Mommy is Coming…

…to Berlin. Europe’s ‘queer capital’ hosts a new film that is definitely not your average porno. Mommy is Coming is showing at Moviemiento Kino until Monday 26th March.

I know, I know, I’ve been a bit awol recently. I blame all the amazing femme organising I’ve been doing. But, not to worry, I am now back in cyber world with a review of an awesome new queer film. Plus, expect updates on the Berlin Femme Show and pics soon! Now, without further ado, let’s talk about porn…

Last week I went to see a new queer porn film at local Berlin cinema Moviemiento. First aired at the 62th Berlinale this February, last week saw its official German premiere.  Mommy is Coming isn’t your average porno. It feels more like a story-based film, which happens to have a lot of hot sex in it.

To be quite honest, my expectations of queer films aren’t that high. I watch them for the affirmation I get from seeing my way of life up there on the big screen. I watch them because, finally, I can enjoy sex scenes without the dissonance of having to imagine a hot butch in the role of the guy on the screen. I also enjoy spotting the queers I have met in real-life on the silver screen (Gaymous!). But it is a familiar complaint among dykes that I know that films about us are often not very good.

Our community is starved for attention and representation. It’s a long-running joke among lesbians that films about our lives are generally below standard. If they’re a mainstream film they generally feature slim, white, feminine lesbians exchanging chaste kisses and having oral, non-penetrative sex. Sometimes a finger or two works its way into the lover’s vagina, but God forbid that sex between women involve anything as exciting as a dildo or other sex toy! While, of course, lots of women do enjoy this dynamic, it’s certainly not the whole word in queer eroticism.

U.S. Comedienne Margaret Cho on her first time with a woman

Watching lesbian movies as a baby dyke I was seriously unimpressed. Is this what my sex life as a lesbian was going to be like? Was I supposed to roll around in not-very-excessive ecstasy while another girl went down on me to bad indie pop? Maybe it would be better to be straight after all? At least then I would get some motherfucking penetration!

When I think of the mainstream, accepted representation of lesbian sex it makes me pretty mad. I am convinced that the cutesie, ‘oh look they’re really just kittens’ (it’s all that rubbing) sex scenes serve to ease cultural anxiety that women might not need a guy to fulfil their erotic needs. If there’s no cock involved, then it’s OK. Because we all know that what a woman really needs is a good fucking. I remember one of my friends saying to me that she would be a lesbian if she wouldn’t miss cock too much. And you know what, at the time I thought she had a point! Who wants to be a dyke when it means all you get is some light kissing and frottage?

I know it’s been said to death, but 2010’s The Kids Are All Right is a perfect example of ‘it ain’t sex unless there’s a – biological – cock’. This romantic comedy about a lesbian couple’s relationship to the sperm-donor father of their children was portrayed in mainstream media as the pro-gay film of the year. At last, a positive portrayal of ‘normal’ lesbian love. Erm, no! The only hot sex scenes in the film are when Julianne Moore cheats on her partner with the sexy, irresponsible sperm donor. I mean, who wouldn’t choose Mark Ruffalo on a motorcycle over neurotic Annette Benning in a sweatshirt? Juli gets to do it doggy style several times with Mark, but the only time her and Annette even vaguely get jiggy with it, it’s a fumble under the covers with a vibrator while watching gay porn. Even this ‘happy’ couple need to spice up their boring sex life with some good old cock. The fact that the lesbians in this apparently pro-lesbo film need to watch gay porn in order to get off says everything you need to know about what we think of lesbians and sex.

But maybe there’s another way of looking at The Kids Are All Right.  It’s no coincidence that Mark Ruffalo on his vintage BMW bike looks like more of a dyke than businesswoman Annette Benning. Annette portrays your mainstream, trouser suit-wearing lesbian who can’t really get her girl off in bed, while Mark emanates the raw sexuality of James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause. And what does James Dean look like? Why, of course, a butch dyke!

Dykes on Bikes: James Dean vs. Mark Ruffalo

I remember watching a film about butch masculinity a few years ago which made a pretty convincing argument that famous Hollywood stars like Dean and Marlon Brando have the same kind of masculinity as butch dykes. Unfortunately I can’t remember its name, but its message (and the homoeroticism of Elvis in Jailhouse Rock) really stuck with me. As a teenager I was obsessed with the young Leonardo DiCaprio and I have since noticed that a lot of our Hollywood heartthrobs look like boyish girls. Think of the babyfaced beauty of Robert Pattinson in Twilight with his pouty red lips and smooth skin. It’s exactly the kind of beauty I see in butch women.

So maybe virile Mark Ruffalo with his cheeky charm and motorcycle is some kind of unconscious representation of butch cock? Without wanting to get too queer film theory on you, this idea leads me back to Mommy is Coming. Mommy is Coming is definitely not your average queer film. Its actors are ‘real-life’ queers and have pretty varied genders. Not only do I, lucky girl, get to see some butch-femme sex, but there’s also a pretty hot butch/transmasculine threesome and the whole film is permeated with the kinky dynamics of BDSM. This queer porno definitely doesn’t buy into mainstream ideas about lesbian sex, thank God, and manages to combine romance, hotness and sexual exploration in one fiction film/porno bundle.

