Sep 16, 2013
While an innocent young man, avant-garde pornographer Fred Halsted (Nighthawk in Leather, A Night at Halsted's) was routinely raped and abused by his stepfather and these rather traumatic experiences would not only deeply affect his personal life as a staunch sadomasochistic sodomite who highhandedly popularized fisting and lunatic leather-faggotry, among other things, but also his surreally sleazy and aberrantly artful celluloid works, the most idiosyncratic, esoteric, and sexually subversive of which being Sextool (1975), the concluding film in the proudly debauched director's L.A. Trilogy. With his experimental ‘arthouse’ porn flick LA Plays Itself (1972) and its companion work The Sex Garage (1972)—the only two hardcore flicks belonging to the permanent Film Collection of the Museum of Modern Art—Halsted became a sort of underground darling of the art and cinema world, inspiring alpha-surrealist Salvador Dalí to describe his work as “new information for me” and prompting junky literary outlaw William S. Burroughs to state that the films, “break all the stereotypes.” With his growing popularity, Halsted hoped to follow up LA Plays Itself and The Sex Garage with a more ‘sexually eclectic’ and ‘professional’ work, thus siring Sextool, which, while featuring the signature fisting and carnal violence of his previous efforts, also included Asian trannies, campy cabaret shows, and perverts riding motorcycles into degenerate sex fiend parties, thus ironically making it ultimately the ill-fated filmmaker’s most blatantly bizarre, hallucinatory, and artful work and surely not something that would have captivated the everyday pervert. Described in a review from the Hollywood Reporter as a, “cruel, terrorizing film…the kind of film one can imagine Nazi concentration camp commanders commission for their jaded amusement,” Sextool is a sinisterly carnal celluloid nightmare featuring sailors being raped with boners, boots, and bananas, Gestapo-like cops in leather sodomizing young hustlers with nightsticks, negroes in black Cadillacs getting their fuck on with a white hippie cuck, and an oriental tranny smoking herb through a gigantic penis pipe. Deciding to shoot on mainstream movie grade 35mm film as opposed to gritty 16mm like his previous works, Sextool proved to be a rather expensive project for Halsted and he was only able to shoot the most imperative ‘action’ scenes and hardly any transitional scenes nor character development, thus the film has a foreboding nonlinear oneiric ‘structure’ that essentially amounts to a number of potent climaxes with little to no masturbation in between. Due to its hardcore imagery, Sextool was never played in mainstream theaters and only a few porn theaters were equipped with 35mm projectors to screen the film, thus the work had marginal theatrical distribution at best. While Halsted released a limited quanity of Super-8 prints and videos upon its initial release, Sextool has been out-of-print ever since, with only the Museum of Modern Art owning an original 35mm print of the film. Indisputably a commercial failure upon its release, Sextool is also arguably Halsted’s celluloid magnum opus, or at least that was what I was able to discern after getting a hold of a horrendous quality bootleg copy of the film that looks like it was unearthed from homo hell.
