DVD review: “Black Briefs” (2012)

Black Briefs (2012). Various directors. Now available.

If you go into Black Briefs expecting something about underwear, you’ve misinterpreted the “briefs” in the title — not that the company releasing it didn’t want you to make that mistake. Black Briefs wants to be thought of as sexy, though just as much, it’s occasionally just creepy and odd.

The short film format is a tricky one — it requires economy and a sense of purpose that’s difficult to master. The series of six films gets off to a weak start with an S&M themed film about a young gay guy getting a quick education (“Spring”), while “Remission” builds tension on its way to suggested torture porn that never comes together. But there’s something to like — even if it’s just sexiness — in “Winner Takes All” and “Promise,” and a few chills even in “Video Night.”

Worth a rent? More or less — some are better than others.

Rating: **1/2 (overall)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Stake & aches

‘Fright Night’ remake preserves original’s orgasmic bloodlust — and homoeroticism

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FOR REAL | Jerry (Colin Farrell) defies the power of the cross in the smart update of the ‘80s cult hit.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

The original Fright Night was one of the most subversively gay films of the mid 1980s: The suburban vampire Jerry had a suspiciously familiar relationship with his Renfield-like companion and more rayon disco shirts than any straight man should own. He also was more than slightly obsessed with his teen-aged neighbor Charley, although you could attribute that less to pedophilia than survival instinct.

But the original was also of its age, like lots of ‘80s pabulum — can you imagine a remake of Lost Boys? — a cult horror-comedy that didn’t really scream to be revisited. But since they have done so, this question is: Worth it? Yes. Pretty much.

Unlike many remakes, this new Fright Night — arriving in the August discount bin, just like its progenitor — sticks surprisingly close to the basic plot, with some sensible updates. Gone is Renfield, but Charley (Anton Yelchin) remains the virginal Everykid; Jerry (Colin Farrell) is no longer the suave metrosexual but a brutish laborer in a wifebeater, exuding bad-boy appeal with a lizard-like stealth; vampire chaser Peter Vincent (David Tennant) isn’t a washed-up horror actor but a Criss Angel wannabe on the Vegas Strip, where Jerry culls his victims.

Like Scream, the Fright Nights exist in a post-modern world where the characters are aware of the mythology surrounding the supernatural, gleaned mostly from movies. They joke about the Twilight books

Not all of the updates are improvements. Changing Peter Vincent from a film actor to a magician undercuts the subtle tribute to B-film icons Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, though Tennant’s Russell Brand-like whack-a-doodle performance almost rescues it. And director Craig Gillespie dispatches some peripheral characters without much sense, and the humor is not as prevalent as it was in the original.

But Gillespie keeps key (the seduction of Charley’s girlfriend, the unnerving “Welcome to Fright Night … for real” line), and the splatter effects — especially the unexpected moment where a “turned” human bursts into flame when struck by sunlight, enhanced by the cheesy ‘50s-style fascination with 3D “moments” — give the film a campy sensibility. And there are worse ways to spend a scary two hours than imaging the hunky Colin Farrell orgiastically sucking on your … neck. Hey, it doesn’t take a cape and an accent to woo everyone.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

SXSW is 10 times gayer than you thought

Maybe you avoided SXSW this year because paying $1,250 for an all-access badge and waiting in line to see obscure musicians doesn’t sound like your idea of “a gay ol’ time.” But you are so wrong, gurl. There’s tons of queer fun happening at SXSW every year, most of it inexpensive and easy to get into. In fact, we found 10 of the queerest (and semi-secret) festival delights — with tons of links to some of this year’s hottest acts — so that if you decide to go next year, you won’t feel like the only gay in the village. Check out our top 10 after the jump.

—  admin

HIV-positive LA porn actor calls for condom use

Follow-up care was promised but actor says he received none from industry’s clinic

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — An adult film actor who tested positive for HIV says he now wishes he had known more about the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases in the industry and is calling for mandatory condom use in porn films.

Derrick Burts, 24, identified himself to the Los Angeles Times as the performer who tested positive at the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation in Sherman Oaks in October. He had previously been known as Patient Zeta.

Burts, who performed in straight films as Cameron Reid and gay films as Derek Chambers, described the panicked call he got from clinic staff on Oct. 9 about the infection that sent fears through California’s adult industry.

Clinic staff told him they wanted to perform a follow-up test and begin notifying performers he had worked with since his last negative test result Sept. 3. He was told those performers would be placed on a quarantine list and also would be tested.

When Burts returned to the clinic Oct. 23 to review the second test results, he said he was told that the clinic had traced his HIV infection to someone he had performed a scene with, someone they described as a “known positive.” The clinic would not identity the performer because of patient confidentiality.

