One subgenre has essentially gone quiet, skin flicks designed with a broad audience in mind. Mindful of the pinch that amateur and pro/am websites are placing on their bottom line, studios are pursuing ever-more-narrow niche audiences and fetishes once consigned to the back shelf are now being given the front-of-house spotlight.
Along those lines, 2008 was quiet in the big-budget epic category. Raging Stallion Studios essentially has the field to itself with the forthcoming Western “To the Last Man.” But plenty of smaller-scaled films with a focus on storytelling in addition to sex play have picked up the slack. They range from deeply silly (“The Twink Whisperer,” for pete’s sake!) to sober and moderately strange (Kristen Bjorn’s sex-packed “Skin Deep”) and should offer a ray of hope to consumers who require a bit of plot with their porn.
Gay adult’s consummate filmmaker, Jerry Douglas, may not have produced a new film this year but his colleagues Joe Gage and Jett Blakk carry on the old-school filmmaking tradition.
On the other end of the scale, a number of studios have scaled back production of original features in favor of DVD compilations featuring vignettes that debuted online at their official websites, such as the popular “Hot House Backroom” series (eight installments by press time) from Hot House Entertainment.
Several studios jumped onto the Blu-ray bandwagon. A handful of titles released in the format have received expected raves for technical polish, but the jury is still out on its efficacy in gay adult.
Eye-popping visuals are on full Blu-ray display in “Breakers,” “Copperhead Canyon,” “Folsom Undercover” and “Funhouse” from Titan Media, as well as last year’s award-winning “Grunts” and the more recent “Hotter Than Hell 1-2” and “The 4th Floor” from Raging Stallion Studios.
Of course, plotless, all-sex fuckfests will always stay in demand, exemplified by such titles as “Big Dick Society,” “Jock Tease” and “Slide” from Jet Set Productions.
Directrix Chi Chi LaRue, the industry’s top brand name, surprised industry observers with the announcement of a brick-and-mortar retail outlet in West Hollywood, Calif. that will sell only Channel 1 Releasing product. The world’s largest gay-owned porn company rereleased a slew of catalog titles onto DVD and singlehandedly attempted to revive the bi-sex genre with “Shifting Gears: A Bisexual Transmission.”
XBIZ has compiled a selection of gay adult’s top titles (arranged alphabetically) released over the prior 12 months. These are the fuck flicks that generated the most buzz this year. A handful of similarly themed films have been included as a reference point for curious consumers.
Best Men, Part 1: The Bachelor Party
Best Men, Part 2: The Wedding Party
Cast: Zeb Atlas, Tony Capucci, Rod Daily, T.J. Hawke, Roman Heart, Aden Jaric, Jordan Jaric, Tristan Jaxx, Adam Killian, Turk Mason, Erik Rhodes, Matthew Rush, Dylan Saunders, Others. (Falcon Studios)
Summary: Musclebound Zeb Atlas is among gay adult’s most popular and polarizing erotic idols. And so, earlier this year, when Falcon Studios announced Atlas would be having sex with another man for the first time onscreen in this wedding-themed two-parter, the studio began racking up preorders before a single frame had been filmed. Behind-the-scenes turmoil scuttled a full-on sex scene with fellow superstar Matthew Rush, resulting in an oral-only vignette for “Best Men, Part 1” that nevertheless sizzles. Atlas finally did the deed by fucking Adam Killian in “Best Men, Part 2” and thousands of panting fans got their XXX-mas wish a few months early. (The presence of Erik Rhodes, T.J. Hawke, Roman Heart and real-life boyfriends Aden and Jordan Jaric amped the erotic appeal.)
See also: Gorgeous newcomer Hawke memorably debuted in “Rough Play”; Heart’s pairing with fan-fave Eddie Diaz in “Winter Heat” is among the year’s best; Rhodes delivers awards-worthy sex in “Afterparty” (he has the lead) and “Fleet Week.”
Farts! (Lucas Raunch/Lucas Distribution)
Cast: Nick Capra, Cam Casey, Jason Crew, Danny Delta, Josef Jakobs, Michael Lucas, Shawn Phillips, Jason Sparks, Scott Spears.
Summary: Extreme fetish went mainstream in a major way in 2008 and no blue movie exemplifies this emergent trend better than “Farts!” from Lucas Entertainment. Although the film features such extreme sex practices as fisting, food play, and watersports, that one particular fetish named in the title kicked up a minor ruckus and according to studio reports led to a surge in pre-sales for the title.
See also: Lucas Entertainment’s “Swallow with Pride” and “Thirsty!”; “FFucking FFantastic” (Hot Desert Knights); “Paging Dr. Finger” (Hot House Entertainment); “Red Hanky” (Club Inferno/Hot House); “XXXtreme SeXXX #1” (Raging Stallion Studios); and many more.
Rip Colt’s Sex Rated Home Movies (COLT Studio)
Cast: Alan Albert, Buddy, Grafton Burke, Dakota, Michael David, Chris Dickerson, Jon Iverson, Ledermeister, Mike Morris, Peter Schwarz, Dick Trask, Others.
Summary: Vintage, lost or forgotten — however you want to term it, catalog titles were a hot ticket in 2008. Watch for the flood to increase in 2009 as companies delve ever deeper into their vaults in search of lost gems. At year’s end, COLT Studio served up two additional installments in their “Sex Rated Home Movies” series collecting loops and other erotica shot and produced by their legendary founder Rip Colt, much of it dating back to the ‘70s. Yep, everything old is indeed new again. Consumers with an interest in the sub-genre have ruly an embarrassment of riches.
