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It’s Time To HUMP – HUMP 2010

November 7, 2010

This may only be interesting to those of us in Seattle (and now Portland) who get to HUMP every autumn. HUMP, for the rest of you, is a pretty huge amateur porn festival that is the brain (or love) child of Dan Savage and sponsored by The Stranger, here in Seattle. It is also one of the greatest evenings of sociological data gathering you can possibly imagine. For instance, where else can you learn that 95% of the population will audibly gasp in shock while bending over in all kinds of discomfort watching a “nun” slide a (sharp and pointy) crucifix in an out of the penis of a homeless man? Can’t find that info anywhere else, my friends.

While some of what unfurls each year definitely pushes my boundaries in countless ways, I have never left feeling anything other than delighted that the world is full of possibility, and there is someone for everyone. As a friend says, “a lid for every pot.”  I am profoundly joyful to see that whatever it is you’re in to, chances are good, someone else is into it to.

HUMP reaffirms my commitment to creating a world of open dialog about sexuality. One in which we can be authentic in a healthful and fulfilling way without shame and coercion. The only way to get there is to create a world in which our variety is accepted, and we have the vocabulary to seek out our pots and lids. HUMP is that, in spades. It is an hour and half where the world that I fantasize deeply about – which has nothing to do with boobs and cocks and things that go hump in the night – is all around me. It is a room full of people who have agreed, with open minds and hearts, to accept the most intimate fantasies of people who present them in the most vulnerable possible way. This is what it means to come together.

But ya, people seemed pretty universally aghast by the whole crucifix thing. So glad they found each other, because my imaginary penis throbbed all night after watching that.

So, what is the spectrum? Everything from gut-wrenchingly funny to a bit twisted, to the kind of things that “normal” people fantasize about. (Sure, we make fun of the horny hot neighbor across the hall, but come on, it wouldn’t suck if…..)There were a lot of highlights for me this year.

  • Hotel Uranus was a fabulous claymation creation in which a room full of alien creatures ate a magic substance that made them all ready to get it on. (Ecstasy?) They then all had weird, colorful alien sex in ways that only bizarre alien species could. Fabulous.
  • America’s Funniest Home Videos were, indeed, hysterical. Magically taking clips of the real show and creating short “home videos” of sex gone wrong to match what the host of the show was saying. Complete with hysterical commercials for products we all know and use with an absolutely porny twist.
  • Speaking of commercials, what film fest would be complete without a take on Mad Men? Ad Men not only gave us totally hot gay sex, but finally revealed how the iconic Apple and Nike logos and taglines came to be.
  • This was the first time that I witnessed fireplay as a kink. I’d heard of it, but never seen it, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. This film simply showed fire spreading across a beautiful body and the grace of the firemaster as his hand first spread the accelerant, then lit the flame, than ran a loving hand long the trail of flame to extinguish it. A silent audience seemed to appreciate it for the art that it is. And was thankful for the repeated DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME warnings. (SERIOUSLY, I hesitate to mention it for fear anyone may go try this. This is serious business and is done by people who are well-trained, DON’T DO IT!)
  • Given that this is Dan Savage’s lovechild, there was, of course, an “It Get’s Better” video with hot enough gay sex that I actually wished I had a penis. (Of my own, not the kind I occasionally borrow.)
  • I found myself impossibly amused – even enjoying – the final film, which was an animated hip-hop video of sorts featuring cross-stitch come to life, kitschy Americana portraits gone awry, live action of models all knit together flawlessly as a video better than I remember seeing on MTV in decades. The song was about “twincest,” which, you guessed it, is about why having sex with your twin (and apparently other family members) is the way to go. Yes, I know. There is nothing funny about incest (I’ve written about that excessively, before you start yelling at me.) Every time the lyrics got so blatant, I would cringe, almost mad at myself for thinking, “this is so wrong, in so many ways, but so well done, in so many ways.” But it is precisely that “eeewww,” line of artistic discomfort that I count on HUMP for. This was very well done, funny, bright, and all about CONSENT. No one is suggesting it’s “right,” but it was an incredibly well done film that offered a lot to think about…. I am a tad bothered that I enjoyed it so much, but I did.

However, for me, there was one film that stood out above and beyond all the rest. Not because it was hot and sexy – which it was – but because it is really one of the best short films I think I’ve ever seen, on any subject matter and in any form. I think it was called, My Name Is Pon, or something like that. In 5 minutes, this film told the story of falling in love, finding out he was married, thinking he was free, finding out he had another lover and exacting a “private” revenge. It was narrated by the heroine who explains the story as a series of data points, all of which are illustrated by text messages on her iPhone between them. Illustrating passion, longing etc… Interspersed with photos of her naked, in his apartment, and various forms of discussing the wild desire they had for each other, the longing to be together. Then she, lying in his bed, sees a text message come into his phone, which is nothing but a photo of someone else’s breasts.

