JWR Articles: Film/DVD - R U Invited? (Director/Writer: Israel Luna) - July 26, 2008
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R U Invited?

3 3
85 min.

The Young and the Faithless

Anyone who has ever felt the sudden chill of a relationship on the rocks (gay or straight: only the equipment changes) might enjoy or fear the scenes that comprise director/writer Israel Luna’s “Invitation to the Sex Party” study.

The premise is simplicity itself: Several gay men are invited to an anything-goes sex romp. In order to make it onto the official invite list (and then be sent the address) a full-body nude picture must be forwarded for pre-approval. For the voyeurs amongst us, this affords the opportunity of having the quintet of hopefuls strip down, pose and titillate the camera and the crowd.

First, er, up is Ben (John de los Santos whose vanilla delivery is due in large part to the lines that have been penned). He’s the kept boy-toy of Anderson (Phil Harrington brings a quiet dignity to the sugar daddy confection)—a wealthy business man, wise in the ways of the world. “All you can do is live yourself,” he advises the distraught, group-sex newbie, Jason (the acting skills nearly non-existent, at least David Matherly’s physique—clothed or not—makes his appearances tolerable). Jason is at first reluctant to doff his duds for Ben’s digital lens with Mondo (Gabriel Praddo)—his boyfriend of 6 months (and already looking for a night on the wild side)—looking on. Worse still, when finally bare his equally nervous pecker beats a retreat until Ben heroically acquiesces to Mondo’s suggestion to “make him a little more showy.” That “attention” soon brings about the invitation-guaranteed rise, yet is the first of several character-muddying actions that prevent the film from veering onto the path of greatness.

Charlie’s (Christopher Jones) jewels are already so widely circulated that he can skip the audition (but fear not, his wayward appendage flaps amiably for the camera in the opening-trick sequence). The happy whore is “married” to the delightfully named (and brilliant makeup artist) Helen Bedd (Chase Wade). She’s a pent-up drag queen who—inevitably—gets wind of her “if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” philandering mate, then storms over to the pre-party staging ground (Anderson’s opulently furnished—even a Scream print graces the hallway wall—semi-mansion) where she thrashes her man with a spectacularly biting tongue before losing all credibility by slashing his face with a hanger (happily, the “well hung” jokes were avoided) and kneeing him in the centre of his selfish universe. The verbal beating was more than enough: the physical violence didn’t fire at all.

The probable outcast of the buff boys is the giving-him-some-air naive, somewhat overweight Gordy (Oscar Contreras easily wins the acting derby). He boldly bares his cleavage (with a fabulous stripper piano track as accompaniment) for his taunting friends in a fit of revenge rage: boyfriend Jon had just made the call and turned their relationship-hiatus into a final curtain.

As the lads wait for the results of their nude screening pics, there’s ample opportunity to chat about drugs (the jury is split as to whether poppers are an illegal substance), communication strategies (the horny quintet imagines being “done” by numerous partners at the sex-fest even as their own friends and lovers look on), and, of course, position preference. Once the top-or-bottom? genie has been let out of the bottle, it soon transpires that Jason’s beau has had far more experiences with Charlie then he’s ever let on. Not to be outdone in the heady fun of confession, Gordy allows that his bottom has yet to be defiled, prompting his host to march the fleshy asshole into the bathroom for a hilarious scene of “my first enema.” Honey-bear containers will never be viewed the same way again.

Not surprisingly, the actual party is brief. The screen is flooded with red-tinted flesh and a few puzzled looks. Perhaps a few of the orgy-hopefuls might change partners or outlooks before the lube runs out.

See for yourself and live surreptitiously through the character of your choice, but don’t take notes or assume that what transpires could actually have happened. While Luna has created a film that offers much to the eye (an “overheard” silent argument is a deft touch), the motivation of men who stray and their admirers needs a few ounces more vérité to satisfy. JWR

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