1993 Directed by Marc Huestis.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Nov. 12, 1993
If you combine the experiences of the 15 interviewees in the documentary Sex Is…, you can distill the history of the gay American male in the past 40 years or so. From the guy who remembers slow-dancing in pre-Stonewall bars to the queer activist who intellectualizes sexual politics, Sex Is… runs the gamut of what it has meant and what it now means to be a gay man, particularly in the age of AIDS. The common denominator linking this intentionally disparate group of men is their shared fascination with sexual experience, however varied it may be. Seamlessly edited, these from-the-heart (and groin) monologues occasionally make for compelling talking heads: the black man telling of his S&M experiences with a white South African, the middle-aged couple gushing about how much their monogamous relationship continues to excite them, the porn star suggesting how all sex, with or without a camera, is some type of role-playing. Director Huestis, who is also one of the interviewees, does a good job of making a film about sex that isn't all euphemisms and innuendo. If the frank and candid discussions don't make their explicit point, then the occasional hard-core film and video footage that helps the documentary segue from topic to topic will. Still, despite its straightforwardness, there's something a little too studied about Sex Is…, something that robs it of its potential for spontaneity. Perhaps that's an inherent difficulty with any work on the subject of sex: think about it too hard and it's just not the same. Regardless, Huestis and company have made a provocative contribution to the gay archives with this film, particularly in its clear-voiced re-evaluation of a sexuality demonized in the past ten years. In Sex Is…, the love that once dared not speak its name now speaks louder than ever.