›› Power Erotic
a documentary by Lawrence Ferrara.
2014 | 80 mins | US.
principal participants: David Barash, Ph.D., David Ley, Ph.D., Todd Shackelford, Ph.D., Richard Tweksbury, Ph.D., Victoria Zdrok, Ph.D., with Bobby Blake / Ex Gay Porn Star, Colton Ford / Ex Gay Porn Star, Gary Irizia / International Mr. Leather 2008, Dr. Angelo Pezzote / Author of Straight Acting, John Rutherford / COLT Studio Group and with the participation, amongst others, of Dennis, Glen, James, Jason, Paul, Sean, Tom and Yoshi.
Adapted Synopsis: "In this revealing documentary, distinguished academics, together with a series of openly gay men candidly discuss the dynamics of power, dominance and masculinity."
Beginning with a warning as to the adult nature of the subject under discussion, here we find director, sexual inquisitor and compassionate host Lawrence Ferrara determined to literally get to the top and bottom of the complex nature of human sexuality. Or to be more precise, the dominant / submissive balance of power in relationships and not just of the everyday, loving kind, but specifically those who go out of their way to submit themselves to a dominant top for the night. Yet and in one of the most frank examinations of male sexuality that I've viewed / reviewed of late, Ferrara is soon to discover that human sexuality cannot be so easily pigeon-holed, indeed it refuses to be, as the active / passive stereotypical profile is thrown out of the relationship window courtesy of the role reversals of life; namely manly bottoms who are anything but effeminate. An outcome that prompts Ferrara to explore what makes us sexually tick.
To get the bottom, so to speak, of the issue, Ferrara advertised for men whose sexuality in one way or another revolves around power, dominance and control, fifteen of whom would come to relate their experiences on camera, some post man-sex, so as to gain a deeper understanding of the psychological aspects of their sexuality. Not that this documentary does not arrive with a plethora of talking heads offering their sexpertise on the subject; from stating the obvious, including the direct link between higher testosterone levels and increased sexual drive, to the poignant comment that straight men don't have a lot of opportunities to share their sexuality in an intimate way with other men, outside of the sporting arena that is, one where man-on-man contact is not only socially acceptable, but moreover expected and whilst some may well be thinking of the like of rugby, here Ferrara homoerotically highlights the national sport of Turkey.
Man-on-Man contact - Turkish style, in Power Erotic.
With oil in hand, no surprise that we are soon to get down and dirty with the issue of masculinity and specifically that of confident, muscular men who love to service a willing bottom, only for the bottom to derive more pleasure from being the passive party. The result is an in-depth exploration on the master / slave relationship, together with a cinematic dissertation on the photographic / pornographic industry built upon muscle worship; that of big chests, big muscles and well, you can guess the rest. Only in a profession jam-packed with steroid enhanced hunks without trucks, what does it mentally take, as against financially make, for a dominant top to relinquish control of the sexual act to another?
Power, dominance and masculinity, in Power Erotic.
In short, Ferrara is a man on a mission, not afraid to ask pertinent questions that need to be answered, often in an almost therapeutic manner, as the camera, somewhat voyeuristically, captures the participant's telling response. Yet there's a problem with this work, given at the eighty minute mark, even acclaimed sexologist Alfred Kinsey would have had trouble in defining the Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male within such a limited time frame. To his credit, Ferrara covers a lot of ground here; from the power that uniforms play in sexual dominance, to that of the more disturbing side of human sexuality, namely those who gain sexual arousal through humiliation, an aspect that the final section of this insightful documentary addresses, as the interviewees relate their all too alarming childhood experiences and here cue estranged father / son relationships, together with the ugly face of parental rejection and in particular the traumatic mental impact such has on a child. In short, how many men deprived of the love of a father, in later life come to seek a loving "daddy" as a sexual partner? And how many gay teens bullied at school for their effeminate nature, enter the gym to emerge as a muscular top? In short, what motivates our sexual behaviour? All of which makes for a thought-provoking film, one sure to engage debate on a subject that whilst explicit in detail, is non-pornographic in content. Indeed, in highlighting the sexual dynamics of life, what this remarkably honest work comes to illustrate is the simple truth that human sexuality is far from straight forward. Or should that be, far from straight - full stop.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the full monty.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.