Monthly Archives: April 2013

“Blackout” by Joey Jameson— Dreams and Obsessions

blackout

Jameson, Joey. “Blackout”, Chances Press, 2013.

Dreams and Obsessions

Amos Lassen

 I first read Joey Jameson when I read his first book, “Candy from Strangers” and I remarked then that he was someone to watch and Jameson proved me correct with his new erotic thriller “Blackout”. We have several good mystery writers now and I was lucky enough to moderate a panel on “Gay Sleuths and Mystery” at the Rainbow Book Fair in New York City in April. Hopefully next year we can add Jameson to the panel. While this book does not fill all the requirements for the Mystery Writer’s Association’s definition, this book can be in a genre all its own.

Dice Valentine has a body that just won’t quit and he is the personification of sex appeal. He is the object of dreams and obsessions. He was a slave to his own body and really fits the expression of “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”.

At the mention of my name I straightened up again…my music was my only guide…I edged my way to the shiny metal pole…greeting it like a long lost friend…my hips took over and began instantly grinding away at the pole intensely, not missing a beat. I dry-humped it as my hand slid all the way up taking my body with it… (You get the idea). His audience was breathless but Dice realized that he was becoming a hedonist and indulgence was a price he paid.

But then there was that night of wild, wonderful sex when a mysterious lover caused him to react in a way that would cause him to lose all that he had and Dice finds himself in a situation that forces him to clear his name and wonder if the price of beauty is not too expensive.The story makes us consider the meaning of truth and what are the results of betrayal.

Jameson gives us an unforgettable character in Dice and an unforgettable story of what he goes through. More than that I cannot say except that the word “new” comes to mind. Here we have a fairly new writer giving us a new plot with new characters. I can almost guarantee that you will not stop reading until you finish the book. That is the highest compliment that I can give.

 

 

“2+2”— Swinging

2+2 DVDfrontcover

2 + 2” (“Dos más dos”)

Swinging

Amos Lassen

Richard and Bettina tell their friends Diego and Emilia that they have been keeping a secret from them—they swing. Their lives have been enhanced by having sex with others and they want to now share this with them. Here is a comedy about two couples exploring sexual boundaries and maintaining domestic lives at the same time.

It seems that so many taboos have been destroyed; Diego Kaplan decided to try knocking down the taboo of swinging by using comedy. It is just too bad that the script is such a mess. I really wish that the laughs had been there because the actors are so good.

Diego (Adrian Suar) and Richard (Juan Minujin) are famed Argentine cardiovascular surgeon and own their own hospital that specializes in the heart. Diego is married to Emilia (Julieta Diaz), a weather forecaster and they have a fourteen year old son, Lucas (Tomas Wicz). Richard has been involved with Bettina (Carla Peterson), a fashion designer and unlike Diego and Emilia, their lives are without structure. One night after a happy occasion when Diego and Richard were recognized for their work, the two couples go out together to celebrate. When the women go to the Ladies’ Room, Bettina tells Emilia that she and Richard “swing” and asks her and Diego to join them at the next party. Diego is not comfortable with the idea but he finally agrees.

The next party is at Pablo’s (Alfredo Cesero)—it is his birthday and as Emilia seems to be enjoying herself, Diego is both shocked by and uneasy with the promiscuity and he and Emilia leave early. But Emilia found everything refreshing and becomes more open about her sexuality and really wants to discuss it with Diego. Diego remains adamant on swapping partners but ultimately gives only to have Emilia say that she thought she did wrong but feel no regret about it.

As time passes Diego and Emilia become part of the swinger scene and seem to be comfortable with it. At Lucas’ birthday party, Bettina tells Emilia that she thinks that Richard is cheating on her and she soon becomes unstable mentally. It turns out that Richard has been meeting Emilia who has fallen in love with her and tells him that there will be no more swinging. Bettina finds out about the affair and everything seems to fall apart. Diego leaves his medical partnership with Richard and also leaves his wife. Richard apologizes to Bettina but she leaves.

Two years pass and we meet them again and as they were at the beginning of the film. Bettina is pregnant and Richard offers his friendship and everything is fine and here is the banality of the film. There are some funny moments but it all seems predictable. The erotic scenes are nicely done and technically it is excellent but a better script would have made it so much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, a History of Greenwich Village” by John Strausbaugh— The First Complete History of “The Village”

the village

Strausbaugh, John. “The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, a History of Greenwich Village”, Ecco, 2013.

