“Potch ! Oosh Buru !” (old Mayan proverb meaning : “Way to go ! The light is coming through !”)



Two or three years ago, I was visiting a small art exhibition during a local film festival. The topic was naked males. I was fascinated by the impression of reality exuding from the paintings, even more so when the painter showed me pictures of the guys he had asked to pose. I wanted to try the thing myself, actually, because it seemed original and fun, but wasn’t sure I’d fit the model requirements. Even though he did find me a little too buffed up for his usual clientele, he accepted a free try out.

During this experiment, we vaguely elaborated on the meaning of art. There was a Bel Ami calendar hanging on the wall, filled with naked boys of course, some erect, some not, and he told me he still considered this a form of art, but this was his very limit. To him, when there was exposed sexual intercourse involved, art was no longer the issue.

He wouldn’t like any of Catherine Breillat’s provocative yet femininely sensual movies, nor would he consider the extra long fellatio scene between Chloe Sevigny (who had already been used by Larry Clark earlier) and Vincent Gallo as anything else than the expression of a highly narcissistic ego.

Yet, the attempts to build bridges between conventional cinema and porn are numerous… In “Le Pornographe”, filmmaker Bertrand Bonello portrayed an aging and raging porn film director drowning in despair who wanted to get more out of the filming of a sex act than just the flesh, whose dream was to make the emotions he was hoping the cast would feel visible, sharable, almost touchable, secretly aiming at some fusion state between both sides of the screen. Of course, the sponsors of the movie saw it in a completely different way, and commercialized the whole thing.

These attempts are bi-directional : a few progressive and intelligent porn directors (among which Philip Mond and his “Insexts”) are trying to bridge the gap from the other side, because they’re convinced there’s more to the filming of sex than just the crude act itself. So, they imagine a social or supra-social context (sometimes close to surrealism) in which to distillate the deed, or, at the very opposite of this, they’re working on erasing all the artificial aspects of it, in order to make it look as close to sublime reality as possible (which closes the circle of perversion, of course).

In the second category, Michael Lucas undoubtedly wins the Golden Balls award. Judge for yourself :


Of course, both Lucas and his partner Lucio (pronounce “Lussyo”…) are gorgeous creatures, but the emphasis lies on the spirit of the scene rather than on the display of meat, which is tending to become very rare these days.

In the mid seventies, everything was about experimenting, not only with drugs, but also in porn. To have beautiful looks, a gym fiend physique and a huge schlamming schlong wasn’t as important as today. In that day, atmosphere, flesh and desire melted together to give birth to something original. At least, it could, whereas nowadays all is a matter of (easy selling) format.

Take “The Summer Session” for instance : the young guys depicted in this short movie are as cute as some of their contemporary counterparts, but could you seriously imagine Jack Harrer doing Todd Rosset with Pink Floyd’s “Time” as a musical background ? Could you set your mind on former police inspector Kris Evans’ magical release of energy while listening to “A Great Gig In The Sky” (1) ?…


As a commercial answer to what could be considered a slight reminiscence of courtly love in the seventies’ gay porn (Don’t laugh !…), the very fast growing industry imagined categories (twinks, trannies, uro, gangbang, etc) and drop dead gorgeous actors performing like yellow rabbits on cocaine, whereas prior to that frenzy, time was of the essence… Of course there are the Bjorns, the Kazans, the Higginses of this world and their classical approach of things, but, without any disrespect, aren’t they a dying breed ?

Context, originality, feeling… all that had to make way for format ! As a consequence, the almost infinite variety and complexity of human intercourse has become a routine-based in-and-out-movement where the only diversity lies in the bodies (hence the constant need for new flesh) and the gesture, accentuated by close-ups en veux-tu en voilà (becoming either violent because of the frustrating repetitiveness of sheer excitement, as in most contemporary straight porn movies, or uselessly insane, like the triple penetration of a woman…) !


