Does the world really need more porn? Depending on whose statistics you trust, the internet is comprised of somewhere between 4 and 37 percent "adult" content. The problem, if you ask advice columnist Dan Savage, is that it's all more or less the same, and rarely authentic.
That's why he started the HUMP! Film Festival, which showcase sexy films made by regular people and represents a wide assortment of interests and quirks. Now with a decade worth of material, HUMP has expanded beyond its festivals in Seattle and Portland to go on tour with a selection of some of the festivals' hottest films.
This year's selection includes titles ranging from The Grocer, which promises to change the way you see grapes and carrots, to Beethoven's Stiff, in which a vagina plays the French horn. We chatted with Savage about how the fest has changed, what viewers can expect, and why the festival appeals to people who hate porn.
Source Weekly: How has the festival changed over the years you've been doing it?
Dan Savage: [In the beginning] a significant chunk were made by people who were aping the tropes of mainstream commercial porn. It's ubiquitous everywhere and audiences didn't really respond to it. What audiences responded to were the more unique, personal, subjective videos that were really an expression of the filmmakers' or the stars' own desires and kinks and pleasures, and even if it was something really off the wall or a kink not a lot of people really share, those were the films that won audience awards, that won balloting. And so I think over those first few years, the people that came to HUMP or made films for HUMP, really the audiences liberated them from porn clichés, freed the filmmakers and performers to do their thing, instead of the mainstream thing, which is attempting to anticipate the lowest common denominator desires. And so we don't get those films anymore. What we get now are just really interesting personal films. Some humor, some just erotica—not hardcore at all, musicals, and featuring the stuff that really turns the people in the film on. And that's what people tap into. People come to HUMP to celebrate, to see the films, to have their minds blown, sometimes to have a laugh—a laugh in good fun, not a laugh at. A lot of the films are humorous; the filmmakers are trying to make audiences laugh. Some people come to really admire the bravery, the kinks, and sexualities and identities of people who are up there on the screen.
SW: Have you ever seen a HUMP submission that surprised you, or brought up some kind of kink you hadn't encountered?
DS: There was a film called Pie Sluts a few years ago—really attractive sort of alt people, I think made in Portland, hitting each other in the faces with pies and this room covered in plastic sheeting. And they're all half naked and smearing pies on each other. And that was it, there were no genitals, there were no orgasms. But for some people, that is a fetish, being pied, getting pie smashed in their face.
SW: If not to get turned on, why do people go to HUMP?
DS: Well you know, when you watch porn at home you watch only what appeals to you. You click on the things you think are going to be sexy and quickly click off anything you don't find sexy. And when you come to HUMP, you're not in charge; you don't get to click off. And HUMP isn't, you know, people don't masturbate at HUMP. So the point kind of isn't—people do get turned on, there's certainly sexy films—but the point isn't to get off, the point is to watch. I've had people approach me multiple times to say they hate porn, but they loved HUMP and were dragged to the screening by a friend. And I think the reason why people who hate porn love HUMP is the people who hate porn tend to say that porn is very dehumanizing, and the porn you'll see at HUMP is very humanizing. And partly because it's people making their own stuff and doing their own thing, and it's not, you're not watching a film with people who are under a certain economic or social duress, who may be making porn because they have no other options. These are all people who are making porn because this is what they want to do, it's something they enjoy, they're doing this for fun.
HUMP! Film Festival
8 pm, Saturday, September 12
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.
$15 | 21+