If You Build It, They Will Come
Hump! Tour's DIY porn pit-stops in Austin
In 2005, Dan Savage challenged the readers of Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger to create some homemade porn. "It started off as kind of a joke with a co-worker," explains Savage via telephone. "We placed an ad in the paper and received a ton of submissions." A movie theatre was rented to showcase some of these films, and the HUMP! Film Festival was born. The festival has now become an annual event that continues to grow every year. Savage continues, "Part of the success of the festival is that it is the only place to see these films. We do not make DVDs or make the videos available online. The films are destroyed after the screenings so people get a chance to become porn stars for the weekend – not for a lifetime."
The multi-hyphenated Savage has done a lot to advance the culture of sexuality: from his It Gets Better Project to decades of doling out sex and relationship advice via his nationally syndicated "Savage Love" column to the search engine (de)optimization of Rick Santorum and the Saddleback Church. Savage has even joined the company of Kurt Vonnegut and Jonas Salk as "Humanist of the Year" for his contribution to sex-positive writing and advocacy of the separation of church and state.
The HUMP! festival is a natural extension of Savage's ideologies. The goal of the festival was to provide an all-inclusive setting where regular people could share their straight, gay, vanilla, or hardcore turn-ons with an audience. The sex-positive nature of the films provides an alphabetical-spectrum shift from XXX to GGG.
Now for the first time ever, Savage has taken HUMP! on the road, including a stop in Austin (co-presented by The Austin Chronicle). The rolling roadshow of erotic cinematic elixirs features 20 specially selected films from years past. If the thought of watching porn with a group of strangers sounds a bit risqué, it is. It's also the point. "You only watch what you want to watch," says Savage in comparing a typical "alone-time" porn viewing experience vs. a communal one. "We want to take you out of your comfort element. At first, there's a shock, and people are thrown back into their chairs. But something happens as the festival progresses. People begin to cheer. There is an intimacy that comes when you get a glimpse into someone's real sex life. Eventually, there is a recognition of the things that are the same about us: passion, vulnerability, and love."
The touring HUMP! show runs about 90 minutes and features a gamut of genres stretching across the sexual rainbow. Some of the films are lighthearted and fun. The animated "Rumpy Pumpy" showcases Richard Strauss-scored genitalia. "D4U" features a T. rex in the program's best visual gag. The mockumentary "Mythical Proportions" explores the taboos of centaur-human sex. The concept of otherworldly sex continues with "E.T. 2: Dark Territory," which marks the second time theatrical porn has obliterated a cherished childhood memory (RIP Pee-wee's Playhouse). Other films are pure eroticism. The standout, "Krutch," is a powerful piece about a disabled woman whose crutch becomes a natural extension of her body.
So leave the hang-ups and inhibitions at the door, and enjoy an erotic experience with a group of strangers. After all, who doesn't love a happy ending?
The HUMP! Tour comes to the Marchesa Theatre on Fri., Sept. 5, at 7:30 and 9:30pm; and Sat., Sept. 6, at 7, 9, and 11pm. See austinchronicle.com/hump-tour for ticket info.