Nov 25, 2012


If a gay man afflicted with high-functioning autism and an unhealthy proclivity towards bath salts, Adderall, and Microsoft Paint directed a thematically and aesthetically frenzied, freeform video-art, butt-dart project about his love of semen-covered toilet bowls in tearooms and tiny Chinese men and a loathing for law and order and historical reality, it would probably resemble Canadian aberrosexual auteur John Greyson’s decidedly demented debut feature-length Pissoir (1988) aka Urinal; a curiously confused attack on Toronto police for their crackdown on heated homo sex in public restrooms that is simultaneously a work of homoerotic historical fantasy fiction, queer rights documentary, and excessively eccentric cinematic essay. Like a mystifying mix between Frank Ripploh’s Taxi zum Klo (1980), Ulrike Ottinger’s Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (1984) aka Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press, and Rosa von Praunheim’s Anita – Tänze des Lasters (1987) aka Anita: Dances of Vice, minus the perverse Teutonic persuasion and anything resembling professional production values, Urinal is a discombobulating and unconventional work of unrivaled neo-Uranian unbalance, hermetic homophile psychobabble, hysterical gay activism, and an unofficial ‘outing’ of various unvocal and ambiguously gay artists/intellectuals figures of the early 20th century. Needless to say, despite its determined agenda to the contrary, Urinal does a great disservice to debauched dick-suckers everywhere as it portrays homosexuals as hyper-horny whores who do anything to hump and/or be humped, including the risk of exhibiting such bestial and deplorable deeds in front of minors, so naturally Greyson’s morally gray work makes for an unintentionally and idiosyncratically mirthful experience. 

 In an interview in the book The View From Here: Conversations with Gay and Lesbian Filmmakers (2007) written by Montreal-based film critic Matthew Hays, Urinal auteur John Greyson stated the following about his first fecal feature: “The film is a response to emerging theories of sexuality from the 1970s. The shadow of Foucault hangs heavily over that piece, his expansive notion of social history being vital to understanding the social construction of a particular phenomenon. Thus, we dug up these six very unwilling, not openly gay, activist figures from our past—like Sergei Eisenstein and Yukio Mishima—to deliver various forms of discourse on the phenomenon of sexuality and public toilets…The wonderful thing about Urinal was that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I just went in and did it, going where angels fear to tread. If I’d know what I was getting myself into, I’m not sure I would have run with it.” Considering French philosopher Michel Foucault was a sadomasochistic sodomite and arguably, a sociopath that was infected with AIDS who intentionally squirted his virulent juices into unknowing twinks' gaping holes while engaging in leather-fag orgies, thereupon spreading ‘gay cancer’ around to countless unsuspecting frog fellows and that director John Greyson would go on to direct a fiend-friendly film such as Zero Patience (1993) – a merry and seemingly maniacal musical about AIDS with a subplot about a rather ridiculous romance between famed British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton and a ghost – one has no reason to suspect that Urinal is a rational expression of so-called “LGBT” activism, but then again, that is why the film is so irresistibly beguiling and unwittingly frolicsome as a sort of conspicuously convoluted expression of pathological perversity and queer quackery of the most delightfully deranged kind.  In short, I cannot think of a single anti-gay activist or crusading Christian evangelist who has created a more detrimental depiction of homosexuality than those portrayed in Greyson's Urinal, but of course, with 'cissexual'-ambivalent works like Tom Kalin's Swoon (1992), Michael Stock's Prince in Hell (1993) aka Prinz in Hölleland, Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman (1996), A. Hans Scheirl's Dandy Dust (1998), A Home at the End of the World (2004), and Rosa von Praunheim's Your Heart in My Head (2005) aka Dein Herz in meinem Hirn, who needs homo-hating hogs like Hagee when you have so many self-destructive auteur filmmmakers?!

