JOANNE CACHAPERO: Despite the fact that my hairdresser says I'm a gay man trapped inside a woman's body, I probably haven't watched enough gay porn to have an informed opinion of Michael Lucas' production style or sexual technique.
GRAM PONANTE: And, though, in college, a hairdresser friend of mine got drunk and said he wished I were trapped inside his body I had no idea who Michael Lucas was before seeing this movie. I guess that qualifies us to give the objective opinion the gays crave.
JC: OK — so, we're both under-qualified to know what we're talking about — I do know what I like and, overall, it seems like the gay aesthetic demands much higher production values than do most straight movies because when you're paying between $50 to $100 retail for a DVD title, that movie better not be a piece of crap. It also explains why my hairdresser charges $75 for a blowout (NOT blowjob — blow OUT).
GP: I admire your populist aesthetic, Jo-Jo. Myself, without knowing the retail value I expect excellent production efforts from any porn film, gay, straight or otherwise, that will be an indelible record of a performer's career when he or she runs for senator. I think anyone featured in this excellent movie should be proud of the work they did in it, even if their hopes for the attorney generalship are ruined.
JC: These days, a gay performer seems more likely to run into a Senator in an airport bathroom, but that's another story entirely. Frankly, I think it wouldn't kill some straight porn fans to put aside the homophobia and check out a gay title, just so they could experience the difference. One look at "Michael Lucas' La Dolce Vita," and you'll know what I'm talking about. There's believable dialogue, a credible storyline and good lighting. The movie is wall-to-wall gay guys in hot clothes, hanging out at hot nightclubs and having hot sex in hot bathrooms and closets and limos, and the whole time you're thinking, "Man, these guys are hot." It's not that far of a stretch to believe that this is how Lucas and his roster of beautiful men live their gilded lives, jet-setting between high-end hot spots, working out at the gym, drinking really great wines and eating scallop carpaccio with a sherry vinegar-honey emulsion served up in those fancy spoons you eat wonton soup with.
GP: I was about to tell you how gay that was, Joanne, and was delighted to realize I was for once being complimentary and not insensitive.
JC: In fact, when I went to the GAYVN Awards this year, it was basically just like that. The scent of man-sweat/ testosterone and Dolce Gabbana cologne in the front rows of the Castro Theatre were enough to make one's head swim. Anyway, when writer/director Tony DiMarco and lead actor Ben Andrews came up with the idea for a light-hearted sex comedy about life at a gay studio, it's a stroke of genius and a no-brainer all at the same time, because everything is right there for an over-the-top send-up of every gay porn stereotype without ever having to leave the real-life office. Especially for Lucas, whose public image is almost a caricature of a grade-A, aloof, Euro porno prince. His personality and outspokenness can rub people the wrong way, so it's fun to watch him spoof himself.
GP: I was impressed that this New York gay porn studio had more or less the exact cast of characters one would find in any Hollywood production company: the narcissistic executive, the long-suffering personal assistant and a twink receptionist.
JC: In his first scene as company-owner Alexander Mann, Lucas has his assistant (played by new Lucas exclusive Christian Cruz) inject his forehead with Botox as they set up the premise of the movie. "You know what I need? I need a really big cock," Mann says. The assistant responds with a big duh — isn't that what we all need? "No, I mean a model with a big cock. All these models that are coming lately have small cocks. We need a really big one! Big cocks, big sales! Small cocks, small sales!" Mann declares.
GP: The directing and writing are so lively that there is a bit of business with Mann being so preoccupied that he leaves the Botox needle in his eyebrow.
JC: The plot is pretty obvious from there; Andrews applies for an intern job and it isn't long before Sister Christian uncovers the new Trojan Studios superstar. In fact, it kind of reminded me of a '70s sitcom — amusing and not overdone. Even the art direction and musical score by electro-folk duo Nekked seemed really retro. The track they covered for the movie's theme sounded suspiciously like "Jungle Fever," a 1972 disco hit by a band called the Chakachas.
GP: Yeah. Nekked is big into barely concealed covers. I also heard "Spill the Wine" and "Low Rider." But the music was used very well in the film. Unlike many porn movies, the music in "The Intern" was timed.
JC: The actor who plays the receptionist is just wacky as the Chihuahua-wielding high-queen who answers the phone, "Hell-oooo, Trojan Studios, where one good man is not enough!" He practically pirouettes through his scenes.
GP: If this were a mainstream movie about Hollywood, the portrayal of the receptionist would be excoriated as homophobic. I have never met a Hollywood receptionist who was not like that.
