Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dirty Tricks TV

I was curious about Naked Sword's Dirty Tricks because it was promoted as a twelve-part gay porn TV sitcom, but what kind of broadcaster would ever air this? (I know it's a web series. I'm just trying to make a point.) Basically it's gay porn in which each segment is framed with an irritating GreenDayish-Offspringish-Sum41ish 'youth' theme song and a credit sequence.

My lack of charity might stem from the fact that I requested a review copy, but was charged $20 COD when the disc arrived. What cheek! Well, I'm reviewing you anyway. There are two discs of 6 episodes each. The episodes are about ten minutes long. Each episode opens with the cast assembled after hours at Dirty Tricks, the NYC gay bar where they work. They trade quips, then cut to theme song, go to fuck scene, then end with credits.

Dirty Tricks is written and directed by Andy Fair. The cast includes Epiphany as Ginger Beef, summoning the usual bad drag queen comedy; Damon DeMarco, a real beauty, as Eddie the bartender; James Riley as Martin, a skinny straight boy who dances a the gay club for tips, and he's so cute I could eat him whole; and the series' star, billed as 'Reality TV Celeb' (from Big Brother, apparently) "Crazy" James as Alex, a boy with atrocious hair and wacky tats. Among others, he has a Brawny paper towel logo and a bolo tie tattooed on his upper chest and the words "I am God" on his left buttock. Classy. Plus there are various 'trick of the week' guest stars like Wolf Hudson, Osian and Cory Koons.

The stories range from "How can James afford his rent?" (easy - he sucks and fucks the landlord) to the more simple and direct "let's fuck on the first date" stories. Points for inventiveness, however: one sex scene, set in a dark and dirty porn theatre, is shot in infrared and virtual silence. If Bergman made porn ... There is also a funny bit where clueless straight kid Martin notices a hand beckoning under the washroom stall partition, so he obliges by handing over a wad of toilet paper. Seconds later, blow jobs occur. The trick's name is listed as Larry Craig. And there is one completely bizarre episode, in which Cory Koons' asshole is magnetized, pulling all the furniture in the room towards it. I am not making this up.

Sitcoms are dangerous and difficult to attempt. To fail is to fail spectacularly, and Dirty Tricks fails utterly and spectacularly as a sitcom. As porn, however, it's quite entertaining. But I'm left wondering, does gay porn really need more comedy? Or do those lousy network prime time sitcoms need more cock?

Another Gay Sequel

The only reason I watched either Another Gay Movie or Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild was so that I could make fun of Scott Thompson for agreeing to be in them. Both movies are strange, abysmal comedies that use heterosexual teen flicks as a starting point, then infuse them with lots of gayness and gross-out humour. In other words, nothing for me.

Another Gay Sequel is full of gay celebrities who have no problem embarrassing themselves. It is safe to say that most of them - Ru Paul, The Lady Bunny, Scott, Michael Lucas, Perez Hilton - have all done better work. Few have done worse. The problem with the movie is that it practically urges its viewers to wince, a peculiar ambition for any filmmaker to have.

There are some appalling moments involving crabs (using gigantic prop crabs moved with visible wires), a musical number about water sports, and a scene in which a bunch of characters, including good old Scott, vomit on each other. On the extras disc, Scott says that he is proud that this might be someone's fetish. But the only thing that made me want to vomit was the relentless product placement.

The film isn't totally horrible. There are smidgens of charm, humour and sexiness, and I liked Euriamis Losada, the actor playing Luis, the only cast member to emerge with a shred of dignity. The thing is, I'll bet it was fun to shoot, with all those cute young actors in minimal wear and those over-reaching drag queens and the Florida weather and the silly special effects. (The bonus disc also features a segment in which actor Brent Corrigan is transformed into a merman with a big green tail, and he shows a lot of skin. It's a segment infinitely more interesting and sexy than any of the actual footage in the movie.) Ultimately, though, the good vibe can't come through. It's obscured by all the self-conscious mugging.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trailer Park Boys finale

Unlike almost everyone else directing films in Canada, Trailer Park Boys' creator Mike Clattenburg actually does exhibit true film sense. He always knows where to put the camera, and has a dynamic style that clearly points to a bright future. I'm still waiting for the Great Canadian Feature Film (my own nominees to this point being The Rubber Gun and The Mask 3-D). Maybe Clattenburg will be the one to do it.