Opening with a scene of Fred Halsted, who resembles Richard Gere except less queer, ‘welcoming’ the viewer as he walks around in an industrial wasteland while carrying a bottle of beer, which he naturally smashes, and sporting his signature leather-jacket to the ominous sounds of synthesizer-driven ambient noise, Sextool immediately establishes the tone for a sensually sinister and tyrannical work where (anti)erotic violence reigns with excessive savage force. Next cutting to a scene of a wisecracking and somewhat creepy Asian transsexual named ‘Gloria’ (Charmaine Lee Anderson, a one-time Empress of Hawaii in the Court of Many Rivers of Louis XIV, an American drag ball association) whose would-be-alpha-male boyfriend Jeff (Gus Harvey) tells her, “I fuck you so hard and deep you shouldn’t even be able to walk. You just think of a new position and…well…you’re the mother of creation,” one immediately gets the idea that the meta-raunchy world of Sextool is a place of lecherous lost souls with no values and busted moral compasses who live to fuck and get fucked. Meanwhile, driving down the street is a Cadillac limousine containing some sexually intemperate spade soul brothers forcing a white hippie slave to give them head and a debauched driver who enjoys jerking-off while wearing leather gloves. Gloria and Jeff go to a sex party where the yellow transman gives ‘her’ lover the following warning, “You must be very careful around here Jeff…You never know who you might meet or what they might make you do” and proceeds to laugh maniacally. Upon arriving at the sexual outlaw get-to-together, Gloria points out two ultra-macho leather-fags and the scene then cuts to the two lecherous leather-men violently gang raping a young boyish blond sailor (Tim Rhodes) who they not only anally and orally deflower, but also shove their fists, boots, and bananas up his rectum as if their bodies are a single working ‘machine’ or sextool), which is further accentuated by the film’s fiercely foreboding proto-industrial score. Next Gloria spots a corrupt cocksucking cop, who rides into the party on a motorcycle and the scene cuts to a startlingly sordid sequence of the poof-penetrating policeman in a martial leather uniform nefariously using his nightstick to torture and inevitably ‘assert’ his power in a young man’s rectum, among other things. Next, Gloria spots a rather dapper dick-downing dandy, who moonlights as a cross-dressing cabaret dancer that seems to have come straight out of Steven Arnold’s Luminous Procuress (1971) and, to quote the gossiping yellow tranny, “pays her audience to cum.” The clown-like cabaret dancer goes by the stage name “La Belle Eccentrique” and wears a somewhat ghoulish camp costume that includes pansy pancake makeup, a top hat, a suit jacket, and fish nets, and who gives a dildo-flinging performance to a homely hustler wearing a shirt that says “Rent-A-Kid Make-An-Officer” who, before he knows it, is using poppers, has attached clothes lines all around his body, and is busting his load and shoving a cigar up his ass with Crisco, which the cabaret dancer soon smokes like a true champ.
Meanwhile, at the party, a couple of jealous and conniving trannies gossip and one remarks about Gloria’s biological maleness and her ostensibly heterosexual boyfriend, “Do you think he knows,” which a friend responds, “About her or himself? They’re both ladies!,” in what is the closest thing to campy comic relief in Sextool, a film where bodies are weapons of wanton destruction. After smoking some weed through a large phallic pipe, Gloria sits in front of a fire and talks nostalgically of her mother’s promiscuous behavior during Pearl Harbor,“The bombs was going down, and she was still out cruising, picking up the sailors, bringing them home, conquering them. That’s my mother. She was so beautiful” and how, “I used to pick up those lipsticks, eyebrow pencils, padded bras, put on her nightgown, and just prance and dance. She never knew. I love my mother so much,” thus demonstrating the transman’s source for inevitably becoming a chink-chick-with-a-dick. At the party, Gloria also spots Fred Halsted and his real-life lover Joey Vale, the former of whom she insults by stating, “He thinks he’s a boxer, but his idea of a workout is a bottle of beer in one hand and wearing a pair of gloves” and the scene then cuts to the director practicing boxing with his boyish blond bitch boy toy. After punching a punching bag a number of times like a true proletarian pugilist, Halsted ‘takes off his gloves’ and forces Ms. Vale to not only lick the blood off his knuckles, but also drink his piss. Wasting no time, Halsted proceeds to strip and beat Vale, using a large leather belt (with a nice large chain attached to the end) to get the job done properly and whip his tiny twink bitch back into shape. In the end, Gloria leaves the party for San Diego and her boyfriend Jeff, apparently a married man, is recruited into fagdom by pervert host Randy because in Fred Halsted’s homo heaven and hell, perversity reigns, especially of the master and slave sort. In the end, it is revealed that deranged tranny Gloria setup Jeff to be emasculated and used him like a true tool, or ‘Sextool.’
