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For 14 years now, Dan Savage—the newspaper editor, sex-advice columnist, author and pundit whose Savage Love column appears in each edition of the Independent—and his associates have produced the HUMP! Film Festival, a traveling, curated selection of short (i.e., five minutes or less) pornography films.

Yes, you read that correctly: It’s a porn film festival. However, it’s not that kind of porn. Well, OK, it is … except when it isn’t.

Make sense? No? You have questions? So did we, and Savage graciously agreed to answer some of our queries.

Before we get to those queries, here is the back story: HUMP! started in Seattle back in 2005, and the national tour of HUMP! began several years later. Anyone can submit films for consideration, of any sort, as long as they’re related to pornography—and the HUMP! producers take extreme steps to make sure these films never make it onto the internet (unless the filmmakers decide to put them online themselves).

Tell me about bringing HUMP! to Palm Springs. This is the first time it’s going to be here, correct?

It is. It has played in Los Angeles, but it’s never played in Palm Springs—even though a couple of Palm Springs residents won the HUMP! Best in Show award a few years back, for a film called Glory Hole. (Laughs.) … I think the folks there will really dig it.

To people who are unfamiliar with HUMP!—and, I admit, to some people like me who are familiar with HUMP!—it may seem a little weird to go and sit at the Camelot, where they have all sorts of wonderful events, with a bunch of people from my community, and watch porn. Describe to me why that isn’t so weird.

Because it’s a different kind of porn. When you’re watching porn at home alone, you are clicking only on porn of, well, immediate utility, if I may put it that way.

(Laughs.) That’s a perfect way to put it.

What HUMP! is, is a collection of shorts, five minutes or less, with pornography as the theme. Sometimes the pornography is explicit and hardcore; sometimes it’s softcore; sometimes it’s animation. There’s even a documentary about pornography this year at HUMP!, with people recalling when they first encountered porn, in the pre-internet era. There’s a musical number in this year’s HUMP!. … It’s not the kind of porn where you sit with a coat in your lap, and masturbate, or sit with a roll of paper towels at the ready. It’s porn that you enjoy for its artistic merits. You also get to see what really turns other people on, and that may not be what turns you on. It’s a window into other people’s passions.

When we started HUMP! we were curious whether we would get submissions, and whether anyone, particularly when it was only in Seattle, would make a porn short to be screened in the community where they lived, even with the promise that it would never go online. We got a lot of great porn, and then the question became: Would people come and sit in a movie theater, in the dark, next to strangers, and watch pornography the way their grandparents did, when their grandparents went to see Debbie Does Dallas or Behind the Green Door? And the answer is yes—a lot of people would. Not people who wanted to masturbate in their seats; these were people who wanted to really celebrate sexual diversity, and diversity of gender expression.

Certain people express squeamishness, for lack of a better word, about types of pornography or visuals that aren’t their thing. I know a lot of gay men act squicked out by female body parts, and I know a lot of straight guys who would never in a million years watch gay porn supposedly. So, how is it that you’ve managed to put all sorts of different types of porn together in HUMP!?

That’s magic of HUMP! It really is. You have audiences full of straight guys watching gay porn, and gay guys watching cunnilingus, and vanilla people watching hardcore kink porn, and cis people watching porn made by trans people to accurately represent themselves, not made by trans people to appeal to cis people.

We watch the audience … to make sure no one’s taking out a phone and taking a photograph or a video clip. There’s this thing that we see at packed screenings where at first, everybody’s thrown back in their seats by what’s not theirs—"not my kink,” “not my preferred gender partner,” “not my body type,” “not the age range I prefer.” At first, all anybody can see is what’s different and not theirs. But about a third of the way through, everyone is clapping and cheering for every film. No one’s having the wind knocked out of them anymore. There’s this moment where you can really see the audience’s perceptions shift. … Because in each film, the passion, the vulnerability, the sense of humor—all that is the same, and the humanity is the same.

It’s really kind of beautiful. I’m a gay dude—who 20 years ago or so would have been squicked out by women’s genitals—and I sit there, with my eyes open, and I watch cunnilingus on the big screen, and I don’t flinch. … What I’m tapping into is not their bodies or their genitals, really, but their passion.

