Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Bear City": a young actor enters the NYC gay "bear" scene

While Reel Affirmations has postponed its LGBT film festival for Washington DC until around April 27, 2010, it is running “mini-festivals” until then. Tonight (Oct 16), it screened at the Harman Shakespeare Theater the comedy by Douglas Langway, “Bear City”, from TLA Releasing and SharpLeft Studios. The film won some awards at Outfest.


A young actor Tyler (Joe Conti) with “thmooth” features tries to break into the “bear” social scene in New York City after an audition; he also develops a mini-relationship with a nerd Simon (Alex Di Dio). In the film, the “bear” scene is roughly equivalent to the leather scene, populated by “large” and often hairy “daddy-like” men. It’s not so clear why he wants in, other than the script can develop some gay situation comedy with it. There are some soft core scenes that would probably give the film a gentle NC-17. The film was shot largely in Brooklyn, with a scene at the Ramrod on the West End of the Village (you can’t get in with a dress coat; I had that experience once); Kellers was always nearby.

Tyler is certainly likeable enough; you find yourself rooting for him at the bowling alley where a new bear friend urges him to get a spare with the bedposts. In some scenes even he looks a little mushier in the middle than he should have.

There's a subplot where the heaviest character (Brian Keane) contemplates bariatric stomach stapling surgery, as if he were going to appear on Allison Sweeney's (that is, "Sami") "Biggest Loser" on NBC. There is some chubbychasing in this film.

With my more serious mind, I wondered some things. First of all, you could do a lot more with the potential implications of an audition (I do that in one of my scripts called “Make the A-List”). Also, why to Bears have to be mostly “overweight”? In the real disco scene, the most “virile” men are lean (and look rather like the Nev character in “Catfish”, although that character is straight).

The Harman venue somehow did not get the clearest possible soundtrack. The screen was large, and in some shots the HDcam photography doesn’t stay focused on all layers.

After the 110 minute film, a number of actors appeared for a panel discussion. The show appeared to sell out.

The site for the film is here.



I can remember an Advocate article around 1984 (when I was living in Dallas) titled "Are hairy men more masculine?"  (The article talked about the notion that [Caucasian] men needed something that "women don't have".)  I also recall a weird short story in that mag that year titled "The Body Shave".  Private choices and private preferences used to be just that, until people tried to make them important.  The Internet has the potential to make all of this mean a lot more than it used to.




Here are a couple of snapshot medical records from my days at NIH (in slightly "reparative therapy") in 1962, concerning the subject matter of this movie. (I've explained the history elsewhere on my blogs, such as Nov. 28, 2006 on the "BillBoushka" blog.)
and this:
Remember the B'way show "Hair" from the 60s?

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