Sep 11, 2015

Latin Boys Go to Hell

Somewhat ironically, despite his bitching about racism in various interviews, Nick Zedd only seemed to be able to ‘recruit’ white filmmakers for his Cinema of Transgression movement, unless you count more obscure figures like deracinated Europid Mexican Manuel DeLanda (Incontinence: A Diarrhetic Flow of Mismatches, Raw Nerves: A Lacanian Thriller) and Hawaii-born Japanese-American Jon Moritsugu (Terminal USA, Mod Fuck Explosion). In fact, Zedd had such a bad falling out with Cuban carpet-muncher filmmaker Ela Troyano (The Bubble People, Once Upon a Time in the Bronx) after collaborating with her on the ‘lost’ shelved flick Totem of the Depraved (1983)—a supposed parody of/tribute to Andy Warhol’s anti-classic My Hustler (1965)—that he spread the false rumor that she had died and even wrote a bullshit obituary for her in his zine The Underground Film Bulletin as a bitchy way to prove that she was ‘dead’ to him and the entire Cinema of Transgression scene. In fact, in an interview featured in the book Deathtripping: The Extreme Underground (2008) by Jack Sargeant, Zedd hatefully describes the Havana-born lesbo filmmaker as, “an incompetent Cuban filmmaker who had worked with me and Jack Smith.” Naturally, Troyano completely distanced herself from Zedd and the Cinema of Transgression movement and, as Sargeant states in Deathtripping, “She began working as a part of the ‘thriving radical dyke performances at WOW and began a decade long collaboration with [my] real-life sister Carmelita Tropicana.” Indeed, Troyano must come from a fairly sexually dysfunctional Cuban family as her sister Tropicana is also a lily-licking dyke and played the eponymous role in her farcically Sapphic 27-minute camp short Carmelita Tropicana: Your Kunst Is Your Waffen (1994). Undoubtedly, the American-German-Japanese-Spanish feature Latin Boys Go to Hell (1997) is easily Troyano’s most popular, ambitious, and rewarding film and is notable for being a rare American Latino homo horror-crime-melodrama that was curiously directed by a Cuban clit-hopper with a special affinity for gallows humor. Based on a novel by gay Latino screenwriter André Salas (Fucking Different New York, Eulogy for a Vampire) and produced by homocore auteur Bruce LaBruce’s Teutonic porn producer Jürgen Brüning (Hustler White, The Raspberry Reich), Troyano’s film feels like what might happen if a Latinized nancy-boy Douglas Sirk attempted to direct a genre-confused (anti)romance with an ostensibly linear narrative that pays aesthetic tribute to Kenneth Anger, James Bidgood’s Pink Narcissus (1971), Jean Genet's Un chant d'amour (1950) aka A Song of Love, the Kuchar Brothers, Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, and Werner Schroeter, among various other kitschy and/or high-camp queer influences. Of course, Latin Boys Go to Hell was also clearly influenced by the early cinematic works unhinged histrionic Hispanic cinema of Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar. Needless to say, the Hispanic homos of Troyano’s flick are infinitely more hyper hysterical and morally depraved than the kraut cocksuckers of a gay-themed Fassbinder feature like Fox and His Friends (1975), thus hinting that the lesbo auteuress has mixed feelings about male sexual inverts, though it is quite apparent that she has nothing but the deepest respect for the masters of gay underground cinema.

