Following the excitement, controversy and sold-out screenings of last year’s inaugural Pornotopia Film Festival, founders Molly Adler and Matie Fricker vowed to return to Nob Hill for another sexually charged cinematic outing. This weekend, they will do so, ushering in the Second Annual Pornotopia Film Festival at the storied Guild Cinema. If last year is any indication, you’ll need to bring your ID, your loved one (or ones) and possibly your lawyer.
Adler and Fricker didn’t set out to create a stir back in 2007. They just wanted to share their favorite hobby with consenting Albuquerque audiences. Described as a “fun and empowering erotic experience,” Pornotopia was a natural offshoot of Adler and Fricker’s main business, the popular Nob Hill sexual resource center Self Serve.
But on the eve of last year’s festival, Albuquerque’s zoning office threatened to shut down the festival and fine Guild Cinema for adult zoning violations. Fortunately for the organizers, the zoning office’s warning arrived just as the Guild was filling with lawyers, who had rented out the theater to watch a documentary. The theater’s in-house troupe of civil rights crusaders rose to the occasion, standing by Self Serve and Guild Cinema’s constitutionally protected right to promote awareness about sexuality without fear of government censorship or other reprisal. In the end, ACLU lawyers, city zoning officials, the office of Councilor Rey Garduño and Assistant City Attorney John DuBois seemed to work out a mutually satisfying resolution. Pornotopia went on as planned, audiences got to see John Holmes’ wiener in 3D and nobody was fined.
“The story people miss,” says Fricker in response to several sensationalized stories on local TV news broadcasts, “is that this is a community-run festival.” A Pornotopia art show opened last weekend at STOVE and runs through Nov. 30. More than 40 people volunteered to help with this year’s events, and the three-day film festival even has the backing of the Nob Hill Business Association. “This is something the public has latched on to,” says Fricker, grateful for the support. “I’ve become a freedom fighter for porn!”
Political enthusiasm aside, Fricker and others involved believe Pornotopia 2008 will improve greatly on the groundwork laid out by last year’s freshman fest. One big part of this year’s improvements involved drafting a screening committee of some 20 community volunteers who combed through hours of adult film. “We noticed lots of people press fast forward during erotic viewing,” says Fricker. As a result, this year’s Pornotopia will feature several “best of” compilations. “Instead of full movies, we’ve got excerpts--the best scenes from the best movies.”
Because of last year’s hoopla, a lot of filmmakers actually sought out Pornotopia’s organizers. The new screening committee-approved lineup features films and videos from England, Spain and all over the world--what Fricker calls “an International House of Porn.”
This year, more than a dozen hetero, lesbian, gay, transgender, BDSM and even documentary movies have all been thrown into bed with one another to create a three-day cornucopia of quality erotic film. Among Friday night’s Pornotopia features is Porn Parodies, a collection of comedic shorts about sex. The Alibi’s Midnight Movie Madness will also lend a hand to Friday’s proceedings, sponsoring a late-night screening of Kiss Attack, a gothic vampire sex film from former Albuquerque resident Carlos Batts. Saturday features a host of sex-filled shorts capped off by a late-night showing of John Waters’ exquisitely perverse 1972 film Pink Flamingos, hosted by Santa Fe drag queen Wenda Watch and featuring a live guest appearance by legendary star Mink Stole! (Check out wendawatch.com for more info on that.) Sunday finds highlights in novelist Jean Genet’s notorious homosexual hallmark “Un Chant D’Amour” (shot in Paris in 1950) and Anna Biller’s uproarious new, Russ Meyer-esque spoof of ’70s swinger flicks, Viva.
“We’ve got a good blend of soft-focus and erotic work mixed with just fun, honest raunch,” says Fricker, summing up this year’s sophomore offerings. “If people wanna learn about sex, we’ve got that. If people just wanna watch sex, we’ve got that too.”