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Wednesday, April 10, 2002

The Fluffer

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2002 at 12:00 AM

The Fluffer is as convincing as a baritone drag queen with a five o’clock shadow. Its imitation of life in the sex industry (from gay porn to lap dancing) manages brief spurts of recognition, but mostly wobbles along like a first-time floozy in heels.

Our confused-but-cute protagonist, Sean (Michael Cunio), descends upon L.A. from somewhere in the Midwest to seek his fortune in the movie biz (yawn). Though supposedly bisexual, he soon lands his dream gig as a “fluffer” in a gay porn production crew, in charge of orally massaging the lead stud, Johnny Rebel (Scott Gurney), before his climactic shots. But Sean’s crotch-throb has a girlfriend, a dancer named Babylon (Roxanne Day). Will Johnny find true love in Sean’s hot mouth or between Babylon’s creamy thighs?

Co-directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland from the latter’s script, The Fluffer is a potpourri of a wet dream that can’t decide if it wants to titillate or illuminate. Playing successive scenes for laughs, melodrama, soft-porn heat and cultural irony, it’s an obvious spin-off from the Philip Seymour Hoffman-Mark Wahlberg subplot of Boogie Nights. However, it resembles nothing so much as one of those “arty” porn flicks that turn nobody on: too much story and not enough fucking for some, too much humping and not enough insight for others, but not nearly enough savvy to transform the genre.

Running throughout this sticky mess are intermittent film-as-art references, from Citizen Kane to Vertigo to Exotica. Someone even has had the balls to reshoot the end of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows as a cutesy conclusion to the Johnny plot line. But all the film-school wanking in the world can’t make this Humpty whole.

Pity the cast of good-looking actors who’d probably do a bang-up job for another director — Gurney in particular, whose Matt Dillonesque, beefcakey self-confidence is wasted here. And brief-as-a-wink cameos by real-life porn-dog Ron Jeremy (not him again) and the always-excellent Deborah Harry (from Videodrome to Hairspray to Heavy) are just tiny lifesavers on this Titantic going down.

So give one star to the actors and a half-star for the great Buzzcocks tune under the closing credits. Otherwise, yuk.

George Tysh is Metro Times arts editor. E-mail him at gtysh@metrotimes.com.

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