Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales” edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel— 69 Stories

the big book of submission

Bussel, Rachel Kramer (editor). “The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales”, Cleis Press, 2014.

69 Stories

Amos Lassen

You read correctly; there are 69 stories in this new collection edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel and no, I am not going to list all of the contributors. (But I will name some of my favorite writers—Rob Rosen, D.L. King, Sean Finn and of course, the editor herself, Rachel Kramer Bussel). All of the stories deal with submission in many of its forms. The stories are also about fulfilling fantasies.

Submission is one of those words that has many definitions and means different things to different people. Here we have sixty-nine views of submission and we read about serving, spanking ordering, obeying teasing, worshipping and that is just a short list. Submissives find great satisfaction in giving themselves over to others and we are not just sexually speaking here.

Being submissive is something we do not hear about and the stories here are about those that want to be seen and heard. They also want to be valued and respected for the roles they play. We have all kinds of people in this anthology—from naughty college professors and sadistic students to sex clubs, etc. Some of you may be surprised to see how far ranging submission can be.

The stories here are short as they need to be in order to get 69 into one volume of 368 pages and because they are short, there are no wasted words or long set ups. Here is submission stripped bare and it is an incredible read and has something for everyone.

In case you have not noticed, submission is quite the rage these days (with the “Fifty Shades” books) and if you do not want to feel left out you will treat yourself to a copy of this book.

“A Room in Chelsea Square” by Michael Nelson— A Poet’s Tale

a room in chelsea square

Nelson, Michael. “A Room in Chelsea Square”, Valancourt Books, 2014.

A Poet’s Tale

Amos Lassen

“A Room in Chelsea Square” is a semi-autobiographical novel that was first published in 1958 with the author listed as anonymous. At that time homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom and the author’s characters were actually prominent London literary characters who were disguised here. In this new edition from Valancourt Books, Michael Nelson is the author and there is a new introduction by Gregory Woods. The book is regarded as a gay classic. It is a very witty satire about a group of gay men in London of the 1940s.

In the very first sentence we learn that Patrick is very rich and he is single. We meet him first as he shops for presents for Nicholas, a young man he met in the country. He uses his friends to arrange a job for Nicholas at a tabloid paper and in this way he can lure him to London. Yet when he meets him on his arrival he tries many excuses to stop him from going to work and moves him into his fancy suite at a posh hotel and presents with gifts, gifts, and gifts. The book takes place in a week— from the time that Patrick introduces Nicholas to his friends and we learn that Nicholas is not the innocent boy that Patrick had thought him to be.

Nicholas knew that he could only resist Patrick’s affections for long and it was no good pretending that Patrick was going to support him from purely altruistic motives. Patrick wanted Nicholas and he was determined to have him and Nicholas realized that sex was a small price to pay for all the things that Patrick could offer him in exchange.

Patrick is a manipulator and seeing him with his friends is good fodder for satire, Nelson also describes what gay life in England was like at that time. Doing a bit of research, I learned that Patrick is a thinly veiled portrait of Peter Watson who associated for a long while with Cecil Beaton the wealthy homosexual sponsor of Bacon, Colquhoun, MacBryde, Vaughan, Minton and other homosexual painters. The author himself is Nicholas who was really pursued by Watson, who bought him Picassos and Sutherlands as part of his seduction technique. Other characters are based on Stephen Spender and Cyril Connolly.

Two of the things I found to really be of interest here is the fact that there is no angst about being gay and there are no sex scenes. Sure there is backstabbing and betrayal but we learn of this through the dialogue of the characters. I can imagine how shocking the dialogue was when the book first came out but then again probably only gay people understood its implications and the double entendres. What the characters say to each other is quite nasty and bitchy but not unlike what you hear a group of gay men today saying to each other. Some may find the character stereotypical, out-dated and boring but that is how it once was.

Nelson is a wonderful narrator and there is both suspense and humor in the story. When it was first published, this is what the London times has to say about it— “Odiously funny and delightfully unwholesome … a distinct relief after the ponderous treatment homosexuality has tended to get in some recent novels.”

