a film by Carlos Portugal
2006 | 88 mins | US
›› East Side Story
gay romance served hot
East Side Story by Carlos Portugal Cue the life of Diego Campos; a privately gay man who dreams of opening a five-star restaurant in Phoenix, only to find himself serving the local Latino community with Mexican styled food; that is, when he's not busy serving the sexual needs of his estate agent boyfriend Pablo; a man heavy into role playing, if light when it comes to being open with his sexuality. Not that either of them are destined to stay in the closet for much longer, courtesy of the unexpected arrival of Diego's sexual Aunt Bianca and girl who promptly outs him to one and all, including their homophobic chef, that of a man on a mission against the number of gays invading "his community." One such couple being Wesley and Jonathon, although the term "couple" is hardly the one to use, given Wesley cannot help but find himself more at ease in the company of boy next door Diego; a man in dire need of a relationship - but with who?

Hooking you in with an opening scene that would not be out of place in Hot Cops #4, here producer, director and co-writer Carlos Portugal delivers a comical tale on how to love thy neighbour, only in ways that go beyond the call of duty. Sure this work is ingrained with feelings of prejudice towards outsiders, as too the bigoted views of outsiders to locals. Only such themes are not preached pulpit fashion. For this is not a work on homophobia, nor for that matter coming out, although both are integral to the plot. Rather this is a gay romantic comedy with a sexy edge to it, as the East LA lifestyle comes face to face with the demands of West Hollywood boys more used to gyms, coffee shops and tanning salons than, well - chilli!

East Side Story by Carlos Portugal That certain scenes play almost sitcom like fashion, goes without saying, given the scenarios to be had. Yet and to their credit, the cast overcome such, delivering the goods with apt comic timing. To that end, Cory Alan Schneider as Jonathon says his lines with such bitchy precision, that it's hardly any surprise to find Steve Callahan as Wesley falling for the sweet talk and good looks of René Alvarado as Diego. Only and in as much as the Alvarado and Callahan boys create a vibrant cinematic pairing, it is the exuberant work of Gladise Jimenez as the Aunt who just "cannot say no" and Irene DeBari as the grandmother "in the know" that truly stand out, turns that frankly outshine David Berón's fine portrayal of the supposedly straight man of the piece.

Laced with a series of spirited performances from leads who are only too happy to drop their shirts and occasionally their pants, let alone deliver on the man-on-man action, Portugal has crafted an engaging film that is high on both laughs and charm. Yet it is also a work that goes to show why deep-rooted feelings of jealousy and hatred remain a deadly sin, in a gay romance naturally served hot.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue: 20.October.2008 / UK.
starring: René Alvarado, Steve Callahan, David Berón, Gladise Jimenez, Irene DeBari, Cory Alan Schneider,
Luis Accinelli and Yelyna De Leon.
dedicated to the memory of Rob Hudson.
Copyright 2008 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #189
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