Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Illusions of Sex in Berlin

What do we think, shall we brave the Second International Pornography Film Festival? After last year's success, it appears to have been expanded to a theater here in east Berlin. I might limit it to lectures this time, however -- see this excerpt from my review of last year:

Who could miss checking out the First International Pornography Film Festival in Berlin? Not this intrepid internationalista! I braved theater lobbies more crushingly packed than a Managua bus circuit during the U.S. covert war, more smoky than a three-alarm house-fire, to see a lecture by the divine Ms. Vaginal Davis (whom a blundering German MC introduced as “he” – I gasped in horror, but Ms. Davis did not blink a millimeter of her large & lovely false eyelashes). She used increasingly graphic (but thankfully short) film clips ranging from “Mandingo” (which name rolled over the tongue of the Divine Ms. V. was full of throaty possibilities), to the most intense black gay hardcore.

Encouraged by her thoughtful analysis of how blacks are eroticized in the U.S., I decided to stay for something a bit different, the world premiere of “Girls Lie”, billed as alt-porn. Expecting something on the order of Good Vibrations, I was prepared by a brief introduction of the director himself, straight from the San Fernando Valley, to expect 4 “girls” times two, shall we say, “vignettes” (!) Never one to put a book down before the bitter end, I stuck it out aside from a brief sojourn in the lobby, where the waves of thick smoke drove me panting for air back into the theater. When the end finally came, having discovered that I was virtually the only single woman remaining in the theater, and almost certainly the only one NOT in the porn industry, along with a scant number of hetero couples, I listened to four men making the usual comments on “technical” merits.

Oh what the hell, I said, following my rule that it is my duty as an extroverted woman to speak up in male-rich environments. I stood up, explaining my Good-Vibes/San Franciso erotica orientation, and asked exactly what might a woman derive from such a film with eight identical scenarios (some without even the barest nod to plot/set-up) and conclusions (technically known as “facials”). Well, a rather gratifying flurry went through the crowd, followed by half-hearted conjecture on the part of the director that I find this degrading to women (not very hard to counter given I was once involved with a man very into just that sort of thing), and overall a worthwhile discussion about how individualist porn is and that he was pretty much just making the film he wanted to make. FINE, I thought, just don’t call it “alt”!

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