That’s another part about HUMP! that’s really great: These are films made by friends and lovers. So nothing’s faked, and no one in the audience has to worry if somebody up there on the screen was doing it just for the money, or under duress. Everyone is up there because they wanted to share this side of themselves, and it’s really kind of magic.

Over the years that you’ve been doing this, what have been the biggest surprises in terms of taking this on tour?

They tried to shut us down in, I think it was Philadelphia, by getting us kicked out of the theater that we had booked. (Editor’s note: It was actually the Pittsburgh suburb of Dormont, in 2014.) What was so hilarious about that was everyone … has a cell phone. This idea that you can take pornography out of your community by keeping pornography out of a movie theater is ridiculous. That was very amusing.

What’s great about the tour is that we get many more diverse submissions now. It was in Seattle alone for a few years, and then just Seattle and Portland, (which is) not really a racially diverse part of the country, although it is sexually pretty diverse. Now that we’re touring, we get more different types of people, which is great.

But the biggest change is, in the first couple of years, we got a lot of submissions where people were trying to ape the conventions of commercial porn, mainstream porn, and audiences just didn’t respond to that. You almost got the sense over those first few years that audiences were editing the festival, letting filmmakers know by voting for the best films from the festival what they wanted to see more of; now we really don’t get those films where people are just trying to make a knock-off of some commercial porn they saw on Pornhub.

Is there anything in this year’s festival you find particularly interesting or unique?

There is a five-minute musical comedy set in the bathroom of a gay leather bar.

Oh my.

I promise you, you’ve never seen anything like it—on Netflix, on the networks, on HBO. It’s the sort of thing you could only see at HUMP!

That sounds either brilliant or horrifying, and I’m not sure which.

Well, it’s one of the award winners this year. Audiences thought it was pretty brilliant.

The HUMP! Film Festival takes place at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8; and 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Camelot Theatres at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $24.49 (with fees included). For tickets or more information, visit humpfilmfest.com.

Published in Previews and Features

I’m an 18-year-old cis hetero girl from Australia, and I’ve been listening to your podcast and reading your column since I was 13. Thanks to you, I’m pretty open-minded about my sexuality and body. Having said that, I do have a few questions. I started watching porn from a youngish age with no real shame attached, but I have some concerns.

1. I get off really quickly to lesbian porn, but it never feels like a “good” orgasm. My guess is that subconsciously, I think it’s inauthentic and therefore degrading.

2. I really enjoy and have the best orgasms to vintage gay male porn and trans FTM porn, which seems odd to me, because I’m so far removed from the sexual acts that these kinds of porn movies portray, but I always feel satisfied after getting off to them.

3. I get off to tit-slapping videos, but it screws with me morally. I understand why I like these kinds of videos: I have quite large breasts, and I feel resentment toward them. It seems both morally wrong toward the progress I’ve made toward accepting my body and also to the message being sent about violence toward women.

Care to weigh in?

Concerned About Porn Preferences

1. There are gay men who watch straight porn, lesbians who watch gay porn, and 18-year-old hetero girls in Australia who watch lesbian porn and vintage gay porn and trans FTM porn. So many people get off watching porn that isn’t supposed to be for them—so many people fantasize about, watch and sometimes do things that aren’t supposed to be for them—that we have to view these quote/unquote transgressions as a feature of human sexuality, not a bug.

2. Lesbian porn gets you off, and vintage gay porn and trans FTM gets you off, but you feel conflicted after watching lesbian porn because it seems inauthentic. That’s understandable—a lot of so-called lesbian porn is inauthentic, in that it’s made by and for straight men and features non-lesbian women going through the lesbian motions (often with long and triggering-for-actual-lesbian fingernails). Some gay porn features gay-for-pay straight male actors, of course, but most gay porn features gay actors doing what they love; the same goes for most trans FTM porn, which is a small and mostly indie niche. I suspect your orgasms are just as good when you watch lesbian porn, CAPP, but the sense—suppressed when you were turned on, surfacing once you’re not—that the performers weren’t really enjoying themselves taints your lesbian-porn-enhanced orgasms in retrospect. The solution? Seek out lesbian porn featuring actual lesbians—authentic lesbian porn is out there. (I found a bunch with a quick Google search.)