Is porn projecting an image of a given society at a given time, or is it the other way around ? In other words, does it influence the way we apprehend sex ? Rather than looking for the chicken or the egg, it’s probably safe to say we’re dealing with a sub-circular movement that is destroying creativity and posthumously honoring the avant-garde vision Pasolini shared with his viewers in his later works, namely mechanics ruthlessly replacing meaning…

To Duchamp, art can be everywhere. His free approach of genres and styles, amidst the avant-garde of the early XXth century, allowed him to question the interactions between life, art and symbol. To Warhol, in some respects his spiritual son, the matter is settled : art is everywhere, even in duplication.  But if indeed art is everywhere, can it become a prison ? Can it be something dangerous ?…

More fundamentally, what is art, really ? Can it be defined ? Is life itself a form of art ? What are the necessary ingredients ? Uniqueness, in opposition to industrial manufacturing ? Warhol and Haring would disagree. Intention ? Perhaps, but according to Jacques Brel, once an artist makes his oeuvre public, that oeuvre doesn’t belong to him (her) anymore… Purpose, then ? Numerous confirmed artists would vehemently answer that art has no purpose and / or it shouldn’t have any ! The only remaining criterion is technique…

Then again, the few survivors of the CoBrA movement would surely disagree, convinced as they are that anyone can use raw art to express oneself.

Let us illustrate this debate with a recent Belgian news fact. One week ago, while on their way from Spain to Greece (or something like that), a few activists who name themselves Indignados were able to briefly enjoy the occasional shelter provided to them by the Brussels based HQ of The Hub (http://brussels.the-hub.net/public), an organization advocating a better world, where social and environmental needs would be fulfilled, at last.

When vacating the premises, the Outraged left a real mess behind them : the rooms left at their disposal were covered with cheap graffiti and garbage, as if a tornado had torn up the place. Amidst the mayhem, one word tagged on a banister : ”corazon” (Spanish for “heart”, as in “our world lacks corazon”, or feelings…).

Asked by the press whether they condoned this malpractice and obvious lack of respect, the movement’s spokespersons claimed they had nothing to do with it. According to them, a few disruptive elements (Small gangsters ? Undercover police ?) entered the Hub after they had left and tried, with this disrespectful stunt, to destroy the good reputation the Indignados enjoy among the general public.

Of course, every single journalist treated this news under the angle of law and order (which, given the prerequisites of their profession, is perfectly understandable) and none even uttered the possibility that this was not just the unfortunate work of a bunch of uneducated teenagers, but that it could mean something.

In all corners of Europe, private multinationals are promised golden advantages if they open a branch in any particular country (guarantee to pay almost no taxes, public support for infrastructural adaptations to the sites, and so on). Recent examples of businesses which, after making full use of these absurdly generous gifts, decided to seek new luck and new gifts in other parts of the world (or even the continent !), thereby dumping their work force without a blink, are legion. And let’s not even mention some banks which, after being saved from bankruptcy by public money, are now speculating on public assets. That’s the fucked up world we live in, unfortunately !

What was the atmosphere between Indignados at the Hub ? Was it gentle and kind, or agitated, on the contrary ? Where these kids drunk when they decided to cover the place with graffiti (if they really are the ones who did it, of course…) ? Were they angry or rational ? Was their deed premeditated or instinctive ? Did they seek to bring out a message ? If so, was this message generated by an artistic process ? For those who interpret what Brel said in an even wider spectrum, the answers to those questions are irrelevant, because, whatever the intentions of the Outraged were, supposing they had any, the result doesn’t belong to them anymore, and so we are left with what could be considered a work of art, a miniature representation of today’s world that could be entitled : “Bite the hand that feeds you !”…


(1)    The Floyd seem to have inspired a lot of (gay) amateur porn directors back then, when copyrights weren’t what they are today… In “The Graduates” (a vintage gay porn movie without any relation to either Dustin Hoffman or Rob Bradford) , you can even witness the unholy alliance of dick and “Echoes”… Cheers !


August 2020

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