Outdoors Cruising: the art behind the bushes
On a quest for anonymous and casual sex? ‘Outdoors Cruising’ is not dead!
Outdoors cruising is not dead!
We have all heard stories of the ‘old days’ – before mobile apps – when homosexuality was a taboo or even illegal. For many gay men, outdoors cruising was the only way to be able to find a sexual encounter.
Nowadays, homosexuality is no longer criminal in most of the western world and technology is here to stay. Socialising with our friends or acquaintances behind a screen and finding a sexual partner has never been easier.
But some still prefer the rush and the forbidden pleasure of a casual outdoors hook up with a random stranger.
If you think the rise of new technologies and the closure of gay adult entertainment venues is killing cruising – think again.
From underground culture to art
Outdoors cruising has been source of inspiration for many artists, Touko Laaksonen (a.k.a. Tom of Finland) being one of the most recognisable names exploring the artistic potential of cruising.
Young artists have proved that this element of the sexuality of gay men is alive and more popular than ever. Their artwork can be seen in screens and galleries all over the world.
A brilliant example of that new generation of artists is Antonio da Silva.
The young award-winning Portuguese experimental filmmaker explores the hidden side of homoerotic culture in a voyeuristic and indie way.
On his official site he explains:
“I have always been fascinated by male sex and sexuality. I became increasingly frustrated with how moving image explored this and have begun to make it the subject of my films over the last three years. I do not consider myself a pornographer but a filmmaker who use my background to choreograph short films with explicit sex themes.”
His journey started back in 2011 with “Mates” – an intimate view into the world of online hook ups. Since then, Antonio has been exploring many themes of the gay culture such as fetish, voyeurism and, of course, outdoors cruising.
Each film is a mystic combination of sound, image and movement that captivates the viewer from the first second. and has granted him a space in some of the most wanted film festivals all over the world.
From the ‘hidden camera’ documentary style of Bankers, the dance-based choreographic scenes of Dancers, to the futuristic – and almost stroboscopic – view into the world of online gay sex of Spunk, Antonio keeps experimenting and delighting his viewers with the most captivating homoerotic short films.
“Cruising in the Park” – a sensorial immersion into the cruising scene
On his most recent work – “Cruising in the Park” – Antonio teamed up with Fabio Lopes.
The duo take us on a journey into the world of outdoors cruising breaking the mainstream staged pornographic cinematography.
Combining low angle and close up shots with real audio experience and a narrative it gives us a first-person experience.
And, if just like me, you are a massive fan of adaptations of dark themed comic books like Jessica Jones and Watchmen, you will fall in love with Rodrigo Penalosa’s deep voiced narrator’s commentary throughout the film.
Don’t believe me, then watch the trailer above.
No Ordinary Boy
A collection of shorts that celebrate Boys On Film.
Boys on Film is a continuing collection of short films that explore the gay experience. Volume 19 in the series has now been released, and ‘No Ordinary Boy’ is the theme that connects all featured films.
This volume, featuring ten films, showcases the work of filmmakers from around the world and tackles a diverse range of subjects.
The films featured are:
Michael Joseph Jason John
Michael Joseph Jason John is a romantic thriller that explores one-night stands and the thrill and risks of our hook-up culture.
Written and directed by Scott T. Hinson, the film follows the story of a single man that imagines what life would be like with a mysterious stranger he picks up on the New York City subway.
In an interview with Hinson, the director explains that he didn’t set out to make a cautionary tale but doesn’t see it as a bad things if people see it a such.
The director recalls seeing the end scene of Paris is Burning prior to ever having his first one night stand. In the scene, Venus Xtravaganza is found dead under a bed of a seedy motel room. The ultimate case of tricking gone wrong, as Hinson describes it.
“The thought of that has never, ever left me” explaines Hinson. “Going into every anonymous encounter I’ve ever had, a little voice has whispered – You know this dude could jack you up, right?”
Maacher Jhol – The fish curry
The animated short, directed by Abhishek Verma, follows the story of Lalit.
Lalit is a 28-year-old Indian guy who decides to come out to his father. In order to do so, he plans to cook the traditional fish curry Maacher Johl. Being is father’s favourite dish, Lalit hopes that the meal will help him win his father’s acceptance.
“It’s very difficult for someone to hide their identity, their sexuality, and their desires for such a long period of their life…” explained Verma, talking about his inspiration for the film. “Some people have to do it for their entire life.”
