Monthly Archives: December 2012

“Variety, the Spice of Life” by Mykola Dementiuk— A First Time

variety

Dementiuk, Mykola. “Variety, the Spice of Life” eXtasy Books, 2010.

A First Time

Amos Lassen

Our unnamed main character is a 26 year old young man who is on his own for the first time. He has come to the big city, New York, from the suburbs after the death of his mother. He inherited a bit of cash and this allowed him to follow his dreams to get to Manhattan. He soon has a nice job and lives on the East Side close enough to the theaters that he likes to go to on Times Square. He is gay but with little sexual experiences but wants more. There is a problem in that, for him, lust is indistinguishable from love. We see that the innocence of youth is not part of him and when he meets a man at a reading in a bookstore, he is smitten. They go their separate ways but they meet a few days later and the man that had so infatuated him is now dressed as a woman and “working”. Our hero is fascinated by this and the idea of having one person who is both male and female is exciting to him. The man/woman, however, is not interested in a relationship and urges our boy to join him in his world. We then meet Missy; our unnamed youth now takes a name and soon has people lusting for him. He has his first real sexual experience and is soon cavorting in a world that he never knew even existed. He becomes part of that world and enjoying what is there.

Once again Dementiuk takes us to the gritty realism of Times Square where our hero comes into his own. It is not a pretty world and he is soon tainted by it. I can remember similar stories like this when I came out in New Orleans and watched the young butch country boys being swallowed up by the gay scene and more than once began to identify as women. Our boy was aware of his homosexual feelings but had not acted on them fully until he came into his own in the seediness of Times Square. The grittiness of the area pervades the story—the impersonality of anonymous sex. Here we go to a world that was ad will never be again and we are lucky that we have Mykola Dementiuk to tell us about it.

“In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale” by Jeremy Jordan King— Neither Here Not There— Stuck!

in stone

King, Jeremy Jordan. “In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale” Bold Strokes Books, 2012.

Neither Here nor There–Stuck!

Amos Lassen

Jeremy is in a world between being a teen and being an adult. He thought he was doing okay as a gay kid who blended in with everyone else but then, he was the victim of a homophobic act. Surprisingly, something comes to his aid—Keith, a gargoyle who is trapped in stone and  cursed to live forever. Keith and Jeremy, monster and human become friends and explore the happenings that brought them together.

Without a doubt, you know that this is a fairy tale because we know that monsters and humans cannot develop friendships. However, using the themes of love and lust we get a story that has a great deal to say about respect. Here we see love grow and change with time and even though this is fantasy, so much of it is real. King looks at relationships realistically even when those involved are not realistic.

While this is a young adult novel, it has something to say to all of us as it follows the feelings of a 20 year old New York guy, Jeremy. He, at first, exudes self-confidence but that changes to incapacity after he is gay-bashed in Chelsea. He is saved by Keith but he does not want his friends to know what happened because he is a bit ashamed.

There are actually two  stories here—one about Jeremy and one about Garth and his tale of existence. Jeremy’s story brings together the modern with the fantastic and is the story of love that transcends time and existence. We see that Jeremy shares the fears that so many have—job security, housing, etc. Garth, on the other hand is secure in his job. This is a contemporary fairy tale about discovering self, magic and love. As the stories bounce between contemporary time and older periods, we meet interesting characters but beneath this is the more serious themes of love and being. It is not just the story of gay teen looking for a way to escape but it is a story that has something to share with us.

 

 

“SCENES FROM A GAY MARRIAGE”— A New Romantic Comedy

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“Scenes from a Gay Marriage”

A New Romantic Comedy

Amos Lassen

I am a huge Matt Riddlehoover fan an after seeing “Scenes from a Gay Marriage”, I am even a bigger fan. When Darren a recently single gay guy, cannot sleep well because of the newly married gay couple living upstairs, he tries to ignore it. That did not work and he next becomes obsessed with the idea that one of them is cheating and having an extra-marital affair. He begins to stalk them and he becomes a snoop. Both Darren’s ex and his best girlfriend think that he has lost it.

Not only is Riddlehoover the writer and the director, he is also the star of this new gay romantic comedy. When we first meet Riddlehoover as Darren, we are well aware that he is in a rut. He is newly single, has no stable employment and has no idea what he wants to do with his life.

