Bareback Mountain

Two new DVDs travel the rough terrain of porn and online sex.

By Leo Charney
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 18, 2006

Share this Story:

Out of tush: Cycles of Porn reveals a world far removed from the mainstream.

Cycles of Porn: Sex/Life in L.A. 2

You'll Like Them If You Like: Movies about the gay porn industry, online cruising, gay identity/sexuality.

"Porn can only take you so far," says one of the charming guys in Cycles of Porn: Sex/Life in L.A. 2, a documentary about gay porn workers in L.A. "You are not going to become a millionaire doing porn. Everybody thinks the porn industry is glamorous. It's not."

That pretty much sums up this movie, which makes clear that it may be sex work, but it's still work.

"There's nothing erotic about it anymore," one of the porn studs laments. "The actual work-no, it's not any fun." A number of the sex performers insist it's all an act, and that in real life they're not even that sexual.

In the best sequence, an aging bareback porn actor struggles to come during a shoot and can't make it happen. He returns another day, sure of his spurtability. Still nothing. So he talks dirty to the camera and excitedly calls everyone over when he's got pre-come so they can start, um, shooting. Meanwhile, a guy nonchalantly lays tile on the patio.

Directed by German Jochen Hick, following up his 1998 Sex/Life in L.A., the film tracks two sides of the porn spectrum: three guys who are aging and getting out of the business, and six younger guys who are living in a camera-filled house where they chat naked with online strangers and have sex on camera.

The porn housemates start out dewy and naive: "It's fun-in its own way," says the resident intellectual. "And it gives me enough time so I can work on my writing." Then he gets fired.

These guys quickly learn their invisible audience is brutally demanding-even more so when the house switches to a Survivor format in which one person gets voted out each week. Exiled from rent-free paradise, they become more embittered than reflective.

In that way, they're unlike three of the stars of Hick's earlier movie (porn actors Matt Bradshaw, Kevin Kramer and Cole Tucker) whose stories are updated in this film. Tucker, now a Palm Springs real estate agent, is at peace with the mothballing of his porn persona. But Bradshaw embarrassingly moves in with his mom, who chooses to stay fairly clueless about her son's work and sex life, while Kramer still looks for love with a diva's spoiled attitude.

The movie's organization is pretty random, yet Hick builds a poignant portrait of lost souls who are sharp enough to know porn won't save them yet secretly believe it will anyway. "The way I see it is," says one of the housemates before he's booted out for not doing what Internet chatters demand of him, "I'm going to be the person to break those boundaries." Equally downbeat is the documentary Hooked, which centers on the perils and pleasures of hooking up online. "You know how they're always talking about the information superhighway?" says one interview subject. "Well, this is it. No one can see you. No one can hear you. No one can touch you."

So is that good or bad? Filmmaker Todd Ahlberg interviews lots of regular guys across the country, from an admirably wide range of ages and locations, and they don't come up with a clear answer. This approach gives the movie the sober, balanced perspective of a TV newsmagazine, but it's also dramatically frustrating.

On the one hand, online cruising makes the Internet a great vehicle for coming out and sexual exploration. "I felt like someone had given me a ticket on a moon shuttle," says one man.

Another echoes, "It gave me a community, it gave me friends, and it gave me a peer group."

Insists a third man: "I'd probably still be a virgin if I didn't have the computer."

Yet these men also see that treating sex "like a catalog" has its downside: "Because it's so easy ... we may never look for the real things and it might create a very unhappy bunch of people." Several men recognize that online cruising, like gambling and other addictions, may fill a void for "something that's missing that I'm constantly searching for."

The candor of these men is impressive, but Hooked doesn't add up to much we don't already know. The title's triple meaning is about as clever as it gets. The movie's emblematic last words are "I don't know"-an admirable level of ambiguity, but not very satisfying narratively.

9 Songs

Page: 1 2 |Next
Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend



(HTML and URLs prohibited)