Review: ‘Skin Flick’

(English dialogue)

(English dialogue)

Playful provocateur Bruce LaBruce returns to the territory of 1990’s “No Skin Off My Ass,” again appropriating neo-Nazi skinheads as gay icons in “Skin Flick.” Commissioned by Berlin porn company Cazzo Films but marginally toned down from its original concept, the film still contains enough explicit action to classify it as hard-core and to fuel business on the gay video market, but is distinguished from the average erotica entry by the director’s typically subversive, cheeky brand of humor.

Establishing a jokey tone through the cast’s deadpan performances and through vintage porn cliches — for instance, a hunky plumber arriving to “inspect the pipes” — LaBruce declines to go the traditional route of fetishizing fascist thugs through S&M games. Instead, he depicts his band of merry skinheads as unabashed and exuberant in their physical enjoyment of one another but disdainful of homosexuality in general, reserving plenty of anti-gay invective for its exponents.

LaBruce explores some of the contradictions of the gay-skinhead lifestyle in interviews with the characters, one of whom hides the fact that he’s Jewish from his lover. Others recite prose poems: One describes a sex fantasy between a fascist and a partisan, while another ditty, titled “My Life as a Living Toilet, ” delves into scatological excess.

Basically a succession of raunchy couplings involving the skinhead gang members and some passing trade, the flimsy story culminates in the band’s decision to bust in on the home of a wealthy gay man. There they sexually overpower and abuse the man’s black partner before the tables are turned and they undergo their own humiliation.

LaBruce’s point appears to be that the skinheads are victims of their own hatred and misdirected guilt. While it’s hard to take the film’s taboo-busting too seriously, many politically sensitive audiences may be unwilling to buy into the writer-director’s way of making that point.

More of a straight-up shagfest than LaBruce’s uneven but amusing, and only marginally less graphic, features “Super 8 1/2” and “Hustler White,” “Skin Flick” has its share of droll moments. These include the inevitable digs at George Michael’s restroom incident and Monica Lewinsky’s clothing stains and an enjoyable turn from Nikki Richardson. Appearing like a cross between Sandra Bernhard and Joe Pesci, she participates in the romp’s sole hetero tryst, fiercely spewing abuse at her fickle boyfriend and his buddies.

Skin Flick

(GERMANY)

Production

A Cazzo Films production in association with Millivres, Suzuki Akihiro/Stance Co. Executive producer, Juergen Anger. Directed, written by Bruce LaBruce.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, video), James Carman; editors, Manfred Mancini, Joerg Andreas; music, Gavin Brown, Kilslug, Nip Drivers, Hype; art director, Peter Armstrong; costume designer, Edgar Langer; sound, Soeren Salzer; line producer, Luis Hoyos. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Main Program), Feb. 1, 2000. Running time: 67 MIN.

With

With: Steve Master, Eden Miller, Tim Vincent, Jens Hammer, Tom International, Ralph Steel, Bastian, Nikki Richardson, Darren James, Terry Richardson.
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