Beginning on June 28, 1937, Urinal gets started with the title introduction, “…They all began arriving, one after the other on that Friday afternoon. Dorian Gray was first, then Frida Kahlo from Mexico and Langston Hughes, and then Yukio Mishima, all with forged letters of invitation signed with our names, inviting them to some conference or other. When Sergei Eisenstein arrived, we were all in the garden, trying to make the best of it. Frida was painting a portrait of Dorian Gray…” (From the unpublished memoirs of Florence Wyle). Upon arriving at the gardenside location, Eisenstein slaps his fellow sodomite Soviet supporter Langston Hughes a high-five and bisexual unibrow painter Kahlo expresses her severance of ties with Judeo-Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Needless to say, Urinal would be a socialist sod's wet dream had the film not featured bitch-turned-butch Jap novelist/nationalist Yukio Mishima as one of the most important and interesting lead characters. Things start to get notably weirder and nonsensical when the old school artists of the film receive an audio-message dated half a century later on June 28, 1987 declaring “happy lesbian and gay pride day everyone” and apologizing for bringing them to the same location under false pretenses. Apparently, somehow these ‘outstanding’ gay figures of yesteryear are needed to help battle a bugger-based “crisis” where hundreds of gays in Ontario, Canada are being arrested each year by fat fascist pig police offers for publicly sucking cock through bathroom stall glory holes and squatting and defecating on more things than just toilets. Throughout Urinal, each of the six dead gay artists (Sergei Eisenstein, Frances Loring, Yukio Mishima, Florence Wyle, Frida Kahlo, and Langston Hughes) gives a personal video-art report, including such salaciously titled works as A Guided Tour of Toronto’s Hottest Tearooms by Sergei Eisenstein, A Survey of Small Town Washroom Busts in Ontario by Langston Hughes, The Policing of Washroom Sex In Toronto by Florence Wyle, and The Policing of Sexuality In Society by Frida Kahlo. Juxtaposed with farcical fictional footage of the historical homo heroes is footage of candid but strikingly less carnal interviews with real-life public perverts who have been busted for busting loads in public commodes and semen-stain steamrooms, including an extremely epicene Chinese-Canadian man whose insistence on wearing a variety of retarded masks during the interviews does little to hide his oriental eyes, as well as an unmistakably mundane middle-aged civil servant whose former career centered around watching small children. Of course, whether gay or straight, I doubt any parent would want this tearoom termite to be whacking off in front of their six-year old cub scout in a place specifically designated for the excretion of human waste.

Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks? Probably not, but it is probably spawning STD spreaders or at least one would assume so after watching John Greyson’s Urinal; an unbelievably micro-epic undertaking of the insanely unsanitary scatological and illogical kind that oftentimes seems like a collection of unrelated aborted film projects due to its daunting and discordant mix of video and film stock, and fantasy fiction and matter-of-fact reality. As a work of gay gladiatorial activism, Urinal is ass-uredly an abject failure, unless the director’s main objective was to offend and obfuscate, but as a postmodern play-on-potty piece of the most uniquely unhinged variety, it certainly warrants a serious viewing by any crackpot cinephile and/or fanatical fan of crude celluloid camp. As a softcore Yukio Mishima junkie myself, I found Urinal to be especially enthralling yet preposterous as I doubt the tragic Japanese novelist would have had a sexual interest in a sorry sod like Sergei Eisenstein, let alone would he have appreciated being characterized by an effete freak with a boyish physique as he is portrayed by a fellow of Filipino (a delicacy of Dahmer and Murnau no doubt, but hardly a preferred pedigree for the master of pen and sword) extraction named David Gonzales, but, then again, that was undoubtedly one of John Greyson's most pressing and personal agendas; demystifying and reinventing the closeted-gay figure to his notably lewd liking. A ludicrously lurid yet at the same time asininely academic excursion into homophiliac eso-terrorism, Urinal is indeed a work that must be seen to believed and I mean that for uncountable reasons, but if you just need one, watch it for the torridly traumatizing toilet humor fun.  Featuring condoms being unwrapped over crucifixes, childish chink twinks in flamboyant children's Halloween masks, Dorian Gray as a gay oriental, 'Sir Gay' Eisenstein as a feces-fetishizing bathroom interloper, and Langston Hughes' as a buggerer of revolutionary bolshevik filmmakers, among various other sensually vexing yet strikingly sardonic scenarios, Urinal is indubitably a keen kitsch work that even eclipses the perverted poofer pomposity of Rosa von Praunheim's films, which says a lot considering the German filmmaker has a special affinity for fudge-packing neo-nazis, elderly Eastern German trannies, Jewish socialist sexologist sausage jockeys, and cock-chowing, anal assassin cannibals.

-Ty E

1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...