Release Date: October 20, 2006
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Starring: Sook-Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, Lindsay Beamish, PJ DeBoy, Raphael Barker, Peter Stickles, Jay Brennan.
Tag Lines: “Voyeurism is Participation.”
“You’ve got to get on to get off.”
“Open Your Mind. And Everything Else.”
“Searching for your inner-sexual soul in The Big Apple.”
Relevance: In the Fall of 2006, I started reading about a new movie by ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ creator and star John Cameron Mitchell. What stood out most to me about his new project was the well advertised inclusion of non-simulated sex used in the filming. In other words, people were really doing “it” not pretending. As an openly gay, horny male, ‘Shortbus’ was immediately added to my mental must see list.
The movie did not play anywhere in theaters around where I was living at the time so unfortunately I had to wait until it was released to home media. Sometime in the Spring of 2007, I rented the film through Netflix. I really wasn’t expecting much from the film, but it was a great excuse to watch porn without saying that you were watching porn. Let’s just say, I got a lot more from the movie than I thought I would.
Yes, ‘Shortbus’ was very explicit. There were scenes showing heterosexual and homosexual intercourse, oral sex with both men and women, group sex, toys, flogging, role play, “money shots” and everything and anything in between. And when I say explicit, I mean explicit. There was nothing left to the viewer’s imagination. With that said, ‘Shortbus’ may have been hard core porn but it had a soft core heart. It was very witty, charming, sweet and very well acted and directed. I loved how the movie didn’t portray sex as something negative, never exploiting it as something “dirty,” but rather show it as something all humans need, want and do. We all want love, we all want relationships and with that comes sex. We just don’t openly talk about it. John Cameron Mitchell did it for us.
Unlike other movies that I love, I did not run out and tell everyone about ‘Shortbus.’ Not because I was embarrassed about liking it, I just know that sex is a very taboo topic for us puritanical Americans. Violence good. Sex bad. So I was a tad selective with whom I recommended the film. I myself couldn’t help but love it though. I was always a somewhat open-minded individual when it came to sexuality and sex, but the movie made me even more open-minded. I had a line in a play once that always stayed with me. “Chacun à son goût.” Basically, to each their own. I adopted this has my mantra for life. And after ‘Shortbus,’ I expanded it to people’s sex lives. As long as someone wasn’t hurting themselves or someone else, have at it.
‘Shortbus’ was definitely more of an art house type film than a major motion picture. However, thanks to its mostly positive reviews as well as some award acknowledgement, it has gained some sort of cult film following. I admit, I searched out the film for the porn, but was thrilled when I discovered a truly brave art piece filled with sex, yes, but more importantly, love.
Today’s Thoughts: “As my dear departed friend Lotus Weinstock used to say: ‘I used to wanna change the world. Now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity.'”
‘Shortbus’ is not a movie that I own and one that I had a difficult time trying to find so I could watch it today. Thankfully I was able to locate it on the “internets” and was able to enjoy this sexually charged comedy-drama.
I forgot just how explicit the film was, but it didn’t take very long for me to be reminded. There are certain movies that have influenced me throughout my life that have pushed boundaries and tried to cross lines of what is acceptable in society or not. ‘Shortbus’ erases that line entirely. It is blunt and in your face, but thanks to its beautiful heart and some very funny scenarios and lines it blurs your perception of porn versus movie. It is quite an entertaining film and I applaud both its director and actors for their brave performances.
It is probably a no-brainer to say that a film as explicit as ‘Shortbus’ contains nudity, but for continuity purposes only, yes you will see a whole lot of penis, both flaccid and erect, in the film. For those counting this makes penis number sixteen on my list of most influential movies of all time. You can check out the fifteen previous penis films here: 112. A Clockwork Orange, 113. Weekend, 120. Sex and the City, 133. Porky’s, 139. Trainspotting, 144. Fargo, 183. Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 199. Six Degrees of Separation, 209. The Fisher King, 295. Being John Malkovich, 296. Wildcats, 332. The Crying Game, 335. Born on the Fourth of July, 343. Sideways and 357. Amadeus.
Normally I would now recommend all of my readers to go out and watch the movie of the day. However, ‘Shortbus’ is another breed of art. Do I recommend it? Absolutely, just know that it is explicit and will be considered pornographic to some of you fine folks out there. Although, if you have an open-mind and want to entertained, and aroused, have a look.
Awards: Film Independent Spirit Producers Award, Howard Gertler, Tim Perrell (winner).
Ways to Watch: Roku, Reel Good, YouTube, DVD Availability.