It’s true that Mommy is Coming is made for a relatively small audience. I can’t imagine it getting the relatively mainstream distribution of romantic comedy Kissing Jessica Stein or the ‘lesbians are psychopaths’ Hollywood hit Monster. And maybe the fact that it is aimed at a specifically queer audience gives it more freedom. It’s not trying to appease cultural anxiety about queers, in fact, it’s probably trying to do the opposite. But it is a relief to walk into a cinema and see some sexy queer sex on the big screen for a change.

So, maybe we should make Mommy is Coming required viewing for all the closeted teenagers out there. We can show them that being a lesbian, or trans, or queer, isn’t always about gentle patting between floral sheets, but can involve some pretty mind-blowing sexual adventures. I know that I would have appreciated someone telling teenage me that there was more than one way of having queer sex. It would have saved me a lot of anxiety about my future sex life and maybe I would have jumped into my new queer life with more sexual abandon. Seriously, someone needs to destroy these stereotypes and Mommy is Coming is a step in the right direction.

Mommy is Coming is showing in Berlin for one more week only. Go see it at Moviemiento, Kottbusser Damm 22, Berlin-Kreuzberg. You won’t be sorry!

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Stills from the film

4 thoughts on “Mommy is Coming…

  1. supernaut

    I saw this at the Berlinale and stayed for the director and cast discussion afterwards. I found it somewhat emblematic of a big problem in queer porn and the queer world at large, in that trans all too often explicitly refers to trans men, and trans women – of any kind – are wholly absent.

    That the director referred to the film interchangeably as a lesbian or queer film I also found peculiar. Perhaps my understanding of the words are inadequate, but I don’t think they are interchangeable. Again, in either case the absence of trans women makes this an odd choice of words.

    It’s not as though there aren’t really amazing trans women doing queer / lesbian porn – Mandy Mitchell and several others come to immediately to mind, as well as others who have a Berlin connection.

    If I was a closeted teenager of the trans female kind, I wouldn’t feel heartened by this film. In the same way rad fem lesbian separatism did a fine job of ostracising certain women based on an essentialist reading of bodies, I find that far too much ‘queer’ culture and porn is doing exactly this again under a different banner, and this film for me pretty much encapsulates all that.

    Perhaps I missed something, but I’d rather stay at home with Julia Serrano and look at real queer porn on Tumblr.

    1. Lipstick Terrorist

      Hi Supernaut, thanks for commenting! I agree with pretty much everything you say above, apart from, I guess, that I found the film enjoyable. I, too, have noticed that in queer contexts ‘trans’ seems to only refer to transmasulinities/transmen, and completely leaves transwomen out of the picture. This seems to be the opposite of mainstream films about transsexual people. Hollywood fiction about trans folk focuses exclusively on transsexual women, whose characters they often seem to ridicule for ‘failing to pass’ as ‘real women’ or for their excessive (and, implied, artificial) femininity.

      I too was struggling with this implicit exclusion when I was writing the review and changed my first ‘trans’ to transmasculine to acknowledge that to myself. Although I do notice that I use trans at the bottom in a way that refers only to transmasculine folks because they are the only trans people in this film. For that exclusion, I apologise.

      I was also struggling with the adjectives ‘lesbian’ and ‘queer’ film in my review. I tried to briefly imply a distinction between the two types of cinema, but I know I didn’t elaborate much on it at all. This was mostly because I really needed to publish the review and because my thoughts on the two types of film are not well enough developed for me to feel I can talk about them. Yet. It seems that both types of films show problematic worldviews in their own way.’Lesbian’ films show a lesbian sexuality that is completely harmless (to the hetero status quo) and unsexy. Queer films show BDSM and explicit sex, but no transsexual women. They also seem to imply that the true ‘queer’ ways of having relationships and sex is to be polyamorous and to always be into BDSM. Like you say, we need a lot more options.

      However, I chose to give this film a positive review because, even though it is problematic in its exclusions, it is still a step towards the kind of porn I would like to see. We in queer and lesbian communities are so starved for representation that we try to make each film fulfill all our needs for affirmation and visibility, which is an impossible task.

      Can you tell me and the blog readers some porn that includes transwomen that you would recommend? You mention Mandy Mitchell, anyone else? And where is the queer porn on Tumblr?!?!?! 🙂

    2. Lipstick Terrorist

      Supernaut! I quoted some of your wise words in my new post on the representation of queer sexuality. I hope this is OK. Let me know if not 🙂 Thanks for saying such darn intelligent things. LTx

  2. Pingback: Queers are Slutty, Lesbians are Boring « Diary of a Lipstick Terrorist

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