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The Mirth of Love and the Smell of Fucking
A tribute to Sex and John Cameron Mitchell's "The Sex Film Project"
"Sex is a matrix. It's the bundled nerve endings of our emotional lives"
---John Cameron Mitchell
"Sex is emotion in motion"
Oh Mrs. West, how you delight me in this late hour! How I wish I could have had a chance at taking you over my knee and giving you a spanking with a wet noodle. I couldn't agree more with Mae's thoughts on the subject...And dear Salvador Dali! Without you, an impotent fool like myself could never hope to fathom the Arts. You made flacid stylish and liquid nightmares palatable. If you were here right now, I'd chase you around the room with a rubber johnny in one hand and a bowl of magma in the other! Cheers, you old pussy hounds!
But I digress. We are supposed to be talking about sex, right? Not strange rendezvous with the stars and artists of yesteryear. On with the show!
Okay. So sex is clearly an incendiary topic, one that can arouse contempt, arouse giggles, or just plain old Arouse. Period. But the concept of a high art motion picture containing sequences of actual fornication, as opposed to the staging of fornication, is even more provocative. By Hollywood standards, you can't get any more taboo unless you intend on defiling a corpse in a multi-million dollar film about mortality. They just won't have it.
"Hell, if I'm gonna throw away money on some amoral movie that is bound to tank, I might as well just write a check and hand it to Corey Haim. Shit! I'd have a better chance of squeezing out a hit with him than I would living through this sort of thing without being boycotted by the Christian Coalition!"
Such is the rationale of your average higher up. Which makes it that much more satisfying when an indie flick comes out that breaks all Their rules and becomes an overnight It flick. Don't be surprised if just such a movie pops up within the next year...I'll explain in a moment.
Ya see, sex is a necessity. Ask anyone. Well, anyone except your neighborhood eunuch. It is the glue that binds couples, or rather the semen that binds lovers. And the very machine that would scoff at the aforementioned idea of a mainstream film featuring actual sex is responsible for the distribution and publicity of sex. Movies, magazines and music are the forms of entertainment that affect the average person the most. And it is those forms of media that tell us what is sexy, who is sexy and how to have sex. Year after year, we read new How-to guides on sexual meditation, tantra, sexual enhancement, fetishes, etc. And year after year, publications sell millions upon millions of copies of glossy mags that advertise the word SEX in bold type on their covers and throughout the length of their contents. Sex is in the table of contents. Sex is on billboards. Sex is hinted at even in motion pictures tailored for children, such as The Master of Disguise starring Dana Carvey.
Condom commercials are slipped into the line-up between the breaks of popular sitcoms viewed by whole families. Even the family dog's ears prick up when he hears that familiar Trojan Man jingle. And yet, with all the sex that is mentioned, either directly or indirectly, in the form of hackneyed innuendos, the Hollywood machine is still not ready for actual fucking in a motion picture. And it is their expert opinion, and the opinion of countless censor boards, that the People are not ready either.
But let us think back to some of the more colorful remarks made by celebrities on the topic. Woody Allen, a writer/director/actor obsessed with the subject, once said something wiser than any other man, woman or pederast has ever said. "If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." Funny, right? However, would his thought have been better conveyed if he had enforced it by taking out his genitalia and tossing off into the wind? Maybe not...But it would have been damn funny. So my question is, why not? Let us delight in what comes naturally.
Of course, not everybody shares my attitude, or the attitude of Mr. Allen. Legendary pop artist Andy Warhol once said, "Sex is the biggest nothing of all time." Well put, but no doubt a bald-faced lie. Ya see, even if you are bitter because you have no sex life or you just can't seem to have a fulfilling sex life or if you are distraught at the fact that your sex life is deranged, you still cannot escape a primitive urge. And sex is just that. Cavemen fucked. Animals fuck. Everything fucks. Insects even pollenate flowers, for crying out loud! Some person by the name of Swami X had this to say about sex: "Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. 'Yes' is the answer." In fact, some of our finest writers even claim that sex has a spiritual value. As Henry Miller put it, "Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant." Now unless you are the protagonist of Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises", you know what's up, and you want some.
Sex has long been synonymous with the motion picture industry, whether they wanted it to be or not. In fact, some Hollywood actors have even appeared in porn films, albeit obscure ones that they had hoped to keep sub rosa (,i.e.: Traci Lords in "Traci, I Love You") Examples of this range from as far back as Helen Mirren's turn in "Caligula" to as recent as the notorious and ubiquitous (online, at least) Pamela & Tommy Lee Tape. And simulated sex is about as common in modern cinema as suicide bombings are in Palestine. Some filmmakers have even gone so far as to stage elaborate, prolonged film productions just for the sake of filming celebrities' naughty bits (see: "Eyes Wide Shut"). Even so, the act of explicit sex or, more specifically, the penetration therein has always been verboten in mainstream movies. Which is probably why it comes as such a shock that someone like critically-acclaimed indie filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell would attempt to defy the unwritten rule.
Sho nuff, Mitchell, in conjunction with Process Productions, is behind such a project; The Sex Film Project, to be precise. And according to the website for the forthcoming film, the project will "have the kind of humor and emotion of a film like 'Y Tu Mama Tambien', but with much more explicit sex." Of course, some have come to expect this sort of thing from Mitchell. After all, he is the man (???) who wrote, directed and starred in the gender-bending "Hedwig & The Angry Inch". But what they might not realize is, Mitchell & Co. do not endeavor to make a movie about sex. They endeavor to make a sex movie---and a dramatic one at that.
As he has painstakingly illustrated in his website mission statement, Mitchell aims to make the first truly legitimate, totally original blue movie. Which reminds me, didn't filmmaking heavyweight Stanley Kubrick try to make a mainstream adult film entitled "Blue Movie" over twenty years ago? And he could never get it off the ground, could he? Well, shit! Maybe he should've gone independent. Oh, well. Forget about Ole Dr. Strangelove. While he is taking his little dirt nap, the Artist Formerly Known As Hedwig will be making movie history with the first sex flick with depth.
The story, which Mitchell plans to develop with the principal cast members during pre-production and production of the film, promises to rival Cronenberg's "Crash" and Araki's "The Doom Generation" with its ambitious "quest" to unite the oftentimes "mutually exclusive" sex & love. And with John Cameron at the helm, it is bound to contain a plenitude of vulnerability, humor and eccentricity. Or, as the mission statement has asked us, "Why can't there be a movie that tells a strong story, is full of humor and pathos, is packed with powerful performances, and features a lot of explicit sex---hard-ons, cum and all?" Well, now I guess there will be. That is, if Mitchell and his "pansexual bohemian" acolytes can actually pull it off. Given Mitchell's track record, I'm going to bet that he does.
In the meantime, all that us Film & Sex geeks can do is fuck like rabbits while watching "Annie Hall". And with a spot of good luck, we will all wake up one day, turn on our TV's and see Sean Penn and Catherine Deneuve in an X-rated production of "Oedipus Rex". That's just one boy's dream, one boy high on the melodious odor of Vagisil and bodily fluids. Tis but the dream of a boy huffing the sweet smell of Victory and Poon. But for the sake of Love and the fragrance of menstrual seafood, I sure hope the dream never ends. Yes, tis but a dream. But as Federico Fellini once said, "Dreams are the only reality."