From Park City, Utah, this is where the Sundance Film Festival is taking place. Among the many exhibits: "'Zoo' is a documentary about what director Robinson Devor accurately characterizes as 'the last taboo, on the boundary of something comprehensible.' But remarkably, an elegant, eerily lyrical film has resulted." This is in the LA Times, by the way. "'Zoo,' premiering before a rapt audience Saturday night at Sundance, manages to be a poetic film about a forbidden subject, a perfect marriage between a cool and contemplative director ... and potentially incendiary subject matter: sex between men and animals. Not graphic in the least, this strange and strangely beautiful film combines audio interviews ... with elegiac visual re-creations intended to conjure up the mood and spirit of situations. The director himself puts it best: 'I aestheticized the sleaze right out of it.'"
By the way, some of these audio interviews, two of the three men who were involved did not want to appear on camera. They're just audio interviews. "Devor and his writing partner, Charles Mudede, live in Seattle and were stunned, as were many in the state, by a story that broke in 2005 about a local man who died after having sex with an Arabian stallion." We talked about this story on the program here. In the State of Washington, it's perfectly okay to have sex with a horse as long as it can be shown the horse enjoyed it -- or better put: it's perfectly okay to have sex with a horse as long as you can't prove that the horse didn't enjoy it. At any rate, "bestiality is not illegal in Washington, the subsequent revelation of the existence of an Internet-based zoophile community (the men refer to themselves as 'zoos,' hence the title) was a shock. Though there was the inevitable tabloid fuss, what Devor called 'the prurient spectacle,' the filmmaker was also 'shocked that nobody did an in-depth look at this, that there was no investigative reporting rounding the story out with the psychology involved.
"'I thought, ''This is an opportunity.''' Though 'Zoo' is intent on allowing these men to be heard, [the director's] intention was not polemical. 'I'm not in there wrestling with the legal or animal cruelty issues,' he said. Rather, he envisioned a film like his others: 'I count on the natural world pulling my films through." The "natural world is a guy having sex with an Arabian stallion. "I thought the marriage of this completely strange mind-set and the beauty of the natural world could be something interesting.' In introducing 'Zoo' at Sundance, Devor called it 'a difficult film and a difficult film to make.'" Yeah, I wonder why? "He added: 'A lot of people looked at me as if I was an exploitative person, dredging up something for profit, and that bothered me. I was certainly asked many times, often with a wrinkled brow, 'Why are you making this film?' It was something I did resent; I thought artists had the opportunity to explore anything.' In the end, Devor ended up agreeing with the Roman writer Terence, who said 'I consider nothing human alien to me.'
"'It happens,' the filmmaker said, 'so it's part of who we are.'" This is something at Sundance that's getting raves. (interruption) Well, you joke. H.R. said in the IFB, "Wait for the musical." What is this show in New York you were telling me about, Mr. Snerdley? What's the title of this show? Do you know the title of this show? It's a show about masturbation on stage in New York, and the actors are 17 to 19? It's about teenage sexuality. It's the rave, apparently. Is it Broadway or Off-Broadway, do you know? It's on Broadway. Okay, so at Sundance we've got bestiality as a favored and highly recommended documentary. We've got on-stage sex with teenagers in New York as the rave, and have you heard about the masturbation room at Atlanta's Hartsfield airport? You haven't heard about this? You know, I've been doing a little test. I saw this last week, and I have been waiting for news of this to spread, and it has not. The story hit in Atlanta, I think it was on Friday night, and some local in North Carolina is one of the guys involved here. Actually it hasn't hit in North Carolina. That's the point. Now, Mike Adams of Townhall.com has written a piece about this. Here are the details.
"It should come as no surprise that a men's restroom at Hartsfield Jackson international airport, Atlanta, has become a playground for those who want to masturbate in public and have sex with men they don't even know. After all, Atlanta is a hotbed of gay activity and public restrooms are favorite gathering places. But some may be surprised that since December, police officers have arrested and charged 11 men with public indecency in the Atlanta airport." There's a huge, huge prostitution investigation going on in Atlanta. It's all over the place: Atlanta, the suburbs, and it's even gotten out into the airport now. This, technically, is not part of the prostitution investigation, but they're investigating sex and they're finding all kinds of it in public places. "Some may be surprised that since December police officers have arrested and charged 11 men with public indecency in the Atlanta airport. That's because, you might be surprised because there's been little talk about the arrests -- and that in turn may have something to do with the fact that the dirty nearly dozen," which is what these 11 are being called, the dirty nearly dozen, "includes University of North Carolina professor Dr. Hugh Tilson and Spellman College professor Lev T. Mills.
"Now, it's not surprising to find out that Lev Mills is a professor of art. Such departments attract some of the most far-out, nonconformists among us. But it is surprising that Dr. Hugh Tilson is a professor of public health at the University of North Carolina. Before his arrest I'd always considered public masturbation to run contrary to the public health, but in the age of diversity, I'm becoming increasingly willing to reconsider some of my basic assumptions, some of which may be based on antiquated notions of morality." So last Thursday and Friday, it was discovered 11 men been arrested and charged with public indecency. There's a room, and they know where this room is. I don't know where it is, but there's a room in the Atlanta airport, in one of the terminals, where if you want to go have sex with men and masturbate, you know where this room is.
The word has sort of spread, and one of the guys arrested was the professor of public health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Dr. Hugh Tilson. This guy is, apparently, from what I've been able to understand, highly regarded: married, kids, grandkids, in his early sixties. If this guy were a Republican legislator, do you think this story would not have made the wires? There's a reason this story doesn't get around, and others like the Foley story do, ladies and gentlemen. It's a treatise on the media, the debasement. Look, in Utah we've got a documentary on bestiality. In New York we've got a stage show on Broadway about teenage sex. Does it include masturbation or not? Okay, does that occur on stage? Is that what you're telling me? (interruption) You gotta be kidding me? It's the last act? All right. Whoa. The front room might be a dangerous place to sit -- and then in Atlanta you've got the masturbation room at Atlanta Hartsfield International -- and Robert Redford wants an apology from us?