The First Complete History of “The Village”

Amos Lassen

If there is an influential and infamous neighborhood of New York City it is unquestionably Greenwich Village. It is surprising that until now that has been no complete history of it. Beginning with the Dutch settlers we get here not only the history of the village but the history of this country as we read of Washington Square patricians, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and Prohibition-era speakeasies Abstract Expressionism and beatniks Stonewall and AIDS. Such names as
 Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mark Twain, Margaret Sanger, Eugene O’Neill, Marcel Duchamp, Upton Sinclair, Willa Cather, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Jackson Pollock, Anais Nin, Edward Albee, Charlie Parker, W. H. Auden, Woody Guthrie, James Baldwin, Maurice Sendak, E. E. Cummings, and Bob Dylan all played a part of the Village’s history.

The Village is America’s bohemia and we become aware of how much the neighborhood has contributed to the arts and culture of this country and the book contains fascinating stories. The concept of individual freedom has come out of the neighborhood and we recognize it as the place that gave definition to the words freedom, self-expression, creativity, and activism. Non-conformity is the term best used to describe it and from the Village to the rest of the world came the gift of culture. Ideas were developed and art was created on the narrow streets and the lofts where genius was born and nurtured. Names such as Poe, Whitman, Cather, Baldwin, Kerouac, Mailer, Ginsberg, O’Neill, Pollock, La Guardia, Koch, Hendrix, and Dylan are synonymous with Greenwich Village yet they also belong to the world. It has been the home of those who did not fit into the fabric of America yet became the thread that sewed this nation together.

From “half-free” Africans to working-class immigrants, from artists to politicians—for almost four hundred years the Village has provided this country with ideas and art, music and literature. John Strausbaugh gives us from the time that it was a frontier in the 1600s until the present. Of course, we cannot forget that together with San Francisco, the gay rights movement began here. Part IV, “The Last Hurrah” is about just that. Now it is a bedroom community for the wealthy and a tourist attraction for visitors to the city. Its history is our history and Strausbaugh makes that history a fun and entertaining read. When you next hear that wonderful verse of Walt Whitman’s, “I hear American history” you will remember that the music to accompany it is made up of the sounds of life of Greenwich Village.

 

If you’ve lived in the Village or visited, your own memories will hold you at the epicenter a resounding tale that grows into a full tour-de-force hurricane of personalities and action so exactingly researched that only the choicest details seem to have made it to print. If you missed the Village, explore its winding, off-the-grid streets and alleys now, as its lowliest of characters and most highly acclaimed, relive personal moments under Strausbaugh’s vivid orchestration. And whether the concert takes place late at night at the Cedar Tavern, during Mailer’s debilitating mornings after (his book being declared a bestseller) and his labored birthing of the Village Voice, at the back door of the Golden Rule Pleasure Club, with Marcel Duchamp and friends atop the Washington Arch declaring the independence of the “Republic of Greenwich Village,” or entering a dark, rat-infested west end shed at the end of crumbling pier 46, you’ll become… overwhelmed by experiences rendered in so off-the-cuff a style that they always take you by surprise”.

 

“Show-Offs: Gay Erotic Stories” edited by Richard Labonte— Being Watched or Watching

show offs

Labonte, Richard (editor). “Show-Offs: Gay Erotic Stories”, Cleis Press, 2013.

Being Watched or Watching

Amos Lassen

Richard Labonte knows erotica and is new edited anthology, the stories are about men watching other men have sex or men being watched as they get it on. Fifteen stories (with some by some by my favorite writers—Rob Rosen, Jeff Mann, Shaun Levin and Shane Allison and some by writers I read for the first time—Ron Radle, Michael Bracken, Tony Pike, to name a few) that come together to give us a true erotic experience. It seems to be all about peeking or being peeked at or just horny men flaunting their sexual prowess. There is that extra thrill when performing for others or just watching others as they really go at each other. Reading these stories is like actually being there and I cannot think of anything that is sexier. You know when you get a book from Cleis you are really getting some high quality smut—it seems to be one of their trademarks.

