On Friday, February 10, 2012, Ottawa’s The Mayfair Theatre held its annual Sexy Film Festival, ‘Painted Lips and Lolly Licks’. I had never heard of it before, even though it had been around for a few years (and for even longer in previous forms). Intrigued, I decided to go. I had a blast; it was lots of fun and was a pretty unique experience.
In 2013, I was eagerly awaiting word of the next installment of the series. For reasons that are not entirely clear, they gave it a miss that year. I was extremely disappointed. I wanted to see what they would come up with next. Plus which I wanted to bring my gf along to see what she thought of it. Alas, it was not to be.
In late 2013, when we went to see ‘Les Saveurs du palais‘, I saw a poster for a 2014 edition of ‘Painted Lips’ at the snack bar. It wasn’t prominently displayed, but I figured that the fact that they had taken the time to make one and that it was dated meant that there was a very good chance that we would soon see this sexy short films screening return very soon.
I kept my eye solidly fixed on The Mayfair’s listings and, soon enough, it was officially scheduled. My gf and I made plans to go.
On February 14, 2014, at 18:30, we lined up to get our tickets. While the show wouldn’t be until 21:00, tickets weren’t available in advance: it was day-of only, and the box office only opened half an hour before their first showing, which was at 19:00. Knowing that it was a popular event and that it could easily sell out, we ensured that we had out tickets.
After dinner, at a local American South cuisine restaurant, we headed right for the cinema. Even though we were there relatively early, there was already a line-up outside. Others had thought the same as us and eagerly awaited the cinema’s opening. Thankfully, we didn’t have long to wait out in the freezing cold: the doors opened soon thereafter.
After everyone shuffled in and the cinema filled to capacity, the show began.
This year, the programme for ‘Painted Lips and Lolly Licks’ was slightly different from the last. There was no opening act, for one. Where there was a fun burlesque strip show the last time, there was instead a lengthy intro by co-owner and local filmmaker Lee Demarbre, who seemed slightly nervous as he introduced the evening.
Explaining how the short films were selected, Demarbre apologized for the limited gay content; unfortunately, his submissions this year were largely heretocentric – and when it wasn’t, it was lesbian erotica. He assured the audience that it wasn’t a question of personal choice (which is obvious, based on the 2012 edition, which was quite varied).
‘Painted Lips and Lolly Licks’ 2014 featured a variety of shorts from around the world, but it had a larger Canadian presence than the last did. Demarbre made a point of introducing the local filmmakers, and gave out a prize to the evening’s winner – as judged by Mandy Morbid, a porn star from the region who was enlisted to judge the shorts.
Demarbre proceeded to tell us that Mandy Morbid has been diagnosed with Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, and suggested that the audience read up on the condition and donate to find a cure. Then he took pictures of the crowd for her. Unlike the last time, there was no video intro by the evening’s judge. Too bad… that would have been nice.
With the help of a fan of the series, who coaxed Demarbre into bringing it back (thank you! thank you! thank you!), he also gave out a bunch of attendance prizes (porn DVDs, personal vibrators, adult-themed board games) to random audience members. He part-jokingly suggested that audience members should make their own films and submit them for next year.
Then the evening’s programming began, starting with a truly well-conceived ‘Painted Lips and Lolly Licks’ opening credit. This intro consisted of footage from Catrin Hedström’s ‘They Call Us Animals’, a short that was split into two parts to bookend the 2014 set. It’s an exciting music video-like montage of human bodies in motion, in close-up and medium shots. Very nice, and totally suitable.
We were only just getting started!
