Sep 19, 2013


In terms of hallucinatory hustler-sploitation of the quasi-pederast variety, the Czech film Mandragora (1997) directed by controversial Polish auteur Wiktor Grodecki (Him, Insatiability) puts all others to shame in its melodramatic nihilism, slickly stylized Slavo-sleaze, and gratingly blatant, if not valid, anti-globalist/anti-American message. Director Grodecki originally became somewhat revered in the cinema world with his documentaries Not Angels But Angels (1994) and Body Without Soul (1996)—two works that more or less devastatingly, if not exploitatively so, depict the pathetic lives of teenage Prague male prostitutes—and the auteur would use those two docs as inspiration for his narrative feature Mandragora, the story of a rural teen who runs away from home to the big city, only to become the bought bitch boy of wealthy faggots from all around the world literally over night. Sort of like a Breakfast Club from homo Hades, Mandragora tells the story of an ambiguously gay angst-ridden 15-year-old who refuses to become a welder like his macho proletarian father, so he seeks his fortune in Prague and soon finds himself being drugged and anally deflowered by a sort of Slavic Uncle Fester, thereupon becoming a poof prostitute by proxy in the process, eventually even enjoying the life, only to fall hard and fast in a very real nightmare of drugs, beatdowns, and STDs. A gut wrenching work of sensationalized melodramatic aesthetic terrorism without hope and redemption, let alone a happy ending, that makes similarly themed works like Midnight Cowboys (1969), Trash (1970), Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (1981), Forty Deuce (1982), Via Appia (1990), My Own Private Idaho (1991), Street Kid (1992) aka Gossenkind, The Basketball Diaries (1995), and Requiem for a Dream (2000) seem rather tame by comparison, Mandragora is action-packed human depravity and cultural decay in a cheap yet strangely charming post-communist Eastern European package that quite literally depicts how Europa became a diseased gigolo of America and its cuckolded allies. As disturbingly depicted in William E. Jones micro-documentary The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (1998), with the death of communism in the Slavic countries came the capitalist exploitation of young and rather desperate boys with no values except obtaining money at any cost, including self-degradation and voluntary exploitation. Ultimately winning a number of awards and even being lauded by playwright-turned-politician Václav Havel—the ninth and last president of Czechoslovakia (1989–1992) and the first president of the Czech Republic (1993–2003)—who personally wrote a congratulatory letter to Director Grodecki, Mandragora is what Michael Haneke once described as, “24 lies per second at the service of truth, or at the service of the attempt to find the truth,” albeit of the quasi-NAMBLA variety. 

 As demonstrated by the Backstreet Boys, Freddy Mercury, and Tom Cruise posters hanging on his wall, 15-year-old Czech twink-in-training Marek (Miroslav Caslavka) is probably gay, thus he has no interest in becoming a blue collar welder like his father, so he runs away from his small village and seeks self-exile in Prague. After blowing all his money at arcades and casinos on his first night in the city, Marek is robbed and beaten by a gang of Slavic wiggers, so when a creepy, swarthy pimp wearing a large leather trenchcoat, with long, greasy curly hair, and a leather-fag mustache named Honza (Pavel Skrípal) offers him a ‘job’ by saying things like “I could use you… Nice boy… Beautiful boy…,” the innocent teen naively takes his seemingly ominous offer as if making some sort of fag Faustian pact with the devil himself. Honza brings Marek to an exceedingly effete fat middle-aged queen’s house, who puts roofies in the boys Coca-Cola and the next thing he knows, the teen awakes to the heavyset homo anally deflowering his rectum. After another brutal beating from a gang of barbaric hustlers looking to protect their turf, Marek meets the charming and ‘popular’ male prostitute David (David Svec), who shows him the ropes of man-pussy-peddling and ultimately helps him to get pimp Honza arrested, thereupon making him a free agent of his own ass. David's personal philosophy for prostitution is, “the most amount of money for the least amount of work,” which also involves thieving, especially in regard to drunk Johns. Eventually, David and Marek start their own bordello of boys in a dilapidated communist era hotel. When David sets up Marek on a date with a debauched, wealthy and equally sadomasochistic Englishman of the Caravaggio-obsessed sort, who says of the boy “you don’t know it but you are the true creator of art in the world” and reaches orgasm while watching the lad pose unclad with a sword, things get a bit ugly. After deciding Marek’s “balls are much too big for a classical sculpture,” the Englishman has the boy savagely beaten and mutilated. Bruised, bloody, and barely able to walk, Marek accuses David of being just like parasitic pimps like Honza and the two decide to end their small fuckboy business. To fund a trip back to David’s small village, the two would-be-pretty boy prostitutes rob a “Czech-American pig,” a rather repulsive Slav pedophile with a gigantic hook-nose who now stylizes himself as a cowboy after obtaining American citizenship and who only comes back to his homeland to blow young boys as such a rare delicacy is much easier to acquire in destitute ex-communist countries. 

