Judge Gordon Sullivan gets haute with some erotica.
Pornography is an art form.
Destination Sex City bills itself as "meta-pornography." For those who skipped that day of literature/philosophy class, the "meta" tag denotes an example of a medium which is also about that medium. So, meta-fiction is a fictional story about telling a fictional story. Meta-pornography then, must be pornography about pornography. That description certainly works: the entire program works as pornography, but also as a commentary on pornography. I would have preferred the term "interrogative porn," since these nine short films (totally 25 minutes of runtime) are all, in some way, concerned with investigating, with questioning, our assumptions about pornography. Some of those questions include "when does something become pornographic?" ("SCTV"), "what are the shapes/visual representations of pornography?" ("Sex Wave"), and "what relationship do pornographic images have to other representations, like those of art and nature ("Zombie Lust")?"
To answer these questions, the anonymous creator of Destination Sex City utilizes an array of visual techniques, from cutting up prints, to color/saturation tricks, to re-texturing parts of the visual field. Visual puns and surrealist juxtaposition abound. All of these techniques come between the viewer at the depiction of the pornographic (which includes full and partial nudity, as well as some scenes of penetration). By coming between viewer and object, the films ask us to interrogate our assumptions about nudity/pornography/art. If a pornographic scene is re-textured so that a penis is cartoon neon green and the vulva looks like comic-style dot art, is it still pornographic? Is it still erotic? Is it art? These are all questions brought up by the visual techniques of these films.
Perhaps ironically, my favorite of the shorts was the least "pornographic:" "Elixer Erotique." It was composed entirely of cut-up sections of anatomy animated into a kaleidoscope of exploding forms, occasionally punctuated by shadowy nude overlay. Think Terry Gilliam's Monty Python animations but with clippings made of vulvae, breasts, lips, and penises instead of Medieval and Victorian illustrations. The entire short questions our culture's obsession with breaking down the body into its constituent parts (think of how many advertisements every feature more than one body part, let alone an entire person), as well as interrogating what constitutes pornography. Many of the other shorts ask these questions as well, but some of them simply aren't as visually interesting. I should note that while penises abound, we don't see any of the men they are attached to. The featured women, thankfully, do not appear surgically enhanced, although all of them look more like the runway model average women. However, those looking to see a number of attractive women will be disappointed, as no one appears visually unaltered, and no woman is on the screen for more than a minute or so.
Destination Sex City also bills itself as "haute pornography," or high-class porn, and the packaging and presentation certainly support that claim as well. The disc comes packaged in a book-like cardboard sleeve. The outside is a nondescript matte-black, and it's unlikely to draw attention to itself sitting on your shelf. The inside continues some of the visual motifs of the shorts while the DVD is held securely on a foam hub. The disc itself contains the nine shorts, all presented in full frame with stereo sound. Despite the highly stylized visual and aural aspects, these films look good, with nary a transfer problem to be seen. Sadly, there are no extras. I would love to have heard some background or interpretation from the creator concerning these shorts. This release also loses points for its lack of density. Considering there are only 25 minutes of video on this release, and the retail is over 25 dollars, there isn't a lot of value for money here. Even by porn's often puzzling price standards, this release doesn't cut it.
As you might imagine, watching these shorts can be an intellectually challenging exercise. I can't say that this is the kind of program to put on when all you desire is erotic arousal: it will likely stimulate more debates than sex drives. I suspect that this disc will be circulated reverentially by the cognoscenti of the erotic, much like the works of Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin. Those who are curious about pornography and visual art will find Destination Sex City a worthy purchase, but the average viewer—whether of pornography or film in general—will have little need or appreciation of these short films.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: SC Corp
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