(nota bene: to help you track down the shorts, I’ve included the names of the director in parentheses, along with the shorts’ titles)
1. Dirty Words: The Letter C (T. Arthur Cottam): A simple concept, based on educational television for kids, this short consisted mostly of two silhouettes, face to face, saying words that start with the letter “C”. You can imagine where that goes. It was cute and amusing. Then it branched off and two eager dancing girls did an extrapolation of this same concept. 7.5
2. Missed Call (Julieta Colas): This was an animated short about a guy trying to take shower, but constantly getting interrupted by the phone. Obviously, he runs out of the shower to answer but the phone stops ringing just as he gets to it. All sorts of slapstick ensues. But it’s finding out why the phone keeps ringing that’s the real clincher. 8.0
3. At the Porno Shop (Michael Rehfield): This is a low-budget musical number with a porno shop owner, in suit and tie, showing a “dirty old man” around the video store. The performances are decent and the song is only so-so. What makes it a lot of fun are the lyrics, which are actually pretty well put together and kind of funny. 8.0
4. The Candy Doll (Claude Huard): This is the English version of Huard’s own ‘La poupée Candy’. It basically consists of an advert for a girlfriend replacement called Candy. Firstly, I didn’t like the negative view of women (nagging, disposable, demanding) that it promoted, but I also found the Candy “doll” unsexy. 7.5
5. Hush Hush (Corey Thibert): A girl suspects that her boyfriend is cheating on her because he keeps coming home late, smells of baby oil, …etc. Instead, she discovers that he is a porn star, and has been for three years. It was absurd, of course, but I liked how it poked fun at communication between friends and within relationships. 8.0
6. Ask Jenna Leigh, part 1 (T. Arthur Cottam): This is basically a relationship/sex advice short, wherein Jenna Leigh responds to a submitted question from one of her fans. Obviously, this is all done for laughs, and she says the opposite of what one would expect. This time it’s on cheating. 7.5
7. One Night Stand (Giancarlo Iannotta): A man and a woman wake up handcuffed to the bed, not knowing how they got there… or where the keys are. Inexplicably, the guy throws the phone out of reach, and it’s not very clear if they actually know each other or if they’re strangers. This is very muddled. But it has amusing moments. 7.5
8. Ask Jenna Leigh, part 2 (T. Arthur Cottam): Same as part 1, except that the setting is different and the question pertains to penis size. 7.0
9. Interlude (Andrew Alexander): This one was interesting more than sexy. A woman wakes up in an empty room, and notes keep popping up out of nowhere, giving her instructions. For reasons unknown, she decides to follow them, which invariably meant that she took all of her clothes off and danced naked (we didn’t see anything). It’s the final twist that made it so excellent, in an ‘X-Files’ sort of way. 8.0
10. Ask Jenna Leigh, part 3 (T. Arthur Cottam): Same as parts 1 and 2, with a different setting. This time it was a student asking what she should do about her teacher making advances on her. 7.5
11. Silk (Dan Ziemkiewicz): A black white film, obviously shot by a photographer, it’s about a woman who finds a silk scarf and decides to masturbate on her bed with it (this was not explicit, for the record). It was kind of hot, if you like watching women self-pleasure. Which I do. Too bad it was a montage, not the real thing. 7.75
12. Ask Jenna Leigh, part 4 (T. Arthur Cottam): As with the previous parts, the setting was different. This time the advice was about whether or not one should remain a virgin. 7.5
13. Therapist (Travis Mills): This one’s an odd duck. A couple of friends with benefit are about to have sex when he woman tells him that it’s going to be her last time – on the recommendation of her therapist. So the guy, dejected, decides to follow her – and then her therapist, which whom he ends up alone in a room with her. The performances weren’t convincing, and the behaviour was unrealistic so I didn’t buy into it. 7.0
14. Tram (Michaela Pavlátová): One of the most popular shorts of the night, this amusing animated film consists of a large, well-endowed, tram driver who begins to lust after her male passengers. She begins to fantasize heavily and embarrasses herself in public. But one of the passengers has a crush on her, which makes everything okay in the end. It had no dialogue, but it had rhythmic music that kept the beat going and went along with the animation. Very nice. 8.25
15. Pornographic Apathetic (T. Arthur Cottam): This was poorly shot, but it was a clever one. A man and a woman sit at a table across from each other, in an empty room, and spew out clichéd porn dialogues in monotone. Then comes in another woman, making it a threesome. Then comes in the pizza delivery guy. All in monotone. It was so funny because, stripped of the context of faux-sexiness, it was patently absurd. Brilliant. 8.0