 If Latin Boys Go to Hell has anything resembling a protagonist, it is a seemingly autistic latent homosexual Hispanic teen named Justin (Irwin Ossa) who becomes particularly irked when his stereotypical single Latina mother informs him that his estranged cousin Angel (John Bryant of Abel Ferrara’s 'R Xmas (2001) and Alain Zaloum’s David & Fatima (2008)) will be moving in with them in their cramped ghetto apartment. An inordinately introverted closest queen who could not be any less Hispanic in terms of his essence as a fairly quiet and mundane dork who largely lives inward, Justin spends most of his free time watching a mythical trashy Spanish-language soap opera entitled Dos Vidas aka Two Lives and helping a pretentious white photographer named Monica Westphal (Anne Iobst of Troyano’s Carmelita Tropicana and Benjamin P. Speth’s Dresden (1999)) take homoerotic photos of unclad Latino boys posing with fake plastic skulls over their cocks. While a lecherous beefcake model named Carlos (Montreal-born gay mainstream fashion photographer Mike Ruiz in a role that apparently bored him so much that it inspired him to quit acting before his acting career had even really began) has the cheap skull over his dick, Monica encourages him to skull-fuck it, stating, “Why don’t you think of one of your favorite stars giving you a blowjob?” While hanging out at a sleazy Latino club that is frequented by homo-haters that like to dance, sexually depraved model Carlos attempts to bugger Justin in the ass by following him into a bathroom, slowly approaching him from behind while he is taking a leak at a urinal, and perversely stating in a quite bestial fashion, “I wanna fuck that little ass,” but the protagonist is a hopeless romantic who, due to his almost idiotically idealistic view of love as a result of watching countless tasteless soap operas, is waiting for the right kind of man to sweep him off of his fairy feet. Of course, little does Justin realize that he will ultimately be forsaken with the seemingly inexplicable pain of falling in love with his own heterosexual cousin Angel when he moves in with him. 

 When his cousin Angel finally arrives, Justin's creepy infatuation with him is quite apparent, as he almost seems afraid to talk to him and incessantly stares at him in an unnerving fashion that makes the protagonist seem like he might become a sort of Hispanic Jeffrey Dahmer. In no time, Angel becomes Monica’s favorite model and, in what appears to be a tribute to Werner Schroeter’s Der Rosenkönig (1986) aka The Rose King, he poses naked sprawled on a bed of red roses even though he is not actually gay like the rest of the photographer's models. Of course, since his cousin Justin is a jealous little pansy who has always dreamed of being a gay model yet lacks the photogenic physique and charm, Angel has to hide the fact he is a model from his cousin. When Justin takes his cousin to a Mexican themed dance night at a local club, he becomes quite dejected when Angel begins flirting with a pretty fag hag chick named Andrea (Jenifer Lee Simard) who is hopelessly in love with her gay best friend Braulio (Alexis Artiles). Indeed, while Angel is chatting up Andrea, Carlos—a psychopathic sexual predator who attempts to fuck any man that passes his gay gaze and who complains regarding condoms, “I hate using that shit. It makes it hard to cum”—approaches Justin and tries to coerce him into coming home with him, even though he started a fight with him only a couple days before and is already the boyfriend of Braulio, who has fallen hopelessly in love with the deleteriously sexually promiscuous model. Ultimately, Justin goes back home with Carlos and has his man-cunt deflowered in a campy montage where a piñata hilariously explodes at the same exact moment that the latter reaches sexual climax. After having his rectum reamed, Justin acts all dejected and forlorn, which agitates bestial bone-smuggler Carlos who, unlike the overly passive protagonist, does not like to sentimentalize sex and romance. When Carlos says to Justin, “Oh, come off it. You wanted to get fucked and you did. What’s the matter…you can’t deal with the fact you like dick?,” the protagonist reveals just the sort of old fashioned fruitcake romantic he is by naively replying, “I just thought sex was supposed to be between people who cared about each other.” 