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Not only is he lonely, he is bored and spends time watching old movies on television and listening to the neighbors above him. The neighbors, of course, have no idea that their voices can be heard and Darren thinks that what he hears is better than anything he can see on television. He is really too involved in their lives when he begins to think that one is cheating on the other.

Just about the same time, Darren begins a little dalliance with Joe (Jared Allman), his building’s maintenance man who also happens to be very hot and sexy. Joe might just be perfect for Darren who, unfortunately, is too busy stalking the guys upstairs.

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It is so hard to find really fun gay romantic comedies so this really is welcome. The script and the direction are excellent as is the acting and quite natural. Some of the cast we have seen before in other Riddlehoover films but there are two newbies—Jared Allen as Joe and Carson Nicely are both hot men who give fine performances.

scenes from a gay marriagehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYLq3TDTd0U

“Dee Dee Day” by Mykola Dementiuk— Discovering Self

dee dee day

Dementiuk, Mykola. “Dee Dee Day”, Amazon Digital, 2010.

Discovering Self

Amos Lassen

When Bill, a young man moves to New York City so that he can discover who he is, he learns a lot more than that. He gets help from some lonely acquaintances and we get quite a different kind of romance. Bill falls in love with his landlady, Dee Dee Day who at 72 years old is quite a bit older than he is. It is through Bill’s eyes that we learn his story.

Set in the 1970’s in New York City, Bill upon seeing Dee Dee for the first time thinks that she is maybe in her 50’s. He was not attracted to her at first but then he learned that she was born s a male, a boy named Richard even though she never looked like a boy and her parents raised her as a girl. There was a time many years before our story that Dee Dee was in love with another Billy who lost his life in World War II. Now she lives surrounded by his memories and waiting for the time she can be with him again. The story is seen through Dee Dee’s past memories as well as in the 70’s. Dee Dee is attracted to Bill but she knows that her age prevents her from really having a second chance at love and she wants to help Bill find himself. She helps him to become comfortable with himself and his desires but she knows that for her nothing will come of this.

This is a story propelled by its characters. Dee Dee has lived a life that has not been easy but she has always remained loyal and true to herself. Because of this she is able to help Bill become true to himself. Looking back at the period in which the story takes place and comparing it to today, we see how far we have come. There is another character, George who shares a co-dependent relationship with Dee Dee and while they may seem to be at odds with each other, they need to be friends for support. What keeps them together is that they both loved  Dee Dee’s first Billy. Dementiuk gives quite an interesting look at these two. While memories play a large part in the story, they are used as an attempt to recapture what was and even with this, the younger Billy is able to emerge accepting himself.

As I always say, it is the realism with which Dementiuk writes that makes his books so readable. This is more than just a read, it is a total experience which you should not miss.

“GLOBAL WARMING”— Two Wonderful Short Films from Reid Waterer

global warming

“Global Warming”

Two Wonderful Short Films

Amos Lassen

If you have not yet heard of Reid Waterer, you will. He is the brains behind the two wonderful short films that make up “Global Warming”.

“You Can’t Curry Love” is a love story set in India that will just make you feel good. In just 23 minutes Waterer shows us the blossoming of love in this wonderful little romantic comedy. Vikas (Ashwin Gore) is an Australian-born Indian living in London and is in love with his straight boss, Thom (G. Russell Thomas) who seems to make subliminal advances but hides behind the expectations of straight society. He sends Vikas to India for work and there he meets Sunil (Rakshak Sahni), the desk clerk at his hotel. Sunil takes Vikas out to see the sights and his business trip soon becomes a romance and when the time to return to London comes near, he must decide whether to go home or stay where his heart is— to be with his closeted boss or to stay with Sunil. It is amazing how many themes we find here in such a short film— the Indian caste system, trans men, responsibility and gay visibility. The film is a delight from start to finish and the ending will put a huge smile on your face as the cast does a traditional Bollywood dance.

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“Performance Anxiety” is about two straight actors who rehearse for an upcoming gay love scene and how they handle the situation. Waterer gives us so much in fifteen short minutes and the film is so well made that you just do not want it to end.

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Danny Lopes is Jacob and Lawrence Nichols is Duke and they meet on the set to block out the gay sex scene. The director, Anthem Moss, leaves them to work out the scene and we watch as they try to find comfortable ways to deal with gay sex. We see their discomfort at first but as they try different scenarios, they seem to come into it a great deal better— In fact, so much better that it is hard to believe they are acting. The surprise is the ease with which they pull it off as if it is the most natural thing in the world for two straight men to passionately kiss and for one to get on his knees at crotch level in front of the other. At first they had to deal with whether they would even be able to kiss in front of the camera and we see that they are able to do a whole lot more.