Burts said he believed he may have contracted the disease during a gay porn shoot in Florida.

Despite Burts’ account of what he was told, clinic officials released a statement last month that said “Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity.”

“That’s completely false,” Burts told the Times. “There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend.”

She tested negative, he said.

An e-mail to the Adult Industry Healthcare Foundation seeking comment this week was not immediately returned.

Burts said the clinic promised to put him in touch with a doctor affiliated with the clinic and promised to arrange for his follow-up care. But he said no one called him back and when he contacted the clinic, he received no response for two months.

In frustration, Burts said he went to an AIDS Healthcare Foundation center in Los Angeles on Nov. 24 but didn’t identify himself as Patient Zeta.

Burts said he was pleased with the care he received there and contacted the head of the organization last week and identified himself as Patient Zeta. He said he wanted to speak out in favor of enforcing mandatory condom use in porn productions.

Burts grew up in Whittier and Hemet and graduated from Hemet High School and a hotel management school in Florida, according to the Times. He worked as a hotel manager and cruise ship magician before becoming a performer in the lucrative porn industry.

“Making $10,000 or $15,000 for porn isn’t worth your life,” he told the Times. “Performers need to be educated.”

© 2010 Keen News Service

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Gay porn actor calls for condom use

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — An adult film actor who tested positive for HIV says he now wishes he had known more about the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases in the industry and is calling for mandatory condom use in porn films.

Derrick Burts, 24, identified himself to the Los Angeles Times as the performer who tested positive at the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation in Sherman Oaks in October. He had previously been known as Patient Zeta.

Burts, who performed in straight films as Cameron Reid and gay films as Derek Chambers, described the panicked call he got from clinic staff on Oct. 9 about the infection that sent fears through California’s adult industry.

Clinic staff told him they wanted to perform a follow-up test and begin notifying performers he had worked with since his last negative test result Sept. 3. He was told those performers would be placed on a quarantine list and also would be tested.

When Burts returned to the clinic Oct. 23 to review the second test results, he said he was told that the clinic had traced his HIV infection to someone he had performed a scene with, someone they described as a “known positive.” The clinic would not identity the performer because of patient confidentiality.

Burts said he believed he may have contracted the disease during a gay porn shoot in Florida.

Despite Burts’ account of what he was told, clinic officials released a statement last month that said “Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity.”

“That’s completely false,” Burts told the Times. “There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend.”

She tested negative, he said.

An e-mail to the Adult Industry Healthcare Foundation seeking comment late Tuesday, Dec. 7 was not immediately returned.

Burts said the clinic promised to put him in touch with a doctor affiliated with the clinic and promised to arrange for his follow-up care. But he said no one called him back and when he contacted the clinic, he received no response for two months.

In frustration, Burts said he went to an AIDS Healthcare Foundation center in Los Angeles on Nov. 24 but didn’t identify himself as Patient Zeta.

Burts said he was pleased with the care he received there and contacted the head of the organization last week and identified himself as Patient Zeta. He said he wanted to speak out in favor of enforcing mandatory condom use in porn productions.

The Times reported the foundation had scheduled a news conference with Burt on Wednesday.

Burts grew up in Whittier and Hemet and graduated from Hemet High School and a hotel management school in Florida, according to the Times. He worked as a hotel manager and cruise ship magician before becoming a performer in the lucrative porn industry.

“Making $10,000 or $15,000 for porn isn’t worth your life,” he told the Times. “Performers need to be educated.”

—  John Wright

­The other Lee

An Asian director of gay films who’s not named Ang? Meet Quentin Lee

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

LABEL QUEEN | Gay, Asian, Canadian — Quentin Lee is never sure what word best identifies him as a filmmaker.

Spike. Ang. Quentin.

There’s more than one indie directing “Lee” out there. More than two, even — three if you count the kooky spelling of Brit Mike Leigh.

When you think of Asians who make gay films, Ang Lee (who’s straight) and Gregg Araki pop to mind, but Quentin Lee deserves a spot alongside them. Although he started out as an experimental filmmaker, Lee has made notable forays into more linear storytelling, culminating in his latest venture, a charming romantic comedy with the provocative title The People I’ve Slept With.

In it, a promiscuous young Chinese woman named Angela (Karin Anna Cheung) finds herself pregnant with no idea who the father could be … and there are many, many candidates. As she sets out with her gay BFF Gabriel (Wilson Cruz) to find her baby daddy, she finds herself drawn to one of her conquests, a politician named Jefferson (Archie Kao), and debates whether to have the kid after all.

Lee will attend a Q&A screening of the film at the closing night at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, which starts July 23 with screenings at the Magnolia and Angelika Mockingbird Station.

