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South-by-South Sex 

Dan Savage's amateur porn film festival HUMP! goes on tour

Admit it. We all watch porn.

But more likely than not, it's alone, and in the privacy of our own homes in front of a sticky laptop and within the limited scope of what we already knows gets us off. Everyone has their own definition of sexy, sexuality, gender and kink porn itself, but prepare to have those notions radically expanded if you attend Dan Savage's erotica festival, appropriately titled HUMP!

A staple in Seattle and Portland for nearly a decade, HUMP! opens its inbox to sex-positive homemade movies. That means submissions span the spectrum of sexuality—gay, straight, fetish-loving, furry, centaur, fluffers, fire, swingers, trans, dungeons and dragons, and every kink in-between. After the weekend of showings, the films are destroyed, making those brave enough to submit, porn stars for a weekend, not for the rest of their lives.

The movies are organic, sometimes hilarious and always sexy, capturing a reality of sex that stiff and staged, plastic, greased up, professionally produced fuck-flicks often miss. Even larger, the open setting is exposing attendees to more than just what they know, as VICE touted, "Dan Savage's HUMP! Tour Teaches Straight Dudes that Realistic Gay and Lesbian Porn is Hot." And that's a lesson worth learning.

Dan Savage, well-known sex advice columnist, gay activist, and the festival's founder and curator, talked with the Source after HUMP!'s screenings in New York City last month.

Savage on the origins of HUMP!...

"HUMP! started out as a joke. One of my co-workers at The Stranger (Seattle's alternative weekly) thought it might be funny to put an announcement in the paper that we were going to have an amateur porn festival and do a call for submissions. We would see if anyone sent us anything. We got so much stuff, and so much of it was so good we decided we would have the festival after all.

"Then the question was, would anyone come? Would people watch film in a theater next to strangers like their parents and grandparents did? And people did. People loved it. It was less like a dirty movie theater experience from the '70 and more like a celebration of sexuality and creativity and diversity, and it just took off."

Savage on taking HUMP! on its first national tour...

"It grew and grew and grew, but you had to be in Seattle and Portland to see HUMP! because the deal we made with filmmakers and performers was that nothing would go online. There would be no DVDs and we would destroy our only copies of the films after the festival was over on stage in front of an audience.

"People in other towns were constantly saying 'I want to see it.' This year we contacted a bunch of the filmmakers, which was not easy to do because in addition to destroying the films, we destroy all the paperwork after the festival so we don't keep anyone's names or information on file. We had to hunt people down...we were asking, 'Who remembers that film? Does anyone know anyone who was in that or who made that?' We tracked people down from the last three to four years, asked them if they were comfortable sending their films on tour. Enough of them were, and enough of the people who made really good films were, that we decided to take it on tour for the people who had been clamoring to see HUMP! Now, here we are."

Savage on what sex-positivity means in relation to HUMP!...

"For me, sex positive is just sex realism because there are diverse sexualities and desires. Think of the way you watch porn now. You sit at home in front of a computer and you click on only exactly what you want to see, only exactly what you know is going to work for you. You're not really looking at what other people are doing: people of different sexual orientations, kinks, gender expressions. At HUMP!, everyone sits in a theater and you've got straight people watching gay porn, gay people watching lesbian porn, everybody watching trans porn, vanilla people watching kink porn. You've got hardcore porn, animation and erotica. What's really amazing about HUMP! is the theater has this energy after every film. Everyone often erupts in cheers!

"A lot of the films are able to do something that most professional porn studios aren't able to do because they are really funny and sexy at the same time, which kind of sex goes on in our real lives. You know you'll be having sex and it will be intense and hot and there will an accident. Someone will burp or there will be a little human moment and you'll laugh it off and keep going. What HUMP! film makers are able to do is kind of bring that playful humor to their pieces that is usually absent from porn, but is really deeply human.

"There's this joy. I find that joy very sex positive, the mutual appreciation. The way we celebrate each other's kinks, attractions, genders, sizes, shapes, whatever...I find that so invigorating."

Savage on watching porn with strangers...

"We're bringing something back that was lost. In the '70s everybody went to see Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door and a few other big art-house porn movies before VHS players came along and brought porn to the home. There was a communal thing to porn, and a lack of embarrassment. Everybody went to see those films. Maybe we're bringing that back.

"There's a real interesting study that found that people that watch a lot of porn tend to be more supportive of gay marriage. Ha...the religious right was like, 'Oh my God, danger porn!' I think part of the reason that is that people who watch a lot of porn get to see that desire and it's expression are universal. Your genitalia, or your gender expression, or your sexual orientation, or your kinks, or the number of people that happen to be in the room at the time...that's all details. That's the small stuff. The big stuff is desire and passion and humor and all of that is something that is universally shared."

Dan Savage's HUMP!

with Hopeless Jack and the Handsome Devil

Thu., June 5

7 pm.

Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.


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