I'm a bit biased because years ago, I was Clattenburg's boss on The Bette Show. No, not the fiasco starring Bette Midler, but a sweet little 1998 CBC sketch comedy show out of Halifax starring Cape Breton's own Bette MacDonald, probably the single most talented person I've ever worked with. But the CBC typically dumped the show in mid-summer with no promotion, condemning it to die a premature death. It's too bad, because with Clattenburg on board, the show had real potential.

Clattenburg himself was a character, who drove this beat-up shitbox of a car like the kind driven by 60s TV detectives like Mannix, and he was married to this gorgeous make-up artist. He always looked high, too. Just after The Bette Show was pink-slipped, Clattenburg told us he was working on a new idea, about trashy guys who live in a trailer park. I thought it sounded promising, but when I saw the first episode, I was disappointed that the guys weren't sexy.

However, I wasn't surprised that it was a big hit. In the press release for their final episode, which aired December 7, 2008 on ShowCase, VP Tara Ellis gushed, "From the initial pitch for this unique series right through to the upcoming special, working on TPB has been an incredible high!" That's funny. I seem to remember a TV interview a few years ago in which Topsail, the production company, said that they practically had to coerce the broadcaster into airing the show.

What I liked about TPB was not the humour, necessarily, but the fact that it was raunchy and rude in an unapologetic way. Maybe ShowCase needs to be congratulated for staying out of the way as the Boys grew pot, shot things, and caused politically incorrect mayhem. TPB is a true anomoly in Canadian broadcasting, and even though I wasn't a huge fan, I will still miss it.

Proust and Company

Proust and Company is a new literary reading series created by Jeffrey Round, author of such books as A Cage of Bones and The P'Town Murders. I know, the idea of authors reading from their tomes sounds like a snooze, but the inaugural event, held in the apartment above Glad Day Books currently occupied by charming youngster Josh Bentley-Swan, was a blast. Who knew writers could be such fun? The wine flowed freely, and the atmosphere was more like a really good house party instead of an uptight gathering. This is what salons of old might have been, I though, like when Bram Stoker's wife would have everyone over on a Sunday afternoon to hear Oscar Wilde read poems as everyone drank absinthe or whatever.

Jeffrey got up and told a touching story about how he went to Paris and found Proust's tombstone, and how it inspired him. Then he introduced Michael Rowe, author of Other Men's Sons, which just won a Randy Shilts literary prize. Michael read a story about how, as a child, he felt like a little girl, a notion backed up by their two Latina servants, who joked that they should take little Michael to the sawmill to remove that unsightly penis. I'm assuming that in hindsight, he's glad that didn't happen.

Then Jeffrey introduced Beverley Stone, a lawyer who took six years to write No Beautiful Shore, a novel about a girl named Bride growing up in Newfoundland and discovering her attraction to other women. The crowd lapped it up, and later, Bev and Michael both signed and sold copies of their books. Throughout the evening, classy cocktail music was provided by the very good Geri Aniceto on vocals and Omel Masalunga on keys. I hope they'll be a fixture at these evenings.

Afterwards, I had fun drunken conversations with Glad Day owner John Scythes, who believes that syphilis is the significant and mostly overlooked factor in developing AIDS. John likes to pretend he's just a plumber, but most plumbers don't present research papers to a group of European physicians as he once did. I also had a fun chat with James Dubro, who makes it his business to follow every gay murder trial. Last year we bonded over the investigation into the death of my friend Harley Walker, who was stabbed by a trick. Now, James is busy writing about the death of Ross McGill, also found stabbed by a hustler. What could be more literary than that?

The next Proust and Company event will be held on February 7, 2009, at 8 PM, again in the apartment above Glad Day Books. Scheduled readers are Narine Holtz, author of The Skin Beneath, and S Bear Bergman, author of Butch is a Noun, and maybe, just maybe, Sky Gilbert will also show up to read from his works, as well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Chorus Line / It's A Wonderful Life

Howard Kane and I love to go to the theatre. In this entry, we went to see productions of A Chorus Line at the Canon Theatre, and an adaptation of It's A Wonderful Life done like a radio show in the Forties, presented by the Canadian Stage.