Utilizing a variety of eccentrically ethereal sound effects in an apparent tribute to Robert Altman (That Cold Day in the Park, Short Cuts)—a filmmaker both director Fred Halsted and producer Taylor Brown credited as their favorite filmmaker—Sextool is essentially a hypnotic hardcore porno flick of the flagrantly foreboding fashion with next to nil plot but featuring nihilistic sexual nightmares galore. Directed by a man who promoted a sort of fierce fag-scism and militant homo-supremacy of the renegade quasi-Röhm-esque variety, once going so far as proudly stating in an interview, “What Nazism is saying, though, is: you’re Aryan, you’re white, you’re better. Gay supremacy is very similar to that. So I think it’s a new kind of fascism—which I wholeheartedly endorse…I really do think we’re superior and that thesis is fascistic. I don’t believe in equality, and I think it has been proven that at times when you have a great renaissance in culture and the arts, it’s always gay peole who are leading the whole thing. We are now starting such a renaissance again,” Sextool is ultimately Fred Halsted’s most inventive, sexually and socially iconoclastic, and thematically and aesthetically terroristic film and a virtual manifesto for his whacked-out Weltanschauung of sexual crime and punishment. Anti-bourgeois to its rather hard homo core, Sextool is totally at odds with the kind of equality-mongering insanity of today’s mainstream LGBT community as the work that not only rejects becoming part of straight society, but seeks to destroy it without mercy one sick fuck at a time. Certainly a work that will more appeal to arthouse and cult cinema inclined cinephiles and cineastes as opposed to uncultivated cockscukers looking for a quick and easy masturbation aid, Sextool is like a hardcore hodgepodge of the degenerate dreaminess of Jean Genet’s Cocteau-esque Un Chant d'Amour (1950) aka A Song of Love, the sadomasochistic sailor fetishism of Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks (1947) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Querelle (1982), the anti-bourgeois horror-like horrific sexual perversity of Alberto Cavallone's Blue Movie (1978) and Blow Job (1980), and the gritty S&M arthouse exploitation of Jacques Scandelari's Beyond Love and Evil (1971) and New York City Inferno (1978) for what ultimately adds up to a strikingly singular work of celluloid sensual savagery that violently fist-fucks the soul without remorse.
Advertised with the rather literal tagline, “USE/ABUSE/EVERYONE/EVERYTHING,” Sextool is a work so unwaveringly subversive and cinematically unhinged that it inspired Divine of Pink Flamingos (1972) feces-eating infamy to state, “I WOULD EAT THIS FILM!!,” though I am surprised the fist-focused work was not too 'butch' for the tragic drag queen. In regard to his own thoughts regarding his influence as a filmmaker and more-than-vocal proponent of fist-fucking, Fred Halsted stated in a posthumously released interview entitled “A Rather Late Yet Interesting Interview with a Dead Porno Artist” in Butt Magazine, “I think I’ve been extremely influential in terms of breaking faggots out of the swish era. My films present faggots in the macho era, and maybe it’s too overdone, but the whole style changed. I think that it had an enormous influence on the style and fashion of gay America, and I think that’s good. At one time for several years I was the dominant thinker in America in terms of breaking this softness, and I think it’s succeeded,” yet Halsted is rather forgotten today, even among leather-fags and it seems only the most audacious of cinephiles have kept his legacy going. With characters stating such sexually cannibalistic things as, “Let’s cruise the meatrack. I’ll tell you how everybody’s hung, slice, and degrade” and a rape victim “more... more... more sir... more...” while being fist-fucked into oblivion by his tormentor, Sextool, arguably more importantly than anything, is the visceral artistic expression of a sexually abused boy turned sexually sadistic man whose suicide at the mere age of 47 proved he was a fucked fellow seeking self-obliteration who instinctively saw sex as a form of destruction as opposed to reproduction, which one could easily argue is the true psyche of the homosexual and sexual fetishist in general. Unfortunately, with Halsted's suicide came the orphaning of Sextool as he owned the rights to the film and it is rather doubtful the work will ever be released again in any form, thus making it one of the most sought after and impossible-to-find hardcore works of porn history. Even if you have to travel to semen-drenched Sodom to find a copy of Sextool, it will surely be worth the effort because even with all the subversive homoeroticism and boots literally in peoples' asses, one will soon forget they are watching a gay porn film and begin to start thinking they have entered a post-apocalyptic hell that only Halsted could have pleasantly plagued the world with.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:06 PM
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