Gay Porn Night at IXFF

It was my honor to join gay porn superstar Michael Brandon and a gang of smart, articulate pornographers for a panel discussion after our Nob Hill Cinema “Celebration of Sleaze” video clip show last night at IXFF, the Good Vibes Independent Erotic Film Festival. The rest of the week is filled with great shows too — don’t miss ’em! But gay porn is very close to my, er, heart, and these panelists were really fabulous.

I asked: What makes for hot gay porn? Why is gay porn important? And: What else would you like to be doing that you can’t now, or where would you like to see gay porn go in future?

My all-star panel included Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement winner Michael Brandon himself; my old friend John F. Karr, who has been reviewing and writing about gay porn in his Karnal Knowledge column in the Bay Area Reporter for the past 32 years; Tim Valenti of Naked Sword (and co-host of the Tim and Roma show); Jack Shamama, writer/producer of the gay porn soap opera “Wet Palms,” and another NakedSword insider; Brian Mills, director of production  from Titan Media; Paul Wilde, a Titan director who focuses on fetish; Patrick O’Connor, creative coordinator at Titan; and last but certainly not least, Shine Louise Houston, founder of Pink and White Productions (and Good Vibes alumna!) who is now doing masculine porn with her breakout gay male porn site HeavenlySpire.com.

And wow, did they cover the map with their insights! Everyone agreed — mostly very strongly — that erotic chemistry and, especially, emotional connection between the performers makes gay porn hot. This, I think, would not be as focused a consensus were I to be asking mainstream straight porn people the question, although I haven’t had that conversation, so perhaps they’d surprise me. But because gay porn grows directly out of gay sexual identity, there’s a connection that men have with their porn that is a little more than just entertaining, fantasy-focused, and aspirational.

This came out strongly in their answers to my second question. Gay porn makers are very aware that in a country which will not touch gay sex education for young adults, porn fills the gaps, and they all see a responsibility to other gay men — their viewers — as well as being able to relate to the guys in front of the camera. There’s no substantial disconnect between these guys and their audience, oftentimes. They all understand their careers as meaningful as far as giving positive views of gay sex is concerned. Some talked about the responsibility to depict safer sex in a hot way.

As for what these professionals would like to be able to do: many mentioned desiring even more creative options, with a nod that much porn is a titch (and some is really really) formulaic. Showing sexy guys with varying body types was another — a body image awareness was part of pretty much everyone’s musings on what ideal porn might look like. Shine, of course, is already tackling this head-on, including transmen as well as other elements of diversity into her Heavenly Spire projects.

All in all a thoughtful, smart, and hot hot hot night (Brandon and his boy Gabriel closed us out with a sizzlin’ show). Made me want to curate more just like it!

Please come see Jennifer Lyon Bell’s Euro-visioned porn tomorrow night (she screens her own work, including her award-winning Matinee, plus a bunch of films from Europe most of us have never seen);  Shar Rednour and Jackie Strano’s “Lesbo Retro” show on Wednesday evening; and of course our flawless IXFF shindig is on Thursday at the glorious Castro. Great films this year, hosted by me, Peaches Christ, and her posse! See you there!

Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at carolqueen.com.

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