The screen went up and the lights went dim in the Majestic Theatre last Friday and Saturday nights. It was a different kind of crowd than the usual melee of college students sweatily anticipating an indie dance pop group to come onstage. The crowd that entered the Majestic Friday evening was, for the most part, no younger than mid-twenties and all anxiously awaiting 90 minutes of “sex-positive” and independently-made porn as part of sex columnist and media pundit Dan Savage’s 2014 HUMP! Tour. The HUMP! Film Festival is an outlet for those fed up with the stagnant idea of sexuality in porn: being homogenous, degrading or unrealistic. HUMP! is honest, made by ordinary people representing the gamut of sexuality.
HUMP! is an annual event in which amateurs can be porn stars for the weekend, but just in the confines of your local alternative theater. Dan Savage hosts the film festival, where regular people submit their independently-made porn. Fifteen of the most hilarious, clever, uplifting, satirical and sexy films from the festival were shown at the Majestic this weekend.
As Savage’s video clip warned before the show started, no cameras or cell phones could be used to record the films, and no “Rocky Horror Picture Show”-style cat calling and obscenity were allowed. It was a community event, but one meant to be respectful and positive. The theater goers obliged and stuck to hoots, hollers, whistles, screams of affirmation or hearty laughter. This was the complete opposite of the nervous laughter I was expecting from an event so honest and films so true to life. The films struck a chord with the audience who were enfranchised by the variety of sexuality.
A HUMP! bingo board jested that the viewer might see a friend/relative or coworker on the screen or in the audience, as well as a “lesbian knife party” and God. This year’s tour did not explicitly feature any of the latter options but the introduction by Savage warned the audience to look for packing peanuts, Hilary Clinton and various other ironically-used inanimate objects and cultural objects you would not expect in such as context. Of course, being a Dan Savage event, many of the videos were politically-charged and would likely be considered controversial in the socially-conservative world, not in the sphere that populated the Majestic. One poked particular fun at the conservative right and played to Savage’s very public nemesis, Rick Santorum; the video involved a dolphin and a unicorn fornicating and a crab filming the event, which was eventually viewed by Rick Santorum who very clearly enjoyed the flick.
The show started with a short animated film of isolated genitals and mouths and hands all interacting with each other without restraint and to an upbeat tune. This sex-positive message set the tone for the rest of the festival and worked to lighten the spirit of the crowd, who immediately began hooting at the caricatured penises moving and ejaculating in a way that then resembled synchronized swimmers. The next clip was slightly more graphic and eased the audience into the more intense nudity that would ensue. It was a comedy about a legendary man who worked on porn sets helping supposedly straight actors remain hard during their performances. Eventually the man died due to complications from his work, but the overall mood was raunchily comedic and light. It segued nicely into a clip in which a game of Dungeons and Dragons took a quick left turn and ended up being a massive orgy with the players of the game. The rest of the videos varied in message and graphic intensity, but each brought something new to this incredibly unique experience.