[Editor's note: Out Twin Cities Film Fest is hitting the Theatres at Mall of America next week with special screenings and events showcasing LGBTQ-themed cinema. Leading up to the festivities, we'll be highlighting a few of the participating filmmakers.]
Ever wonder why gay men are seemingly obsessed with the idea of masculinity? Look no further than Lawrence Ferrara's Power Erotic. The gritty documentary dives deep into the sex lives of gay men, addressing the idea of masculinity, dominance, submission, and the root of sexual desires. While some may find its brutal honesty to be a bit disturbing, Ferrara is hoping it will open a dialogue about gay sexuality.
The Cambridge-based filmmaker caught up with City Pages before the Out Twin Cities Film Festival to chat about his in your face, NSFW film.
City Pages: What was your inspiration for Power Erotic?
Lawrence Ferrara: I made this film to not to explore what men do in the bedroom, but why. To explore why dominance, power, and masculinity are so sexually exciting to the vast majority of gay men. I conducted interviews with some of the best researchers in the world, took footage of gay men in action, and edited it together to make this film.
I interviewed men who were bullied in high school and then went home and masturbated, and now they are seeking to recreate those scenes in a sexual way. I find that psychologically interesting.
Do you think this idea of power and masculinity is new, or do you think people haven't wanted to talk openly about it?
Power, strength, and masculinity are not new at all. It's part of our evolution. Ovid, the philosopher in ancient Rome commented on it. There are very few people that are comfortable talking about sexuality in general, much less dominance and submission fantasies, which are even more taboo.
What was the most difficult part of filming?
I was told that I would never be able to make this film. The most difficult part of filming was finding guys who did not mind living out their fantasies of dominance and submission on camera. As you can imagine, erotic scenes of dominance, objectification, subjugation, and humiliation were difficult to capture. It was a miracle the film got made at all.
Surprisingly, it was even more difficult to find men willing to be interviewed. I feel that there is something incredibly intimate, raw, and honest about interviewing someone who has just had a sexual encounter. The mind is still fresh under the hypnotic spell stimulated by the adrenaline. As the physical gives rise to the psychological, and two bodies just feel their hearts beat in sync, the interview begins: Raw, honest, intimate.
How are people responding? What is the common takeaway?
The reaction in mixed. The film is brutal in its honesty, which some people find refreshing and others find disturbing. In Europe, the film was very well received. They loved it in Poland. In Turin, they discussed it at length and, as you can see in the video clip, appreciated its honesty.
The U.S. premier will be in Minneapolis, so I have not yet had an audience reaction here in the U.S. However, one reviewer stated he was shocked and disturbed yet mesmerized all at the same time. It's a "mind fuck" as he puts it, and I guess he's right.
I think it's the psychological component that people have strong reactions to. The film is confrontational, forcing us to take a deeper look into what motivates our sexual behavior. For many that can be challenging.
If so many men have this similar mindset, do you think one day it will eventually be more open?
The most common fantasy is one of dominance and submission, yet no one seems willing to discuss it. Most gay men don't even discuss it with their best friend.
For a man to be submissive -- especially to another man -- is associated with shame, and it relates to our ideas about masculinity and gender roles. I think those scripts need to be relaxed for us to be willing to be open about these fantasies without embarrassment, guilt, or shame.
Who taught you to be a man?
I always ask gay men who taught them to be a man. No one ever says that it was their father. It seems that gay men do not look to their fathers as a strong male role model, which is disappointing since that is the sex to which we will be attracted and have emotional and sexual relationships with when we get older. Some of the most surprising interviews in the film relate father issues with acts of sexual submission.
For me, I learned a little bit from other family members who I looked up to, and the rest I learned through experience.
IF YOU GO:
OUT Twin Cities Film Fest
Theatres at Mall of America
For tickets and info, visit www.otcff.org
$10 for single screenings; $200 for all-access pass
Wednesday, June 4, through Sunday, June 8