March 5, 2010

Movie Review: Everything You Wanted to Know About Gay Porn Stars…


Director: John Roecker
Cast: Johnny Hazzard, Jason Ridge, Nick Capra, Bret Wolfe, Jeremy Jordan, Jason Hawke, Nick Piston, Danny Vox, Joey Milano, Others.

Even though here! TV is in the business of marketing programing to the gays, that doesn’t mean it always presents its subject matter in the best possible light. Case in point: the documentary Everything You Wanted to Know About Gay Porn Stars *but were afraid to ask. This film from director John Roecker, which led to a six-part series that aired on the cable channel last year, boasts a big-name porn star cast, but it offers an anything but positive depiction of the gay adult industry. It starts predictably enough with an off-camera voice asking top stars such as Johnny Hazzard (above), Jason Ridge (below), Nick Capra, Bret Wolfe, Jeremy Jordan and Jason Hawke how they got their porn names, why they decided to get into the business (Capra did it to piss off his mother), what their first scene was like and other innocuous questions. But about halfway through, the questions and film take a turn toward the dark side. And we mean that literally as Roecker has photographed these mostly young and good-looking models in extremely unflattering and harsh lighting. Their faces are cast in shadow and the blank walls behind them give a gritty and unappealing look.

Though the coming-out stories remain upbeat (Jeremy Jordan tells a funny one about breaking the news of his sexual orientation to his grandmother during a family dinner), once the topic turns to escorting and drug abuse, the film becomes a one-way ticket to depression and doom. An emotional Joey Milano shares tales of his bareback work, which ultimately leads to a troubling story about a producer knowingly allowing a model with an STD to participate in a shoot. It’s no surprise when Milano reveals his HIV-positive status. One model shoots up on a toilet bowl and another smokes crack for the cameras. Ah, the glamour!

The film departs from the Q&A format to go on set with Nick Capra and his then-boyfriend as they shoot a scene together for this movie. This is ground that has already been covered (and to much better effect) in Ronnie Larsen’s revealing 1997 documentary Shooting Porn. When the boyfriend goes AWOL on a drug bender and then returns to beat up Capra, there’s a feeling that we’ve seen this story before. Every negative stereotype about gay porn and its workers is reinforced, and the subjects often seem one-dimensional and cliché. A brutally honest Capra and a thoughtful Jason Ridge musing on self-esteem and image come alive as fully formed humans, but most of the others just seem like they’re playing the part of a desperate porn star destined to a sad end.

Roecker uses vintage clips from films that depict homosexuals as threats to society and outcasts, but they do little to lighten the tone. Tattooed model Nick Piston gets the last word. After grappling with his own feelings of shame and insecurity, he ends the film on an almost positive note, but it’s too little, too late. Everything You Wanted to Know… has already ignored any of the fun, creativity and entertainment value that the industry might offer to gay men, and instead leads us to a dark and gloomy place, leaving its audience—and subjects—down and out.

1 comment:

Donald said...

That was a powerful review - Thanks - I was thinking of ordering it.