Cover Story: Sex, Love and Longing

John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus is as sweet as it is subversive

Oct 25, 2006 at 2:06 pm
Jim Fugett

Provocative film Shortbus is as sweet as it is subversive

Shortbus is a movie with lots of sex: straight sex, gay sex, conventional sex, contortionist sex, three-way sex, orgiastic sex and, of course, sex with one's self (auto-fellatio, no less). Oh, and none of it is simulated.

Writer/director John Cameron Mitchell's follow-up to Hedwig and the Angry Inch is also a hilarious, often touching film about people who dare to be different in post-9/11, pre-blackout New York City. Sure, its unabashedly overt sexual content is bound to repel some, but Shortbus isn't designed to titillate or to challenge (well, maybe a little) those who might be offended.

Sex is portrayed as the organic, everyday occurrence it is. (See a review of Shortbus.)

The film's title refers to a weekly underground salon where various artists, cross-dressers and boho types gather in a Brooklyn loft to express themselves in ways both colorful and carnal. It's a nurturing, communal utopia of sorts, Mitchell's stand-in for what he calls "old New York, for chosen family values: the values of Walt Whitman, Garcia Lorca and Punk Rock."

(The film's music, courtesy of veterans like Yo La Tengo and newcomers like Scott Matthew, is uniformly phenomenal.)

"It's like the