A hot hustler skips his way through a bevy of johns, but wait — beneath his hardened shell all he really desires is… true love. Sound familiar? Try every bad gay hustler film ever made. Boy Culture is the newest addition to that pile.
Based on the novel by Matthew Rettenmund, the film comes from director Q Allan Brocka, who brought us the wonderfully sarcastic series of Legoland shorts Rick And Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple In The World. However, Brocka should have stuck to inanimate characters with detachable legs. Boy Culture is lousy, bitchy and tedious.
The negative and cocky narrator-cum-prostitute (played by Derek Magyar) introduces himself to us as X. A high-class escort, X lives with two roommates: Andy (Darryl Stephens), the one he secretly loves, and Joey (Jonathon Trent), the one who loves him.
In the film X takes on a new client, Gregory (Patrick Bauchau), an older gay man who talks with him and offers tidbits of homosexual wisdom. But as X starts to pursue Andy he finds out that Gregory has been toying with his head. The story then confusingly hurtles into a happy ending of obvious proportions.
The film mainly suffers from unlikable characters with simplified or muddied intentions. X is particularly hard to endure. Oscillating from telling the viewer to fuck off and praying to the Virgin Mary (I quote: “Mother Mary, I understand what it is to be a gay man” and “Forgive me, Father. I was selfish”) he quickly alienates the viewer from any sympathy in his quest for love.
The supporting characters are no better: Andy is the hopelessly bland love interest while Joey is the stereotypical tart.
The actors do seem to do the best they can with unimaginative characters, clichéd conflicts and no real sexual tension. An involved sex scene between X and Gregory is misguided and adds more murkiness to the overall uninteresting connections.
Boy Culture’s lack of character development and poor writing is aggravated by a need to incorporate smart-sounding dialogue and to generate one-line zingers. What you get is an unpleasant number of quotes from Wilde and Lawrence coupled with, “C’mon, everyone has a backup boyfriend.” In one tired, self-reflexive moment, X points out the scenario in the movie is “like a bad porno only without the sex.” You sure got that right.
I think the movie was trying to comment on banal trappings of gay male life. How does one find caring and acceptance in a bitchy, skin-deep environment? “This is what I hate about the gay scene: sex for nothing,” says X.
But Boy Culture misses its mark. Brocka would have been better off to formulate characters who expand and learn from that world rather than ones who are merely stuck in it. The tired premise combined with slipshod characters falls short of exploring any feelings of isolation.
I am reminded of the 1970 movie Boys In The Band, where young gay men are presented as bitter and self-hating. While Boy Culture’s ending may be different, the two films sadly share the same vitriol. There is a wide expanse of life outside of this bitchiness, but Boy Culture fails to find it.