DallasVoice: If you had to be introduced with a modifier attached, would you call yourself Asian filmmaker, gay filmmaker or something else?  Lee:That’s kind of hard. Even on Wikipedia I am listed as a “gay filmmaker.” It doesn’t bother me, but at the same time, as an artist, I don’t want to be labeled.
America has very identity-driven politics. You have to be one thing or the other. I am all these multiple identities: Asian, Asian-American, Canadian, gay. You’re always uncomfortable about being put in a box. When I started making movies, I didn’t say I wanted to make gay Asian films, just films I wanted to make. But sometimes for strategic purposes, it helps. It depends on the context.
Just like in the gay community in general, where you’re a twink or a bear. But the gay community is really interesting. Like black people appropriate the N word, gay people appropriate fag or queer.
This film could play as easily at a gay film fest as if could at an Asian. Do you find it goes between the two easily? We do both [kinds of film festivals]. Sometimes we get to screen at mainstream. In Hawaii, we were at the [mainstream] festival and came back for the Rainbow Film Festival. In certain cities, we screen at one or the other or both — in L.A., we did the gay festival and the Asian film festival. We told out at both, and had totally different audiences. We did the gay and lesbian film festival in Miami [and Asian in Dallas].

Sometimes the politics [intercedes]. The New York gay and lesbian film festival and the Asian film festival, which is in Chelsea, both want to screen it. But they say, “If you screen at the other first, we don’t want you.” They want a premiere. So you have to decide on whose giving the better [platform]. It’s unfortunate. As a filmmaker, I do both gay work and Asian work and I have to choose between the two.

My partner is Asian, so I know the culture can be a little more conservative. Do Asian audiences respond positively to the gay content or is that still a taboo?  They don’t openly say it to you, but the Asian-American audience can be more conservative. At the San Diego Asian film festival, they didn’t want to play the trailer because they thought it was too racy. One question that came at the Q&A was, “What do you say to people who don’t agree with your values?” I was a little shocked at that. But usually film festival audiences are progressive. And as a whole, this is the most acceptable film that I’ve done. Ironically, the straight audiences have no problem with girls kissing.

My favorite line is: “A slut is just a woman with the morals of a man.” Is that from personal experience? Do you think the word “man” requires the modifier, “gay man?”  First, I didn’t write the script, but I wanted to make a movie about a sexually adventurous heroine. There’s definitely a part of me in it, but I’m actually very prudish sexually! I wanted to create a fun person. I’m actually more like Jefferson.

The film on the surface resembles Knocked Up, although Angela is a lot more adventurous that Katherine Heigl’s character — until the end, when she become bourgeois.  She’s a crazy bohemian, but I’m not sure she becomes bourgeois, just more responsible. She finds a balance. I think she’s still crazy. And a lot more fun than having a prim and proper character.

Being an indie filmmaker is hard enough. Do you feel pressure to make more mainstream movies or do you think, hey, if I can’t make the movies I want to about my culture, why do it at all?  Most of my investors are heterosexual guys and when they see the first cut, they say, “Wow, I didn’t know it was that gay.” I was getting notes to tone things down. My cousin was actually an executive producer and he said, “What are you talking about? You know the kinds of films Quentin makes — it’s like investing in a Spike Lee movie and complaining it’s too black.”

You want your movie to be seen by as many people as possible. Certain stories, certain characters have an audience. I think there’s a balance. At the end of the day I want to make movies that both appeal to me as a artist. I don’t want to make fluffy entertainments, but you do want to entertain audiences. I could have just made the movie with Caucasians and hit a broader audience. But there’s something to be said with being an Asian-American filmmaker and casting Asian-American actors who don’t get to play complex roles. You want to represent your community
Wilson Cruz is always so dour on screen, but he’s never looked hotter or played a character with more light. How did you see that in him?  I met Wilson at a party and sent him the script. We liked him from the get-go. I think it definitely offered him a different profile; here he lets it out and has a good time

There’s a theme about food and sex going hand in hand? Is that true in Asian culture especially?  Yeah, like Eat Drink Man Woman. It’s something we really wanted to do — food and sex come together. Because of budget constraints there were some much more ambitious sequences, we had to scale some stuff down. But that was something we really wanted to do. Maybe in the remake we’ll put it back in!

……………………………

AFFD: The gay stuff

In addition to The People I’ve Slept With, pictured, which screens July 29 cat 7:30 at the Magnolia Theater in the West Village, two other features have gay content: Seven 2 One, a Rashomon-like thriller about a crime at a convenience store with two deceptive lesbians, screen July 28 at 5:20 p.m. at the Magnolia; and A Frozen Flower, about a gay emperor and the succession of his throne in feudal Korea, screens July 28 at 10:10 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center.

For a complete schedule, visit AFFD.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas