“WHERE THE BEARS ARE”— Season 3, The Bears Are Back

“Where The Bears Are”

Season 3– The Hairy Boys Are Back

where-the-bears-are-s3-ep1In the last couple of years the web series Where The Bear Are has gained a lot of fans who appreciate the show’s appreciation of the type of men who normally get pushed to one side in our young, skinny, twink-obsessed world.

Now it returns with the first episode of Season 3, which once more showcases the larger, more hirsute gentlemen from the offset – and the episode also has the added treat of a guest appearance from Drew Droege.

Season 3 follows the exploits of three gay bear roommates living together in Los Angeles, as they attempt to solve a string of murders involving young porn studio models. The season consists of 22 seven-minute episodes, with new episodes posted every Monday and Thursday. Season 3 is a romp through L.A.’s trendy neighborhood of Silver Lake, and eventually reaches its climax in the first-class cabin of a jumbo jet.

“Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent” edited by Thomas H. Wirth— Writer, Painter, Illustrator and Popular Bohemian

gay rebel

Nugent, Richard Bruce. “Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent”, edited by Thomas H. Wirth, Duke University Press Books , 2002.

Writer, Painter, Illustrator and Popular Bohemian

Amos Lassen


Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987) was a writer, painter, illustrator, and popular bohemian personality who lived at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. He was a protégé of Alain Locke, roommate of Wallace Thurman, and friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. For many years he was the only African-American writer willing to clearly pronounce his homosexuality in print. His contribution to the landmark publication FIRE!!, “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” was unprecedented in its celebration of same-sex desire. A resident of the notorious “Niggeratti Manor,” Nugent also appeared on Broadway in Porgy (the 1927 play) and Run, Little Chillun (1933)

Thomas H. Wirth was a close friend of Nugent’s during the last years of his life and has assembled a selection of Nugent’s most important writings, paintings, and drawings—works mostly unpublished or scattered in rare and obscure publications and collected here for the first time. Wirth includes his own introduction providing biographical information about Nugent’s life and situating his art in relation to the visual and literary currents that influenced him. There is also a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. emphasizes the importance of Nugent for African American history and culture.

The book brings biography and works together. It is divided into five sections and emphasizes Nugent’s fictional and non-fictional work. The historical introduction gives us all the information we need to know about Nugent and the time in which he lived and the entire book is a who was who during the Harlem Renaissance.

Nugent’s writings cover a span of 50 years but the majority were written in the 1930s. The book is over 300 pages long and offers a comprehensive and compelling look at Nugent (1906-1987). In his foreword Gates writes that Nugent was “boldly and proudly gay” and that he “linked the black world of the Harlem Renaissance with the gay world of bohemian New York.”

Wirth’s fascinating 61-page introduction is full of photos and illustrations. Wirth looks at Nugent’s life and work and covers topics such as Nugent’s relationships to other Harlem Renaissance figures and his involvement with the periodical “Fire!!”.

A note to the reader tell us that the book includes previously unpublished work taken directly from manuscript. Overall there is a rich selection of material. Among the pieces included in this book are the short story “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” an oft-reprinted piece described as “Nugent’s most important work”; poems; an essay entitled “On Harlem” which was written for the Federal Writers’ Project in the late 1930s; excerpts from an unpublished novel; and more. There are also many reproductions (both color and black-and-white) of Nugent’s artwork.

This is a wonderful contribution to both African-American studies and gay studies as well as a moving tribute to a major cultural figure that has been overlooked for too long.


“Cage James” by Ryan Field— Ryan Field Recycled

cage james

Field, Ryan. “Cage James”, Ryan Field Press, 2014.

 Ryan Field Recycled

Amos Lassen

Cage James is a stripper who needs money to pay back the loan sharks he has dealt with or he will find himself in serious trouble. However he knows that the chances of him ever getting that kind of money are slim unless he follows his plan that should provide enough money so that he will never have to work again. The first thing that he has to do is to staff those he owes. His plan is to find and marry a kinky and gay young billionaire and then find out where he keeps his money. (Sounds original—like hell!!). The problem is that Cage has actually fallen in love with one of the loan sharks (Give me a break!!). This has caused him to lose control and then have to deal with a situation unlike anything in his life.