Paul: Which of the two shows did you like better?

Howard: A Chorus Line, but you're talking to a Chorus Line queen.

Paul: You were actually in a production of the show.

Howard: I was, as Bobby, 22 years ago. It did on and off for about 3 years. I've seen it as an audience member about 300 times.

Paul: And you never get tired of it?

Howard: No. I saw the revival two years ago, but before that it was about fifteen years.

Paul: We got to meet Baayork Lee recently. 

Howard: Wasn't she wonderful? She was Michael Bennett's associate choreographer. She recreates the choreography for every production. She was the original Connie Chung, the girl who is four feet ten.

Paul: Why do you think it's such a great show?

Howard: Let me ask you that question, Paul.

Paul: I like its simplicity. I like the fact that it's in real time. I like that the monologues are directed to the audience, so you're constantly being engaged. I love the fact that there's no intermission, so there is nothing to take you out of that world for two hours. It's so visually stimulating, considering that there is nothing onstage but mirrors and people dancing. But also because it's about theatre, and so honest.

Howard: I love the emotional content of it. If you don't get it, you don't have a heart. It was way before reality TV, way before people talked about these things. It was the first musical I ever saw, and it's why I'm in the business today.

Paul: You mentioned reality TV. In the past ten years, we've seen a rise in shows in which people compete in talent shows, like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. The whole competition and elimination elements. A Chorus Line anticipated that. That's probably why it's still so popular.

Howard: It was so ahead of its time. When I interviewed Bob Avian, the other choreographer, he said that today, he and Baayork would not get jobs. Nowadays, everyone has to be gorgeous, and a triple threat. Michael Bennett was so ahead of his time. Thirty-three years ago, he was putting in gay characters because they were a part of New York's theatre culture. He didn't shy away from it. No one did that. Plus the show had Asian and black characters.

Paul: I first saw it on Broadway in December 1979, within the first few years of its run.

Howard: The show was at its peak then because Michael Bennett was still involved.

Paul: Why on earth did we go see It's A Wonderful Life? Comps?

Howard: I love seeing bad theatre with you, Paul.

Paul: It was the day after Chorus Line. We were still on a high. It was the complete opposite to Chorus Line. Wonderful Life had a beautiful set, the interior of a radio studio from the 40s, with all that cool furniture, and yet absolutely nothing was happening. A Chorus Line, with no set, was more visually interesting. All those Canadian actors in period make-up running around very busy, looking for their scripts and whatnot, but it was curiously unengaging. No one looks at each other or at the audience. They just shout their lines into vintage microphones. You can't watch radio. It's insane, the dumbest idea for a show ever.

Howard: The publicist could not tell me what the story was about. That's how I knew we were in trouble.

Paul: Radio is easy to listen to, because it's made in a controlled environment. This was a stage play, so everything is so screechy and echoey. There was a piano player on one side, a foley artist on the other, and too many actors yelling in the middle. It was really hard just to listen to it. Plus there was a clock on the wall as part of the radio studio's set design, and it had the real time, and all I could think was, "How much longer do we have to sit here?"

Howard: When I saw those two old ladies walk out, I looked over at you and I knew we were thinking the same thing.

Paul: Yeah, how lucky they were to bail. We were trapped dead center.

Howard: I interviewed cast member Steven Gallagher, who is such a handsome man, but no one looked good in this show. Everyone looked so ugly.

Paul: I know. There were so many cute boys in A Chorus Line it was like being at Remingtons. Remember the doll who sang "I Can Do That"? I pointed at him and looked at you and said, "I could do that."

Howard: I loved going out for martinis afterwards, it was so New York. I felt like we were two theatre critics leaving a disastrous production and going to the bar next door to trash the show. I liked trashing the show more than the actual show. I don't think Christmas shows ever work. I'm so glad A Chorus Line was here, but Richard Ouzounian did not give it a good review. He said it was tired and stale.

Paul: I heard he was actually just talking about himself. 

Mr. Leather Toronto competition

The Mr. Leather Toronto competition took place at the Phoenix Theatre in Toronto on November 27, 2008. The evening was co-hosted by Shaun Proulx and David Kloss. Shaun fluffed the crowd by saying that leathermen are the best sex he's ever had, and are also responsible for all his fetishes. "It's your fault that all I want for Christmas is a rim seat."