“TIGER ORANGE”— Brothers

 tiger orange poster

“TIGER ORANGE”

Brothers

Amos Lassen

 In the small Central California town where they grew up, two estranged gay brothers struggle to reconnect after the recent death of their father. This small town drama was directed by Wade Gasque and it has some very strong performances. The movie is set against the beautiful fields if Central California. It puts two totally different brothers against each other. One brother, Chet (Mark Strano) is closeted and an introvert while the other, Todd (Frankie Valenti who you might recognize as former porn star, Johnny Hazzard) is out and proud and takes nothing from anyone. What we then see is a meditation on  gay siblings and their rivalries as well as the childhood bonds that force us together.

tiger orange

It isn’t enough to grow up in a small town where everyone knows everything about everybody but to grow up gay in such an atmosphere is quite the challenge. It is, therefore, quite natural to wonder how it is to have a gay sibling. “Do you talk about it with one another? Does it make the experience less isolating? How do you disappoint Mom and Dad, twice?”

I love to listen to stories about gay siblings and sometimes wish that I had been so lucky. Here we have gay brothers who not only grew up in a small town (with all the small-mindedness that goes with it) but with only a father to raise them. Todd left home so he could be himself while Chet stayed with his father. The two brothers never could connect but then when the father died, they had to come to terms with it and with each other. We immediately become aware of the amount of power that their father had over them. Both brothers carry internalized shame as a result of that. We immediately see why living in an urban center makes it easier to come out to parents and why it was so hard for Chet and Todd to tell their father about their sexuality.

tiger orange2

One of the themes of this film deals with standing out or fitting in. All of us have to deal with this in our lives and I think we forget that coming out is not a one-time thing. We come out all the time, especially as we constantly meet new people. Coming out is something that is just ours—it is part of the gay experience and it is a major aspect of our lives. We want to be part of a larger community and fit into society but we have to discover that for ourselves. On the other hand we do not want to lose our uniqueness.

As far as this goes, Chet and Todd are totally separate and in this is the root of the conflict in the film. They have gone their separate ways, each having chosen different paths yet they share the bond of brotherhood and this keeps them together to a degree.

tiger orange3

So basically this is a film about what propels us forward (or backwards) as we search for our place in the world. It is our world and we belong to it just like everyone else. There is a lot to be gleaned here and the best part is that we are entertained as we do so.

“CALVARY”— The Battle

calvaryposter

“Calvary”

The Battle

Amos Lassen

With all of the hoopla about priests in the Catholic Church, I would have thought that the movie world would have latched on to the stories and made some movies about the scandals. But then, I suppose no one wants to take on the church. When I consider how much damage to the world came from the Catholic church, I cannot understand how there can still be believers but I guess you cannot argue with belief in God even if it is a god that was constructed by the church.

In “Calvary”, we meet a priest who is threatened while hearing confession. Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) is a good man (or so he wants us to believe) who is intent on making the world a better place but at the same time he is constantly shocked and saddened by the spiteful inhabitants in the town where he lives.

Lavelle learns of his own impending door while hearing confession from a victim of sexual abuse. The confessor lets Father know that he has one week to get himself together. He has no idea who made this threat to him and he is determined to find out who it is. He has a list of “could bes”—local cuckolded butcher Jack Brennan (O’Dowd), his bed-hopping wife Veronica (Orla O’Rourke) or perhaps even her Ghana-born lover Simon Asamoah (Isaach de Bankolé). But the arrival of Lavelle’s troubled daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly) makes everything even more difficult and Sunday is quickly approaching.

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in Calvary

It is Brendan Gleeson who shoulders the weight of this film and he is excellent as a man wrestling with the dark forces of human fallibility. We see Father James (his name is only revealed late in the film and then as a casual aside) the embodiment of good but he has been knocked about a bit. Father James is the best sort of priest, one who has been both of the world and in it, and who has chosen to reject the secular life from a position of experience.  He has been married, is a father, and has contended with a drink problem, and while his nemesis sees him as innocent, James is anything but; he understands the struggles of others because he knows the world.

