homophobia, queer bashing and gay love, Everett Lewis style
For those not accustomed to the cinematic style of Everett Lewis of Luster fame, then let's just say that whilst not to the sexual core of Bruce LaBruce, his work is still not your standard straight cinema, nor for that matter your gay one. And with FAQS Lewis does not disappoint, shining his cinematic spotlight on the serious issue that is queer bashing.
For here relatively few, if any of those subject to a bloody beating purely on account of their sexual orientation, are lucky to have a guardian angel by their side. Only in this instance, that angel takes the earthly form of Destiny, a six-foot tall pistol packin' drag queen, who roams the streets by night to save 'her children.' And on this occasion the soul she saves is India; a runaway whose introduction to LA was by way of being ripped off in a 'popping the cherry' skin flick.
Not that Destiny is averse to those who earn a living by way of 'photographing men in passionate positions,' given that's the nature of her business, only here she's one of the good gals, duly taking India into her care, just so long as he abides by the rules of the house. For the gospel according to The Minister of Truth is no drugs, participation in self-defence classes for when the straights 'come looking for you' and above all else - safe sex. Oh and there's also something about two hours of mandatory nudity each day, an invitation that India is more than happy to take up with the odd man or two and inparticular with fellow runaway Spencer; a kid who is intent on blowing up those that shunned him, having like all too many, the physical and mental scars of sexual prejudice.
As a work devoted to highlighting the alarming number of gay teenagers who turn to the streets in order to escape the harsh homophobic reality of a life back home, only to see one evil replaced by another, Lewis lays his message on thick. Yet in doing so, he avoids the use of official statistics, preferring to underline the fact by way of quoting the words of The Texas Republican Party over the opening credits. And put it this way, their manifesto doesn't make for pleasant reading. Thankfully into a sombre subject Lewis injects a series of comic touches courtesy of a bunch of lively characters, with the inclusion of butch dyke Lester, aptly played by Minerva Vier, a welcome addition. Only Vier is not the headline star. Then again and as much as Joe Lia as India and Lance Lee Davis as Spencer create a vibrant loving couple, neither are they the showstopping act of the piece. Rather that award goes to Allan Louis who as Destiny steals the film, armed with a set of fab lines and a wardrobe to match.
Yet in delivering his verdict on the bigoted attitude, by some, to homosexuality, Lewis allows a ray of light to shine in the form of the redemption of a one time sleazy pornographer and inparticular a pair of queer bashers. For there are many gay friendly heteros out there, only not it would appear in the world inhabited by the characters in this feature. That their desire to match violence with violence, turns instead to the act of bombing the straight world with the visual signs of homosexual love, is a positive point in a film that is laden with both an uneven script and sound. Then again, this is cinema on a budget. But it is equally a work full of pride, overflowing with scenes of same-sex lovemaking, let alone a bravura performance from Louis that is worth the price of admission alone. That said, in reinforcing the degree of institutionalised homophobia in the outside world, the end result feels at times more like a political statement, than a film. But then, was that the objective?