The Low Down on the Lost Jesus Gay Porn Movie, HIM

Him! Him! (What a title … it reminds me of that giant ants horror flick of the 1950s, where someone screams the title Them! Them!) But it's the title of the much sought-after, famously lost 1974 Jesus gay porn film.

 

Advertisement for Him showing at the 55th Street Playhouse

 

First of all, it's almost become a trope of Western culture: speculation about Jesus' sexuality. Think Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The DaVinci Code, and the controversial Terrence McNally play Corpus Christi. Either Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene (or at least some kind of attraction between the two occurs), or Jesus was gay, because he hung around with a bunch of guys (Uh… Peter we know was married, because his sick mother-in-law was cured by Jesus, not that being married always makes a difference, but still…). And then there's the speculation about Jesus and the Beloved Disciple, who may or may not have been John, because of certain cuddly iconography of the two.

I'm not going to get into the detail about all the speculation above, and I also think all the speculation about this 1974 movie ends up going around in circles.

Starting with Wikipedia (a well-documented article, and I checked the cites), we do know that there was a film of that title that premiered on Mary 27, 1974, at the 55th Street Playhouse in New York, at that time becoming more of a porn house than an art house. The film was directed by someone going by the name Ed D. Louie and featured a mural artist named Tava Von Will as Jesus.

Now, I initially thought it was some kind of sword and sandals knock-off, Jesus wandering around having sex with the disciples, but it actually told the story of a young guy with an erotic fixation on Jesus. Actually, not that unusual a theme, for goodness sake… just open any Catholic devotional work or story about the saints (usually female). The spiritual delights of being married to Jesus often look and sound orgasmic, even sadomasochistic.

Anyway, the film also played at Chicago's Bijou Theater in January and February of 1975. The ad shows a guy in a tuxedo, not clothing one associates with Jews in 1st century Palestine. Why? Maybe to avoid controversy, but no one remembers much of a fall-out, even in the still very much underground LGBTQ world of that time.

 

Vintage ad for Him showing at Chicago's Bijou Theater

 

The film fell into obscurity, and in fact, no one seems to be able to locate a copy; film critic and later culture warrior Michael Medved even claimed it was a hoax (huh?).

Peter Malone in his book Screen Jesus: Portrayals of Christ in Television and Film, actually quotes Medved, who claims it is tasteless (how would he know? Did he see it?) but also innovative. Medved claims one scene, a “low point in the history of cinema,” involves a handjob in the confessional as the young man confesses to the priest his erotic fantasies about Jesus. (I wouldn't actually call that scene remarkably innovative in the world of porn.)

But then Medved in his 1980 book Golden Turkey Awards implies that, among the bad movies he and his brother Harry review in his book, Him wasn't real. The beginnings of an urban legend?

A number of years ago, the late porn star/director Gino Colbert was trying to find out if the film was indeed real or was a hoax, and contacted Bijou Video as part of his research. We could not at the time verify, but more recently, another researcher on the film brought to our attention the Bijou Theater ad shown above. The film indeed played in New York, Chicago, and in many other places.

 

Another ad for Him at the 55th Street Playhouse

 

We may never know all the details on this film, unless a copy or more information is tracked down. It seems to have clearly existed and, like many a classic porn film, may sadly have no copies any longer in existence. The scarcity of information or memories about this film, its missing status, and its scandalous subject matter have made it somewhat of a legend and fueled the aforementioned rumors.

In the meantime, you can find religiously-themed porn scenes in a number of other classics, many of which are featured in our compilation, For the Love of God (on DVD and Streaming), which contains scenes from our films that explore the complex connection between sexuality and religion.

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Two Muscle Guys Kiss at the Last Judgement

posted by Madame Bubby

I got blocked on Twitter a while ago by a Roman Catholic bishop because I responded to a tweet about Michelangelo with a pretty general article on the sexuality of the famous artist Michelangelo. Michelangelo was gay. He liked guys. Especially guys with big muscles.
 

Michelangelo Buonarroti
Michelangelo Buonarroti (source: biografieonline.it)

Now, during the Renaissance, the concept of sexual orientation had yet to be articulated or analyzed. Thus, Michelangelo, according to the social and religious norms of the time (usually the same), either performed sex acts with men (called sodomy due to an interpretation of the Sodom and Gomorrah story since deemed incorrect by current Biblical scholarship), and/or, perhaps more loosely, he loved men, young men (which does not necessarily imply sexual activity).

In this case, art imitates life, and Michelangelo, aiming to produce what he deemed to be an ideal mimesis of the body as revealing a primal strength and power coursing through creation, painted male bodies that rival the famous bodybuilders of the past, without the artificial steroid-induced bulk. (And even the women in the Sistine Chapel are muscular.)
 

Adam and Eve, Sistene Chapel Ceiling
Adam and Eve, Sistene Chapel Ceiling (source: artarchive.com)

This unabashed glorying in muscular nudes under the aegis of a commission to paint the Sistine Chapel ended up becoming a problem. Why? The Counter-Reformation not only reacted to the Reformation, but to some of what it deemed licentious excesses of the Renaissance, and much Catholic religious art ended up degenerating into fixed forms drawn in attitudes of pious sentiment. Hello, anemic Jesuses with bleeding hearts and heavily draped Madonnas gazing up at the clouds.

And, in the case of Michelangelo’s paintings, the Church authorities covered up the genitalia.

But, as one article I read recently reveals, Michelangelo’s Last Judgement shows that just covering up genitals does not literally erase any imagery that might induce those impure thoughts that might send one to hell.

In the midst of the Last Judgment, where a muscular beardless Christ resembling Apollo looks like he is a bad ass coming to whale on a rival gang, two men kiss. Mutually and fearlessly. (Even his mother is frightened.) And these are not the ones condemned to hell. These are two guys on the redeemed side, as opposed to, as the article claims, a reputed pedophile biting his genitals to hell.
 

The Last Judgement kiss close up
The Last Judgement close up (source: Michelangelo.org)

Now, the men kissing need not imply sexual attraction, of course, depending on the cultural context. They could even be family members displaying affection. But it’s there, it’s there for the homosocial gaze, and I just wonder if Michelangelo was himself encoding, as it were, his own Last Judgement against a Counter-Reformation Church that viewed humanity as more fallen and sinful rather than filled with a holy energy that includes struggle and conflict but also surmounts it with a hope for a final vindication.
 

The Last Judgement
The Last Judgement (source: Vatican Museum, Michelangelo)
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