Bruce LaBruce’s latest film, Gerontophilia, is about an 18-year-old boy with a fetish for older men who starts working at a retirement home. There he meets Mr Peabody, an 81-year-old resident of the home, which is over-medicating their residents.
Gerontophilia was inspired by LaBruce’s friend writer Marcus Ewert, who recently gave a revealing interview about his relationships with older men Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs when he was a teenager.
In an interview with Vocativ, LaBruce opens up about Gerontophilia, which was filmed with a $2 million budget, his biggest to date.
On the meaning of gerontophilia: The older and more wrinkled and closer to death the object of desire is, the more sexually stimulated the gerontophile. It also has to do with empathy for the aged, and an appreciation for their wisdom and experience. It’s a love of the elderly, as well as a sexual attraction. Most fetishes entail a love and respect for the object of desire, not merely a sexual attraction to it. But most people choose not to understand or believe that a fetish also has a romantic impulse.
On sexuality as we age: I mean your sexual drive doesn’t really diminish that much, although the dominant culture would prefer if the sexuality of people of a certain age would disappear. Everything is geared toward the cult of youth in the new Western capitalist paradigm, and old people are only supposed to be pathetic geezers who have some kind of grotesque desire for young people. But what would happen if, in a topsy-turvy world, old people actually were afforded some sexual commerce? It may go against the culture and nature, but in a more interesting world, that might be considered revolutionary and cool.
On his research: My research was mostly based on personal experience and people I have met who have had gerontophile experiences or tendencies. After I hit puberty, I had very strong sexual fantasies about older men, ranging from male teachers in their 30s or 40s to even older men in my life. Our contemporary Western culture doesn’t even want to acknowledge that postpubescent children can have these kinds of sexual impulses. Age of consent laws vary worldwide, but it is obviously often a gray area in terms of morality and ethical behavior. With my movie, I chose to represent an inter-generational love and sex relationship that is as extreme as possible and still within legal boundaries. But it still disturbs people in its extremity, if in a deceptively gentle and subtle way.
Beyond these considerations, I also found in my research that old people in institutional settings are most often discouraged from expressing their sexual impulses, sometimes to the point where they are overmedicated so that caretakers don’t have to deal with their sexuality. And old people in institutions who are gay are even more repressed, as homosexuality between old people in these settings is even more taboo.