The film looks at those who are emotionally detached from the abhorrent suffering that the abused have felt. Many Catholics – both layman and cleric – have not encountered the horrors that an unfortunate number have, yet are nevertheless linked to it by association. The results are emotions of anger and confusion: How can the very same Church that teaches charity, goodwill and sanctity of life, have such monsters within its ranks and so many of them?

Father James is placed in a predicament of potentially fatal consequence when a threat on his life is delivered during confession. The killer-to-be is himself a victim of clerical abuse, and decides the best revenge is to kill a good priest (on a Sunday no less). With one week to find who made the threat, Father Lavelle has to also contend with an increasingly hostile community, with each member more messed up than then next and harboring strong anti-Catholic sentiment.

Director John Michael McDonagh successfully establishes the anger and bitterness that is in itself a force that good Father Lavelle must combat and we are aware that what we hear are the results of a never ending stream of allegations that in particular has rocked Roman Catholic Ireland to its core. McDonagh dives deep into murky waters in his decision to set this darkly comedic story of persecution and forgiveness in the throes of such a horrific scandal, yet so he does with a biting, dark humor and it works. Gleeson brings qualities of wit, heart and integrity to this role of a priest burdened with the sins of others who share the same uniform, yet do not fill it with the same goodness and faith.

“Calvary” emerges directly from the current crisis of Irish Catholicism brought about by sexual abuse by priests and its institutional covering-up. The theme is most explicitly displayed when James has a friendly conversation with a young girl, only for her angry father to intervene, equating cassocks with pedophilia.  The film has a large cast of eccentric people and this to me was not necessary—the twitchiness of the sexually frustrated Milo or rent-boy Leo’s relentless Cagney impersonations do nothing to advance the plot. Yet Gleeson’s performance is one of magnificent intensity and the palpable wit and intelligence of the film’s conception.

So do you think I am going to tell you how this ends— you know I won’t. The film is one that must be seen if for no other reason than it is a provocatively involving thriller and a real rarity in cinema – “a genuinely compelling moral and theological investigation”. It is a witty, thoughtful and relevant examination into the far-reaching effects of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.

As a point of clarification, Calvary is Latin for the site where Jesus was crucified. Only fitting that McDonagh uses it as a title for a film not only of deep religious conviction, but that also looks at the nature of sacrifice as atonement for the sins of others. This is an outstanding and moving achievement that should be seen by all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvHl53Krxs8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oMLqZAu5V0

“LIMITED PARTNERSHIP”— A Love Story

limited partnership poster

“LIMITED PARTNERSHIP”

A Love Story

Amos Lassen

 This is a love story between Filipino-American Richard Adams and Australian Tony Sullivan, who, in 1975, became one of the first same-sex couples in the world to be legally married. After applying for a green card for Tony based on their marriage, the couple received a denial letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service stating, ‘You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.’ Outraged at this letter, and to prevent Tony’s impending deportation, the couple sued the U.S. government, filing the first federal lawsuit seeking equal treatment for a same-sex marriage in U.S. history. This tenacious story of love, marriage and immigration equality is as precedent setting as it is little known… until now.

Adams and Sullivan met in 1971 at a Los Angeles bar called The Closet. They fell in love, and spent the next 40 years fighting the system in order to stay together. They became one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married—and the first to be denied legal immigration status. Long before the current battle over same-sex marriage was even a  thought in the minds of many, the two men were suing the U.S. government for the right to be married, and then for the right to have that marriage recognized so Tony could get a green card and not be deported. 



limited partnership

They received a shocking response from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, then an unexpected outpouring of hate and bigotry from the general public, and then the ludicrous choice to either live apart or leave the country together (of course, they had to choose the latter—but with great consequence). In this film, director Thomas G. Miller takes us back and forth through the decades with this pioneering and persistent bi-national couple, two unsung heroes who paved the way for the eventual defeat of DOMA.

Naturally they were outraged at the tone, tenor and politics of this letter and to prevent Tony’s impending deportation, the couple sued the U.S. government. This became the first federal lawsuit seeking equal treatment for a same-sex marriage in U.S. history. They spent forty years in legal challenges yet both men were able to keep their senses of humor, their sense of justice and their privacy.