Writer Ryan Field says that he decided to write this book because, “It’s a little different from what I normally do and it has a few of the quirky aspects that I used to add all the time to short stories I wrote for LGBT presses. For one thing, I think there is a happy ending depending on how you look at it. For another, I think there are a few topics in this story that haven’t been mentioned in other m/m novels. I also get into gay marriage in a very different way this time. It’s not the typical happy courtship promoting assimilation, but it is a reality in real gay life that happens with many men, especially where one is very wealthy and one has nothing at all”. I don’t know what he reads but not the same books that I do and not even his own books because he has told the same story many times but other different names and it none of the times has the theme succeeded in capturing an audience. He goes on to say, “Though I’m not trying to make any political or social statements with this book, I do think the topic of gay hustlers marrying for money is relevant and common in some circles. I also wanted to break the stereotype that this sort of thing only happens with older gay men and younger gay men. The two characters in this story are both around the same age”.  Does any of this say anything of value or is it just the ramblings of a hack writer? I do like the cover, however.


Peter de Rome in London

“Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn”

A New Documentary

Amos Lassen

Peter de Rome is an early gay pornographer—he began by making short films in the 1960s and he basically made them for his new use and satisfaction. He would also show them to his friends. One of his early films, “Hot Pants” one first place at the Amsterdam Wet Dream Festival and this brought him interest but it was really not until 1973 when producer Jack Deveau put some of his short films together and added a couple of other shorts that people came to know De Rome’s work. Then a year later, in 1974, De Rome made his first feature length film, “Adam and Yves” and this was later followed in 1976 by “The Destroying Angel”, De Rome’s attempt at gay horror.

We see here that De Rome began filming gay porn when homosexuality was outlawed in America. He chose to show the gay experience in sexually erotic and poetic vignettes at a time when only a few colors would dare to do the same. Because he dared, he opened yet another closet door in the gay community. De Rome himself was nothing special to look at. He was a little Englishman who wore glasses yet he was admired by some of the best in the world—Sir John Gielgud and Andy Warhol, to name just two. From his hobby of shooting gay men having sex, De Rome was one of those responsible for the advent of gay porn. Now all of us can learn about him in Ethan Reid’s new documentary,eH

 “Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn”.  Here we see and hear De Rome (who died last summer right before his 90th birthday) talk about himself and his career and I tell you that it is thrilling. He was a man of many stories and they are delightful.

We learn here that what makes sex so erotic is the visual and literary treatment of it. De Rome compares pornography to vulgarity when he says, “Pornography is to eroticism as vulgarity is to wit. Eroticism is to arousal as pornography is to performance. Sex has such an enormous affinity to fantasy and is largely comprised of it, that arousal before the act can be all-important, sometimes even more exciting than the act itself. I know I’ve been labeled the grandfather of porn. I’d rather preferred the granddaddy of porn but I had no say in that”.

Peter de Rome’s films are full of fun, beauty and titillation – and made in a time when homosexuality was illegal. He describes sex as a beautiful watercolor and he maintains that his films showed both the beauty and the eroticism of sex. He insisted that his sex scenes be titillating. I repeat once again that he made his films at a time when being gay was illegal yet he showed men having sex and loving each other. He was ahead of his time and I believe that if he were still alive, he would be still ahead of his time now.

The new documentary explores both De Rome’s work and his life and when we see him here at 90, it is hard to imagine this gentle cute old man making such wild and erotic films. His actors in some cases were sailors that he met on the street. And it is truly difficult to imagine this “distinguished, very English and well mannered almost beyond belief” whose “words are peppered with humor and naughtiness” directing gay porn films. He “speaks with a fluidity that can only come with being totally at ease with himself. He describes New York in the 1960s and 70s with the same misty-eyed nostalgia as others who were there, but it somehow sounds realer told by him”.

The documentary includes clips from his films, of which there are many, and they are quite explicit but they do add to the film. It is sad to say that De Rome died recently but in the film he seems very much alive as others look back at his work as they explain how his hardcore films became appreciated as works of art.

peter de rome 1

De Rome was really discovered by a new generation after he had already retired from filmmaking. His movies were once considered dangerous as well as illegal and he risked arrest almost every time he picked up a camera. Yet he became the first erotic filmmaker to have his work preserved for posterity by the British Film Institute in his homeland’s national film archive.

In the film he tells his story and we see him in London, New York, Barcelona, Fire Island and Sandwich.  It took him a long time to be recognized and I am not sure that pornography is the correct word to describe his output. He had flair with a camera and he brought an artist’s sensibility to his work. He definitely had an eye for the surreal and the absurd. Just as he has created eroticism so has he created great beauty.

For most of his career, De Rome worked alone–writing, casting, shooting and editing those short films. He had his own vision and he pursued it  and now some of his films have become social documents of a time that was. We hear from former collaborators and some of those he has influenced such as Wakefield Poole, director of the breakthrough 1971 gay porn movie Boys in the Sand (He is receiving his own renewed interest with Jim Tushinski’s documentary on Wakefield).

De Rome states, “I am often accused that my films are made ‘purely for titillation.’ If by titillation we mean the pleasure of excitement that is exactly why they are made. I can think of no better reason”.

The film is simply shot but then it is difficult to deal with a talent as big as De Rome. He was a great filmmaker and an artist. I could go on and on but it is better if you see the film yourselves.

“Primary Stein Returning to the Writing of Gertrude Stein” edited by Janet Boyd and Sharon J. Kirsch— The Focus is on Stein’s Writing

primary stein

Boyd, Janet and Sharon J. Kirsch (editors). “Primary Stein Returning to the Writing of Gertrude Stein”,  Lexington, 2014.

The Focus is on Stein’s Writing

Amos Lassen

Gertrude Stein was many things—author, art collector, celebrity, lesbian cultural icon, Nazi collaborator. Of late scholarship has concentrated on her politics, her art collection and her friends and while these might make us appreciate Stein the woman, we do not hear about Stein the writer. It is her writing that remains secondary to Stein, the woman. “Primary Stein” shows us that there is still a lot of Stein to look at, writing-wise, and while some of it is well known, there is a lot that has not yet been published.

The essays included in this collection use both cultural and historical contexts to enrich and complicate how we might read, understand, and teach Stein’s writing. For those of you who are familiar with Stein’s writing you know that she is not the easiest writer to read and Stein, herself, was aware of this. She also tried to shift the focus from Stein, the person to Stein, the writer. The writers look back at a wide range of her texts, including novels, plays, lectures and poetry. Each essay uses Stein’s primary works as “its core interpretive focus, returning scholarly conversations to the challenges and pleasures of working with Stein’s texts”. We have needed a book like this for so long and I am quite sure it will stand as a primary source for reading Stein. “Her work is unlike any other writing—funny, challenging, almost physical in its rhythms, rhymes, and patterns of repetition, and it covers many genres and modes of writing”. Here is a look at when we have here in this volume:



Introduction. A Primer for Primary Stein

Sharon J. Kirsch and Janet Boyd

Chapter 1. Make It Plain: Stein and Toklas Publish the Plain Edition

Gabrielle Dean

Chapter 2. Woolfenstein, the Sequel

Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Chapter 3. “Come too”: 1920s Erotic Rights Discourse and Gertrude Stein’s “Patriarchal Poetry”

Jody Cardinal

Chapter 4. Long Dull Poems: Stein’s Stanzas in Meditation and Wordsworth’s The Prelude

Rebecca Ariel Porte

Chapter 5. tender buttons, notwithstanding

Neil Schmitz

Chapter 6. How to Read How to Write: Bothering with Gertrude Stein

Sharon J. Kirsch

Chapter 7. Framing Devices: Reading Background in the Sequence of Gertrude Stein’s Composition

Linda Voris

Chapter 8. Radio Free Stein: Rendering Queen and Country

Adam Frank

Chapter 9. “A Spare American Emotion”

E. L. McCallum

Chapter 10. “More light!—Electric Light.” Stein in Dialogue with the Romantic Paradigm in Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights

Sarah Posman

Chapter 11. Gertrude Stein’s Geographical History of Literature

Janet Boyd

Chapter 12. Modernist and Future Ex-Modernist: Postwar Stein

Kristin Bergen

Chapter 13. History, Narrative, and “Daily Living” in Wars I Have Seen

Phoebe Stein

Chapter 14. Mrs. Reynolds: Stein’s Anti-Nazi Novel

Steven Gould Axelrod

Appendix A: A Note on the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers in the Twenty-First Century

Nancy Kuhl

Appendix B: “The Gertrude Stein Collection” reprinted from The Yale Gazette 22.2 (October 1947)

Donald Gallup


Notes on contributors

The 30 LGBT Short Films Competing for the 2014 Iris Prize Festival August 11, 2014

The 30 LGBT Short Films Competing for the  2014 Iris Prize Festival 

boygame-iris-prizeThe always worthwhile Iris Prize Festival is coming on October 8th – 12th in Cardiff, Wales, and with only a couple of months until the parade of some of the best LGBT-themes short films line up to try to take home the illustrious prize, the 30 shorts that will be competing this year have been revealed.

The prize, supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation, is worth £25,000 prize and offers the winning filmmaker funding and support to make another movie. It continues to be the world’s largest international gay and lesbian short film prize.

A late night search for Viagra by two aging strangers for a one night stand is just one of the stories tackled by the finalists for the world’s largest short film award. The shortage of the desired blue pill turns out to be a blessing in disguise as the two strangers get a chance to exchange the pleasures of the flesh with the pleasures of the heart.

“Once again the shortlist for the Iris Prize represents the best of the best. Half of the short-listed films have been nominated by our partner festivals – film festivals from around the world that have their fingers on the pulse of upcoming gay and lesbian filmmaking talent. I’m confident that amongst this year’s shortlist of live action, documentaries and three animated films we have yet another winner deserving of the Iris Prize,” said Andrew Pierce, Festival Chair.

“It’s great to see films from all over the world represented in the shortlist with entries for the first time from Cambodia and Chile joining work from Canada, Germany, Brazil, Israel, Norway, Ireland, India, Sweden, Australia, US, Belgium, Portugal, and the UK all making it through to the final. The US has once again secured the largest number of films in competition with an impressive seven out of the final 30,” said Andrew.

The winner of the Iris Prize will be announced on Sunday 12th October 2014 during the Iris Awards hosted by Amy Lamé. This year, alongside the main Iris Prize, a new Best Of British award is being offered. You can find out more about the films up for than gong by clicking here.

The 30 films competing for the Iris Prize are:

Title Director Country
Aban + Korshid – Inspired by true events, Aban + Khorshid is an intimate portrait of two lovers, glimpsing into the world in which they met, moments before their execution for being gay. Darwin Serink USA
All God’s Children – Brothers Asher and Charlie have just lost their father, and their already fragile relationship undergoes a test of almost mythic proportions when one of them commits an act of mindless cruelty against an eel as retribution. Brendon McDonall Australia
Barrio Boy – Haircuts, hip-hop and homo-sex on the down-low Dennis Shinners USA
Black is Blue – Black Is Blue is a short narrative that tells the story of Black — an African American Trans man, who works as a security guard inside an apartment complex. Cheryl Dunye USA
Bombshell – A ten year-old tomboy must weigh her loyalty to her trusted older brother as she becomes complicit in a hate crime to win his affection Erin Sanger USA
Boygame – John and Nicholas are 15 years old and best friends. They are both very interested in girls but feel insecure when it comes to a first sexual encounter with a woman. That’s why they decide that they will get some ‘practice’ on each other Anna Osterlund Nolskog Sweden
Camouflage – During a military exercise in the woods two soldiers cover each other’s faces in camouflage paint. In a delicate situation, in which every trembling of the finger is perceivable, Max does everything to get his friend to confess. Stephan Kampf, Andreas Kessler Germany
Chaleur Human (Human Warmth) Christophe Predari Belgium
Cigano (Gypsy) – Sebastian is a wealthy young man. He finds out he has a flat tire and ends up accepting help from a Gypsy passer-by. David Bonneville Portugal
Das Phallometer – A refugee is taken into custody at an open border crossing. During the interrogation, he admits to being gay and is subjected to an absurd entry examination, a so-called phallometric test. The story is based on facts. Tor Iben Germany
Disaster Preparedness – A hurricane racing toward their apartment pulls a couple out of their comfort zone and drops them squarely at the crossroads of commitment, disaster, and the art of being prepared. Melissa Finell USA
Einfach – Simple – ‘I just want sex!’ says Tanja to Benjamin. Markus Wende Germany
End of Season Sale – Late at night two aging strangers fail to obtain Viagra for a one night stand. The shortage of the desired blue pill turns out to be a blessing in disguise as the two strangers get a chance to exchange the pleasures of the flesh with the pleasures of the heart. Eli Glazer Israel
FH2: Faghag2000 – FH2: Fahghag2000 is a twisted take on co-dependent relationships in the technological age. Best friends Toshie and Casey learn the true extent of their togetherness after Casey attempts to replace his friend with an android called the ‘Faghag2000’. Em LaGrutta Australia
Gleisdreieck – Hedda crosses the city. Petra wants to see a movie. Zazie cares the orchids. The three of them likes cherries. Maria Jose San Martin Chile
Greco – Roman – Told partly through the form of an interview, Greco-Roman tells the story of Casper, the school bully, whose dream is to become a wrestler, just like his father. But when he discovers his father’s secret, his notions of masculinity is thrown into violent disarray. Aleksander Godø Alnes Norway
I am Syd Stone – A Hollywood heartthrob returns home to rekindle an old closeted relationship. Denis Theriault Canada
I Love Hooligans – The world of a homosexual hooligan, his sexual orientation is a well-kept secret. The match against the archrival is the highlight of the year. All matches end and he has to go home, where no one is waiting. This man’s dream: “To die in the arms of my loved one.” Jan-Dirk Bouw The Netherlands
Lives Under The Red Light – Under the red light focuses on the lives of four persons who work as sex workers in Phnom Penh Vanna Hem Cambodia
Living In The Overlap – Living in the Overlap is the improbably true story of two girls growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s, falling in love in the Midwest, and making a life together in North Carolina. Cindy Hill, Mary Dolton USA
Middle Man – Davie is a new-start in a call centre for the deaf. When his bosses turn up for an inspection he struggles to remain professional as he gets caught up in a heated lovers’ tiff. Charlie Francis UK
Mitraa – Based on the story written by the renowned writer and novelist Vijay Tendulkar, Mitraa is a short film about a strong girl with a different sexual orientation. Set in mid 1940s, her behaviour and feelings are looked down upon as unnatural by the society around her. The film concludes with India finally gaining Independence, however the LGBT community is still struggling to find their space even after more than 60 years of a free India. Ravi Jadhav India
Novena – Novena is an award winning documentary capturing a rare moment when two people who are gay and lesbian, are invited to give a speech at a Catholic mass in Dundalk, Ireland. Anna Rodgers Ireland
O Nylon da Minha Aldeia (Tissues from the Village) – In an isolated village in the South, two characters seek to survive. Marcelo who is deeply in love with Sergio who cannot accept the possibility of his affection. Only at nightfall when the river waters are released and the two figures meet by chance, is when everything seems to change. Possidonio Cachapa Portugal
One More Night – We all have that one person that we can’t get over, can’t get out of our minds. If you could have one last night with them, would you? Jeff Woodward Canada
Remission – Two young men and a boy roam the overgrown English countryside, seeking to escape a deadly virus. The two men are forced to take a horrific decision after the boy’s behaviour puts them in increasing danger – but is it too late to cheat death? ‘Remission’ is a brooding fable exploring the paradoxes of sexuality and survival. Christopher Brown UK
Surprise – A mother and son confess their secrets to one another’s surprise Leslie Bumgarner USA
The Package (O Pacote) – In the outskirts of Sao Paulo, the young Leandro is a new student in a new school. In the classroom, he meets Jefferson who introduces him to his new group of friends. Rafael Aidar Brazil
The Usual – In a small country pub three Irish farmers are enjoying an afternoon’s drink, when an unusual stranger walks in. His curious behaviour entertains them for a while, but they won’t want someone like him hanging around their local for too long. Ruth McNally Ireland
Zebra – One day the zebra ran against a tree. Julia Ocker Germany


Porn or Art?

 ”The Erotic Films of Peter DeRome” is a collection of short films that were originally made to titillate and excite rather than just to expound the sort of po-faced deep or artistic ideas (although De Rome’s film’s certainly aren’t just about sex) that the BBFC normally looks for if it’s going to give real sex an 18 cert.  There’s no doubt that at the time they were made they would have been seen as straightforward porn, even if they were of a somewhat interesting, homemade and sometimes intelligent bent. However since then a lot of history has happened, so that these underground films, made between 1969 and 1972, are now both slightly arty porn and sociological documents on gay sexuality, made at a time when looks at gay life were almost unheard of, and when candid views on gay sex were still potentially illegal.

While the films of Kenneth Anger and Paul Morrissey are more obviously arty early looks at gay sexuality, in many respects the works of Peter De Rome are just as fascinating and insightful, plus they’re a bit of a turn-on too!