The eight contestants first appeared in full leather, then in minimal wear, which is always a treat. They also get to speak. This is my seventh MLT, and everyone, always, wants to give back to the community, whatever that means. Proulx gave each contestant 90 seconds to talk about themselves, but every one of them took much more than the allotted time. "That's 90 marijuana seconds," he clarified. 

The eight contestants were:

Tom Bishop, Mr. Zelda's Leather, who is an accountant by day;

Peter Dillon, Mr. Spearhead, who is into camping, gardening, and wrestling steers;

Wendell Leadbeater, Mr. Gladaman's Den, former armed forces, who wants to help open a habitat for wolves, and is apparently in the December issue of Inches;

Corey Breau, Mr. Churchmouse & Firkin, who said "When my mother found out I was in the leather community, her exact response was 'Well, maybe you'll actually meet somebody.'" The laughs continued when he admitted, "When I moved her from the east coast, I felt to be honest that Torontonians were very rude, my exact word was 'vile'." Then he met Matthew Pavelich, who turned him around;

Jon Henderson, Mr. Steamworks, who is still in school and sports fully tattooed arms, also does some modeling, and as Shaun said, "He's bi ... lingual." His cause was to raise money for the PWA Foundation;

Ritchie Brown, Mr. Cruiseline, welder, who was asked "If you had a superpower, what would it be and what judge would you use it on?" Ritchie took the high road when he declared, "I would take the power of healing and use it for Richard Hubley," one of the judges who is in a wheelchair, then got all choked up talking about his late father. Ritchie had the most fans in the audience, and I thought he was a lock to win, especially after David Kloss dropped some innuendo about Ritchie having an enormous shlong;

Pete Villeneuve, Mr. Cedars Campground, who was asked which celebrity he wishes would be into leather, and what would he do to that celebrity? "Tim McGraw," he deep-breathed into the mike. "What wouldn't you do to Tim McGraw?" Listen to his music for starters, Pete. "I have a dream," he said, referencing MLK as he talked about his vision for the leather community;

And finally, Matt Muir, Mr. Priape/Woody's, who is a hockey coach and camp counselor, and the only one without facial hair. He wants to get the younger generation involved in leather, and although estranged from his family, feels warmly welcomed by the leather community.

At last, the judges came to a decision. Corey Breau won both Mr. Fellowship and First Runner-Up; Tom Bishop took Second Runner-Up; and Peter Dillon was named Mr. Leather Toronto. 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Intense Eye Therapy

I'm one of those people cursed with big huge eye bags. It doesn't matter how much I sleep or how many cucumber slices I put on my eyes. Even Preparation H doesn't work. It's been a lifelong frustration. My aunt Andea sports massive eye bags, too. I guess I took after her.

So I was quite excited that the geniuses at dermaglow NUVECTIN have created Retinol-PX Intense Eye Therapy (or RPXIET). The box claims that the clinically proven results will show a 68% reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, a reduction in dark circles, and fast-acting reduction in under-eye puffiness. It contains pure retinol complex, acetyl tetrapeptide-5, palmitoyl oligopeptide, and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7.

The box claims that "this anti-aging eye cream uses two of the most effective anti-aging ingredients available to dramatically transform the appearance of skin. Peptides and Pure Retinol combine for superior anti-aging benefits: significant hydration for a more youthful look around the eyes; enhanced elasticity smoothes skin; skin tone appears more even and luminous; instant and gradual brightening under eyes; and no irritation and redness." I was particularly excited about the luminosity. I could use some.

I've used RPXIET for several days, but I'm not sure I see much difference. I may be too far gone. I could pack for two weeks in Paris with these eye bags. But I will continue to use it, until such a time that I see a youthful set of eyes looking back at me in the mirror. And more importantly, I'm getting some RPXIET for Auntie Andea, too. Thanks, dermaglow.

MLT Seminars part two

The second workshop was entitled Resistance is Futile: Interrogation Scenes, and it was conducted by the soft-spoken Ingrid, certainly one of the scariest people I've ever laid eyes upon. "When it comes to interrogation, there are no right answers," she grinned. A girl named Anna was tied to a chair, sobbing. Ingrid slapped her and asked, "Where is your bank?" Anna just kept sobbing. Ingrid took out a knife and teased Anna's nipples and pussy, then threw a pillow case over her head and continued to teach the class, which consisted of 24 women and 7 men. Why, I wondered, are women drawn to the concept of interrogation? Is it because they are naturally nosey?

