Philadelphia queer celebrity, and star of local television talk show "In Bed with Butch," Butch Cordora came up with a quirky and inventive idea for a calendar, called "Straight & Butch," as is his directorial debut documentary (USA 2010, 89 minutes), which gets its world premiere screening thanks to QFest, Philadelphia's LGBT film festival. Cordora's plan is to have hetero men pose nude with him for the calendar's pages, as they reenact famous photos of Cindy Crawford and kd lang-the Vanity Fair cover; John Lennon and Yoko Ono-the Rolling Stone photo, said to have been taken on the same day Lennon was assassinated; all four Beatles-the "Abbey Road" album cover; Janet Jackson; and the like, and the movie painstakingly documents the model searches and photo shoots that went into the making of the calendar.
Although stopping short of the overtly sexual, Butch gets quite physical and affectionate with his models, kissing them, but not on the lips, without repercussion, and the men's initial awkwardness about being seen in photos that have another man's penis, in addition to theirs, in them is explored. One of the models, once Butch's friend, is never heard from again after their photo shoot. The others, however, are shown to be at ease signing copies of the calendar, at its release party, at Giovanni's Room, the City of Brotherly Love's LGBT bookstore. The film is insightful in what it has to say about gay and straight male relationships. Cordora's fetish for the clean-shaven will bother some viewers, who will find it heartrending when he tears, with clippers and great glee, into wrestler Rocco's chest fur.
More men than not turned down Butch's request. The hetero models-of a variety of ages, ethnicities, modeling experience, and degree of prior acquaintanceship with the director-who did not are Gervase Peterson ("Survivor" first season), Bill Barton, Anthony Borzotta, Adrian Abonce, Zach Brady, Eric Wagner, John Raisola (the one who dropped out of sight), Rocco Ciarrocchi, Angelo DeLeone, Scott Yelity, and Duncan MacDonald, married to Leah MacDonald, one of the photographers. The other photographers, ranging from famous to fresh out of school, are Tony Ward (Penthouse, GQ, Men's Health), Joe Bowman, Christopher Gabello, and newcomers Thomas Ignatius Puleo and Annie Lebowitz protégé Michael Itkoff.
So whether you're gay or hetero, you're sure to be aroused by the enthusiasm the men evince for making the "Straight & Butch" calendar a reality. QFest, which continues through July 19, introduces "Straight & Butch" on July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ritz at the Bourse, 400 Ranstead Street. Visit http://www.qfest.com for further information.