16. Proximity (Vex Ashley): This is pretty basic: a hetero couple are making out, likely being sexual, but it’s all close-up and we don’t see any naughty bits or any overt sexuality. The girl was rather pretty and the guy looked quite good too (aside from the scarification on his chest). I liked that it left so much to the imagination. 8.0
17. Domme in a Box (Laszlo Szijarto): A balding middle-aged man with long hair receives a dominatrix via special delivery. After opening the box and putting her together, he tries to make her work. It’s slightly silly, slapsticky, and backed by nutty folkloric music. It was alright, but didn’t do anything for me. Maybe it was seeing the guy in a g-string that ruined it for me. Kidding. 7.0
18. What He Left Behind (Ms. Naughty): Oddly similar to ‘Silk’, this colour film looked like a music video, and consisted of a woman finding a pair of silk boxers, cutting them up… and using them to masturbate with. It was sexy, if repetitive by that point. 8.0
19. Phone Sex Grandma (Jack Truman): Shot in gritty black and white, this one over-stayed its welcome. The concept is that we’re watching an aged, very homely woman (short haired, large glasses, dressed unsexily) working the phones from her shack while doing stuff around the house. She obviously talks really dirty and even affects accents when required. The performance is quite good, actually. But we got the gist of it quickly and 90 seconds would have been ample – not 9 minutes! 7.5
20. Lussuria (Antonello Novellino): This one was très cool. What the director did was to film men and women standing naked in front of a red curtain and moving in the same fashion. Then he separated each video in seven horizontal parts and collaged them together to create a “person” made of seven different people. Then he started alternating the parts, moving them around, effectively changing what we were seeing. Sexy? Not so sure. Creative? Absolutely! 8.5
21. Batgirl, Butt Catwoman, part 1 (Nick Sterling): I don’t know what to make of this one. it looks like a porn shoot, à la ‘Batman XXX‘, but it’s got Batgirl and Catwoman fighting. It’s well-made, but I couldn’t figure out the point of it. 7.5
22. Say Goodbye to the Sun (Eric Minh Swenson): Originally, we were to be treated to Swenson’s ‘Veruca James x Naz x Ema’ but it was substituted. ‘Say Goodbye to the Sun’ is basically a sexy short of a woman taking a shower. It’s okay, but nothing special. 7.5
23. Batgirl, Butt Catwoman, part 2 (Nick Sterling): In these continuing superheroic adventures, Catwoman now has Batgirl tied up. She begins to strip her. Ah… now it’s getting interesting. 7.5
24. Treats (Vex Ashley): Three Suicide girl-types are eating candy and licking syrupy stuff off of each other’s bodies to the sounds of some sort of industrial-lite music. To me, this was eye candy. 8.0
25. Batgirl, Butt Catwoman, part 3 (Nick Sterling): Catwoman won’t give Batgirl a rest. She now has her in bondage, with a ball gag in her mouth. It’s not really my thing, but, again, it’s well-made. 7.5
26. Because I Want You To Watch (The Madame): Winner of the Golden Beaver Award for Canadian Content at the 2013 Feminist Porn Awards, this video was shot entirely on an iPhone. It consists of another Suicide Girl-type stripping out of her faux leopard fur coat and masturbating to ejaculation – with dubstep-inspired music overlayed. Tats are a turn-off for me, but this was hot anyway. 8.0
27. Batgirl, Butt Catwoman, part 4 (Nick Sterling): Batgirl gets saved by another superheroine, whose name I won’t reveal here. It was alright, but what was the point? 7.5
The evening wrapped up at approximately 23:30. There was no final word from the event’s curators, so everyone discretely shuffled out into the frigid winter’s night. It was a slightly underwhelming close to an otherwise original evening out at the movies. Frankly, I wish there had been some final words, or something (the giveaway could have been kept for last) to end the night.
But I had fun anyway, and I will no doubt go again the next time that they hold one of these short film screenings. It’s not something one gets to see every day and it’s nice to see people of all types come out for programming that, a couple of decades ago, would likely have had many people in a tizzy. It’s nice to see that we’re less uptight than we used to be.
Because, let’s face it, if we can’t acknowledge the naughty side of ourselves (as individuals and as a society) and have a sexy -but innocuous- good time, then we have some serious issues to deal with: it’s such an integral part of the human condition that repressing or ignoring it is an utterly ridiculous notion. There’s a time for everything, even for getting hot and bothered.
Especially. Mmmmm… I love ‘Painted Lips and Lolly Licks’.
Date of viewing: February 14, 2014