 When loverboy Braulio discovers that his muscular beau Carlos has not been faithful with him and has fucked a dorky wimp like protagonist Justin, all hell breaks loose in the hermetic Hispanic homo underworld. Indeed, when Braulio dares to bitch out his bastard of a boyfriend about his lecherous behavior, Carlos gleefully brags about it and dumps the heartbroken Hispanic, who becomes exceedingly hotheaded and self-righteously declares to his (ex)lover, “You bastard…I wouldn’t touch your filthy dick even if you paid me.” Somewhat curiously, Carlos is not only shot and killed by a masked assailant sporting a goofy Halloween mask shortly after he breaks up with Braulio, but also has his dick dismembered and shoved in his mouth.  Notably, Carlos' obscenely over-the-top pseudo-tragic death is foreshadowed in a scene where he pricks his finger on a red rose while admiring himself in a mirror in a Narcissus-esque fashion.  Needless to say, a fat middle-aged negress and her son (who is absurdly carrying a copy of exceedingly effete Truman Capote’s classic true crime nonfiction novel In Cold Blood (1966)) are more than a little shocked upon finding the bloody corpse of a Hispanic homo with a cock in his mouth in a scene that seems to channel dirty Dahmer. When Andrea remarks to Braulio that he does not seem particularly melancholy about the fact that his lover was murdered and castrated, he strangely responds, “You were right about him all along. He’s a fucking bastard. Forgive me if I’m not all broken up about his death. As far as I’m concerned, he got what was coming to him.” Indeed, at this point in the film, it is quite apparent that Braulio is Carlos’ killer and the next person on his murder list is Justin, who he naturally blames for the dissolution of his lurid love affair even though the protagonist did not want to be anally pillaged by the dead model in the first place. At a photo exhibition with the eponymous title ‘Latin Boys Go To Hell’ featuring a collection of Monica’s gay Yatō-esque Latino photos that was apparently named in tribute to some assumed cocksucker named Carlos Antonio Perez (1973-1997) who probably died of AIDS, Justin and Angel have a showdown of sorts with unhinged homo Braulio where lesbo actress/writer/director Guinevere Turner appears out of nowhere as an Grim Reaper-like apparition of sorts. Before Braulio begins unloading bullets on the lead and his cousin, Justin informs Angel that he is in love with him. Of course, Angel is not an incestuous fag, but he shows great empathy for Justin and attempts to let him down easy by stating, “You’re a great guy…a good looking guy and all […] I just can’t go in that direction. If I did, you’d be the first person I’d think of.”  In the end, Latin Boys Go to Hell concludes on a sardonically ironical note that makes a mockery out of kitschy pseudo-poetic love.  As hinted at in various shots where Catholic iconography is juxtaposed with images of drag queens and dumb blondes like Pamela Anderson (including a shot of the infamously horrendous dystopian Casablanca reworking Barb Wire (1996)), the film seems to blame Catholicism for the gay Hispanic community's undying infatuation with love and falling in love, with protagonist Justin even attempting to sacrifice himself for love in the end.

With its superficially straightforward storyline, Latin Boys Go to Hell features what might be described as an abortive narrative, horrendously wooden acting, and particularly preposterous displays of pseudo-pathos, among various other glaring flaws that are quite comparable to the worst of Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), yet that is ultimately one of the main reasons why the film is worth watching.  Indeed, the film is nothing if not a virtual treasure trove of depraved campy humor and various semi-subtle queer cinephile references. In fact, many of the indoor scenes featured in the film feel like direct tributes to Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964) where the eponymous character played by Bruce Byron sits on his bed while watching a TV and reading comics. If I did not know better, I would assume that Latin Boys Go to Hell was made for the sole purpose of paying homage to both Scorpio Rising and Pink Narcissus while mocking the Roman Catholic tinged romantic histrionics of lethally lecherous Hispanic homos. Of course, considering how Teutonic Sapphic auteuress Ulrike Ottinger would portray leather-fags as Gestapo-esque killers in a number of her films, including her allegorical dystopian epic Freak Orlando (1981), Troyano would not be the first to make an unflattering farce of fags and fag culture (in fact, until relatively recently with the AIDS crisis and growth of "LGBTQ" collective power groups, fags and dykes belonged to totally separate and oftentimes opposing subcultures, which makes sense since each group is only interested in members of their own sex). While sometimes having the particularly putrid Club Kids vibe of 1990s quasi-gaysploitation flick like Shampoo Horns (1998) directed by Spanish auteur Manuel Toledano (1974–2007) and starring Hispanic-homo-killer Michael Alig (who is probably best known as the titular subject of Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's Party Monster: The Shockumentary (1998) and the directors' follow-up 2003 feature film Party Monster starring Macaulay Culkin), Troyano's film thankfully owes more to the great queer camp directors of yesteryear. Personally, I could not tolerate more than a couple minutes of Troyano's fairly brief dyke-fest Carmelita Tropicana: Your Kunst Is Your Waffen and I find it somewhat ironic that the rug-munching auteur's greatest film is about homicidal homos, but then again, lesbian-themed cinema has never been particularly interesting and I can not imagine a group of clam-smackers pulling off a camp routine. If one thing is for sure, it is that Latin Boys Go to Hell is more aesthetically pleasing than anything that Troyano’s rival Zedd—a man that has fucked pre-op trannies and gave head to another man while in drag in Richard Kern’s King of Sex (1986)—has ever directed. 

-Ty E


Tony Brubaker said...


Tony Brubaker said...