“I’m for sale always.”
“Just keep walking, that’s the rule.”
“Let go, let God. Some things you have to handle yourself.”
—the gospel according to Marcus
While this gritty, “in the moment,” at times indecipherable journey into the uncensored life of San Francisco street hustlers may attract a legion of voyeurs eager to watch the dirty details of the quick-release allure of sex-for-cash, those who “last” to the credits will be rewarded with some intelligent insights as to why the oldest profession will never lack willing employees.
In many ways, Cyrus Amini’s study of Marcus (Merlin Gaspers shamelessly surges through the role with an honesty that compels, whether manipulating his regular money-is-no-object-I-have-feelings-for-you, father-figure john or trying to establish a loving relationship of his own with a young girl who teeters on the edge of joining her beau’s line of work) and his ever-so-black trick partner Dot.com (an unforgettable performance by Dorian Brokington who courageously spews out the nigger-laden dialogue, strokes himself into readiness then mercilessly drills the crap out of a disgusting married-with-daughter redneck, or confessing his non-sexual love when it’s revealed that although his partner-for-profit’s skin is at the opposite end of the colour spectrum, their shared violation at an early age—one from a priest, the other from his father—binds them forever into a life of the helplessly damned: “He stole my choice!!” screams Dot.com) has much in common with Otto: Or, Up With Dead People (cross-reference below). Both films delve into the world’s walking-wounded, whether a metaphorical zombie—also burdened with the additional cross of being gay—or using their early good looks and reliable sex parts to escape deeply hurtful wounds while pretending to give pleasure to others.
Don’t miss it; you’ll come away understanding far more than you may have wanted—perhaps even about yourself. But unless you are part of the problem (the majority of whom would never dare to watch; of the few who might, most would never make it to the end: there’s way too much truth going down), your view of those that even many liberals look down upon will change forever.
Post script: Films about hustlers are not new. A fascinating, decades-earlier primer on the world of male prostitution (and very infrequently self-satisfaction) can be found in Paul Morrissey’s Flesh. It’s another important film along the road to understanding why human nature can never be “cured.” JWR