Boy Culture

TLA Releasing, 2006

Q Allan Broka

Philip Pierce and
Q Allan Broka

Patrick Bauchau,
Derek Magyar,
Darryl Stephens,
Jonathon Trent

Unrated, 88 minutes

Outing Riley

Wolfe Video, 2004

Pete Jones

Pete Jones,
Michael McDonald,
Nathan Fillion,
Dev Kennedy, Stoney Westmoreland, Julie R. Pearl

Unrated, 86 minutes

Both Sides Of The Fence
by Michael D. Klemm
Posted online, December, 2007
Printed in Outcome, May, 2008


"If you're smart, you've guessed I'm a hustler," says a nihilistic young man - in voice-over - named X. "If you haven't, here are two clues. I'm gay and they made a movie about me. Try to keep up."

This is how Q. Allan Broka begins his festival favorite, Boy Culture, an interesting - if uneven - Midnight Cowboy for the new millennium. X (Derek Magyar) is a 25 year old hustler with an exclusive clientele; he calls them his "disciples" - the Judge, Father of 6, Barely Breathing... we meet all 12 in a rapid montage. X keeps a scowling statue of the Virgin Mary in his closet because he thinks "she looks like she's demanding a child support check from God." X has sex only for money and masturbates after each trick as an "eraser."

When Barely Breathing kills himself, X takes on a new client - an old recluse in his 70s named Gregory (Patrick Bauchau in a remarkable performance). He tells X that they won't have sex until X wants it just as much himself. Meanwhile, he weaves the tale of the man he once loved, managing to break through X's cynical armor and teach the lad a thing or two about love.

In-between, Boy Culture explores the sexless menage a trois between X and his roommates, Andrew and Joey. Because X is a "hustler with morals, a whore who's not a slut," he disapproves of his roommates' one night stands. Nevertheless, he is in love with Andrew (Noah's Arc's Darryl Stephens) but thinks the feeling isn't mutual. Joey is in love with X but knows that X and Andrew are meant for each other, if only X would stop being such a judgmental jerk. Like Joey, the audience waits for X and Andrew to just go for it. "So you've met my nuclear reactor family," says X. "Three hot studs horny for each other living in one apartment. It's like a bad porn film without the sex."

This is a very odd film. X's character motivations are all over the place. Okay, he's an enigma but it's hard to swallow this hustler being so sanctimonious about other people having sex, This made it difficult to stay completely involved and, whenever I did get swept away by the players, I'd be snapped out of my reverie by something stupid happening. A scary moment when Joey almost overdoses is ruined by a "public service announcement" that is as tasteless as it is disruptive.

While beginning splendidly, there are too many third act problems. Most dramatic peaks fizzle, and the warm and fuzzy ending is at odds with the film's cynical tone. Still, it's not without its charms. It gets a gold star for its inter-racial romance and for allowing the sexiest love scene to involve an older man. The production is exquisitely photographed, nicely acted and Patrick Bauchau's presence provides just the right touch of class.

Broka also directed Eating Out - a film that I hated (with the exception of that great phone sex scene in the middle) - and while Boy Culture is a huge leap forward, it doesn't quite reach its potential. I predict his third film will be the charm. The DVD features a commentary, interviews and deleted scenes.


Watching a gay film made by straights can be schizophrenic. Take, for example, Outing Riley, the second film by Pete Jones - the indie filmmaker featured in the first season of HBO's Project Greenlight. Though straight, Jones has written and directed this uneven, but often moving, story about four Irish brothers and what happens when the youngest sibling comes out. Like Boy Culture, the brilliant and the clumsy co-exist, but when this film gets something right it hits it on the nail.

Speaking directly to the audience, Bobby (also Jones) announces that this is a "gay Irish Catholic story." Bobby loves the camaraderie he enjoys with Luke, Connor and Father Jack (this being an Irish family, the eldest brother is, naturally, a priest) and doesn't want to spoil their fun by coming out. He goes to great lengths to remain closeted, even bringing a lesbian friend as a beard to family functions. "Our five year fake relationship," Bobby tells the audience, "is just like a real relationship - based on lies and no sex." His sister, Maggie, shares his secret, but threatens to out him to his brothers unless he does so himself on their upcoming fishing weekend.

The film's first third isn't much different from your typical male bonding fratboy movie - and some of it is pretty mindless - but it shifts gears completely when Maggie stupidly shows their brothers a slideshow of Bobby with his partner. Father Jack storms out in wrath, Connor makes his revulsion clear, while Luke is convinced that it's a prank until a forensic friend checks the photos.

For years, our community has suffered through so-called "gay films" that would always emphasize the family coming to terms with the "crisis" while marginalizing the protagonist. At first I thought that this one was no different until I began to notice how realistic the reactions of these brothers were. Luke and Connor are hardly role models - Luke is a pothead and Connor surfs internet porn while telling his wife he is studying the stock market. Both men are clueless; their world has been shaken up, yet their conversation - when they finally discuss their brother - is surprisingly intelligent. Connor asks how he is going to explain it to his kids when Bobby and his boyfriend make out in front of them, and Luke says "I'm sure that gay people have manners."

In one of the best scenes, Luke agrees, at Maggie's urging, to meet Bobby's partner, Andy. Taking Connor along, they meet Andy at a hot dog stand! The meeting couldn't be any more awkward. Andy finally asks "You guys don't know any gay men, do you?" to which Connor replies "I've seen Will and Grace a few times" and quickly adds "only when my wife was watching it."

I'm not really sure who the target audience is. Despite faults, it could easily appeal to both sides of the fence. To be honest, Jones writes better straight characters than gay ones; Bobby is probably the straightest gay guy I have ever seen in a movie. He's pudgy, he drinks lots of cheap beer, and loves the Chicago Cubs. I liked it that he wasn't fabulous but, though we do see him embrace and kiss his lover, there is always a blackout to avoid showing further intimacy. (There IS, however, extended gratuitous female nudity during a scene where Luke is being a voyeur.)

But I loved Bobby's sense of humor. Outing Riley and Boy Culture both share an effective use of voice-overs for ironic comedy. When Andy accuses Bobby of being afraid to hold hands in public, he begins to cry. The camera freezes on Bobby as he thinks: "Oh shit, it never happened like this before. Okay, hugs and kisses always gets him to stay." When he tries to screw up the courage to tell his brothers, he thinks, "When I get nervous, my voice gets really high. I'm afraid that when I actually say I'm gay - only dogs will hear it."

On the whole, Outing Riley is a satisfying film despite a few cringe-inducing moments and third act problems. The ending to this one is also a little too cuddly for my taste. A touching subplot is also negated by a rude revelation at the end. Still, I meant it when I said that the film gets many things right. It was perceptive of this straight writer to note the priest's hypocrisy - Father Jack laughs at Luke's Peeping Tom incident but condemns Bobby's lifestyle. Classic line: when he states that being gay isn't a sin, just the acts are, straight brother Luke asks "Aren't we splitting pubic hairs here?"

Outing Riley is well acted and there is believable chemistry between the brothers. Not a great film, but it has its moments... many of them in fact. My screener didn't come with the extras, but the release disc will include a commentary and deleted scenes.


More on Q Allan Broka:
Eating Out

Darryl Stephens also appears in:
Another Gay Movie