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 www.ask-any-buddy.com

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

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

2023 Reserva de la Familia Limited Edition Terceerunquinto

On January 10, 2023, Reserva de la Familia, Jose Cuervo’s ultra-premium collection of artisanal small-batch tequilas and Mexico’s crown jewel, announced its 2023 collector’s box, designed by artists Rolando Flores and Gabriel Cázares of the Mexico-based Tercerunquinto Collective. The piece of custom art, titled “Structuring a Landscape”, features a geometric abstraction of the landscape of Tequila, Mexico and will adorn the 2023 limited-release collector’s box of Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo.

Since 1995, Jose Cuervo has worked with internationally recognized artists with roots in Mexico to design the box artwork for Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo. Each box is an authentic collector’s item, with a limited quantity produced annually before a new artist is chosen. Previous artists include Gonzalo Lebrija, Pedro Friedeberg, Carlos Aguirre, Ricardo Pinto and many more. Every artist is selected by a team of art curators including 11th generation Cuervo family member and CEO of Jose Cuervo, Juan Domingo Beckmann, Executive Director of El Museo del Barrio in New York City, Patrick Charpenel and founder of Zona Maco, Mexico’s number one art fair, Zélika García.

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Photo courtesy of Velvet Ibiza

Velvet Ibiza

Every year, Ibiza is home to Europe’s very epic queer woman’s party, Velvet Ibiza, which is celebrating its 7th anniversary and promises to be next level. Velvet Ibiza is an all-inclusive 5-day and 5-night party and includes transportation from the airport, a bungalow, 3 meals, and activities and parties day and night, and drinks until around 10:30 pm.

This year, international crowds of LGBTQ+ women will be attending Velvet Ibiza on May 2 - 7 to celebrate life, belonging, and freedom. Event organizers have rented an entire resort in order to build a community vibe and allow queer women to connect so there’s no reason to go anywhere unless of course, you want to go shopping, head to the beach, or explore the island.

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Financial Planning for the LGBTQ+ community

The new year has arrived. For many people, that means making resolutions and thinking of ways they can do better in the coming year and beyond. Money management and financial planning are often very popular resolutions and goals, but most financial advice tends to be aimed at heterosexual couples who want to grow their family and raise children.

But, what if your life goals are different? What if you don’t receive the same protection under the current laws as hetero couples?
What if you don’t want to have kids?

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