Watching Porn in Public

Offbeat Offerings, ,

DISCLAIMER: NSFW!!! (hopefully the title tipped you off)

“…And then he starts spreading chocolate frosting on the woman’s ass.”

My boss is standing in my open office, describing one of the short films from the 11th annual Hump! Film Festival that he attended Thursday night. It’s a good thing the keepers of the office quote-board aren’t in earshot – they’d have a lot of fodder.

This hilariously inappropriate conversation leaves me intrigued, but my curiosity doesn’t teeter over the edge until the topic comes up again with a friend later that night, while at an Electroswing Burlesque Dance Party. We had just watched Catherine the Great strip and go wild on the horn of a man in a rubber unicorn mask – how much weirder could a porn festival be? (Photo credit Kat Walsh)

Electroswing Burlesque

So she and I buy our tickets for one of the few available shows on Sunday night. The audience milling around the SIFF foyer is a totally normal-looking mix of ages and genders. “I’m about to watch porn with these people,” I remind myself. Once upon a time, before the internet, this was how folks did this.

SIFF Hump

The familiar scent of movie popcorn fills the air, but the pre-show ads cycle between a sex positivity group and an in-home penis molding kit, reminding me this is not a normal theater experience. The MC lays down some ground rules – absolutely no cell phone use and no disparaging remarks – before tossing tiny vibrators into the crowd and starting up the film reel.

The line-up reveals some about what follows:
Hump Ballot

Some shorts are artsy, some go for humor, others are just straight up amateur porn. There’s a film noir in which all the actors are actual penises, dressed in wigs and googly eyes. Another is a mockumentary about a celebrity semen collection.  A video game themed piece takes you through battles with bible thumpers and body shamers before literally fucking the patriarchy in an orgy.

Every so often, a hula hoop or copy of Mike Huckabee’s “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy” makes an appearance – these items are extra credit to prove the material was made just for this festival.

What separates these shorts from much of the porn I’ve seen online (and I admit, I’m not an expert on the subject), is that everyone on screen is having so much fun, their bodies shaking with laughter and their smiles unabashed. The films make a point of creating an emotional connection with the audience in a celebration of diversity. And the audience is having fun, too (with their hands out in the open of course). The only time it gets super awkward is in the moments of silence after a particularly unsettling BDSM short involving animal masks, as everyone figures out how to react before a smattering of applause.

On the way out, I shove my ballot down a cardboard cutout of an asshole, then we head across the street to grab some Dick’s. Suddenly, everything from the name of this classic Seattle diner to the act of licking my ice cream cone seems titillating.

Watching two hours of porn in public is not something I ever imagined I’d do, but it’s now something I recommend that others try.  It’s already sparked several interesting conversations about the porn industry and sexuality.  And it also turns out to be a rollicking fun time.

 

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