“We’ve learned to live behind the darkest blinds, in the temple of an expelled sexuality, thinking that we’re alone and not unique. They’ve hidden us from seeing and being seen, through a heteronormative light that commands what is true, yet not just a habit. We poured ourselves into the woods to smell each other’s unprecedented lustful eyes, being taught steps of non-lived adolescence. Until we’re left alone again, now concealed from the life that awaited for us, digging for change in our family business’s pocket to watch the shameless lives of others.”
By Helias Doulis
What was it that prompted this project “A Faggot’s Destiny”?
I’ve been interested in the atmosphere a porn cinema has to offer since I was little. My grandfather used to bring lots of films at home every Sunday, he’d gather them and give them to my mother, who actually kept them in a drawer at home. I’ve sneaked into that drawer many times, feeling I was part of a prohibited world. ‘The Pianist’ by Haneke, was the one that changed my childish views of cinema forever. I grew up as a voyeur and I am happy to have documented porn booths all over the world, from Paris to London and back to Athens.
How much of the project is staged and how much isn’t? The line is blurred at times with documenting. What was the intention behind this?
Documentation can be fun, yet so difficult to arrange or put together when holding a camera. Everyone’s truth is vulnerable and the expectation of being respectful towards it can become blurry. I’d prefer not to mention how much of this was staged or not, only because I’ve had the opportunity to be there among men who dared to showcase sexuality in all forms, away from what a shameful background can oppress us with. I initially shot this for the anniversary republication of Kraximo Magazine, published in February 2020 by the Onassis Foundation.
Are these people you don’t know? How easy or difficult was it getting them to be part of the project?
There have been people I was familiar with taking part in this project, and others I was seeing for the first time ‘on set’. It’s all documented from a keyhole perspective, so all participants, if I can call them that way, would explore without feeling they’re seen or judged. I was on set as what I love being – a man who loves to watch. It’s not difficult having boys pose for you when their faces are covered or hidden. Men get embarrassed only when their actual identity is at risk. They could be anyone’s fantasy, their own included, in order to fulfill what they thought a porn cinema would feel or smell like for a day.
How do you feel “A Faggot’s Destiny” could change? Or why is it so hard to change? Or in which ways should it change?
It was late afternoon time around three years ago, when I entered a porn cinema for the first time in central Paris, as a client. Or at least, that’s what they thought I was. I had my camera all packed up, heading straight to one of the private cabins. I was there all by myself, to observe and relate to who I thought I was, or who I thought I could be among men. Men who were there hiding from their wives, boys that were there to explore who they’d grow as or pay their rent with, faggots of all kinds. Cruising, that is now fading and becomes less and less popular with sex apps becoming stronger by the minute; it’s all cultural. We’re formed to hide out of a need to survive, yet some of us don’t anymore. I respect everyone’s truth, even if that means not being truthful. We were destined to be loved, I take no less than that.
Do you think this situation is particular to Greece or is it a wider picture? Being oppressed as a gay man?
No. That’s international and it’s always been. There are nights I take walks downtown Athens, to see what it feels like to have left the office and head horny somewhere they don’t have to know you to be understood. There is this safety net created in such spaces, where the eyes lead the way. They’re enough to agree with or reject, and that very familiar need is translated in all languages by bodies that don’t have to speak the same one. They were made to create a bond not everyone can see but feel, to the bone.
Is this an ongoing project? What are you working on at the moment?
I would not call this an ongoing project, but I’d happily photograph it from time to time. I have just finalized my first short film called ‘The Beauty of Stigma’, featuring the American ex-pornstar Colby Keller, my dear friend and great actor Ilias Sapountzakis and a beautiful boy who you don’t see the face of, Apostolos Georgiadis. All three, are responsible for showcasing what it’s like to experience a boy to boy teenage affair among the ruins of a city. I must say I’m very excited this feels like one of the films my grandfather used to bring back home. You’d rent it from the DVD club but never tell your mom about it.