Documentaries about sexuality provide the viewer a unique glimpse into other people’s sex lives. They offer something that isn’t quite pornography (even though some people may find them pornographic) and isn’t Hollywood’s representation of what real sex is. At their best documentaries about sex let people represent themselves and share their experience with the rest of us. At their worst they are a freak show, parading real people in front of a camera and setting them up to seem pathetic, pitiable, and plastic.
The list below (presented in alphabetical order) includes my favorite sex documentaries as well as other docs that in my opinion have missed the mark. But you should be the final judge of what works for you, so consider them all. If you have a favorite that isn’t in this list, or if you want to add your comments to any of the descriptions, let me know.
101 Rent Boys
There is nothing as fascinating as sex workers. Even though we may not have purchased sex or sold our bodies, the world’s oldest profession has a certain mystique that holds all of us in thrall.
This film satisfies the curiosity in all of us. Not in the usual tone of moral indignation, but in a forthright and straightforward way.
Santa Monica Boulevard is one of the most famous strips in the world for hustling. It also has the best stories. In a year of hustling you can have more experiences than most people have in a lifetime. Rent boys do not have one story, but hundreds….
The film is a powerful look at the lives of men who sell their bodies to other men. It genuinely features 101 different rent boys – some extensively, some in shorter soundbites. The interviews are grouped to cover certain themes; such as their first trick, or the reason that they began to work as a rent boy. The film will also feature footage of the boys working the Santa Monica strip, being picked up by customers and then, some time later, returning to the street corner.
The duty of the film is to register as many stories and different people as necessary to suggest the huge variety of people that work the strip. It is a series of anecdotes, it is also a part of social history.
Producers & Directors: Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato
Editor: Will Grayburn
Distributed by Strand Releasing
Available on DVD
Running Time: 78 minutes
If a more humanizing portrait of prostitution has ever been made, its certainly never been this entertaining.” San Francisco Bay Guardian
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