Confessions of a Male Groupie (1971)

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3 April 2016 | Davian_X
| Near masterpiece
Generally directing his hardcore flicks under a pseudonym (usually Lancer Brooks), Tom DeSimone immediately singles out CONFESSIONS OF A MALE GROUPIE by signing it with his full name - a highly unusual move for a porn film! While the movie itself is not an unqualified masterpiece, the obvious care and investment that went into its construction - evidenced by this rare non- pseudonymous credit - are very much evident, marking it as a superior outing for the maven of early gay XXX.

Coming across as a sort of street-level variation on ALMOST FAMOUS, CONFESSIONS chronicles the Hollywood adventure of a naive music scene sycophant (Larry Danser) first seduced and then disillusioned by the rock and roll lifestyle of the '70s counter-culture. Arriving fresh off the bus from Anytown, USA, our protagonist quickly falls in with Sweet Lady Mary (Myona Phetish), a fag hag and music acolyte prone to hosting hang-outs and parties at her Venice abode.

Things go swimmingly for the pair until the rock trio The Electric Banana rolls into town. A completely gay outfit, two of the band's members are already lovers, but the third catches Groupie's eye. While our protagonist sets about cracking this tough nut, the gang's hard-partying, hard-rock lifestyle threatens to derail things, with everything coming to a head during a climactic blow-out at Mary's...

Even from early on, it's clear that DeSimone has a fair amount of investment in the material. The film's pithy 10-second opening, with Danser breaking the fourth wall and proclaiming direct-to-camera, "I go to the best parties, smoke the best dope, and suck the biggest cocks" (incidentally, the film's only bit of sync dialogue), positively grabs viewers by the throat, announcing that DeSimone intends this to be something different. That said, the opening is actually a bit of a misdirect, promising a kind of sexual hedonism that the film is ultimately uninterested in delivering (Groupie only ever sleeps with one guy). The opening sex scene, which plays surprisingly loose with the expectations of the form, features Danser masturbating alone, the sequence cycling through a variety of avant garde optical effects (split-screens, dissolves, etc.) and edited beautifully to George Harrison's (obviously pirated) "My Sweet Lord."

The rest of the movie remains in a similar stylistic mold, staying loose, free, playful and inventive. Often, the film feels like a particularly well- executed student project, obviously composed largely of the director's friends and acquaintances palling around, and stitched together with a degree of playful experimentation not uncommon in film students still drunk on the possibilities of the medium. The Harrison track is merely one of several rock classics that the film reverently and effectively appropriates, and there is a clear love for (and among) the characters that evinces their and the director's comfort both with each other and the general milieu. (Keep an eye out in the party scene for Jimmy/Jennifer and Dana, a queer couple also featured in two early Penelope Spheeris docs, "I Don't Know" and "Hats Off to Hollywood.")

As heady and breathless as all this feels, if the film has any drawback, it's the adult content, which ultimately weigh it down. While DeSimone is able to achieve some fairly ingenious formal play in the early solo scene with Danser, the film's inevitable sexual couplings, of which there are only two, nevertheless slow down the progress of its otherwise fluid and feather- light narrative. While DeSimone mounts and shoots these scenes efficiently, it's nevertheless clear that they're not really a part of what CONFESSIONS wants to be, and they unfortunately rob the flick of some momentum.

Still, despite the drawback of its generic requirements, CONFESSIONS OF A MALE GROUPIE remains a prime example of the kind of heady stylistic experimentation porn is capable of under the best circumstances, when blessed with a director interested in using the freedom an adult film affords (as long as it has enough sex scenes, producers will usually accept almost anything) to try his hand at making something unique and personal. While not an unqualified masterpiece, it's a film anyone interested in early gay hardcore - or even the '70s underground or avant garde - should check out. DeSimone was proud enough to put his name on this one, and it definitely shows.




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