“There never have been lesbians or gay men in Hollywood films. Only homosexuals.”
That’s how historian Vito Russo ended his 1981 groundbreaking study, “The Celluloid Closet.” You can only wish that Russo was still around to see how life at the movie house has changed.
“Gods and Monsters,” “Kinsey,” the forthcoming “TransAmerica,” and Gregg Araki’s current release “Mysterious Skin” are just part of a spate of quality films showcasing gay people as complex, full-bodied beings that have emerged during post-AIDS gay liberation.
But with quality cinema comes the throwaway film. Queer comedies or serio-comedies, mostly directed and written by gay men or lesbians, are being churned out nowadays like M&M’s. If any of these efforts were heterosexualized and cast members from “Saturday Night Live” were added, these flicks would be playing in malls. Instead, with low budgets, casts of unknowns, screenplays in need of doctoring and uneven technical merits, they become feeder for film festivals or, if lucky, garner a brief run in the Village before they show up a month later on DVD.
Q. Allen Brocka’s “Eating Out,” a forced farce from earlier this year, is a prime example. A highly attractive cast with admirable, yet uneven skills, play often-irritating characters. Plot: straight boy with gay male roommate falls for straight girl with gay male roommate. How does he win her over? He makes believe he’s gay. Almost unbearable to watch with a working brain, the film does, however, boast the most erotic, bisexual dirty phone call ever depicted in cinema.
In this genre, along with “Latin Boys Go to Hell,” “Prom Queen” and “Saving Face,” you can now add “Slutty Summer,” which was directed, written, produced, edited and cast by Casper Andreas, a cute Swede. He’s also the star, which makes one wonder if he had to fuck himself to get the part.
The plot is a simple one. Five waiters––four gays and a self-proclaimed “fag hag”––service customers in a Chelsea restaurant. But when not on duty, which seems most of the time, they chatter about getting laid, falling in love or ex-beaus.
Markus (Andreas) is the newest waiter. He’s still recovering from finding his boyfriend in a sixty-nine-position with a blond on the living room floor. Luke (the delicious Jesse Archer) is the resident slut, who shocks everyone by admitting that he’s also a top at times. Tyler (the striking Jamie Hatchett), is a part-time model who doesn’t believe in monogamy, while Peter (the affable Jeffrey Christopher Todd) is the last of the romantics. Finally, there’s Marilyn (Virginia Bryan), an alcoholic loser who’s hooked on a love that she’ll never find. She’s a character as irritating as the actress that plays her.
Nothing much happens to these stereotypes except sex and chatter about that sex. Markus is seduced by the usually standoffish Tyler in the restaurant’s bathroom. Can this be the beginning of love? Luke meets a man with a big mouth who gives great blowjobs. Peter kvetches about the lack of good men in modern society, and Marilyn drowns in self-pity.
As for the dialogue, here’s a prime example.
Peter: As gay men we’ve been brought up to believe that we can’t be faithful or monogamous, and all we think about is sex. So, what we have to do is train ourselves to think and act differently.
Peter: To find happiness.
Luke: Deep fucking once a week and I’m happy, Peter.
Markus: I need to be alone right now. Find myself again.
Luke: You’re not lost. You’re scared. You can’t question these things, Markus.
Markus: What things?
Luke: I don’t know. Love. Passion.
“Slutty Summer is never less than well-meaning, but at times it comes off as a film trying to be a reality TV show. We can accept these bon mots if we heard them on “The Bachelor,” and we have, haven’t we? But an astute film lets us read these banal truisms in a character’s face or at the moment when he says, “We’re out of onion soup mix,” and you realize what he’s really out of.
Andreas himself may well have explained what went wrong with the film in its press notes: “The plot, story and even the title ‘Slutty Summer’ came to me one night as I was on my way to the gym. Instead of working out that night I sat down in the changing room and wrote down the whole outline for the script on my palm pilot. I thought to myself that this was a film that I could just go out and shoot myself on a shoe-string budget.”
And he did, but imagine what he might have written if he’d been on the way to Barnes & Noble or to a performance of “Die Fledermaus” at the Met.
That Andreas accomplished what he did in just two weeks of shooting is quite remarkable. In the end, there is some fine acting, some great kissing and several good lines (“So I asked him what about my fucking is so incredible? Is it my technique? My studded condoms? Is it the size and shape of my dick? What is it exactly? And he just says to me, ‘I don’t know. All of it.’ It made me feel really good, you know. I feel that if there’s one thing I know If there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s fucking, and that’s the truth.”)
Maybe with “Slutty Summer” as his calling card, on his next effort Andreas will be able to concentrate more on the directing and writing, and be able to leave the producing, the casting, the editing, the catering and the acting to others. There is talent here.