Musto on Anonymous Gay Sex & Lesbian Prostitution at the Cineplex!

9.30.2013

By Michael Musto

Also: Mo Rocca Cooks With Gays

Finally, you can watch actual gay sex acts without having to self-consciously stand around a public cruise park while trying to avoid splinters. It all happens onscreen in Stranger By The Lake, the hypnotic French film (opening in January) which takes place in a gay hookup area by a French lake—a sort of Gallic answer to the Fire Island Meat Rack. The film includes scenes of actual oral sex, not to mention a masturbation sequence that culminates with full climax, plus lots of (I assume simulated) fucking—and the result had the New York Film Festival press screening audience I saw it with enraptured, amazed, and in one case yelling “Ugh!”

But before you become too aroused, let me tell you that all the freewheeling lovemaking al fresco is encased in a story about the pitfalls of anonymous carrying on—whether those traps be unrequited love, extreme game-playing, or even death. The result can be seen as an allegory about AIDS, or maybe just about compulsion, but either way, the upshot isn’t pretty (though the guys certainly are). 

The film’s central twosome consists of a 20-something romantic (Pierre de Ladonchamps) who obsesses on a dream man he’s encountered at le cruising area, and the dream man himself (Christophe Paou), a moustachioed ‘70s-porn-star-looking swimmer who’s possibly shady in a way that isn’t necessarily a turnoff for the 20-something love freak. One of the cruise regulars is found drowned, and I won’t tell you who did what, but I will say that in the old days, we would have probably protested this film as another “psycho gay” story. Fortunately, nowadays we have more representation of all types out there, plus director Alan Guiraudie has done spellbinding work here (until the last 20 minutes or so go off the rails), so I have to applaud with one boner up. Besides, a lot of people just might have a great time identifying with the pudgy guy standing around the cruise park with his business out, always trying to cop a feel!

Lesbian sex gets spotlighted in a movie opening this Friday, and you certainly can’t say, “Yawn. This kind of thing has been done before.” It’s Concussion, first-time director Stacie Passon’s assured look at a lesbian housewife who’s accidentally (and symbolically) hit with her son’s ball, then emerges with a whole new mindset. It really makes her crazy (though she never skanks around a French lake, at least). Remember The Kids Are All Right, when Julianne Moore strayed from Annette Bening because she needed validation? In that case, she went for a man and we all murmured, “Oh, no! Desperate!” Well, here, Abby (the excellent Robin Weigert, who doesn’t sugarcoat her character) actually goes for other women. Who pay her. She becomes a prostie for other lesbians! 

After hiring a female escort to spice up her existence, Abby decides to jump into the fray herself, working for “the Girl” (a brusque college student looking for some extra cash), but finding mixed results that don’t always sweeten her pepperpot. Her clients range from shy first-timers to brittle been-around-the-blockers, culminating with an overly aggressive sadist who chokes Abby way more than she likes. The film slows down towards its final stretch—and no doubt for the sake of ratings, there’s a lot more kissing going on than anything else—but still, this is an intriguing look at a mid-life awakening and a reminder that gay men aren’t the only ones who stray (and pay). I can’t wait to get hit in the head by a ball and become a ‘ho! In France!

THE MO THE MERRIER

From balls in the head, let’s segue to meatballs in the mouth. Like me, TV personality Mo Rocca is an Italian American gay who somehow never learned how to cook. On the Cooking Channel’s My Grandmother’s Ravioli—the second season premieres on October 2 at 8 PM EST—he compensates for that by seeking out other people’s grandparents’ recipes and wolfing them down while getting to know the old folks and all their multifarious charms. 

Mo said he likes doing the show because, “First of all, you get fed. And I knew I wanted to do something with grandparents—people who generally say what’s on their mind and don’t care what other people think of them. That’s an admirable trait.”

This season, the show will cover a pair of gay grandpas—namely Pete and Louie, who live together in upstate New York. “Pete was married and had three kids,” Mo told me. “When his kids were 5, 6, and 7, he met Louie, and Louie moved in.” “Was Louie always out?” I wondered. “Louie is from North Dakota,” Mo replied, dryly. “It’s hard to come out of the closet there. There are not many people. Who do you tell?” It’s the old “If a tree falls in a forest…” routine.

Even more shockingly, Louie didn’t know that singing legend Peggy Lee is from his home state. “Maybe he’s not really gay,” I quipped. “But he did know Lawrence Welk is from there,” said Mo. “Then he’s definitely not gay!” I deadpanned. “In the era of Miley Cyrus,” said Mo, “we cling to figures like Lawrence Welk.” Miley would no doubt do great work around a lake in Europe.

As for the food, Mo said he and the gay grandfathers made a very gay dessert—namely a peach crisp. “We had to be very clear to say it’s a crisp, not a crumble,” he added, “even though it has crumble on top. We ended up calling it a peach crusple.” 

But let’s drop the semantics and get down to my own recipe for breaking stories: While some say Mo came out on The Daily Show, the reality is that he first did so on my old blog in 2010, when he told me his boyfriend helped him write a joke for the Tony Awards. “I think I came out on John McEnroe’s CNBC show,” he cracked when I brought this up, “but that’s like coming out in North Dakota.” 

Our conversation geographically moved to the gay resort of Provincetown, which Mo loves, saying, “I like the fact that the pilgrims anchored there first. Technically, the first Thanksgiving was there.” They probably had a peach crusple.

A “GLASS” ACT

Let’s end in St. Louis, where Tennessee Williams’ 1944 classic The Glass Menagerie brings three family members and a gentleman caller together for some high-pressure memories of jonquils and “blue roses.” John Tiffany’s Broadway revival of the play earns the bouquets, getting to the clarity of the language as well as the “Hello, pot!” hypocrisies of characters calling each other “manufacturers of illusion.” Cherry Jones is broad and attention grabbing as Amanda Wingfield, the faded belle who’s terrified of silence, while Zachary Quinto is perfect as her downtrodden writer son Tom, who’s fed up with mama’s cries of “Rise and shine!” and generally just wants to disappear into the night. Celia Keenan-Bolger is touching as the socially inept daughter Laura, while Brian J. Smith is terrific as the gent who awakens her love, then breaks her heart and unicorn. I loved Bob Crowley’s set—an endless tower of fire escapes, which makes it clear that only a natural catastrophe could get someone out of this apartment. But I could have done without the pretentious movements the characters are made to act out between scenes to enforce the abstractness. Still, since it was a memory play, it’s possible that never really happened. Like that stranger by the lake….

 

But wait! Here’s some Broadway-style gossip that’s as real as my granny’s gravy meats. I hear that for the upcoming, updated movie remake of Annie, they’ve worked out a back story for the nasty Miss Hannigan. Turns out she was in a female singing group, but was tossed out and bitterly threw herself into caring for (i.e. torturing) foster children. Sounds like a hard knock life all the way around.

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