What follows is a montage and explanation of incredible sex with her, still in his apartment, and midway through the incredibly sexy photos of them having sex, the images stop on one with her sucking his cock. And the narration, “by the way, this is your bathroom, but it is not you.” She then goes through his apartment, living all of their fantasies with another man. The final text message is her asking him where the cord for his camera is, because she took some pictures she wants to delete. It felt 100% authentic, real, as if this really was a woman exacting her revenge on a lover who hurt her, and who would be in the audience for one of the shows. Maybe sitting next to me. It was that intimate, and that real.

I’m not sure I can do it justice, but, in many ways, this is the most honest and accurate depiction I remember seeing of the white-hot rage that happens when you find out you’ve been deceived by a lover, the fall, the desire to reclaim yourself. In 5 minutes, this film took us from idealism to revenge in a seamless way that I think most people recognized. With no name-calling, no throwing things, nothing crazy. Except the crazy need to seek validation in the wake of deceit. It was stunning. And incredibly uncomfortable.

And it made me sad. Not because the story is so familiar – I think most of us have felt it. But because it was a brilliant piece of film making that will never be seen because it has naked bodies in it. It is a film worthy of any film festival. I don’t know who made it (and I never will, that’s how HUMP works,) but, whoever you are, if you read this, YOU ARE A FILM MAKER. Please keep making films, films that the world can see.

And now it’s done. HUMP is over. These films have all been destroyed, no one will see them again. HUMP promises people the chance to be a porn star for a weekend, not for a lifetime, and they deliver. These things are handled like the Holy Grail, and are destroyed  as soon as it’s over. There’s never been a leak, and I don’t expect there ever will be.

I’m loathe to encourage anyone else to go see HUMP, because tickets for the 18 or so screenings of these films are already impossible to get ahold of – they sell out in a matter of hours. But I love this film festival. I love it for what it represents, even if I never leave “in the mood,” myself.

Mostly I am just grateful to live in a city that hosts this kind of thing. I am reminded that Seattle is special, the whole world isn’t this open, but change and acceptance has to start somewhere, I’m glad for it to start where I can be part of it. Even if I’m just sitting in my seat wincing.


BTW, Dan et al…  at least two of those films were BLATANT advertising for Portland businesses – strip clubs and the pinball repair place, and I think the coffee one too! That’s totally not cool. There were a LOT of people grumbling about that, and I’m one of them. No advertising and product placement in HUMP films. Seriously. That sucked, and not in the way that feels good.

And yes, there were a lot of things I could link to for Dan Savage. His wikipedia entry, his column Savage Love…  I chose his It Get’s Better video for a reason. It’s brilliant, and it launched a revolution. And although sometimes I get tired of hearing “Dan Savage This” and “Dan Savage That,” The It Gets Better Project is, I think, the March on Washington and Selma of our time, and like it or not, he’s doing something on par with MLK with this one.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristen permalink
    November 7, 2010 2:55 pm

    I had a completely different take on “I am Pon.” For me it felt much more like a vengeful, out of control feeling of anger. I felt like I was trapped inside this woman’s rage and need for revenge, and that I was not allowed to see anything from the man’s side at all. If he was married, if he had other lovers…..does that justify her fucking some other guy all over his apartment, using his camera to photograph it, and then making porn with it? It felt excessive. I think I am an anomaly on this, but it felt like I was being forced to sit inside someone’s personal insanity.
    If it really was just a film, and not based on reality, ok, it was good film. If, however, as the film purports to be, it is real, I am quite appalled at her behavior.

    I agree with you, though, HUMP is a great opportunity to push your boundaries and see that there are people out there with all kinds of interests you share or do not share. And yes, that fire play piece was gorgeous. I hope it wins for something.

  2. Alyssa Royse permalink
    November 7, 2010 3:50 pm

    I’m assuming it was fiction. It’s hard to believe it could all fall into place that quickly in reality. But regardless, for me, it was shockingly good film making. And made me gasp, looking at the raw power of revenge – since I’m pretty sure we’ve all had good revenge fantasies, “getting” to sit through one and watch it unfurl sent me reeling. A lot of grounds for contemplation, and I always want art to do that to me. Give me something to think about. Show me a side of myself I didn’t know I had, or didn’t know how to approach.

    I definitely didn’t say I liked or respected “her,” the character, but the raw power of the film was pretty incredible. I don’t know if you’re an anomaly or not. When I’ve spoken to people about it, we’ve all agreed it was powerful and pretty brilliantly done – we didn’t talk at all about liking her or her methods of revenge. Most of us, however, related to having such thoughts, we just wouldn’t actually do it. Which, again, is why I think the film worked so well.


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