Well, dearest degenerates, Cinekink NYC 2012 has come and gone. Many have cum thinking about what they saw, and much debauchery has gone on at after-parties. The festival was, as before, a place for weirdos and pervs and sophisticates to come together, learn, and celebrate each other’s kinks and craziness. I was once again delighted to count myself among their number, and honored to be asked to do on-site interviews for the event this year. Video interviews are posted at Cinekink.com, featuring myself and many of the filmmakers who repped their films. Check it out, please! I think I did a rather excellent job.
Sadly, I didn’t see all the films at the festival this year, as I wasn’t able to make it to the opening gala or to some of the other screenings over the course of the week. However, I did see a boat load of them, and I, as always, have got some commentary to offer.
The winner of the Best Documentary Feature, Stage Brother, by Richard Buonagurio, was… well… it was weird but riveting. (Interviews will be up soon and I’ll link to it.) The real-life story of a young man who decides to become his sister’s manager on her journey to try to get into Playboy magazine, the film documented not only the baldly pseudo-incestuous relationship between a budding maybe-porn star and her doting brother, but also the havoc her career trajectory and narcissism wreaked upon the rest of the family. Tinged with sexual danger, rooted firmly in familial love, featuring WHACK! favorite Brittany Andrews (who served as a mentor to Jennifer), and spiked with fake-tan and melodrama, Stage Brother was Jersey Shore with an actual emotional connection. It was creepy and sometimes too-honest, but I couldn’t look away.
After Fall, Winter, the second in an ongoing series by Eric Schaeffer, was described as an S&M love story, but unfolded in on-location-in-Paris cinematic splendor as more of a troubled-kink primer on What Not to Do as a Kinkster. The acting was superb, the pacing mostly on par, the visuals lush… but the take-away message? While director/star Eric Schaeffer insisted in the Q&A that the film was kink-positive, I saw some problems in its Romeo & Juliet gone awry ending and its treatment of BDSM as merely an outlet for the negativity built up in both characters rather than a part of a healthy sexual experience. The film was absolutely beautiful, but I felt that it may have oversimplified its characters motivations for involvement in their kinks. But don’t let that minor indictment keep you away from this movie — it’s truly beautiful and well worth your own assessment.
Sirwiñakuy, by Amy Hesketh, an oddball modern take on an Aymara practice of “trail marriage” in which a bride is essentially kidnapped and “tested” by a prospective husband, was beautiful in a classic French film way—long silences, awkward moments, wan heroine and all. A truer S&M love story, along the same lines as Secretary, but with a much more artistic flair.
Sisterhood of the Sash was a shorter and obviously more female version of last year’s feature-length documentary on International Mr. Leather, Kink Crusaders. Sisterhood of the Sash, a reflection on the 25th annual Internation Miss Leather competition, was a beautiful, thoughtful, and lovely ode to the women of the leather community, who turned out in force to support it. The leather community never ceases to impress me—as far as kink communities go, this one has come together in a very real, very powerful, and very political way. Both IMsL 2011 herself, the indomitable and beautiful Sarah Vibes, and IMsBB (and Salacious Magazine editor in chief), kd, were there for the screening and to represent the leather family.
Cabaret Desire, Erika Lust’s most recent major release based on the idea of the Poetry Brothel (of which yours truly is a practicing whoreish member) was… Well, you all know or can very easily discover how much I love Cabaret Desire. The film is fun, sexy, and utterly appropriate for Cinekink, though seeing it on the big screen as opposed to my teeny tiny television at home was a bit of a revelation. For one thing, I hadn’t caught, on my tiny TV, that there is a vajazzled vagina in this movie. I don’t think the filmmaker was particularly thrilled about it, as it’s only indirectly shown in two small flashes, but, still. Vajazzling. You heard it here first. And, though I am a massive fan of Ms. Lust’s work as an erotic filmmaker and had advocated for the film’s legitimacy among members of the Poetry Brothel beforehand, I did realize during a few of the more wet-slapping-sound intense sex scenes that watching sex in a dark theater can be a bit weird.
The documentary (A)sexual, about the small but increasingly vocal group of people worldwide who identify as absolutely not interested in sex, was enthralling. It didn’t pretend to be a purely objective docu, as it followed closely the exploits of David Jay, the leader of the asexual movement, with all his eccentricities on unapologetic display. It didn’t take asexuality as a reality an more than it denied its existence as a sexual identity, and it showcased the problems inherent in such an identification. But it also, very adeptly and almost lovingly, addressed the importance of the right to self-identification in matters of sex. The haters who declared that asexuality was not real, the television commentators who demanded an explanation, the shaming attitude that sexual people tended to take and the apologetic stances that asexuals were forced to adopt in response… it all made me sit up and take note. What was going on here? If sex positive people like myself are forever complaining about the existence and prevalence of sexual shame — if we are concerned that sex is considered shameful by our culture, rather than beautiful — and if we thought that one way to escape this shame might be to renounce sex… well, then we were wrong. Apparently to have sex is shameful, but so is not to have sex. There is no way to win. This is perhaps even more problematic than I thought it was. There is no way to win, aside, of course, from having marital sex in the dark with the lights off in missionary position for the purposes of procreation. How depressing. And how important! Asexuals may be a largely unstudied minority, and who knows? Maybe they’re not even a real phenomenon as far as psychologists are concerned. But the issues they bring to light, and the community they provide for one another, is of the deepest cultural importance imaginable.