 After drugging and robbing the swarthy Amero-Slav swine of not only his money, but cologne and electric shavers, among other things, Marek and David head to the latter’s hometown, where they run into ‘homophobia’ from proletarian workers at a bar, one of whom says of the lecherous lads, “They suck dicks all week and here pretend to be macho!,” which could not be more true. Broke and desperate, Marek and David rob an old lady in a cemetery to get back to Prague and when they reach the Slav sin city, they are warmly greeted by Honza, who is now out of jail and wants revenge, and his gang of boy gigolo soldiers, who almost beat the two to death. Ultimately, Marek and David become sex slaves of Honza again, but no Johns want them anymore as they are sick, washed-up, and far too old for the typical discerning boy buggering buyer. David gets addicted to cocaine/speed and convinces Marek to star in boy porno films made by an egomaniac cokehead family man named Krysa (Kostas Zerdolaglu) that are sold in Germany. While Marek does not want to be in the porn flick, David and Krysa convince him to do it, the latter of which eggs him on by stating, “Faggots are afraid of everything and hide in the corners…while heterosexuals don’t care…and always come up with new ideas…” Marek ultimately becomes the star (i.e. guy that acts as the passive bottom) and rather regrets the experience. To make things worse, David, who is in a constant drug-addled stupor, unwittingly goes on a ‘date’ with the Czech-American pig he and Marek previously robbed and soon finds himself being raped by a pool stick, on top of being sent to jail. Alone, broke, and afraid, Marek begins using drugs and after stealing a large supply of cocaine from the local pornographer Krysa, whose home is raided by the cops, gets high and hallucinates that maggots are crawling on his arm, thus inspiring him to psychotically stab at his arm with a knife and unwittingly kill himself in the process. As he lay dead in the bathroom stall where he got high, Marek’s father, who has been looking everywhere for his son, walks in the restroom to use the urinal, not knowing his son’s postmortem corpse is only a couple feet away from him. As a prepubescent boy states near the conclusion of Mandragora, “Lot’s of sick men around…,” especially in this sick little piece of ‘cautionary’ Slavic hustler-sploitation. 

 After viewing Wiktor Grodecki’s Mandragora a total of two times, I can certainly say without hesitation that it is easily the most depraved and debauched hustler flick I have ever seen as a work that rather nonsensically, at least intellectually speaking, both glamorizes and condemns the boy gigolo way of life. Undoubtedly, Mandragora is certainly a whacked out and wanton enough work to appeal to real-life pederasts as it borders on being a softcore skin flick. Still, one must respect auteur Grodecki for not copping out in the end with a contrived happy ending because, after all, there is typically no true redemption and hope for boy dick-peddlers as drug addiction, STDs and AIDS, and a very early death are almost guaranteed. An unhealthily enthralling portrait of an innocent and naïve boy who learns all too soon the wicked ways of post-communist capitalist Prague and ultimately pays for it first with is dignity then his life, Mandragora also portrays a people figuratively and literally raped by America and its cuckolded European allies. Most notably, virtually all of the Johns featured in the film are not Czechs, but Americans, Brits, and Germans, especially leftist types, including a Heidelberg college professor and a Judaic NYC journalist. While watching Mandragora with my girlfriend, she could not believe the film was released in 1997 because the characters—with their mullet haircuts, Motörhead leather-jackets, Robert Smith-esque faggy button-up shirts, starter jackets, and vulgar sweat pants—seemed like they stepped off the set of some mid-1980s direct-to-video NYC-based exploitation flick (and indeed that, coupled with soulless thumping euro techno and intermittent pity party Jewish violin music of the sort typically employed by Spielberg, added all the more to the film's all around grotesque feel). A sort of horrendously hypnotic psychosexual hustler horror flick that is half ‘poverty porn’ and half anti-American propaganda yet unwaveringly aesthetically unsanitary, Mandragora is probably the closet one can get to the Prague prostitution world without acquiring an STD and/or being robbed, though the film will most certainly hustle you out of your innocence if you still have it with its creepily captivating look at the one of the globalized world's most dirty secrets.

-Ty E

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