United States, 1991
Director: Kristen Bjorn
Stars: Sean Davis, Dex Brown, Root Calahan, Ian Layman, Ned McCabe, Blue Vainer, Hogan Malony, Demetrios Xenos
*scroll down to read Kristen Bjorn’s response to this review
According to a book about him, gay porn director (and former star) Kristen Bjorn said that when he left school his dream was to become “a photographer for a magazine like National Geographic. I wanted to travel across the world and photograph people. I was really very interested in different cultures.”
He made good on this dream, in a way. Born in London and renamed by Falcon Studios for what they mistakenly believed was his resemblance to Swedish tennis champion Bjorn Borg, Kristen Bjorn (pictured below) lived in Brazil, then Australia and is now based out of Spain. His (place)name-dropping body of work includes titles like Carnaval in Rio, Manhattan Latin, Montreal Men, The Caracas Adventure, The Vampire of Budapest, Hot Times in Little Havana and the Australian trilogy A Sailor in Sydney, Jackaroos and Manly Beach.
Despite his globe-trotting sensibilities, however, Kristen Bjorn’s gay porn work doesn’t really delve into the psycho-sensual possibilities of his exotic locales and the two-dimensional set dressing of his movies is broad-stroke Orientalism at its worst. Lusty Latinos, polysexual uncut Europeans furtively navigating the ruins of the Soviet Bloc, and in Manly Beach, sunkissed Aussie blokes who would share a beer with a kangaroo and then fuck it too, if it was the only thing around.
Manly Beach is narrated by a man who speaks with an Australian accent that’s as dry as a ditch and as varied and engaging as the slowly blinking eyelids of a frill neck lizard. Do people really think Australians talk in such a slow-motion, genteel drawl? Most Australians - including myself - talk so fast and pepper their speech with so many expletives that even other Australians can barely understand them. This half-dead-blowfly-on-a-hot-summer’s-day monotone isn’t really the norm, though our embattled Prime Minister Julia Gillard holds the Great Australian Drawl fort with admirable pride:
Anyway, the comatose narration about being able to hook up with “ya maaaayts” and get on down to “the suuuuuurf” for a swim and general homo-erotic frolic quickly gives way to the film’s extended action scenes which really are a huge turn on. It’s confusing why Bjorn went to such lengths (flying himself and crew to Australia) to make hot gay porn that he could have produced with a condo rental in West Hollywood, a quick trip to KOALA BLUE and some stock footage of the Great Barrier Reef.
Grainy shots of guys on surfboards cross-fading into muscle marys lolling about underneath eucalyptus trees waiting for the next cocksucker to materalise don’t really help to bring out the erotic elements of the Australian idiom. Pneumatic performers that look just like gay porn stars from all over the world don’t help with the general look and feel either. Without the hilarious ocker vocals, this could just as easily be Venice Beach or Sex Tools at Sitges. Such a disappointing approach from a porn creator who once said he was “interested in different cultures”.
Real Australian men at play:
Kristen Bjorn’s response:
G’day, mate! I came across your article, and found it curious. So, to set the record straight (at least semi-straight), I lived in Sydney for two years from 1990 to 1992. It was then that I shot the three videos in question, and no one was flown in from anywhere; everyone was local.
The narration of MANLY BEACH was recorded by one of the Australian actors, Sean Davis. It was a long time ago, so I don’t remember the details well, but I may have asked him to speak at a slower pace so that that non-aussies wouldn’t have trouble the monologue.
The videos I shot in Australia were never intended to be insightful documentaries about the country, or the people… They were only meant to serve the purpose that porno films are made for; sexual fantasy.