Over four decades of legal challenges, Richard and Tony figured out how to maintain their sense of humor, justice and whenever possible, their privacy. What is so interesting here is that their personal story parallels the history of the LGBT marriage and immigration equality movements. The film celebrates Richard and Tony’s long road to  justice and citizenship and their challenge of the traditional definitions of “spouse” and “family.”

Critical moments in history are explored through the use of television news clips, newspaper headlines, radio announcements, Tony and Richard’s personal photos and letters, interviews, and animated graphics. Through artful juxtaposition, these sequences dynamically contrast Richard and Tony’s personal battle with the evolution of America’s values, the LGBT and mainstream marriage equality movement, and modifications in U.S. immigration policy.

“OUT IN EAST BERLIN—LESBIANS & GAYS IN THE GDR”— A Fascinating Film

out_poster_

“OUT IN EAST BERLIN—LESBIANS & GAYS IN THE GDR” (“OUT IN OST-BERLIN—LESBEN UND SCHWULE IN DER DDR”)

A Fascinating Film

Amos Lassen

Paragraph 175 which made homosexual behavior punish able by law was abolished in the German Democratic Republic in 1968. Homosexuality was once considered, in Germany, to be a negligible issue in ‘real existing socialism’. The nuclear family constituted the center of social society. “Out in East Berlin” tells the various, impressive-to-absurd personal histories of gay men and lesbians during socialistic GDR until the fall of the Berlin Wall.  At that time they were watched carefully by the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) and even their actions in the bedroom were recorded in innumerable personal files. Based on the homosexual perspective, filmmakers Jochen Hick and Andreas Strohfeldt elucidate the political picture of the GDR, in which citizens are monitored, spied upon and whose movements are restrained. In addition, they are called upon to betray one’s own cause: homosexual emancipation. Coming out in East Berlin was concerned with politics, passion and personal toll. This film captures that as we watch an amazing documentary about love and identity in the Communist world.

 Filmmakers Jochen Hick and Andreas Strohfeldt focus on the fascinating and powerful stories of thirteen East Berliners who came to terms with their sexuality in a country strictly controlled by a single-party Marxist-Leninist government. We must understand that East Berlin was a country where spying was a part of daily life and an attempt to escape could be deadly. In the GDR’s strict ideological world, dedicated in theory to equality for all, homophobia is just under the surface of mainstream society, adding a level of complexity for gays and lesbians searching for connection and happiness. 
Through provocative, emotionally charged interviews and amazing archival discoveries and newsreel footage, “Out in East Berlin” gives us a full picture of an era, a place, and the people who lived through an emotional roller coaster of life-changing politics, sexual and otherwise. Even with the intensity of the subject here, the film captures the inspirational energy that comes when marginalized people are motivated to create a movement that matters. Each voice brings a unique and sometimes contradictory perspective. Yet the people that we hear from are bound together by the desire to be free and therefore they create an amazing film about the dangers of love in an authoritarian state, and how to find a place in the world against all odds.


out in east berlin

The focus is on gay men and women in the German Democratic Republic. We learn of the individual fates of several concerned as they visit places with a special meaning to them and give interviews to summarize the way they loved and were subsequently targeted by the government. The film unites the strange bedfellows of tragedy and humor  It’s really a good mix of tragedy and humor and the characters that we meet here are interesting and indeed have something to say.

This is so much more than a film with a gay theme—it looks at humanity and freedom and the characters who just happen to be gay lead us into territory we have, until now, known little about. The documentary brings together personal stories with what was once considered a workers’ paradise.

“The East German state may have officially decriminalized homosexuality in 1968, ahead of their western neighbors, but the regime remained systematically homophobic. By ordering compulsory check-ups at sexual disease clinics, they sought to monitor and control this “bourgeois perversion”. They coerced gay citizens into spying for the Stasi security services, and even sent undercover “Romeo” officers to seduce them.

