sadly, exactly what it sounds like, or D&D Orgy, about hot girls and male nerds getting turned on by an RPG or Fun with Fire, a homemade doc where a heterosexual couple ignite fast-burning paper on their naked bodies. (Straight people — go figure.) And the opening salvo, a series of animated penises having unsuspecting sex with disembodied vaginas set to a Strauss score (a short I have renamed Thus Fucked Zarathustra), seems like a lite version of bad Ralph Bakshi.

But for each of those is at least one clever take, like The Legend of Gabe Harding, a mockumentary about the world’s most famous fluffer. (The fact that he’s a pudgy, balding, middle-aged bear makes it all the funnier.)

Gay, straight, trans, fetish — there’s something for almost everyone in Hump. Well, maybe not for your mom … then again, you never know.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 18, 2014.

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