Ingrid started the discussion by asking us to determine if things were Hot or Bad, for example Abu Garib. Can something be both? She talked about how some people enjoy trauma. "If it doesn't end with blood or tears, then its just an argument," said Ingrid. There was all this shit about religion, politics, race, class, yawn. There was also lots of talk about negotiating boundaries (i.e., no hair pulling, or no using racial slurs, etc.), and how to choose a safe word or a safe gesture. But fear is the most important element. "There is nothing worse than fire play with someone who has no fear of fire. You might as well have been playing Scrabble."

Ingrid then told us a story about a woman who arranged to be kidnapped in public, but some passers-by panicked and tried to intervene. "Why are you doing this?" screamed one woman. "Because it's her birthday," replied Ingrid. "You mean she wants this?" asked the woman incredulously, which lead into an impromptu seminar on BDSM. I'll bet that poor woman wished she had just stayed home that day. Ingrid suggests that if you want to commit a criminal act, real or fake, just arrange for one of your number to shoot (or even just pretend to shoot) the whole thing on a mini-cam. Everyone will just think you're making a student film.

At the end of the session, after talking about the appeal of torture, power play, submission, trust issues, and even 'top drop' - meaning the torturer gets all fatigued after torturing someone - Ingrid finally untied Anna and took the pillow case off her head. Anna positively glowed. She had obviously been having the time of her life.

MLT Seminars part one

As part of Mr. Leather Toronto Weekend, I attended two of the educational seminars presented by the organization, both of which were held in the Mackenzie Room of the Primrose Hotel on Saturday, November 27, 2008.

The first workshop was entitled Scrotal Infusions (Saline) and was conducted by Marc Paquet-Decker and his boy connor. I love how in gay life the word 'boy' can describe someone in his sixth decade. The seminar was attended by 17 men and 6 women.

Marc was funny and charming as he demonstrated filling connor's testes sack with a half litre of .9% saline solution. The saline bag is hung on a film tripod (cheaper than medical equipment and does the same thing) and connected to connor's balls through an IV drip tube and a butterfly needle inserted precisely into his sack tissue. "Do not inject into the testicle," said Marc. "If you even so much as graze his testicles, it would take three hours to scrape him off the ceiling."

Prior to that, connor's balls were pre-shaved and tied off with a cock ring. His cock was already adorned with a Prince Albert and a Jacob's ladder, very busy down there. He sat relaxed, arms folded, his ball sack gradually swelling to the size, colour and texture of a big pink grapefruit.

Marc cautions against using more than 2 litres as it may cause everything to stretch and even detach. "Then you'll have turkey neck between your legs for the rest of your life." He said that often the foreskin would also fill with solution and swell up, which makes it difficult to urinate. "Lots of pressure on the pisshole," he said. "You won't be able to pee unless you sit, but you don't pee in a stream, you more or less turn on a sprinkler. I sprayed myself like you wouldn't believe, like a squirt of Fantastic or a cute little fountain. I could have been in the middle of an Italian garden."

I had questions. How did all this start? Who came up with this idea? Another attendee mumbled a response, something about doctors in the fifties inflating the sack and shining a light behind it in order to find tumors or something. There was also some talk about how the rise in home care over the past two decades may have also contributed to the practice. I also asked how can you get that salt water back out of the sack. Marc said that since saline is naturally present in the body, it will merely absorb over time, usually about 24 hours, but if it doesn't and you end up with a case of severe scrotal cellulitis, go to emergency. Then a woman asked if she could inject her labia. 

Much discussion of how to dispose of needles took place, and also never to do it if you take blood thinners. Finally, Marc discussed sealing the puncture. "There are several things you could use. Polyfilla is not one of them," he said. "Polygrip, however, is the best, and get the extra strength. It's cheaper than liquid band aid and burns less than crazy glue."

Once it is full, you can have hours of fun playing with it, but apparently, it's pretty difficult to fuck or cum with a swollen sack.

•end of part one•