As late as the mid 1980s, when a group of lesbian activists applied for official permission to commemorate LGBT victims of the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbrueck, they were arrested for “disrespecting” the dead and branded “terror lesbians.” There is no greater compliment”. We see the thin lines between victims and villains and we see veteran British campaigner Peter Tatchell recalling how he staged the Eastern Bloc’s first ever gay-rights protest almost by accident. For his troubles, he was physically attacked by both the police and his fellow left-wing Brits.

This is a film for anyone with an interest in European political and social history, particularly the failed utopia of Soviet Communism. The stories we see and hear are punctuated by archive photos and newsreel footage of life in the old East Germany and this helps us through some of the more mundane parts of the film.

“MARAT/SADE”— An Experience

marat

“Marat/Sade”

An Experience

Amos Lassen

 Bringing a play to the screen has been approached in many ways, often disastrously, but it is hard to recall a film that solves it so triumphantly as Peter Brook’s “Marat/ Sade.” “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade” is the film version of a play presented as being written by de Sade (for whom sadism is named), and acted out exactly as if it were performed by the inmates of the insane asylum where de Sade spent his last years writing plays for them to perform. If you think that this sounds a little too bizarre to be an enjoyable movie, you’re half right. To be exact, it’s much too bizarre. 

 It is set on July 13, 1808 at the Charenton Insane Asylum just outside Paris. The inmates of the asylum are mounting their latest theatrical production, written and produced by probably the most famous inmate of the facility, the Marquis de Sade. The asylum’s director, M. Coulmier, a supporter of the current French regime led by Napoleon, encourages this artistic expression as therapy for the inmates, while providing the audience – the aristocracy – a sense that they are being progressive in inmate treatments. Coulmier as the master of ceremonies, his wife and daughter in special places of honor, and the cast, all of whom are performing the play in the asylum’s bathhouse, are separated from the audience by prison bars. The play is a retelling of a period in the French Revolution culminating with the assassination exactly fifteen years earlier of revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat by peasant girl, Charlotte Corday. The play is to answer whether Marat was a friend or foe to the people of France. 

Peter Brook is one of the world’s most famous stage directors. He and experimental theater go hand in hand. “Marat/Sade” is adapted from Brook’s own Royal Shakespeare Company production of Peter Weiss’ play. He used the Shakespeare Company for the movie, creating a daring and almost entirely successful film that makes the audience think and take sides. 

marat2

 In an attempt at therapy, the Marquis de Sade has written and directed a play that proceeds as well as one would imagine, considering the main actress (Glenda Jackson) is a narcoleptic manic-depressive, and one of the main actors is a serial rapist. Slowly but surely, the production begins to unravel, and the inmates become harder to control. And through the production, various inmates spout out different philosophies, while the head of the asylum speaks for the Napoleonic government of the time. 

This capsule summary doesn’t do justice to this film; Peter Brook’s direction, the makeup, and the acting all defy words. Brook contrasts extreme close-ups with wide long shots to suggest that the viewer is seeing a play. However, the contrast actually works in creating a palpable tension that doesn’t let up until the final explosive moments. The makeup, suggesting not only the sickness of the inmates, but also some of the crueler tortures that passed for therapy at the time heightens the sense of unease. Most of the actors have very few lines, so they allow the makeup and their general stance to suggest their own particular mental illness. The result is that the individual characters come together to become a dangerous mass, with each individual giving a particular shading to the larger whole. 

 Of course, the leads have more than their fair share of lines. Patrick Magee is the true standout as De Sade and is eminently more expressive and restrained here, in a role that is generally known for its wild theatrics. Magee has  crafted the Marquis into a much more human and believable character. And the look of regret ever present on Magee’s face multiplies the resonance of the. Ian Richardson ably holds up his end of the film as Jean-Paul Marat, the French revolutionary leader. Richardson’s role is less articulate than Magee’s, but what he lacks in dialogue he more than makes up for in sheer misery. Marat was a leader of strong ideals who was constantly betrayed by the ravenous actions of the French mob, who had no real plan, as well as later bloodthirsty revolutionary leaders like Robespierre. He also had a skin disease that was rather unsightly. Richardson wears his emotions on his sleeve (as well as some gruesome makeup on his body), and plays most of the film with a haunting gaze that is truly chilling. 