 

 

“Safe Word: An Erotic S/M Novel” by Molly Weatherfield— Carrie is Back

safe word

Weatherfield, Molly. “Safe Word: An Erotic S/M Novel”, Cleis Press, 2012.

Carrie is Back

Amos Lassen

Carrie’s Story” introduced us to our main character who is on a journey of sexual adventure. Now after having learned about the world of submission from her master, Jonathan, we find her leaving him to continue on. She is off to Greece with Johan, another demanding man and her education continues. We read of her obsession with passion and sexual pleasure in stories she shares with Jonathan in which she is introspective and quite bold.

Jonathan had introduced her to rewards and punishments and she knew what the phrase “I want” meant when he uttered it. She was his to do with as he pleased. In Carrie, we see a strong and smart woman who, while submissive, is adventurous. Here we meet her after she had been to Greece with her new master and she and Jonathan spend four days in Paris. Jonathan tells her the time has come to return to him as his slave and she re-assumes her place. Carrie finds herself having to make a decision (which I will not divulge for fear of spoiling a read). The same dark world of BDSM is here but this time it is written as a series of stories but in the form of a novel. As a man, I was able to learn about the world of submission from the female perspective. Here we see Carrie able to break away from the restrictions that had placed on her. It is fascinating to learn that there is a culture of masters and submissives who follow each other yet maintain domestic arrangements. We are even allowed to enter Carrie’s mind and to see what she thinks.

Weatherfield incorporates emotions and sensibilities into the text and she tells a good story. Her writing is rich and she has drawn some very real characters. We can only hope for more.

 

“MOLD!”— A New Weapon

mold (2)

Mold!”

A New Weapon

Amos Lassen

The drug cartels are doing big business and the government wants them stopped. A new weapon has been developed—a fast growing, genetically engineered mold which will wipe out the fields where drugs are being grown. There is one problem; however, the mold eats human flesh. When somehow it is released in the lab, it begins a war on the scientists and military men who have to fight their way to safety and contain the mold before it wreaks havoc on the world.

The film is a throwback to 80’s horror movies and I had a great time watching it (until I saw something moldy moving up my leg. Set in 1984, President Reagan is fighting the war on cocaine and crack and Nancy is just saying NO!! On a remote outpost in the desert, Doctor Kane (Rick Haymes), Doctor Hardy (Lawrence George) and Doctor Young (Chris Gentile) are at work developing a designer strain of mold that when sprayed on Colombian coca plants, destroys them. A colonel (Edward X. Young) and a congressman (James Murphy) have come to the lab a controlled demonstration of this new weapon so they can give a report to the government and military leadership but… the mold will not be contained and begins to take over the lab, the entire facility and kills and changes everything it touches. Finding themselves with hands tied, they scientists need to develop an antidote as they discover the true reason for the test run or the creeping, growing green menace will be the victor.

Mold!” proves that horror can be done in a convincing way. While the movie starts slowly, it builds and soon blood and bodies are everywhere. Body parts explode and/or dissolved. Green slime oozes out of orifices and characters are covered in it. (Imagine a large scale war with guacamole!!!). One of the characters manages to live and becomes a feral, green mold-man hybrid.

 The film has a distinct 1950s sci-fi feel to it.  It’s basically a locked room sci-fi thriller that takes place at U.S. military research facility suitably located in the middle of the desert.  

When the colonel’s aide turns into a mold covered mutant he becomes hell bent on killing the scientists.  It turns out that the troubles are due to a CIA plot to arm the mold.  

The film is able to keep things interesting despite the locked room setting by revealing relationships among the staff and allowing the actors to ham it up in spectacular fashion. The desert location of the lab lends itself to the paranoia and isolation that is developed in the film. Adding to the camp factor is a large amount of gore and a plot that allows for the female scientist to spend a good part of the movie running around in her lingerie.  While this movie is a fun and campy experience it is also dark and a tad nihilistic.  The dark humor hits all the right notes especially in the way it establishes a McCarthy era feel.  

mold

After playing at festivals all over, it has been released on DVD and now you can have “Mold!” every night at home and in the afternoon as well if you feel you need some slime in your life.

