A postcard hangs over Florian’s bed and it reads: Fat kids are harder to kidnap. Florian is a fat kid. I use the word fat because, to quote Beth Ditto, “overweight” would imply that there is such a thing as normal weight. Both the funny postcard and Ditto’s quote are empowering messages that fat kids like Florian need since they are constantly reminded by others that what they are is not normal. The fact that Florian is about to come out as gay doesn’t make things easier and when his fat dad tells him that he wasn’t as fat as a kid, Ditto comes to mind again: “It’s a cruel, cruel world to face on your own.” Luckily, Florian has a best friend and ally who shares the soundtrack of his life…
In 1980, William Friedkin, probably best known for directing The Exorcist, made a thriller that is set in New York’s gay and fetish scene and deals with a psychopathic killer who chooses his victims in darkrooms. Al Pacino plays a straight undercover cop who immerses himself into the gay scene in search of the murderer. Though filmed with the support of local Manhattan gay bars, certain activists smelled homophobic undertones in the script and tried to interrupt and prevent the shooting of the film. When the film was eventually released, 40 sexually explicit minutes of Cruising were cut and are still kept under wraps by the production company today. More than 30 years later, filmmakers Travis Mathews and James Franco had the idea of reconstructing the missing material according to their imagination. The result can be seen at this year’s Berlin Porn Film Festival. Interior. Leather Bar. is a bold experiment and a film that defies many definitions and might disappoint conventional expectations – despite its explicit sex scenes.
I have to be honest with you: before watching Behind the Candelabra, I didn’t have any idea who Liberace was. Call me ignorant, call me not gay enough, or call me too young. Calling myself too young at the age of 30, on the other hand, is so gay that I will have to go with ignorant after all. Yesterday a film came out in Berlin that might feel inappropriate for this column and you might ask yourself why I want to talk about it. It got tons of good press already, it has Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in it, and it so glamorous that it stands out from the selection of small films that I usually discuss. But apart from being a glamorous, fabulous and insightful travel into the times of “Walter” Liberace, Behind the Candelabra is an astonishing testament of a film that was made for television and its queer discourse.
I don’t remember the first time I went cruising but I still remember that my heart raced so fast I almost collapsed with excitement. Now that the summer is coming to an end and the leaves will soon be falling off the trees in the parks, the small refuges of anonymous gay sex will make way for a cold and unfriendly winter and cruisers will have to abandon the public spheres and escape to the private cellars and darkrooms of the bars and clubs again.