“Porn Diaries” by Bruce LaBruce and edited by Marco Siedelmann— Ahead of his Time

LaBruce, Bruce. “Porn Diaries: How to Succeed in Hardcore Without Really Trying”, (edited by Marco Siedelmann), Editions Moustache, 2016.

Ahead of His Time

Amos Lassen

I am a total Bruce LaBruce fan and I doubt I will ever forget my reaction to the first of his movies that I saw way back when. I was completely engrossed in the honest way he showed gay life and while his films might be considered outlandish and over the top by some, I will always argue for the merit I see in them. LaBruce has dared to go where others will not consider and while there are those who see pornography here, there are also those of us who see beauty. Known as The Advocate for Fagdom, there seem to be no boundaries and LaBruce constantly pushes our buttons allowing us to see a side of gay life that we do not often see on screen. LaBruce is one of the main people in the New Queer Cinema, a group of filmmakers that do not shy away from the reality of life.

LaBruce began his career in Toronto in the 1980s with queer punk fanzines and Super 8 short films, eventually moving into the international independent movie scene, LaBruce was already writing and taking photographs. He wrote for established gay magazines such as “Honcho” and “Inches” and also often supplied them with photographs. This book is the first time that we have his collected thoughts that includes his very “thought-provoking, political, opinionated and cleverly-pointed articles about pornography”.  The book is loaded with photographs and includes a conversation between LaBruce and gay porn legend Peter Berlin as well as numerous essays, articles, stories, and three shooting diaries, for “Skin Flick”, “The Raspberry Reich” and “L.A. Zombie”.

LaBruce tells us that he never had the intention of being a pornographer, “I considered my early Super 8 short films and my first three feature films as art films with sexually explicit content; but as I gained a reputation as a pornographer, as did my producer Jurgen Brüning, we decided to start making ‘real’ porn…. I started making narrative, art films with porn actors and making two versions; softcore and hardcore,” and there are two versions each of “Skin Flick”, “L.A. Zombie”, and “The Raspberry Reich”.

LaBruce describes how porn actors struggle with scripts and we learn that LaBruce is like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain… he pulls it back to reveal the reality of porn filmmaking. He shares that he likes to push the boundary and try to make porn as much like a narrative feature as possible.

LaBruce also shares some of the challenges of indie filmmaking and these include patience, hard work and endless tweaking. “I have a strange drive that compels me to make films, even though I find it enormously challenging; if I don’t make a feature after a certain period of time, I start to get depressed and anxious.” He loves the feedback he gets from people especially those who tell me him how his films have influenced or inspired them. LaBruce sees porn as an unconscious acting out that goes against the regulations of society. The free love that we see in his films ties into LaBruce’s own personal philosophy of love. He is “militantly anti-monogamy” and is in an open marriage because he says that falls in love with other people all the time.

This book provides context to his work in a conversational manner, making the reader feel as though he is actually having a conversation with LaBruce. I can vouch for that having had a phone chat with him after he released “Gerontophilia”. In that chat, I realized how much I missed in the film and who could be better to tell me than the director and screenwriter (with Daniel Allen Cox) himself. I then re-watched the film and it was almost completely different.

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