Arts & Entertainment
3 min

The politics of porn, necrophilia and gay zombies

Bruce LaBruce releases a provocative anthology touching on all his favourite topics

Canada’s own revolutionary filmmaker, Bruce LaBruce is releasing  a second book titled, Bruce LaBruce: Porn Diaries. It’s a provocative anthology featuring articles and essays as well as production diaries from his films Skin Gang, Raspberry Reich and LA Zombie. Many of the pieces in the book are sourced  from his past Exclaim! magazine column.

The book provides context to his work in a conversational manner, making the reader feel as though they’re speaking with LaBruce himself. The content is enlightening, allowing one to explore various aspects of the porn industry from the comfort of one’s home. Daily Xtra spoke with LaBruce to talk porn politics, academia and zombies in this edited and condensed interview.

(Photo courtesy of Raul Hidalgo)

Daily Xtra: You get into the politics of zombies in the book, drawing comparisons between skinheads and terrorists. In modern culture, who else do you see as zombies?

Bruce LaBruce: It’s complicated. There’s two kinds of zombies: zombies who are conformists, the kind of people who’ve been brainwashed, people who’ve been deadened by society, by capitalism, etc. So there’s that kind of zombie, or, or like maybe the gay type of zombies who you find wandering around in parks or bathhouses who are in a zombie-like state when they’re cruising. But then I’ve also invented this category of zombie: it’s like appropriating zombies for a more radical purpose like acting out against society and opting out by adopting this shell, this kind of deadened exterior and really going against the grain of society or life as a kind of insurrection.

Are you planning on doing any other zombie films in the future?

It’s always been in the back of my mind that I might return to it at some point and complete the trilogy. I have had a few ideas but nothing has formulated completely yet but I wouldn’t rule it out.

In your book you mention that the porn star is political. What challenges does a porn star face in trying to achieve this political status?

There are porn people who believe in porn activism as a direct political strategy, but I think more often it’s an unconscious acting out. It goes against the regulations of society. Actually in the script I’m writing, these lesbian feminist terrorists make lesbian porn and the leader says, “Pornography is an act of insurrection against the dominant order. It expresses a principle inherently hostile to the regulations of society.”

Do you hope that people will take porn more seriously as an academic subject after reading your book?

Well, I don’t know . . . yeah, in academic circles, I would say yes. But academic porn can be problematic because when it’s really self-conscious and trying to be directly political or make a point, sometimes it can interfere with its sexual purpose.

What do you say to people that criticize your work because of the sexual explicitness?

I had this guy come up to me at an international film festival and he was going on and on about how interesting [Super 8½] was in terms of Brechtian distanciation techniques or whatever, like these academic tropes, and then he was like, “Oh, by the way, you do suck a good cock.” Which was really weird.

If someone were to criticize you about a sexually explicit film like LA Zombie, how would you react?

Well they did, I mean it was banned in Australia. And then it was shown in competition at the Locarno International Film Festival and the director of the festival who put it in competition almost lost his job over it and he totally defended me and the film. That film in particular is very, very challenging not just because it’s pornographic but because it involves images of necrophilia, and the idea of fucking dead bodies which is a whole other taboo, even though they’re brought back to life. They start off dead so technically it’s necrophilia. It was one of those things where I was deliberately pushing boundaries as far as I could so I expected some blowback.

Is that how you know you’ve succeeded?

Yeah, kind of. I think I go into that a bit in my writing. I always played a game with myself to see if I could outdo myself and push the boundaries farther than before, which is kind of the luxury of making low budget films where there isn’t a lot at stake.

Would you ever consider writing a novel in prose?

Yeah, even as a kid I always read a lot of novels and always fantasized about writing a novel. But I don’t know, the novel as a form doesn’t seem as relevant to me now as it did as it did when I was a kid. So, yeah, I wouldn’t rule it out. I actually wrote a script that was set in the porn industry, both gay and straight, that never got produced, which might make an interesting novel as well. I wouldn’t rule it out.

(Bruce LaBruce: Porn Diaries will be available at editionsmoustache.com in late January 2016.)