Saturday, June 26, 2021

John Scott Matthews | Boot Camp

musical torture

by Douglas Messerli

Marco Martinez-Galarce (composer) John Scott Matthews (screenwriter, lyricist, and director) Boot Camp / 1996 [6:06 minutes]

I have never much been interested in gay Sado-Masochistic sex and the images surrounding it. First of all, I love sex far too much to have to suffer and plead for it. And as Bette Midler quipped, the idea of having to lug all those accoutrements everywhere I go doesn’t thrill me. Finally, although I once dreamed of becoming an actor, I’m just not very good at role-playing. So when it comes to writing about S&M gay sex films, I’ll admit I approach it was a somewhat suspicious outsider.

     But there are some seemingly S&M gay films—I’m not speaking here of porno—that make it somewhat easier for the tyro. The 2016 film by Julián Hernández, Boys on the Rooftop, in which after a great deal of terror and torture the two S&M lovers realize they simply want to change roles, is at least a more humorous rendition of such serious love and hate making. But perhaps the most embracing of them all is John Scott Matthews 1996 short (of just 6 minutes), Boot Camp.

     The film begins with a motorcycle vrooming up an alley to park next to a brick wall. In his review mirror the leather-jacketed, ponytail-wearing man catches a glimpse of a handsome all-American boy peaking around the corner at him. When he turns his head to look, the boy just as quickly snaps out of sight, a process repeated a couple of times before the macho S&M number removes his jacket to reveal a suit of leather straps, puts on his hat, and moves toward the front of the building to the bar, the boy behind.

     Once in the bar, the boy sits off to the side, witnessing one man bending down to another at the counter in rapt readiness for his command apparently for a blow-job, while another man leads his lover through in manacles. A third couple move off into a jail-like setting where the dominant one hooks up the other to the cellbars, rubbing the end of a whip across his face.

     The moment our original leather boy, in the credits named the Master (John Cantwell), spots the new kid, he snaps his finger, as the bartender (Alex Benjamin) hands him his beer. Moving forward, he approaches the boy, the Novice (Matthew Solari).

     Standing near the boy, who immediately rises, he waits for a musical swell and breaks into song: 

In this kind of place

a sweet handsome face

sends my mind on a little spree.

Though it’s never been tamed

my heart feels ashamed

of the thoughts that occur to me:

(a vamp for the chorus)

I’d like to dress you up in leather

and pierce your nipples, put them on a tether.

(The Novice responding)

That sounds delightful, we should get together

but not while we’re dancing dear.       

        The Master continues:

 I’d like to strip you to your undies

and slip to mine and give each other grundies.*


I’ll check my date book and clear my Sundays

but not while we’re dancing dear.

     So begins a whole series of clever lyrics, eventually involving all the bar patrons, one of whom attempts to steal the boy away from the Master, but is choreographically blocked, as the Master pulls him back into a kind of S&M tango.

    They sing another chorus or two in harmony before finally the Master, bending his dancing partner toward the floor sings:

I’d like to leave here if we’re able

heat up the wax and strap you to a table...

...while the Novice, pausing, suggests that he perhaps appears somewhat “unstable,” but nonetheless quickly leaves with the Master, joining him on the back of cycle as the two ride off into S&M paradise.

     With music by Marco Martinez-Galarce, lyrics by the director, and choreography by Bill Fabris, this is a true musical tongue-in-cheek gem of the long list of short LGBTQ films of the 1990s that lives up to its name, representing a campy song-and-dance tale about men in boots.

*Slaps of the scrotum against the thigh.

Los Angeles, June 26, 2021

Reprinted from My Queer Cinema blog and World Cinema Review (June 2021).


No comments:

Post a Comment