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Filmmaker David DeCoteau perfects the Gay thriller
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Filmmaker David DeCoteau perfects the Gay thriller

by Gary M. Kramer - SGN Contributing Writer

Prolific out filmmaker David DeCoteau has two films on DVD this month: The Pit and the Pendulum, his latest Queer re-imagining/adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe's story (after film versions of The Raven and The House of Usher) and Brotherhood V: Alumni, the newest installment of another series he helms. On the phone from his home in Los Angeles, DeCoteau spoke about his genre films, which focus less on plot and more on hot guys in their underwear.

The director's films, for the uninitiated, are B-grade thrillers where sinister things happen to beautiful people. In Pit, seven gorgeous, athletic college students agree to allow JB (Lorielle New) to hypnotize them. Alas, several of characters meet horrible ends. In Alumni, a handful of high school friends are reunited a year after a murder to ferret out the killer.

The filmmaker insists his genre entries are thrillers, not horror movies, because there is little blood and no gore. "They are not terrifying. I'm very squeamish and proper. I'm not into extreme violence, and gore, I've done vampire movies without blood and fangs. They are the opposite of true horror films - rarely are there naked women, coarse language and [graphic violence]."

Likewise, his Poe adaptations put a new twist on an old master and eschew suspense for sensuality. "We used the original text as inspiration, and [added] Gay and Bisexual characters," DeCoteau says, joking that the scariest thing in his films are when straight guys "see two guys in their underwear & touching and not knowing what will happen next."

The filmmaker has developed a cult following for featuring sexy studs in their skivvies. DeCoteau started out his career making erotic films (under a female pseudonym, back when he was closeted, but that's another story). These days, however, his skin quotient is low. "Nudity is a taboo, even rear nudity," he exclaims, adding, "There's nothing very erotic about a flaccid penis." Although he made the 1997 Gay romance Leather Jacket Love Story, which featured full frontal male nudity and sex, DeCoteau has moved away from explicit cinema, concentrating instead on homoeroticism.

And DeCoteau is all about the tease. "I push the limits, and I respect the limits, and there is a lot of negotiation - how tight and what color the underwear is," he reveals. "It's in the contract! Guys want black, not white because of VPL - visible penis lines - especially if they get wet."

Pit has a lengthy scene of two hot guys wrestling in their black briefs, while Alumni has a lengthy love scene between two underwear-clad men. The filmmaker describes these moments as "over the top" plot elements meant to change the audience's expectations, not shock them. He admits that these scenes and his films are campy. "I don't like to wink at the audience. They are a bit ridiculous, but I try to do something different with each one and have an outrageous moment."

The love scene in Alumni is the first same-sex kiss and cuddle scene in the Brotherhood series, and DeCoteau is proud of this, even if he claims that it is difficult to get actors to do "boy-boy intimacy" onscreen.

Likewise, getting the actors he wants to do nudity is an uphill battle he chooses not to undertake. "People are not willing to drop trou just to be in a movie. The minute the underwear comes off, 99% of the actors would run. The actors who want to be stars get paranoid [about nudity] unless Gun Van Sant asks them to do it in an important big-budgeted project."

As such, DeCoteau focuses his energy on casting, selecting talent by personally reviewing the 5,000-7,000 submissions he gets for a film. He recalls producers criticizing his actors for being "too pretty" and he acknowledges that some guys who come in are so striking, "the straight guys in the office are checking them out."

DeCoteau says that the actors he discovers and casts - such as Jason Shane-Scott (One Life to Live) in Pit and Nathan Parsons (General Hospital) from Alumni - trust him because they know he will make them look beautiful, not foolish.

What is more, the filmmaker is careful about how he portrays his characters - especially the Gay and Bisexual ones. Both Pit and Alumni feature Queer characters that are both good and evil. DeCoteau says that evil Gay characters provide "a dilemma" - citing Sharon Stone's "killer Lesbian" from Basic Instinct - but emphasizes that, "The characters' being bad has nothing to do with them being Gay." One solution he has found is to level the playing field by introducing many Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual characters in his films.

If the filmmaker's style is not for everyone, he has amassed legions of fans. "It's a weird subgenre," DeCoteau admits. "There's a niche out there that likes my films. Otherwise I wouldn't be making them."

Or so many of them.

© 2010 Gary M. Kramer

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