 The only real problem is that it tends to become overly talkative. Now, realizing that even within the film we’re supposed to be watching a play, most of the action will be symbolized, and Brook employs various devices to suggest different actions, and most to good effect. But this is a movie about a play about the French Revolution, so the endless talking makes it drag at times. Luckily, there are some good songs that are lively and pick things up. On the whole I’d have shaved off five to ten minutes, and then there would be no need to complain. As it is, Marat/Sade is more than worth watching, regardless of the few extra dragging minutes.

 The play is vexing and difficult, lacking entirely in the conventional kind of plot and suspense. Because of its peculiar structure, it made us aware at all times of the gap between the stage and reality.

At one level, the inmates of the asylum at Charenton were performing a play about the assassination of the French revolutionary figure, Marat. At the next level, we knew that the play was being directed by one of the inmates, the Marquis de Sade, for an audience of powdered and wigged members of Napoleon’s court.

At the third level was the tension during the production. Would the inmates, constantly distracted from the play by their various forms of insanity, be able to finish? Would they riot first? Would the director permit the Marquis’ subversive play to continue even if they did not?

There was the dramatic situation itself to deal with. Here was a play ostensibly being performed in 1808 by madmen, before an audience of reactionaries, 15 years after the revolution had died. Why should this situation be thought relevant to us in the middle of the 20th Century?!

Brooks made a motion picture about a production of the play. He retained the original script, unaltered so far as I could tell. He used most of the members of  the original company in their original roles. He more or less reproduced the large communal cell of the stage production. Beyond the bars he placed an audience, which we see only in silhouette. He made one wall of the cell uniformly bright, supplying all the light for the filming.

And then, to what was still essentially a stage play, he added the techniques of cinema. The one power that a film director has, and a stage director does not, is the power to force us to see what he wants us to see. In the theater, we can look anywhere on the stage. But in the movies the camera becomes our eye and the director looks for us.

Brook has taken an important play, made it more immediate and powerful than it was on the stage, and at the same time created a distinguished and brilliant film. (The film was made in 1967).

“Bound for Trouble: BDSM Erotica For Women” edited by Alison Tyler— A Bondage-Themed Anthology

bound for troubleTyler, Alison (editor). “Bound for Trouble: BDSM Erotica For Women”, Cleis Press, 2014.

A Bondage-Themed Anthology

Amos Lassen

Alison Tyler knows her bondage and she shows us just how much with her tenth anthology. I understand that she has been collecting BDSM stories for years and she has shared them with us. There is something about pain-tinged stories that send shivers up our spines. I have never been sure if that is because we might want to try it but are apprehensive to do so or because we really love that kind of sex.

We have here 23 stories by such writers as Tasmin Flowers*, Sophia Valenti*, Annabeth Leong*, Teresa Noelle Roberts, Heidi Champa*, Amy Dillon, Graydancer, Saskia Walker, Kiki DeLovely, Beatrix Ellroy, Benjamin Eliot, D.L. King*, Vida Bailey, Tilly Hunter, Kristi Lin Billuni, Kathleen Tudor, K. Lynn*, Rachel Kramer Bussel*, Giselle Renarde, Laila Blake, Sommer Marsden*, Andrea Dale*, and Alison Tyler*, herself. (Those marked with an asterisk have been reviewed here before but you will notice that the majority are new writers—to me, at least). Each writer here deals with a different aspect of bondage and there are male and female doms and subs. What all of the characters share is an addiction to BDSM.

This is a hot and fun read and it is also very real—perhaps not in our lives but in the lives of others. I always find it interesting to see how far we have come and you are sure to see that here.

“Rookies: Gay Erotic Cop Stories” edited by Shane Allison— Sleazy and Sexy in Blue

rookies

Allison, Shane (editor). “Rookies: Gay Erotic Cop Stories”, Cleis Press, 2014.

