Reviews: Disorientations.com is Travis Jeppesen – The Last Day
3. PORN FILM FESTIVAL BERLIN: The Last Day
The 3. Porn Film Festival Berlin reached its ecstatic climax last night with a screening of Claudette, winner of the Maleflixx.TV Award for Best Gay Film at this year’s festival – even though it’s not a gay film or even a pornographic film, but rather an intimate hour-long portrait of one of Switzerland’s leading sex work activists, who just happens to be a 69-year-old hermaphrodite prostitute named Claudette. Claudette herself was on hand to answer questions after the screening, and put everyone else to shame at the after party, getting down on the dance floor into the wee hours of the morning. I guess this is as good a demonstration as any of the fact that an active sex life keeps you healthy and fit, as Claudette tells a group of students in the film. The fact that she also happens to be a bike racing champion might also have something to do with this amazing lady’s enviable prowess.
I was also fortunate to catch Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon yesterday. In recent years, the porn star documentary has effectively become its own genre, as rigidly codified as pornography (or horror) itself. Wrangler is different because Jack Wrangler himself is (seemingly) such an anomaly. He was a pioneer who was able to enjoy his success and never became a victim of the industry that elevated him to superstardom. It’s nice to see a positive portrayal of a porn star for once.
Afterwards, I stayed to watch one of Wrangler’s best known features (from the first, gay part of his career), A Night at the Adonis. Filmed on location at the Adonis cinema in New York, the movie is a celebration of gay sexuality in its heyday. Watching the film in a movie theatre, at a film festival, in 2008, brought up a lot of interesting issues. The film is a porn movie about guys watching porn in a cinema and fucking to it. As audience members, are we supposed to watch this in a strictly “historical” context, ignoring the stimulating content or pretending that it doesn’t arouse us? Two guys in back of me seemed to answer this question as it popped into my brain. As far as I know, they were the only ones in the audience doing anything sexual as A Night at the Adonis played. Everyone knows that porn lost a lot in terms of quality in the transition from film to video to where we are today, and a lot of that has been blamed on technology. I agree to an extent, but watching A Night at the Adonis in the context of the Porn Film Festival made me realize another important fact that wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise: namely, that whereas porn films were once made to fuck to, now they are made for the purposes of masturbation. Porn is no longer a public spectacle, but a private ritual – one that is meant to be hidden, that we are supposed to be ashamed of. Yet another reason why events like the Porn Film Festival are so necessary – to get rid of that stigma and treat sexuality as something that should be celebrated, rather than muted.