The main programme contains eight shorts, which were first collected together in 1973, not long after Deep Throat ushered in the brief period of porn chic in the US. The first is ‘Double Exposure’, which is essentially just a rather fun little exercise in telling a circular story, with a little nudity thrown in. Next up is ‘Hot Pants’, which sees a man dancing, gradually getting naked, getting hard and then cumming (while never touching himself), with the camera sticking to his crotch and never showing his face. It has verve and you can see why it helped De Rome get noticed, even if there’s not really a lot to it – we could argue it’s about the sexual aspect of dance, but who are we kidding?

Things move on to ‘The Second Coming’, which is certainly the most international and potentially controversial of the movies, featuring guys travelling around the world, almost travelogue fashion, before things get overtly arty when we suddenly come across a young men nailed to a cross, who gets an erection and cums. Just don’t tell any ridiculously Christian people about this short, or they’ll get very, very upset.

The next film is ‘Daydreams From A Crosstown Bus’, which as the title suggests is about a man who sees a hot young guy from a bus and fantasises about what they could do together – which as you may have guessed by now, includes plenty of hardcore sex (along with walking hand-in-hand and engaging in the kind of romance porn rarely indulges in – indeed it’s one of the most interesting things about De Rome’s films, that while they are about sex, they also have a strong sense of connection, love and romance).

‘Mumbo Jumbo’ is a playful piece, featuring art-pieces made by one of De Rome’s friends, along with adverts, visual jokes, naked guys posing and various other bit and pieces. It comes across as a rather kaleidoscopic look at gay life in the early 70s, which ends with an explosion of cum shots!

‘Green Shorts’ is slower and more contemplative, with a guy enjoying running around in some verdant foliage, before getting overexcited by a tree and dry-humping it (we’re not kidding). This leads him to find pretty much everything about Kew Gardens sexy, with his fondling of plants intercut with him fondling himself. Is nature really that sexy? I don’t know, but De Rome’s not the first to say so.

The short ‘Underground’, like many of De Rome’s films, starts out with something many will be able to relate to before taking it to fantasised extremes. In this case it’s two men eye-flirting on the Underground, which leads to them having full-on sex in a deserted carriage. The final film is ‘Prometheus’ (and no, Ridley Scott’s upcoming film isn’t a remake, just in case you were wondering) which sees a man ending up in a room where a slightly Jesus-looking figure magically ties him to the floor, before a series of guy to engage in S&M with the tied up guy and basically have an orgy around and on him. It’s difficult to know what to make of this last short, as while there is an element of fantasy there’s also a disquieting suggestion of lack of consent.

The disc includes a few other De Rome shorts that weren’t in the original collection, including ‘Scopo’, which sees a peeping tom spying on someone having a wank; ‘Moulage’, which shows how someone can create a plaster cast of an erection; ‘Brown Study’, which is largely about the director’s fascination with and attraction to black men (it’s an interesting film if not necessarily politically correct); and ‘The Fire Island Kids’, which is a rather sweet tale of romance, connection and sex between two hot young guys on Fire Island in the days before it became a Gay mecca. There’s also ‘Abracadaver’, a rather cheesy horror short made relatively recently that features De Rome in an acting role rather being directed by him.

Also definitely worth watching is ‘Fragments: The Incomplete Films Of Peter De Rome’. While the title suggests it’ll just be about some of his other shorts, it’s actually a more rounded documentary looking at the now elderly director and allowing him to discuss how he got his start, why he made the films – which were essentially just fun little pieces of erotica he made for himself and his friends – and why he stopped (perhaps unsurprisingly the AIDS epidemic had a profound effect). It’s a fascinating film in which De Rome seems to both love and somewhat reject the title others have given him of the ‘Grandfather Of Gay Porn’, while enjoying a rather unexpected role as an elder statesman of the gay scene.

While you can debate the artistic merit of De Rome’s films, they certainly make you think a lot more than most things that even their creator describes as porn. Nowadays they’re probably most interesting as rare, candid documents on gay life back in the late 60s and 70s. It’s unusual to see something that’s so upfront about gay love and sex, especially made at a time when the idea of two men together was still anathema to most people, and the thought that homosexulaity was about more than just sex was almost impossible for many to comprehend.