Sleazy and Sexy in Blue

Amos Lassen

There is something about a uniform that is a turn on for many and a police uniform even more so because it means playing with the forbidden. Shane Allison has always been my man to go to for erotica and once again he gives us a hot and steamy read—well actually he gives us 17 hot and steamy reads in his new edited anthology about the men in blue. Many of us are charmed by newbie’s—the innocence is always a challenge and when that newbie is a rookie cop, as you imagine, it is that much hotter. To quote Allison:

“Rookie cops are irresistible — wet behind the ears, still a little innocent, and oh-so eager! These hot young cops are fresh out of the police academy and ready to learn the ropes. Between the buzz cut and chiseled jaw, those bulging thighs under tight blue serge, and the cool mirrored glasses that reflect unbridled lust in the eyes (and other body parts), they are the sexiest thing on wheels. Maybe it’s the promise of punishment at the end of a nightstick or perhaps it’s the sheer pleasure of transgression, of getting down and dirty with a man who’s supposed to enforce the law but seems more interested in the perp than in his crime”. He says it so much better than I can. With stories from Rob Rosen*, Johnny Murdoc, Bearnmuffin*, Gavin Atlas*, Logan Zachary*, Gregory L. Norris, Eric Del Carlo, d. Fostalove, Salome Wilde*, Martha Davis, Andy McGregor, T. Hitman*, Michael Bracken, D.K. Jernigan, Landon Dixon, K. Vale, Max Vos and Allison, himself, we see a variety of accomplished writes and new ones (new for me, at least). (I have reviewed those names with asterisks in the past).

Men in uniforms gain iconic status among gay men and here we get to see “the sexier, sleazier side of these masculine icons and working-class heroes from park rangers and policemen to MPs, security guards, and private dicks”.

We have stories about being busted (and busted again), campus police and so on and what all the stories have in common is hot sex and hot men. There is a little something for everyone hear but let me suggest you have a towel next as you read—to mop up the sweat from the heat of the stories, of course. I have said it before and many times but I feel compelled to add that Shane Allison has done it yet again.

“GREASEPAINT”— The Art of the Clown

greasepaint

“GreasePaint”

The Art of the Clown

Amos Lassen

Joey Thurmond is a clown along with the rest of his family. In this documentary we are with Joey as he travels America performing as a clown. We immediately sense his love for the art of clowning and he is always ready to show others the human side of his profession. Unfortunately the art of the clown is a dying institution.

Even though Joey is the focus of this film, we meet other circus performers who speak about the positive and negative ways people feel about clowns. Joey shares with us how he is able to maintain a family life at the same time he works as a clown and we become very aware of his passion for what he does—so much so that has put his life savings and police pension into his ultimate passion.  He has even gone as far as updating his show to make it relevant to day but the problem that he faces is that he and his family never know, in advance, if they will be able to make it another year. Jamie, his wife, is the money manager and she works hard to see that the family is financially solvent. Tyler, Joey’s son, is in the midst of deciding whether to continue on his father’s footsteps or to begin a new career. So we spend a little time with clowns here and we see how taxing traveling all year can be.

Hernan Colonia has joined the family and is adjusting to a new country and dealing with immigration at the same time. We get to see and hear the stories of others in the circus milieu and spend time listening to how Joey moved from professional wrestling to law enforcement to becoming a clown. This is a story about humanity and familial love.

Director Daniel Espeut takes us through the life of a first generation family of clowns and in the process we get a taste of the history of clowns. I was surprised to learn about the sociological and psychological aspects of being a clown. Joey founded the Nojoe Clown Circus and we become privy to some of the special treats found there. He has also founded the Nojoe Foundation that raises money to support seriously injured children and other charitable organizations.

Espeut and Joey met when the circus hired him to make a promotional film and the two men became fast friends—this is a product of that friendship. I certainly was taken back to my childhood with the film and as I watched I remembered the times my father and I, the two males in the family, would go to the circus together every year. This was he one time that was ours and we both looked forward to it. I never would have thoughts that clowns were so human had I not seen this film and I must say that “Clowning is no easy business”.