Under the watchful eye of director Q. Allan Brocka, the metamorphosis of Matthew Rettenmund’s Boy Culture from page to screen becomes a delightful exercise in narrative-by-confessional which will appeal to both men of the cloth and boys of the towel. Mind you, it has storied competition in the hustler-as-hero sweepstakes stretching back to Joe Dallesandro in Flesh (1968) through to the fabled Canadian take from Brendan Fehr in Sugar (2004) and even the voyeuristic antics contained in That Man: Peter Berlin (cross-references below).
In this case, X (Derek Magyar, appropriately droll if a degree short of sex-on-demand heat) services a dependable stable of 12 disciples (er, a little Dogma with the imagery and metaphors?) but has been advised by his accountant to stable a couple of roommates to add verisimilitude to his IRS return.
Roomie No. 1 is the forever-watchable Andrew (Darryl Stephens), affable and quickly comfortable in his post-marriage discoveries of the delights of same-sex encounters, but man enough to accept an invitation to his ex’s remarriage. (The fact that the real object of his affections—his wife’s brother Matthew (Laprell Nelson, in a brief but salacious appearance)—would also be sharing the joy having no effect on his decision to attend!) To ease his family into their newest daughter, Andrew—much to his landlord’s approval—invites X to the bash so that they can “try each other out.”
Their potential coupling doesn’t suit the barely eighteen, self-proclaimed slut behind door No. 3. Joey (Jonathan Trent—the most endearing queer of the bunch replete with chest sparks and low-crotch teaseware: think Will and Grace’s Jack when he was young and hot) is also in love/lust with the man who fucks for cash and tries everything from ass-in-the-air temptation, to pouting, to engaging in high-contact team sports with the Seattle Seahawks to lure X to his spot. But no dice. The busy prostitute loves no one and refuses to bring the office home.
Through client attrition (one fell out of the cuckold’s nest), X refills his roster with a wealthy gentlemen friend. Gregory (Patrick Bauchau, with a fine homage to Patrick Stewart and first-rate physique that gives hope to many of his advanced-years cumpatriots) takes the long, slow route to X’s special treats. Despite paying thousands for his services, the near-octogenarian doesn’t want to consummate their relationship until the younger “desires me as much as I desire you.”
Throughout it all, X dispenses wisdom with the same enthusiasm as the flash-in-the-pan trick-reel demonstrates his professional conquests: “Only accept drinks that are factory sealed;” Andrew waxes philosophical: “Except for the gay thing, I really loved her," while Joey remains ever-pragmatic: “Everyone has a backup plan.”
Joshua Hess’ probing camera (but not low enough to satisfy some tastes), and the heady combination of Phillip J. Bartell’s tight edits plus the oh-so-snappy music track from Ryan Beveridge keep Brocka’s pace moving forward. Yet, by the time the confessional concludes, no one receives absolution but you’ll never look at stairwells in a dispassionate way again. JWR