Feb 13, 2013
After valiantly enduring subversive homo-auteur Todd Verow’s dauntingly deranged documentary Bottom X (2012) – a worse than wretchedly wanton work about a decisively depraved bug-chasing HIV-positive poof who has an unhealthy obsession with having his diseased ‘man-cunt’ creamed with equally soiled, STD-ridden seed – I figured it was about time that I checkout some of the firebrand fairy filmmaker’s celluloid back catalog, thus leading me to his debauched digital video work Anonymous (2004); a film about a miserably masochistic fellow who lives to be fucked in most unflattering ways in public places. Starring director Todd Verow (Frisk, Bulldog in the Whitehouse) himself as the patently pathetic protagonist ‘Todd’ – a severely sensitive and surely sad fellow who enjoys masturbating whilst chatting on his cell phone with prospective sex partners and being borderline raped in public bathrooms – Anonymous is a seemingly semi-autobiographical work directed by an auteur filmmaker who, not unlike Bruce LaBruce (Super 8 ½, The Raspberry Reich) but all the more in the gay gutter, seems to wallow in his own sexual insanity. In part filmed at the movie theater that Verow actually worked at during the film's production, and featuring displays of erratic homoeroticism that are undeniably authentic, Anonymous is an audaciously gritty piece of gay guerrilla filmmaking. A veteran of New Queer Cinema who, unlike many of his cinematic compatriots, still swims in the seedy semen-drenched cesspool as a filmmaker who knows no budgets and certainly no sexual mores, Anonymous acts as a virtual digital video manifesto for the auteur filmmaker’s one-man revolution against absurd authoritarianism of mainstream fagdom. With his early sadomasochistic sodomite serial killer Frisk (1995), Verow inspired flaming fag-on-fag hatred and groundless accusations of ‘homophobia’ by prissy politically-correct poo-packers, so it was only natural that the filmmaker would write the following in a filmmaking manifesto entitled “No More Mr. Nice Gay”: “No more Mr. Nice Gay! Aren't you tired by now of these buff, shiny, happy, pretty pretty gay people in (alleged) comedies about hooking up and being shirtless and oh-so-pretty and oh-so-vacant. No more documentaries about gay marriage and about "how just like everyone else" we are. No more conformity…We are outlaws, we are outsiders and we always will be. You don't need a cock just a camera (and it doesn't have to be a big camera but you have to have the balls to face down the status quo.). Pull it out. Stroke it. Dare the audience, the critics, the programmers, etc. to suck it. Create like there is no tomorrow (in this modern world, you never know) and shoot, shoot, shoot!” Indeed, with Anonymous, vehement Verow both shot and sucked and, judging by all the public sex, probably committed a couple copulation-based crimes, but he certainly did not do it incognito. As he would later reveal in his insightful manifesto, "looking back now I think after making FRISK, I wasn't ready or able to make another gay film until it was something personal, something painfully real. I was ready to do that when I was single again and moved back to NYC in 2001. I bared all (not just my ass but heart and soul) in ANONYMOUS (Berlinale 2004). I decided that if I was going to take shit from people it would be for something personal," and, indeed, few films are so incriminatingly intimate as Anonymous; an agile, if not oftentimes aesthetically agitating, auteur piece from the bowels of the homocore underground that will probably make most male viewers think twice about using a public restroom.