3. We sometimes overcome the negative messaging our culture sends us about our identities or bodies only after our erotic imaginations have seized on the fears or self-loathing induced by those messages, and turned them into kinks. Take small-penis humiliation (SPH). Before a guy can ask a partner to indulge him in SPH, CAPP, he has to accept (and kind of dig) his small cock. So the acceptance is there, but the kink—a turn-on rooted in a resolved conflict—remains. It can be freeing to regard a kink like SPH or your thing for tit-slapping as a reward—as the only good thing to come out of the shitty zap the culture put on the head of a guy with a small cock or, in your case, a young woman with large breasts.

So long as we seek out other consenting adults who respect us and our bodies, we can have our kinks—even those that took root in the manure of negative cultural messaging—and our self-acceptance and self-esteem, too.


I have a deep-throating fetish. All the porn I watch is nothing but rough, sloppy blowjobs. I would love nothing more than to watch this kind of porn with my boyfriend, so we can add it the bedroom excitement, but I’m embarrassed to share this as a straight female.

How do I go about sharing a fetish I have? Do I tell him over a candlelit dinner? Do I just turn some deep-throating porn on and see what happens? Help!

Deepthroat Queen

There’s never really a bad time to tell someone they won the lottery, DQ. Over a candlelit dinner; pop in some porn; send him a singing telegram—however you decide to tell him, DQ, the odds that he’ll react negatively are pretty low. Of course, watching someone deep throat and doing it yourself are two different things, DQ. You won’t be able to go from disclosing your kink to realizing it during that candlelit dinner. Take it slow; maybe watch a few how-to videos in addition to the porn; find the positions and angles that work for you, etc., and work your way up to taking him all the way down.


I’m a 32-year-old male. I recently met a hot older woman, age 46, who has told me she finds me equally hot. I’ve always preferred older women. I just love their confidence and their comfort in their own skin. They’re just so much sexier than my age cohorts. The problem is that I take a serious interest in feminism. I think I do pretty well with the overt stuff: I don’t mansplain; I call out peers who ignore sexism; and I don’t objectify women, even when I do find them attractive. (Small steps, but steps nonetheless.) But when I see this woman, and we flirt like mad, my brain just shuts off, and all I can think about is her hot bod and the many hours I want to spend with it. However, I worry that she’s spent her whole life relying on her looks to gain validation from men, and that my brain-dead, loins-alive attraction is only perpetuating her objectification.

Is that so? Or am I just overthinking things?

Man, I Love Feminism

At the risk of dansplaining …

There’s nothing feminist about slagging off younger women to justify your attraction to older women. You like what you like, and you can own that without implying that younger women lack confidence and aren’t comfortable in their own skins. The same culture that put the zap on CAPP’s head for having large breasts—her breasts attracted unwanted attention, and she resented her breasts and now gets off on erotic images of breasts being punished (even though she now knows her breasts weren’t the problem)—put the zap on your head. Men, young and old, are supposed to be attracted to younger women. You’re not attracted to younger women; you’re attracted to older women, Instead of accepting that, you feel compelled to justify it by comparing younger women to older women and declaring—again, by implication—that there’s something wrong with younger women. You sound like one of those gay men who can’t tell you why he’s attracted to dudes without also (or only) telling you what he dislikes about women.

As for objectification, MILF: The problem with objectification is when the person doing the objectifying isn’t capable of simultaneously seeing the object of their affections as a three-dimensional human being with desires, fears and agency of their own. Technically, MILF, we are all objects—“a material thing that can be seen and touched”—but unlike, say, Fleshlights or vibrators, we feel joy and pain and have wants and needs. You can’t help being drawn to this woman’s externals; there’s a huge visual component to human attraction, and as your thing for older women demonstrates, there isn’t one universal standard of beauty.

So long as you’re can objectify someone while at the same time appreciating their full humanity—so long as you can walk that walk and chew that gum—you don’t have to feel like a bad feminist for objectifying someone. (Particularly when that someone is clearly objectifying you!)

On the Lovecast—Finally! Porn that makes consent SEXY: savagelovecast.com.

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Published in Savage Love