Blood Out Of A Stone
Written and directed by Ben Allen, the story revolves around two gay men getting back into the dating game.
After each had been single for quite some time, Michael sets Dan a challenge on their first date together. An icebreaker of sorts, that throws Dan out of his comfort zone. Not used to dates requiring such vulnerability, Dan struggles to handle the challenge. East London provides the backdrop to this intimate story of immediate connection.
“In this film, the character of Dan is based on me and my experiences as a single gay man in my twenties…” explains Allen, talking about his inspiration for the story. “London was such a double-edged sword for me at that time – its vastness and unpredictability were both a blessing and a curse, and I was often finding myself getting my fingers burnt in short-term flings with guys who I would fall for very quickly.”
No More We
Directed and written by David Färdmar, this Swedish drama follows the break-up story of Hampus and his fiancé Adrian.
One morning, Hampus tells Adrian that “There’s No More We”. He feels total relief, the weight of their destructive relationship slips off his shoulders. For his fiancé, Adrian, it’s a devastating shock. How can they now help each other navigate the beginning of the end?
A small film about a big subject, where endings can also be beginnings.
In an interview with the director, Färdmar confirmed drawing inspiration from his personal life.
“I can’t deny that one of the characters is more based on ‘me’ and the other one is a mix of my two exes…” confirmed Färdmar. “But, I’ve just tried to create two interesting characters that I want to portray and see on the big screen. It’s fiction, not a documentary. When I look at the film now, I don’t really see myself or my exes on the screen, I just see Adrian and Hampus.”
Between Here And Now
Visiting Copenhagen, Tony meets local boy Oscar at a bar. Initially cautious, Tony finds himself drawn to Oscar and their relationship rapidly intensifies. However, things get more complicated when they realise the loneliness forges stronger friendships.
Jannik Splisboel, writer and director of Between Here and Now, describes it as “a story about two men and what could have been a great story”.
In an interview, the director talks about how complex our need for intimacy and physical connection can be. “We’re afraid of showing feelings, and that’s a shame” explains Splisboel.
“I think we’ve all had encounters where it could have developed into something more, but for different reasons it just didn’t. I wanted to tell a story about two men and what could have been a great love story.”
This short film directed by Amrou Al-Kadhi follows the story of Nazeem.
The 26-year-old Middle Eastern drag queen, known as Queen Za Dream, is preparing her latest Egyptian themed show.
She recalls memories of her childhood as an 8-year-old boy when a transgressive moment broke the seemingly close bond with her flamboyant Iraqi-Egyptian mother, Halima, who is governed by the strict expectations of gender in Arab society.
Only through his drag can the adult Nazeem keep sacred the memories of his mother before this painful moment.
A naive actor auditions for a film which could launch his career. The things he’s asked to do make him more and more uncomfortable.
Directed by Dean Loxton, the film draws on his personal experiences and recreates an audition that he was subjected to as an actor.
In an interview with the director, Loxton confirms that the film is a “pretty accurate” depiction of what happened to him.
I asked Loxton how true to life is the film’s depiction of what happened.
“It was only a few years later, looking back, that I saw it for what it was – a hotel, only the director, me half-naked.” he recalls. “I was twenty – I felt for the lads in their late-teens waiting to go in. Some had their mum’s with them that I doubt were allowed in the room”.
Written and directed by Jake Graff, Dusk portrays 1950s England and the struggles of Chris to fit into the accepted gender roles in an intolerant and uninformed world.
After a tough childhood, he meets dream woman Julie, but is haunted by the growing feeling that theirs is a life half lived.
Endlessly imagining what might have been, Chris is finally struck by the realisation that for some decisions there is no right answer.
Jermaine and Elsie
Written and produced by Ashley Campbell and directed by Leon Lopez, Jermaine and Elsie brings us the story of Elsie – a fiercely independent and opinionated pensioner with a drink problem – and Jermaine – her black and sexually ambiguous carer.
Initially, their relationship is tumultuous but Jermaine is able to win her over with his non-conventional ways.
When Jermaine mysteriously disappears, Elsie becomes determined to find out what happened to him.
Directed by Marco Alessi, the story revolves around Raf. He’s young, fun and on the pull, but he is struggling to find his place among the crowd. Sometimes it’s that moment when you stop trying that magic really strikes.
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