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Everything about this film is good and it has been making the festival circuit. This is the third film I have reviewed that Waterer has made and his trademark seems to me to be his high production values. If you get the chance to see it, do not hesitate to do so.

Now you can have both films for your very own. They have won many awards and with some 50 minute of extras. You will absolutely love them both and I am very sure about this.

“The Promiscuous Traveler” by Sebastian V.— Searching for Sex

the promiscuous traveler

V., Sebastian. “The Promiscuous Traveler”, Bruno Gmunder Verlag Gmbh , 2012.

Searching for Sex

Amos Lassen

One of many gay man’s fantasies is to travel the world and look for sex. Sebastian V. has done just that and he tells us all about it here in “The Promiscuous Traveler”. Whether in Puerto Rico or Moscow, Senegal or Australia, he found men to have sex with and he shares the stories. He discovers that there are many like him and that sex is a universal need of men and race and identity have nothing to do with it. The need for sex is an intangible feeling all its own.

One would think that this is little more than a collection of sexy stories but it is something much more than that. The author has a unique literary style that has depth and he shows us about the need for sex. And it is not just sex—it is a basic human need to feel connected to others who share what we think. Then there is the need for love as well. Combining exotic places with intimate stories of sexual adventures, the book is an exciting read and we learn a great deal about Sebastian V. He is a very real person who is generous and smart and who has exotic and erotic adventures with all kinds of men in all kinds of places. His stories read as real and they are just too good to not have really happened. It makes no difference where he is—Mykonos, Burning Man or Senegal, he manages to meet and have sex with a desirable man.

Sebastian observes life and the places he visits and tells us about them in detail. While he may seem to be randomly seeking sex, there is something deeper in what he does.

The book is both sensual and cerebral like my friend Michael Luongo says and his stories take you away from exotically and erotically. He combines curiosity and sexuality in ways that others have not succeeded in doing (except maybe Michael Luongo). Some may think of this as porn but I assure you it is so much more. It is a book about travel that allows the reader to feel that he is travelling and in the location that Sebastian writes about. Each and every story is a pleasure both erotically and literarily something that is not often said.

“Gay Zombie Erotix” by Richard Wax— Sexual Confusion

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Wax, Richard. “Gay Zombie Erotix” Passion Fruit Productions, 2012.

Sexual Confusion

Amos Lassen

It seems to be that lately gay literature has had a lot of vampires and a lot of zombies and we seem to be a bit preoccupied with the undead. Seeing as where some of us think that eternal life might be a lot of fun, when we get a new spin on it, we can really have a good read. Some of you may remember the short film “Gay Zombie” written and directed by Michael Simon. Richard Wax has a new book based on the film and it is really fun.

Now this zombie has a permanent erection and suffers from sexual confusion (Remember those days when we used that excuse?). Miles, a Hollywood rocker, lives with his girlfriend and he also suffers from some kind of sexual confusion (if you consider fantasizing about guys in tight Speedos as sexual confusion—we know better). Miles “abuses himself” thinking about those sexy guys and their fun filled bathing suits. He really realizes that something is not quite right after being in the Jacuzzi with Eddie, his well-hung best friend and getting a look at what he is working with. He becomes so hard that he admits to himself that there are some issues that need to be dealt but before he has a chance to do so, he is killed. He becomes a zombie and as Wax says, he comes out of the coffin.

Now that he is dead, Miles finally gets the chance to be who he really is and he goes to see a therapist for help in finding the way. He is assured that he is indeed gay (childhood issues plus lusting for Hugh Jackman are dead giveaways).

Miles begins to explore his now understood sexuality and after being examined by a doctor and his nurse, Carlos, he discovers that rigor mortis is responsible for his permanent erection and he and Carlos get it on and on and on.

This is most definitely not a book for prudes and hung up twinks who believe that true love comes in an Armani jock strap. Miles gets down and dirty as he learns how to use his equipment for his own pleasure and for the pleasure of others—especially the readers. There is “beaucoup” sex here and I only hope that this is the beginning of an undead man finding sexual life and that he will return to us in more stories. In the meantime let’s welcome Richard Wax to gay literature and hope he lives forever.

