Queer as F**k collects six short films from the New Queer Cinema movement that simultaneously extol and eat away at gay identity with modes of camp. In Todd Downing’s Jeffrey’s Hollywood Screen Trick, an anatomically-incorrect Ken doll must reconcile the plasticity of gay culture when he brings home a Latino Billy doll. In Downing’s Dirty Baby Does Fire Island, a very dirty dolly discovers the secret joy and torment of poppers, cocaine, bulging muscles and sweaty sex. Downing fascinatingly calls attention to body-consciousness through plastic, much like Todd Haynes did with his Superstar Barbie cast. Director John Krokidas plays a simple yet effective game of role-reversal with Shame No More, a riff on ‘50s PSAs that warned of the dangers of homosexuality. This time around, heterosexual desire is the threat and punishable by electroshock treatment. Patrick McGuinn’s Soda Pop (echoes of Gus Van Sant’s Mala Noche abound) takes a very plaintive, nostalgic look back at repressed sexual desire sublimated via flowing water, dribbling hoses, pumping gas and, yes, soda pop. For the techno hungry, Jouni Hokkanen and Simojukka Ruippo’s Pyongyang Robogirl shows what it’s like to quell boredom when two North Korean traffic policewomen take to robo-voguing. David Briggs’s sitcom pastiche The Trey Billings Show (think Lucille Ball meets Al Franken on the set of a cable access show) is entirely too long at 30 minutes yet Briggs successfully apes the rhythm of cable access television and pointedly reprimands fallen idols oblivious to the loyalty of their gay fans. These shorts are breathless reminders of what queer cinema was like before films like Parting Glances paved the way for lifeless gaysploitation like Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss and Trick.
It's difficult to fault the transfer of low-budget short films to DVD. Even if you are paying attention, does it really matter? The shorts found on Queer as F**K seem to have all been shot on 16mm or video (in the case of The Trey Billings Show). The video transfer is perfectly serviceable, as is the sound, though it should be noted that the audio levels peak even when played at a normal level on Patrick McGuinn's Soda Pop.
I suppose a collection of shorts on DVD doesn't particularly warrant an onslaught of supplemental material though commentary by the directors would have been fascinating, as would have been some sort of essay by a queer film scholar. Included here are director bios and trailers for upcoming DVD titles from First Run Features.
For fans of George Kuchar's camp, Todd Haynes's Americana, and the early work of Van Sant and John Schlesinger. This subversive and incisive collection should also appeal to anyone with a sense of humor and admirers of more straight-laced, queer-friendly commentators like Paul Morrissey, Douglas Sirk and Paul Verhoeven.