 

“SALTO”— Facing Doom

salto

SALTO”

Facing Doom

Amos Lassen

Marion is a TV journalist that deals with the sensational. When her friend Luca disappears after a quarrel about the idea of doomsday being close at hand and Marion decides to look for her. She soon finds herself taken in by the research that says that there is potential for the world to end. She even has come to believe that Luca has joined a suicidal cult.

Marion sets off for Portugal and there she finds a group at Salto, camping out and becoming read for the end of the world with song, dance and rituals. Director Maximllian Moll shows us some of the visual remnants of culture and unites them with elements that do not belong together or are contradictory. We see a reality that holds the clichés to time. He destroys stereotypes and in this way destroys reality.

“ROUTE OF ACCEPTANCE”— The Existence of Destiny

route

Route of Acceptance

The Existence of Destiny

Amos Lassen

Writer/Director Heather Tobin in “Route of Acceptance” shows us that destiny does possibly exist by introducing us to Ryan Stark, a young lesbian, who is thinking about which university she should attend. She is a hopeful film writer who wants to learn but she is afraid to leave her home and its comforts and predictability. She felt safe in high school but she has graduated and the time to move is very close at hand. We see that the decisions we make can change our future—with Ryan it was the decision to go to one university did just that. Our choices that we make as we journey on the walk of life bring about strong emotions. Ryan was torn somewhere between her love for family and its expectations and what she hoped would be her career.

router

“A MAP FOR A TALK”— Three Characters/Two Days

mapapara

A Map for a Talk” (Mapa Para Conversar)

Three Characters/Two Days

Amos Lassen

A Woman, her female lover and her mother and are at the center of “A Map for a Talk”. They go through two days in two opposite settings—a day in Santiago, Chile and a day on a boat out on the water. The three are trapped by a claustrophobic conversation and we see an intense film, a character drama.

The film opens with Roberta (Andrea Moto) running through the neighborhood in her underwear carrying a bed frame and bed clothes. Then three female protagonists come together for a day out. What happens is more than they expected and their day out turns into expressions of self-doubt and insecurities. Constanza Fernandez, the director leads us into a world we have heard about but which we rarely get to see.

mapa para1

Roberta lives with her young son and her girlfriend, Javiera (Francisa Bernardi), a very sexually charged daughter of a political prisoner who has disappeared. She is a free spirit and supports herself and her lover by acting in porn movies and exhibiting herself on erotic websites. She and Roberta have been friends since they were in school together and now that they are living together as lovers, the time has come for Roberta to tell Ana (Mariana Prat), her mother that she is a lesbian. Ana lives a conservative life and she dismissed what her daughter tells her as being a fad. But, she also realizes that her daughter is a grown woman. Ana agrees to go sailing with Roberta and Javiera and while the three approach the day enthusiastically and hopefully, they are also apprehensive.

Everything starts smoothly but the tension builds and being on the water first seems to be a pleasant backdrop for a day out. It soon becomes prisonlike with the women trapped by the confines of the boat and as the day moves forward, the sea becomes choppy and the strain of their environment is manifested in several misunderstanding and conflicts.

mapapara2

Each of the women gives an excellent performance. We see the women as metaphors for the way that the society of Chile is divided. Roberta is the unifying character who serves as the balance for the complexities of the characters of the other two. Together they represent a culture whose modern ideas are in conflict with traditional values of conservatism which is rooted in conventional doctrine and religion. We do not see overt hostility but never lose sight of the two polarities and therefore uneasiness is omnipresent. The story of mother meets lesbian lover is certainly not new but here it is presented with a sense of intrigue.

mapa

In one sense this is a film with a strong political message but the viewer is not lectured and neither are any conclusions drawn. We simply get a look at social clashes with which we are all already familiar in that we know that they exist even if we are not directly drawn into them. There is no attempt to explain these conflicts; we just see them as they are.

 

 

 

 

“CHUPPAN CHUPAI”— Gay in Pakistan

chuppai

Chuppan Chupai”

Gay in Pakistan

Amos Lassen

Four people n Pakistan—Jenny, a transgender college student who recently had bottom surgery, Kami, a cross dresser gay dancer, Waseem, an effeminate wedding entertainer and dancer and Neeli who was a big part of the Pakistani supreme court’s decision to change the constitution to recognize a third gender discuss transgender activism, religion, underground gay life, social acceptance and traditional family traditions. The film is a fascinating at Pakistan and how it deals with gender.