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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 a 36-year-old straight woman. I was sexually and physically abused as a kid, and raped in my early 20s. I have been seeing a great therapist for the last five years, and I am processing things and feeling better than I ever have. I was in a long-term relationship that ended about two years ago. I started dating this past year, but I’m not really clicking with anyone. I’ve had a lot of first dates, but nothing beyond that.

My problem is that I’d really love to get laid. The idea of casual sex and one-night stands sounds great—but in reality, moving that quickly with someone I don’t know or trust freaks me out, causes me to shut down, and prevents me from enjoying anything. Even thinking about going home with someone causes me to panic. When I was in a relationship, the sex was great. But now that I’m single, it seems like this big, scary thing.

Is it possible to get laid without feeling freaked out?

Sexual Comfort And Reassurance Eludes Dame

It is possible for you to get laid without feeling freaked out.

The answer—how you go home with someone without panicking—is so obvious, SCARED, that I’m guessing your therapist has already suggested it: Have sex with someone you know and trust. You didn’t have any issues having sex with your ex, because you knew and trusted him. For your own emotional safety, and to avoid recovery setbacks, you’re going to have to find someone willing to get to know you—someone willing to make an emotional investment in you—before you can have sex again.

You’ve probably thought to yourself, “But everyone else is just jumping into bed with strangers and having amazing sexual experiences!” And while it is true that many people are capable of doing just that, at least as many or more are incapable of having impulsive one-night stands, because they, too, have a history of trauma, or because they have other psychological, physical or logistical issues that make one-night stands impossible. (Some folks, of course, have no interest in one-night stands.) Your trauma left you with this added burden, SCARED, and I don’t want to minimize your legitimate frustration or your anger. It sucks, and I fucking hate the people who victimized you. But it may help you feel a little better about having to make an investment in someone before becoming intimate—which really isn’t the worst thing in the world—if you can remind yourself that you aren’t alone. Demisexuals, other victims of trauma, people with body-image issues, people whose sexual interests are so stigmatized they don’t feel comfortable disclosing them to people they’ve just met—lots of people face the same challenge you do.

Something else to bear in mind: It’s not unheard of for someone re-entering the dating scene to have some difficulty making new connections at first. The trick is to keep going on dates until you finally click with someone. In other words, SCARED, give yourself a break, and take your time. Also, don’t hesitate to tell the men you date that you need to get to know a person before jumping into bed with him. That will scare some guys off, but only those guys who weren’t willing to get to know you—and those aren’t guys you would have felt safe fucking anyway, right? So be open and honest; keep going on those first dates; and eventually you’ll find yourself on a fifth date with a guy you can think about taking home without feeling panicked. Good luck.


This is about a girl, of course. Pros: She cannot hide her true feelings. Cons: Criminal, irascible, grandiose sense of self, racist, abstemious, self-centered, anxious, moralist, monogamous, biased, denial as a defense mechanism, manipulative, liar, envious and ungrateful. She is also anthropologically and historically allocated in another temporal space continuum. And last but not least: She runs less quickly than me despite eight years age difference and her having the lungs of a 26-year-old nonsmoker. Thoughts?

Desperate Erotic Situation

If someone is criminal, racist and dishonest—to say nothing of being allocated in another temporal space continuum (whatever the fuck that means)—I don’t see how “cannot hide her true feelings” lands on the “pro” side of the pro/con ledger. You shouldn’t want to be with a dishonest, moralizing bigot, DES, so the fact that this particular dishonest, moralizing bigot is incapable of hiding her truly repulsive feelings isn’t a reason to consider seeing her. Not being able to mask hateful feelings isn’t a redeeming quality—it’s the opposite.


My boyfriend and I love each other deeply, and the thought of breaking up devastates me. We also live together. I deeply regret it and am full of shame, but I impulsively went through his texts for the first time. I found out that for the past few months, he has been sexting and almost definitely hooking up with someone who I said I was not comfortable with. After our initial conversation about her (during which I expressed my discomfort), he never brought her up again. Had I known that he needed her in his life this badly, I would have taken some time to sit with my feelings and figure out where my discomfort with her was coming from and tried to move through it. We are in an open relationship, but his relationship with her crosses what we determined as our “cheating” boundary: hiding a relationship.

How do I confess to what I did and confront him about what I found without it blowing up into a major mess?

Upset Girl Hopes Relationship Survives

Snooping is always wrong, of course, except when the snooper discovers something they had a right to know. While there are definitely less-ambiguous examples (cases where the snoopee was engaged in activities that put the snooper at risk), your boyfriend violating the boundaries of your open relationship rises to the level of “right to know.”

This is a major mess, UGHRS, and there’s no way to confront your boyfriend without risking a blowup. So tell him what you know and how you found out. You’ll be in a better position to assess whether you want this relationship to survive after you confess and confront.


CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Amateur filmmakers, porn-star wannabes, kinksters, regular folks and other creative types are hereby invited to make and submit short porn films—five minutes max—to the 14th Annual HUMP! Film Festival.

The 13th Annual HUMP! Film Festival is currently touring the country—go to humpfilmfest.com for more info—and the next HUMP! kicks off in November. HUMP! films can be hardcore, softcore, live action, animated, kinky, vanilla, straight, gay, lez, bi, trans, genderqueer—anything goes at HUMP! (Well, almost anything: No poop, no animals, no minors.) HUMP! is screened only in theaters; nothing is released online; and the filmmakers retain all rights. At HUMP! you can be a porn star for a weekend in a theater without having to be a porn star for eternity on the Internet!

There’s no charge to enter HUMP!; there’s $20,000 in cash prizes awarded to the filmmakers by audience ballot (including the $10,000 Best in Show Award!); and each filmmaker gets a percentage of every ticket sold on the HUMP! tour.

For more information about making and submitting a film to the best porn festival in the country, go to humpfilmfest.com/submit.

On the Lovecast, Mistress Matisse explains the horrifying SESTA-FOSTA bill: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love