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April 13, 1994 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-04-13

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 13, 1994

"Sex Is ..." just something we
don't talk about. No matter how much
Salt N' Pepa urge us, we hold sacred
the notion that sex is something to be
Sex Is ...
Directed and produced by Marc
done, not to be discussed.
Enter gay filmmaker Marc Huestis,
who believes that the repression of
such discussion - especially in the
gay community -can be detrimental
to our generation. Huestis has there-
fore given us "Sex Is ...," an 80-
minute documentary which allows
free, uncensored and - most impor-
tantly - non-judgmental discussion
of gay male sex in the '90s.
Huestis has assembled an admi-
rable cast which truly represents a
cross-section of the gay community.
They range in age from 19 to 73, and
range in occupation from student to
porn star to historian to minister. They
are Black, white, Latino and Asian.

' demystif
They all have the firm conviction that
sex has had a tremendous impact on
their respective identities.
The men are all "interviewed" by
Huestis, who is not only behind the
camera but also in the film. They
discuss growing up, realizing their
sexuality, fantasy and masturbation,
first sexual experiences, San Fran-
cisco in the '70s ("It was like
Babylon!"), the onslaught of AIDS,
looking for love, safe sex and the
future. Their monologues are spliced
with explicit gay porno movie clips,
photos of the men growing up and bits
from 1950's sexual health films.
By virtue of this film's content, it
may seem as if Huestis is proclaiming
himself spokesperson for the gay com-
munity. The classification of AIDS as
a "homosexual disease" was inextri-
cably woven into an assumption that
all gay men did was have sex. The
film's depiction of the bars, the baths
and the whole cruising scene might as
well be validation; gay men are de-
fined by their sexual habits. This is a
very dangerous and very real possi-
bility, especially in the first third of
the film.

ies the topic
However, it seems as if Huestis clips. T
anticipated this situation, and has de- probabl
voted the bulk of the film to the post- viewer n
AIDS mindset. He accepts the fact but also
that AIDS did serve as a wake-up call which tt
for many gay men, and brought on a The1
re-evaluation of ideals and sexual empowe
habits. "(In the '70s), people were integral
indulging in what was their pleasure it does b
as extreme as their imagination could logues,i
take them," Huestis says. ters don
Cut to December 17, 1982 and the Because
theme music of "20/20." "It's myste- persona
rious. It's deadly. It's baffling medi- the film
cal science." And the identity of gay sonal qL
men became the identity of gay men distracti
in the wake of AIDS. Lovers were film mo
lost, quilt panels were made, habits ground.
changed. Thou
However, the film is not an AIDS memory
documentary, and nor is it a Larry is clearl
Kramer play. It is not preachy. or Howeve
angry, or self-driven. The men are discussi
extremely candid, honest, often hu- discussi
morous and always real. Through their nity,
stories, Huestis is able to show that Hues
sex is a crucial part of the gay male demysti
identity, but it is not the only part. time tha
A controversial aspect of "Sex Is EX IS
.." will no doubt be the gay porno gan The

of sex
hey are explicit, and they will
y offend even the most liberal
not only because of the action
because of the words with
hey are juxtaposed.
porn footage is an extremely
ering device for Huestis, and
to the film's credibility. While
reak up the flow of the mono-
it says things that the charac-
't want to say, or can't say.
they interrupt such intensely
i stories, the clips introduce to
an almost reductive, imper-
uality. But instead of being
ng, they actually give Huestis'
re grounding and more back-
ugh it is dedicated to "the
of Jesse Helms," "Sex Is..."
y a movie made for gay men.
er, Huestis' aim is to provoke
on. By generating such open
on among the gay commu-
stis has taken a big step in
fying the topic of sex. It's
at everyone else takes theirs.
... is playing at the Michi-
ater tonight and Thursday.

Continued from page 5
play "cuts through the sequence vest
and shows you the tattered undergar-
With the help of the playwright,
Robert Anton Wilson, this produc-
tion was able to make significant
change to the script. Marshall stated
that "when the play was originally
written, Regan and Thatcher were in
office, the Cold War was on, and it
was an 'us' and 'them' attitude. It's
not like that anymore, the political
climate has changed, but maybe not
for the better. The changes made to
the script reflect what is happening
The play deals with a number of
issues, however, two are clearly pre-
dominant: the issues of violence and

Violence, said Marshall, "looms
large in the play, like in our world,"
symbolized by the "Violence Meter
an ominous computer, ticking away
in the lobby.
The issue of sexuality, and its s6-
cietal taboo, is also dealt with. "Dealt
with," says Marshall, "in a powerful
fashion, whether humorous or highly
disturbing." It is a graphic presenta-
tion of the issue.
"William Reich in Hell" should
keep the audience jumping through*
the many hoops it presents as it twists
and turns, creating confusion and pan-
demonium, like a real three-ring cir-
being performed through April 24
at the Performance Network (408
West Washington). Performances
are Thursday through Saturday at 8
p.m. and Sunday at 7p.m. For more
info call 663-0681.

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