THE SPECIAL SHELF: Ask Any Buddy / Benjamin

Director Evan Purchell has done something amazing. His film Ask Any Buddy takes extracts from a hundred and twenty-six gentleman films from the ‘70s and ‘80s and crafts a perceptive and often moving documentary about the history of gay life that’s been peeking around the action in porn for decades. There’s work here from all the greats (Gage, Bressan, Deveau, De Rome, Sterling, DeSimone, and many more), all springing from the truism that pornography can be a utopian queer space. Kitchen table conversations, political gatherings, dungeons, clubs, industrial rendezvous, and infinite varieties of moustache all combine like a pointillist collage; horniness is a neutral state of being, and it’s the common denominator for all of these fascinating moments. In this world, gay sex is like a bus pass- it’s a secret realm of magic and mystery, but it’s also a way through a boring, normal world. Not always sultry- sometimes even goofy. In the world of Ask Any Buddy, there’s a Narnia behind every button fly.

Purchell is a master of construction, building echoing narratives alongside an impressionist throughline; emotional resonance builds in a way that we just don’t get from gentleman cinema. Moreso, there’s so much personality in the outfits (to paraphrase Peter Rauhofer’s Club 69 project, gay fashion is an ongoing debate with a beginning, a middle, and no end), living spaces, and people that you can’t help but lament the depersonalized, faceless nature of so much of today’s McMansion porn.

Ask Any Buddy is essential viewing for anyone who has an interest in gay social history, pornography, or the evolution of horny narratives. It will shock the unshockable and delight the free, but there’s not been a moment of more emotional resonance so far this year at the movies than when Janis Ian’s “Hymn” comes up amid a montage of the satisfied emerging into the daylight world. Sheer transcendence.

British comedian Simon Amstell’s new film Benjamin has finally arrived in the U.S., and it’s a disarmingly effective queer romantic comedy equally versed in wry, open-hearted humor and harsh truths that cut so very deep. Set in an all-too-modern London amongst a multicultural group of folk who don’t “define things or be specific about words that mean things,” we watch, with bemusement and discreet horror as the deeply neurotic filmmaker Benjamin (Colin Morgan), who just likes guys who are “well-lit and weak,” tries to find some love with French musician/dream twink Noah (Phénix Brossard) as his new film stumbles into theatres. “What’s your film about?” Benjamin is asked, and without hesitating, he answers “my inability to love.”

So this milieu is hyperverbal and casually sexual, with lots of talented and creative people treading water in a sea of doubt and helplessness. To some, it could feel like so many other gay films that traverse the festival circuit and then sometimes turn up streaming. But there’s an edge to Benjamin’s perspective, and it’s not afraid to specifically dissect the elaborate situations that some gay men continually cast themselves in on a daily basis. It has hope in its heart, which is nice, and certainly appreciated in the current world. But if you delight in being sophisticated in syntax and using your words as a bulwark to taking a chance on love, this film will tell you about yourself.

Ask Any Buddy is currently playing the virtual film festival circuit; latest viewing opportunities can be found at

Benjamin is currently streaming On Demand via Artsploitation Films, Kino Lorber, and Amazon.

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

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by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

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Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

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