“MAGGOTS AND MEN”— An Experimental Historical Narrative

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“Maggots and Men”

An Experimental Historical Narrative

Amos Lassen

Cary Cronenwett’s experimental film “Maggots and Men” is the story of the 1921 rebellion of the Kronstadt sailors against the Bolshevik regime as well as an imagined love story between Stepan Petrichenko, leader of the sailors and another sailor. There is a gender twist here in that the film is cast with female-to-male transgender actors and the film documents a rapidly evolving transgender community and we see the gender revolution that is taking place in our own society. The communal society at Kronstadt is seen as a utopia and we are taken to a place where we can visualize alternatives to capitalist society. The parallel is drawn between the history of revolution and the free expression of gender and the movie shows that the world we live in also has elements of radicals whose hopes have not yet been fulfilled.

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The film is based on actual historical events and it manages to bring together the eroticism of Jean Genet, early Soviet cinema and a transgender cast in order to show us that queer utopias are necessary in the world today.

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“The Kronstadt sailors had a long tradition as radicals and fierce warriors, which began with the failed revolution of 1905 (the subject of Battleship Potemkin). “Maggots and Men” recounts the tragic events of March 1921 that ensued when the Kronstadt sailors drafted a resolution that supported the factory workers on strike in St. Petersburg. In addition to echoing the starving workers’ demand for food, the resolution called for a re-election of the soviets and demanded greater autonomy from an increasingly authoritarian government. The Bolshevik government destroyed public support for the sailors by launching a propaganda campaign that falsely labeled them as counter-revolutionaries. Rather than de-escalating the situation Trotsky, Minister of War, ordered the sailors to be taken by force. After heavy losses on both sides the two-week long battle ended with victory for the Bolsheviks and death or exile for the sailors”.

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The film does not take itself seriously and the director obviously brought some of his own transgender experience to his work, Cronenwett transitioned from female to male in California some time in after 1993 and discovered film. The film brings transgender and anarchist politics together. It conceptualizes the LGBT community and its struggle for power within a larger social justice movement and the film relates to issues that are very relevant—labor struggles, police violence, control of the media, abuse of power and conflict.

“THE WIFE MASTER”— Looking Once Again

the wife master 

“The Wife Master”

Looking Once Again

Amos Lassen

I rarely review a film twice but I am doing so for “The Wife Master” for two simple reasons. The first is that we rarely get really good films about our Asian brothers and secondly, I do not want this film to be overlooked.

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The film is about Bora, a 40 year old unemployed gay Cambodian living in America. His family finally has enough and kicks him out of the house and now he faces life as he should—he has to get a job and find a place to live. His uncle comes up with the idea of his marrying a Cambodian woman who will pay $10,000 willingly just so she can come to America. But this becomes quite involved and when the money runs out, what is Bora to do? Simple, he marries another and another and another and soon has a bevy of wives that he simply cannot handle.

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It is a takeoff on the old story of boy meets girl boy marries girl and girl and girl, etc. What the girls don’t know is that the boy likes other boys. Right away we see the seeds for going comedy being planted and then they bloom right before our eyes. Mich Medvedoff directs this delightful comedy which stars Bora Soth as Bora. Now you are probably wondering if the fact that the star of the movie and the main character have the same name if this is a true story and I do not have the answer to that. What I do know is that the entire movie is clever and very well acted and that is enough for me.

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What happens is that sometimes small movies get lost and I hope that this not happen here. The movie is original and fun and we don’t get a whole lot of originality in LGBT film. I totally recommend this and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

“YOUR AMERICAN TEEN”— American Teenage Girls

your American teen

“YOUR AMERICAN TEEN”

American Teenage Girls

Amos Lassen

“Your American Teen” is a documentary about the sexual exploitation of teenage American girls in the Pacific Northwest. We see that with incest, drugs, violence advertising movies and sexual harassment, the American teenage girl is under attack. The film follows three teenage girls who went through traumas as children and teens. All three had parents who either could not or did not want to take care of them. While their stories are quite sad and to a degree horrifying, we do see hope and beauty in them.

The film shows the underbelly of American society in brutal honesty and the viewer gets quite an education. The film is very important in that every 30 seconds another victim is lost to human trafficking some of whom are 12 years old or even younger. The film was made in association with the Jennifer A. Lynch Committee Against Domestic Violence and Charles Taylor Gould who had been advocating for children’s’ rights for the last decade. This is a must see for parents and children alike and hopefully this will help to end this problem.