Todd has led a fairly pathetic and miserable life, which is probably rooted in the fact he was maliciously molested at the impressionable age of 12-years-old. As director Verow candidly admitted to kraut queen auteur Rosa Von Praunheim in 2008 during their televised date on the German-French Arte show Into the Night with... (2002-present), he also faced a similar real-life harrowing fate as a young child at the hands of a sick sexual predator and the byproduct of this life-changing experience certainly bleeds through in Anonymous; a delirious digital diary about a damaged and emotionally destitute man whose only source of solace in life is sodomy, sucking, and being verbally and physically abused. A 36-year-old man (that tells everyone he is 32) who works as the night manager of a Manhattan movie theater, Todd uses his work hours to masturbate, get manhandled by random men in the bathroom, and perform flamboyant stripteases solely for himself, but during his free time, especially when he goes back at his apartment with his boyfriend, depression kicks in. Naturally, Todd has a hard time keeping up with all the men he gets screwed by and so does his boyfriend/roommate John (Dustin Schell). As Todd states in a most monotone yet melancholy manner, “John works during the day and I at night, which has probably kept us from strangling each other over the last five years...although, that would be a welcome change now.” Of course, it seems things were not as bad in the past and there used to be some romance in the relationship as demonstrated by his confession, “We had so many plans for fixing this place up…but we never really got around to it.” Indeed, the only thing that terminally tragic Todd gets around to doing is being buggered senselessly in begrimed bathrooms by anonymous men for such is the lonely yet lecherous life of a supremely salacious sex addict/sex abuse victim whose only method of connecting with others is being anally reamed and cummed on. One day, Todd’s wanton world comes tumbling down when his much more conservative boy toy John surprises him at work and catches him receiving a glory-hole blow-job from another boy in the libertine latrine. Furious and fuming, John brutally beats, strips, and writes “FUCK HERE” (which another fellow does relentlessly later that night) on Todd’s butt cheeks. Needless to say, John locks Todd out of the apartment and throws all his ex-beau's belongings into the street, so he spends the night at an old trick’s house and is buggered by the brown man most belligerently. After stealing a pair of Wizard of Oz-style ‘magical ruby slippers’ from an unconscious woman, Todd is fired from his job when the movie theater management discovers that he is engaging in torrid tearoom sessions in the public bathroom (not to mention the fact that an auditor discovers that he has been stealing). Luckily, Todd makes a couple extra bucks doing some poofer pin-up photos prior to the termination of his employment and makes some friends in the process. Of course, not all things are bad for Todd as he and his new group of debauched friends play an erotic game of Red light/Green light.
Although not Todd Verow’s most accomplished (let alone most subversive) effort, Anonymous is an excellent place to start to understand the avant-garde auteur behind the camera as a self-exploitative exposé and an exceedingly explicit and engrossing sort of contemporary American equivalent to Frank Ripploh's queer kraut cult classic Taxi zum Klo (1980). Essentially, Anonymous depicts a patently pitiable man with a lurid yet ironically lackluster life who lacks even the will power to commit suicide (or so he admits with an anecdote at the conclusion of the film). Neither a pretentious work, nor a vainglorious piece of mundane movie masturbation (although weirdo wanking is featured throughout), Anonymous is an equally hopeless yet humorous film that is hard to forget, whether one would like to or not. As someone who makes a living from his micro-budget movies and managing a movie theater part-time, Verow’s decision to be the main character in Anonymous – a rather ridiculously reflective work – surely makes the filmmaker not so ‘anonymous’ anymore. One of the very last heretical homocore auteur filmmakers, Verow partly fills a void in an increasingly Hollywood-influenced phenomenon of homogenizing homos in the United States that, on top of turning the United States of America into a neo-bolshevik authoritarian nation, stifles creativity and individuality and fosters mediocrity and conformity, especially among a historically artistically-inclined minority group. As a filmmaker who wrote in his manifesto, “I have a natural instinct to destroy in the name of creativity. Besides, we had a blast shooting a big "fuck you" to the growing political correctness of the 90's, and to the mainstreaming of gay culture which started then. A riot broke out at our screening during the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, the editor of The Advocate magazine said I should be shot,” and “To me, experimental or underground film and queer film were synonymous,” Verow certainly proved that he practiced what he preached with Anonymous; a digital video depiction of one damaged dude's desperate desire to down gobs of dicks in a depraved and depressing fashion that will remind you why the word "gay" has totally lost its original meaning.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 7:48 PM
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