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Friday
Jun172016

Great Moments in Gay - Shortbus Threesome

For Pride Month Team Experience is looking at favorite scenes from LGBT cinema. Here's guest contributor Steven Fenton...

John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus explores issues of identity, pride, and patriotism at the intersection of sex and otherness in response to the pervasive anxiety in New York post 9/11. The film’s unabashed, unsimulated sex scenes challenge the audience to look beyond the bodies, reframing sex as a universal language; a means of creating connection; and a path toward self-discovery.

One of the film’s best moments is a brilliantly staged threesome where Ceth (Jay Brannan), Jamie (PJ DeBoy), and James (Paul Dawson) are locked in a sexual pyramid.

[NSFW after the jump...]

Jamie is rimming Ceth when he starts to speak, causing Ceth to writhe and shout with pleasure. He demands more. At a loss, Jamie begins singing the Star Spangled Banner...into Ceth’s ass. A delighted Ceth joins in using James’ penis as a microphone and James sings along while masturbating the other two ending in a rousing choral climax. There’s a lot to unpack here.

A man singing the national anthem into another’s ass is an indelible image. Depicting analingus was (and is) a much more provocative choice than the more obvious (and heteronormative) intercourse. In Gifted and Challenged, a behind-the-scenes documentary, MItchell addresses how difficult it is for audiences to separate Shortbus from porn (how most Americans understand live sex on film). The creative decisions in this scene dissociate it from pornography, offering a more complex representation of sex. It’s funnier and more thoughtful than it is arousing.


The men nervously dance around how to initiate what they all want. They seem plagued by anxiety and hesitation. The threesome feels awkward and tentative until the singing loosens them up. They find joy and relief in this impromptu moment and the scene is permeated with a sense of optimism and ingenuity.

Jamie’s singing induces pleasure and by choosing the national anthem Mitchell draws and underlines a connection between sexual gratification and patriotism. They’re not mocking patriotism but embracing it, incorporating it into their other world. They are rediscovering the sense of freedom and abandon that was lost when the planes struck the towers. Mitchell wants the audience to understand, sex can be more than the pursuit of an orgasm. Sex can be transcendent, transformative. Physical intimacy doesn’t have to be contained or restricted by physical, emotional, or social boundaries. Sex can be an expression of lust, love, identity, and even patriotism.

Previously in this series


 

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Reader Comments (10)

is this movie actually any good?

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

It's terrific.

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

It's great! It's funny and honest. The lead performance by Sook-Yin Lee is really worth seeing.

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersfenton24

while it might be JCM's weakest film overall, he's only made great movies :)
this scene is priceless. good choice, Steven.

June 18, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The movie is hilarious but totally unsexy.

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I might have to check this out

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

Ummmm...ok. Lol

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

i remember when i watched this scene at the theater a lot of people started to laugh nervously and some others walked out

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered Commentereduardo

This scene is hilarious. The whole film is so wonderful - really shines a spotlight on how ridiculous sex can be and how we should embrace that ridiculousness.

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKeith

It's not a good movie. Feels like a bunch of shorts zipped together

I agree that Sook-Yin Lee is stealing the show. She was great!

I felt that the movie was trying too hard to be controversial and real

June 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

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