The films are also still pretty sexy, and while we’re used to putting our thinking hats on for the types of films the BFI releases, here you can think and also get turned on at the same time. I certainly think The Erotic Films Of Peter De Rome may have set a record for the greatest amount of cumshots on one disc that’s been rated 18 (rather than the sex-shop-only R18) by the BBFC!

Most of the shorts have been given a new score, as the original music choice was either not available or too expensive, with Augustin Bousfield providing fresh music that fits with the original ideas, while giving its own feel to the pieces. And as these were cheaply done 16mm, homemade efforts, there’s no dialogue at all, with ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ the only short with any spoken words, in this case a voiceover.

Overall Verdict: If you’re interested in the broad, grey area where art and porn meet – and whether something can be both – these shorts are fascinating, and also provide a rare glimpse into gay romance, intimacy and sex at a time when these things were hardly ever depicted on screen, especially with such casual eroticism.

 Special Features:  ‘Fragment: The Incomplete Films Of Peter De Rome’ Documentary,  ‘Scopo’ Short Film,  ‘The Fire Island Kids’ Short Film,  ‘Moulage’ Short Film,  ‘Brown Study’ Short Film, ‘Abracadaver’ Short Film.


“I Am Happiness On Earth”

Another Look 



The run of gay-themed films involving dancers as major characters (such as Test and Five Dances) continues with the Mexican drama I Am Happiness On Earth. The film comes from director Julian Hernandez, who found acclaim with earlier queer cinema arthouse faces such as Broken Sky (2006) and Raging Sun Raging Sky (2009). His new movie doesn’t veer off too far thematically from his earlier work, but once more offers an intense, erotically charged look at love and sex.

The movie takes us into the life of filmmaker Emiliano, who is capturing the bodies and expressions of some dancers. However his interest in the project seems less in the female dancer at the centre of the film and more in the sexy, young male dancers he can’t help looking at.

Emiliano begins a charged relationship with Octavio, which initially seems to be a good match for both. However the taciturn Emiliano is constantly looking for the next experience – whether through sex or mind-altering substances – and seems afraid that familiarity will inevitably become monotony, and so he encourages Octavio to allow him to bring rent boys into their bedroom, while also having other sexual experiences on the side.

The film initially follows the fallout of this from Octavio’s side, before jumping back slightly and showing us Emiliano’s life, and how his constant sense of dissatisfaction is affected both by his relationship with Octavio and his dalliance with a young rent boy who he initially tries to impress with him directing credentials but who refuses to merely be the willing acolyte the director may want.

Despite its title, I Am Happiness On Earth isn’t exactly a jolly film. It’s the type of movie that sometimes difficult and a little frustrating. Even it seems to realise it could be accused of pretentiousness, as it includes a scene where Emiliano defends the arthouse films he makes and essentially blames the audience if they’re not prepared to accept them. There are undoubtedly moments when the film is far too pleased with itself – and this isn’t the audience’s problems, it’s that the director’s self-justification threatens to tip into self-importance.

That said, ‘verbosity’ is not the word you might first think of while watching the movie, as there isn’t a huge amount of dialogue – it’s just that the film has more issues when it is literally speaking than when it isn’t. Instead it’s more interested in thought, feeling and the effect of small actions, where the aesthetic is more important that what the people are saying. Luckily, while Hernandez does often seem a little too self-regarding (particularly as Emiliano often seems like a cipher that’s supposed to allow the director complete introspection, but is too often used to deflect criticism), he also has an immense talent for mood and style.

This allows I Am Happiness Of Earth to be incredibly sensual and erotic, with its use of sex and the male body to create something that is sexy and edgy, pulling you in by using the prurient to explore the characters and their situation. It could easily have come across as base and pandering to a gay audience, but it never does, with the movie treating the passion and hurt of sexual desire in the same way as it does the filming of the dancers.

It’s impressively affecting, so that even while pretention flits across the surface there’s a tension, sensuality and struggle that holds you. It’s very good at bringing the viewer into the intimacy and conflicted emotion of interpersonal relationships, even if it’s less certain what to say about them on an intellectual level.

Overall Verdict: I Am Happiness On Earth may not be perfect, but on an emotional and sexual level it’s a lyrical, erotic and highly affecting movie that captures the internal conflict of sexuality even if it does flirt the edges of pretension to get there.

“Rest Home Runaways” by Clifford Henderson— Taking Care of Dad

rest home runaways

Henderson, Clifford. “Rest Home Runaways”, Bold Strokes Books, 2014.

