How do you plan on getting off this weekend?
A. Enjoying an extended edging session, tied up by an anonymous internet chat.
B. Watching a hottie play with a big, black dildo before spreading his Mormon message from door to door.
C. Getting your tools lubed up with your local mechanic.
D. All of the above.
If you’re headed to Dan Savage’s Hump Tour when it makes its Atlanta stop at the Plaza Theatre this weekend, then your answer is all of the above – and so much more. What else would you expect from the “sexiest, funnest, most creative dirty movie fest in the world?”
Conceived in 2005 by gay author, provocateur and pundit Savage (bottom photo), Hump Fest has become the destination for amateur-produced porn. The Hump Tour, a 90-minute, 20-film collection that represents the best of the fest, has played to sold-out audiences across the country and comes to Atlanta Friday and Saturday.
Project Q Atlanta spoke to Dan Savage to find out what happens to audiences when they’re exposed to different kinds of porn, finding inclusion sexy and why you should LOL at real porn.
Reflecting on much of the porn for mass consumption, the amateur films on the Hump Tour are refreshing for their reflection of reality. Do you find these films from ordinary and extraordinary simultaneously?
Yes, absolutely. There are two things that happen at Hump. First, there’s what happens on the screen and then what happens in the audience. I have friends that do mainstream porn and friends who are porn stars, so I’m not shitting on mainstream porn but mainstream porn overlooks a lot of people. Mainstream porn can also become mechanical and features a lot of performers who just met and don’t have a good sexual connection or rapport. What you see at Hump is friends and lovers getting together and making porn, sharing who they really are sexually with audiences.
Often, the stories are told with humor.
You hit the nail on the head when you talk about the humor. The thing that happens at home with a lot of the films that never happens in porn or erotica – or even in erotic novels – is this marrying of sexy and funny sometimes in the same film. You have the short “Mythical Proportions” with the centaurs or the one with the dolphins and unicorns that are just funny but then you have “Edged” that is funny and sexy at the same time.
And if you look deep enough, there is also a message and story in some of these shorts.
Certainly. Where people with disabilities are not seen as sexual, are not seen as desirable – you have this woman featured in “Krutch.” When you see her walking down the street you don’t see her as sexual and then there she is masturbating and masturbating with her crutch, which is an extension of her body so why not. Then at the end her partner walks in. That kind of stuff, you’re not going to see that in mainstream porn.
Looking back over the years of the festival do you see trends in the videos that reflect the growing discussion surrounding sexual diversity?
Early on, we got more porny submissions, more people trying to make hardcore, sort of apeing the conventions of mainstream porn. A lot of the people who make films are audience members initially and as people saw what audiences responded to and really loved, we started getting more of that kind of porn, which I think is revolutionary and more interesting.
There is a wide variety, from lesbian S&M to animated dolphins and unicorns. How do audiences react?
What goes on in the audience, which I love, is that when you watch porn alone at home you watch only what turns you on. You click on only the thing that works on your dick or your clit. But when you watch Hump, you’re not in charge.
You have audiences of straight people watching gay porn, gay people watching straight porn, kinky people watching vanilla porn, vanilla people watching kink porn, gay men watching cunnilingus, cis people watching trans porn.
And this really crazy thing happens at first, the first few films take people out of their comfort zones, and you can see people thrown back in their seats a little bit. But then as it goes on, people begin to see what’s underneath the externalities that differentiate us and they begin to realize that everyone has in common which is lust, desire, vulnerability, a sense of humor, a body and everyone begins to tap into what is universal in everyone’s individual experience
The Hump Fest tagline is ‘be a porn star for the weekend, not for the rest of your life.’ Was it difficult to put together the Hump Tour?
We decided, after years of hearing from people in other cities that they wanted Hump to come to them, to see if we could even make that happen but we destroy all of our copies of the films and we shred all the paperwork so there aren’t release forms kicking around the office, after the last screening.
It was really a laborious process and it took a year to really pull it together. We had to figure out what films we wanted and how we could try and find those people. When we found the filmmakers, they would then have to find the performers because the performers also had to agree and submit new releases. So if a filmmaker wanted to show their film, but a performer didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to tour with it.
Do you have any Hump Fest moments that stick out in your mind?
I’ve had trans people come up to me after Hump screenings to say they were nervous when the trans film – the years we’ve had submission from trans people – come on because they are so used to having their bodies mocked. And what happens at the end of the film? Everybody cheered and their bodies were celebrated. What do you say at a moment like that when you have this trans person standing in front of you with tears running down his face?