See also: Channel 1 Releasing has re-released a wide range of titles from Catalina Video, such as 1996’s “Alley Boys,” 1992’s “Biology,” 1979’s “Kip Noll & the Westside Boys” and 1999’s “Hail Caesar”; Bijou Video remastered lost classics by J. Brian, Toby Ross and John Stewart; BEAR Video compiled seven Jack Radcliffe titles into an actionpacked boxed set; and Athletic Model Guild offered up pristine remasters on their “Theatre Film Classics” and “Story Film Classics” labels.
The Porne Ultimatum (Dirty Bird Pictures)
Cast: Colin, Kasey, Levi, Barrett Long, Brant Moore, Kaden Saylor, Seth, Mason Wyler.
Summary: Director Mike Donner carried on porn’s storied tradition of erotic spoofs with this XXX spin on “The Bourne Ultimatum.” It’s doubtful anyone cued up this DVD expecting verisimilitude, but the film’s self-aware humor won over fans and critics. The presence of young, blue-eyed and blond satyrs Kaden Saylor and Mason Wyler in lead roles opposite Brent Corrigan, the current crown prince of the twink market, further assured commercial viability. (A sequel, natch, is set for early 2009.)
See also: “Hung Country for Young Men” (Jet Set Productions), and “The Twink Whisperer” (PZP Productions); Blake Riley’s “Unknown: Ghost of a Chance” (Rascal Video), and writer/director Jett Blakk’s “Mug Shots” and “Ringleader” for Dirty Bird Pictures aren’t movie spoofs, but Blakk, for example, has real chops and his tightly structured scripts are originals in the classic Jerry Douglas mold; “Copperhead Canyon” and “Chainsaw” for Titan Media from writer/director Joe Gage are also expertly constructed and filmed, if more serious minded.
Rio (AMG Brasil/ Athletic Model Guild)
Cast: Armaro Augusto, Jack Benelli, Bruno Camargo, Alex Frias, Rick Garcia, Rodolfo Guerra, Aleff Pavanello, Others.
Summary: Whereas past years have seen an influx of porn shot on location in Eastern Europe, 2008 was the year gay adult’s attention shifted in a major way to South America. Athletic Model Guild’s AMG Brasil line jumped to the top of the heap with its lateyear release “Rio.” Shot in the style of a documentary, director Dennis Bell aimed to offer an aspect of his favorite slabs of Brazilian beefcake that hasn’t been seen in the many, many films currently piling up from Argentina, Brazil and neighboring countries. The flood shows no signs of abatement in 2009.
See also: A smorgasbord, ranging from AMG Brasil’s “Azul,” “Carnaval” and “Suruba: Agua”; “Boys of Buenos Aires” and “Missionary in Argentina” (Latin Heat/Jet Set Productions); “Roman’s Holiday” (Falcon Studios); “Tommy Lima in Brazil 1- 3” (Alexander Pictures).
“Skin Deep 1-2” (Sarava Productions)
Cast: A cast of 22 including Pedro Andreas, Renzo Belli, Kaio Castro, Armando Del Toro, Alex Ferrari, Jean Franko, Bruno Jones, Ricci Julian, Daniel Marvin, Rocky Oliveria.
Summary: Director Kristen Bjorn is a rock-solid brand name, perhaps to a fault. His lengthy, lushly produced epics are consistently peopled with gorgeous men and filled with involved sex scenes that take days to commit to film. It’s easy to underestimate his crisply efficient excellence, but “Skin Deep 1-2” again reminded consumers as well as retailers why the name Kristen Bjorn has come to represent quality. Bjorn’s Mafia-themed plot is a familiar one, but the parade of rock-hard, eye-poppingly gorgeous men offers plenty of bang (pardon the pun) for the buck.
See also: “Italians & Other Strangers” (Lukas Kazan Productions); “Sex Hiker” (Black Scorpion Entertainment).
To the Last Man (Raging Stallion Studios)
Cast: A bulging cast that includes Antonio Biaggi, Damien Crosse, R.J. Danvers, Jake Deckard, Tristan Jaxx, Bo Matthews, Logan McRee, Damian Rios, Scott Tanner.
Summary: This highly touted two-part erotic Western hadn’t yet screened for reviewers at press time. But it’s listed here because Raging Stallion Studios was about the only company this year who put forth the effort to produce a big-budget, scripted feature shot on location with a sprawling cast and epic scope. The film’s purported violence has already drawn criticism from certain wags concerned about the conflation of sex and blood, but co-director Chris Ward has publicly stated “To the Last Man” is true to traditionally violent Western themes. Nevertheless, an all-sex edit is being made available as a DVD feature for those who want to skip right to the cowboy sex.
See also: Last year’s megabudget “Grunts” three-part military epic from the same company.
“Some Like It Big 1-2” (Bel Ami)
Cast: Kurt Diesel, Val Horner, Steve Jennings, Keith Johansson, Andre Pagnol, Niall Phoenix, Colin Reeves, Manuel Rios, Paul Valery, Ralph Woods, Trevor Yates, Mark Zebro.
Summary: No one does freshfaced romance like Eastern European twink powerhouse Bel Ami. The brand remains potent despite a saturated market for films from this part of the world. In recent years Bel Ami has successfully introduced a new class of young bucks, many of whom are featured in these two films. The added bonus is that virtually all of them are enormously hung, their sexplay burnished by the company’s standard technical polish. If too many similarly themed and packaged twink films start looking alike, start off your consumers here.
See also: Bel Ami’s “French Kiss,” “Johan’s Journal, Part 1: Sun Kissed” (a compilation of vignettes that debuted online), and “Personal Trainers, Part 11”; Dreamboy/Eurocreme’s “PoolBoy” and “StraightBoy,” the latest installments in the hit “…Boy” series.