Taking Care of Dad

Amos Lassen

Morgan Ronzio’s hands are full with the trouble in her marriage and she certainly was not expecting a call telling her that her father, Mac, 86 and half-blind, escaped the rest home where he was living and stole a car. Just as he is alerting her wife, Treat, she learns that three 80 something females have taken the rest home’s van and are off to rescue Mac. However Morgan knows something that no one else does and that is that her father is listening to instructions from his dead wife’s ghost. He had promised her that before she died. Morgan, needless to say, is quite worried and starts out toward Santa Cruz in the hopes of finding Mac before he gets hurt or even worse than that.

While this may sound like a comedy, it is filled with emotion. Mac is really a helluva guy and it is very hard not to like him. He loves his daughter but he has not been the best father he could be and knows that he has trouble letting others know how he feels about them except for his dead wife.

Morgan was not the easiest daughter in the world. She appears to be preoccupied with herself and her weight problem and she tends to avoid important issues and does not seem to have much respect for herself. Eventually she comes around but it took a crisis.

Then there is Cora who can tell stories about her life at the drop of a pin. Yes, Cora is concerned about Mac and goes off looking for him with friends from the rest home.

We see that we have three distinct groupings of people: Mac, a group of one, is the past—he lives there and spends time speaking to his dead wife as if she were still alive. Cora and friends represent the present and they live each day as it comes while Morgan represents the future—she is more worried about the tension in her marriage than she is about the fate of her father. When these groups come together we get quite a read. I have worked with elders and pretty much understand how they think so this book spoke to me and I think it will to everyone regardless of age.

“THE LAST STRAIGHT MAN”— A 12 Year Long One Night Stand

the last straight man

“The Last Straight Man”

A 12 Year Long One Night Stand

Amos Lassen

“The Last Straight Man” is going to be one of the movies of the year, I predict. Director Mark Bessenger (“Bite Marks”) sent me at advance copy and I watched it last night. It has been on my mind ever since. Evidently I am not alone in praising the film because this morning 8/10/14 it won the Alternative Spirit Award Grand Prize at the Rhode Island International Film Festival! This the first year they’ve split the features away from the shorts, into separate categories.

last 1

Now this is going to be a bit difficult to describe the film without giving something away but I will say that this is a movie filled with surprises. It is all about a one-night stand that lasts for 12 years. I must admit that after the first few minutes of the film I thought I had it all figured out but to my chagrin it took a totally different direction than what I expected.
The film opens at Cooper’s bachelor party and we see some exotic dancing from a hired female stripper but we also notice that one of the party guests does not get involved. Moving a bit forward we are in Lewis’s (Mark Cirillo) hotel suite and with Lewis (the one who did not get involved with the lap dancing) and Cooper (Scott Sell). They are talking about life will be different once Coop gets married and he talks Lewis into having a couple of tequila shots and playing the game, “Three Questions” which is important because we will see it recur later.


In the course of the evening Lewis comes out as bisexual and he does so in the answer to one of the three questions. One thing leads to another and adding alcohol, the new men exchange oral sex. According to Cooper this will never happen again yet it does every year on the same date for the next eleven years. Over the course of twelve years, we see four additional nights that depict how the two men grow and how their friendship changes as they mature and age—Coop becomes a father, Lewis remains a loner and so on. There are certain rules to their meetings—booze, cigars, condoms and lube and eventually Lewis moves from bottom to top Cooper who never admits to being gay. He is a married man but we hear very little about the wife and I had the feeling that the reason that Coop married her was because of societal expectations.


We see a total of five nights (including the first) that the two men spend together and how their relationship changes. Sexuality is a complex subject and in this film you see how much that is true. It is also of the few films in which the leads begin as bisexuals yet we only see them act on their gay desires. In fact, when we first meet Lewis and Coop they are both closeted—Lewis has at least acted on his desire but Coop will act the first time with his best friend.

The two men decide to meet secretly in the same hotel and on the same night with the pretext of catching up with their lives but they actually further explore their sexual desires.  We see the changes in friendship and relationship over the passage of twelve years.


I really believe that this will be one of the films of this year if not the one that is most talked about. Everything about it is wonderful from the actors to the situations and if any of you have lusted after someone you will find yourself here. Bessenger has made yet another film of which he can be proud and we can be entertained and left with something to think about. I rarely rave about a film but this one is really one to rave about.