Diversity has never been a dirtier word than it is in the hands of Dan Savage. The longtime sex writer behind Seattle's nationally syndicated Stranger advice column, Savage Love, is known for stretching the parameters of mainstream vice and virtue. Nine years ago, he spawned an amateur porn fest called Hump! Film Festival to cater to his carefully curated tastes, and this year he's taking the greatest hits from the Pacific Northwest on the road for a 16-city tour. Billed as "the sexiest, funnest, most creative dirty movie fest in the world," the Hump! Tour offers up a virtual pornucopia of lust: We're talking gay, straight, disabled, sadomasochistic, autoerotic, insanely comic, pyrotechnic, even mythic.
There's something uniquely human about a flick fest that dares to throw such a broad range of real people's kinks, quirks, fetishes, and fantasies on one screen. Like a cross between Darwin's evolutionary theory and the Big Bang, it's an all-out orgy for the collective conscious. Think: survival of the stickiest.
The tour features 20 five-minute films made by total amateurs — meaning amateur porn actors, not amateur filmmakers. And there's the rub, so to speak.
Just as the digital revolution has challenged mass media's top-down stranglehold, porn has increasingly become something of a bottom-up affair. But the mainstreaming of pornography hasn't necessarily heightened the level of creativity.
Somewhere between Dirk Diggler's '70s porn-star cheese and Zack and Miri's post-millennial DIY exhibitionism, dirty moviemaking got democratized. And like any democracy, it got off to a bootleg start. One only has to surf the abundance of amateur upload sites to know that switching camera angles mid-stroke is about as high-end as the production quality gets.
Instead, Hump! includes entries featuring animation, advanced editing, electronic soundtracks and, yes, storylines that are downright corny but never conventional. For instance, the mockumentary "Mythical Proportions" pokes fun at bestiality as three women share their fetish for sex with centaurs, complete with claymation re-enactments.
If straight-up, old-school monogamy is your thing, you might feel compelled to cover your eyes during more than a few scenes. But with the range of films he's curated, Savage prefers viewers do that than stay locked inside their boxes. Nowadays, your porn predilection tends to be a safely guarded secret between you and the NSA. Husbands don't have to worry about wives finding their VHS stash in the sock drawer. Paul Reubens doesn't have to risk being Pee-wee Herman'd by theater ushers during the X-rated double feature. What's been lost in the process, according to Savage, is the communal nature that comes from sharing an intimate viewing experience among a movie house full of strangers.
That doesn't mean Hump! comes without potential challenges or head-scratchers. Near the top of the list, "Go Ahead, Pee!" features a woman who relieves herself while jumping on her backyard trampoline. Strange, but true.
The best way to watch is without judgment. When a disabled woman stumbles upon an alternative use for her crutch in "Krutch," it's a reminder that we're all sexual beings at our core. Even if hetero porn is your preference, who hasn't been egotistical, or lonely, enough to imagine making love to the man in the mirror? The premise gets taken to absurdist extremes in "Go Fuck Yourself" when the protagonist gets a time-traveling visit from his future self that puts him in a compromising position to save the world.
That's one small step for man, one giant laugh for humankind.