It was a toss up about writing about Dan Savage’s HUMP! tour and some comics related events – but I know you all want to hear about the pr0n so here we go:
HUMP! is an amateur porn film festival based in the American Pacific Northwest. The HUMP! tour features twenty “best of” smutty shorts from previous fests and bills itself as a great showcase for sexual diversity. Its Toronto pit stop was screened in Bloor Cinema, which also graciously hosts the annual Feminist Porn Film Festival earlier in the year.
HUMP! is curated by sex advice columnist, Dan Savage, and his influence is readily apparent. Unsurprizingly, most of the films were more silly than sexy – although there were a few films like Ouroborus and Edged that were shot to get the audience off. Also, as one might expect, the fest was fairly heavy on man on man action, with very little lesbian sex. And finally, the audience was expected to maintain a “safe space” atmosphere, in line with the ethos of the Savage podcast and sex column.
The films’ creativity was the most enjoyable aspect of the fest. Whether it was the whimsical stop-start-animated Magic Love or the amusing mockumentaries The Legend of Gabe Harding and Mythical Proportions, the fest surveyed a refreshing display of smut that went beyond mainstream porn’s handful of boring, poorly lit fuck shots alternating with your standard closeups of penetration. There was also a surprizing quality to some of these amateur flicks which is again why I think viewing porn in public with a big group of friends is the way to go. Can we keep screening porn in theatres and raising the bar please?
Also appreciated was the emphasis on positive representations of sex and consensual pleasure. The fest also completely avoided mainstream porn tropes that traffic in degrading or exploiting women. There is enough of that out there online and even if handled intelligently, it’s murky ground that wouldn’t fit in with the other films.
My only complaint about the fest is that I did think selling the event on diversity was a bit disingenuous. When viewed collectively, the films were definitely much more diverse than mainstream straight porn, and there was diversity in terms of sexual orientation and taste, but I suppose the use of the term raised my expectations too high. The casts for the films were predominantly white and for the most part, people with bodies that fall outside our narrow standards for beauty were played for humour rather than arousal (although when considering the humour-heavy program, I realize that I’m getting quite nit-picky here).
Mainly I’m looking for films that move past the whole idea that “fat people fucking are sooooo funny” and as previously mentioned, I’ve hit my saturation point for pretty, young people boinking. I want mature characters with actual psychological depth and edge, not just playful, well-manicured meat bags grunting and heaving at each other. I want stories that engage the erotic drive from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I want to be challenged and provoked, titilated and terrified – hell, to be cinematically terrorized. What can I say? I am a demanding creature. So the porn in the HUMP! tour wasn’t really the mindfuck I’m always looking for but that’s not to say it’s not going to turn your crank. It was a jolly good show and in terms of having real creativity and actual narratives in porn, it’s a step in the right direction. Definitely check it out if it stops by your town. Bring your friends!