JC: And Andrews, as the bumbling Benny, is so nerd-like and mousy; you just know that when he lets that anaconda out of his pants, it's going to be HUGE. In fact, if he's not careful, he's gonna kill somebody with that thing.
GP: What a way to die. Dreamy.
JC: Now, let me clear this up once and for all — the old porn tale about women enjoying gay movies? Well, here's my theory: It goes without saying that gay male performers are basically genetic phenoms — all muscle, great skin, sexy as hell and big, huge dicks. I'm sure you noticed, Gram, how the Lucas models were mostly uncut, which makes their already girthy penises look even thicker. When Zack Randall and Jimmy go at it in the "we're supposed to be straight guys" scene, did you see how large Jimmy's scrotum was? Wow!
GP: I did notice this. I thought: It's about time someone made a movie about people who look like me. But did you notice, Joanne, that there were two scenes that hinged on supposedly straight guys getting it on with each other? In the same way that we straight men think about our wives and girlfriends making out with other girls before throatily demanding that (I) join in to finish them off, the Manifest Destiny of gay thought seems to be "Turn out the straight guys."
JC: Yeah, which is frighteningly similar to the fantasy that I have about being able to "turn" some gay hottie like Jason Ridge. Yum! But the other great thing about gay porn is that since there are no naked girls in there, I never have to make even a subconscious comparison between myself and some spectacular porn queen getting pronged in a straight movie. I don't care how fucking liberated or empowered you are, as a woman watching porn, on some level you're thinking, 'So, this is what guys think is sexy…'
GP: I feel your pain, Joanne, and I'll let you in on a secret: unless she's Ann Coulter, any woman fucking on film is sexy to straight guys. In the same way one can get a 200 on one's SATs just by signing the test paper, a perfectly spheroid woman matted with hair and with burns covering 90 percent of her body is, as long as she's naked and on film, in the eyes of most straight male porn fans "a good start."
JC: For the purposes of fantasizing, I would really rather just see delicious men getting hard and horny and the gay sex part of it is all good, as long as it's hot and raunchy. What is it with gay men anyway? Is it easier for them to feel chemistry in front of a camera? There was a lot more passionate kissing in this movie than in any straight movie I've seen recently. Call me old-fashioned, but foreplay is sexy; and all the same positions — doggy, mish, cowboy and reverse cowboy, even pile-driver.
GP: Mish? Your casual dropping of porn reviewer terminology is getting a little unsettling.
JC: The scene with Lucas and UPS driver Matt Cole was something to behold. I'm putting out a request to the whole straight industry that all the hot male talent wear work boots and white athletic socks (like Cole) in every scene because that just makes me wet. Not too far-fetched, either, when Lucas has Cole on the casting couch (or table, in this case) and he's riding Cole like a polo pony, they negotiate the terms of his contract and "come" to an agreement just as Lucas is ready to pop.
GP: It wouldn't have killed them to have one naked woman hanging around. And it would have been contextually relevant, too: women love gay men and they wish only to be held and danced with by them.
JC: Ah, Gram — now your twisted fantasy is coming out — what happens after the gay guy and the naked woman dance together? Sounds like the sub-plot of "Bi-Ho Silver!" to me. Anyway, back to the gay movie: Lucas manages to be in every scene just because there are poster-sized pictures of him everywhere (including the bathroom), but the show-stealer here is Cruz. First, his complexion looks unbelievable dressed in hot pink. Second, he is so into being a bottom, there is almost a female-like quality in the way he reacts to his partners — lots of passionate heat. Third, his hair is fucking perfect.
GP: Yes, Cruz is very charming, like a cock-gobbling Jimmy Stewart.
JC: I took a copy of "The Intern" to my hairdresser and said, "Why can't you make my hair look like that?" He stood behind me, pulling my hair out at odd angles. "Well, you're not as cute as he is,' my hairdresser said. 'But I probably could for about $500."
GP: I enjoyed this movie as a movie, and I appreciated the attention to detail in the poignant ubiquity of the older fluffer wannabe, Robert, always being sent home sad, and the fact that the two "straight" warehouse dudes, when they finally succumbed to the spilled box of Spanish Fly, were wearing underwear. A lesser movie would have had the faux heteros freeballing it. Still, they did talk about how their asses tasted. Straight guys never refer to their own or their buddies' asses. I chalked this up to the receptionist's observation that "I knew they were gay." After all, their hair was perfect.