Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

The Reluctant Pornographer

by Bruce La Bruce

The Reluctant Pornographer is a star’s memoirs so there is not much time for self-analysis between descriptions of getting it on for the camera and facing a film festival question and answer session. Nonetheless, Toronto filmmaker and magazine columnist Bruce La Bruce captures the feeling and secures the term for that nagging anti-gay sentiment many gay men share: Postqueer or POQUE, as the young international movement is known.

Readers familar with La Bruce’s films will recognize both his tone and myth-making project in this bitter and often hilarious collection of laptop confessions on the making and promotion of Super 8 1/2 and Hustler White. It is the cry of a poor, young farmboy who dreamt of becoming a true homosexual, but finds himself struggling against the tyranny of political correctness, feminist orthodoxy, and a white-bread gay community.

Like the kernel of a postqueer manifesto, an esthetic treatise is also offered here, although largely by way of name-dropping, acidic criticism, and references to ’60s and ’70s pop culture. While his dysfunctional relationship with his Hustler White collaborator gets trying, as in his films there are moments of trashy clarity. His accounts of getting stopped by police while shooting and the oddly inserted bath-house encounter with a French Canadian youth make it all worthwhile.

Genet, Pasolini, or Cooper are not really fair comparisons, but in his own way La Bruce takes us to similar territory via Warhol. When the unwilling yet resentful-for-not-being-acknowledged founder of “new queer cinema” gets control of his egomania, his love of “straight” hustlers and tragic female stars sparkles. In the juxtaposition of his defence of the closet and his outing of Douglas Coupland, I remembered why I enjoy La Bruce’s work in the first place. He is the queen mom of contradiction.