Filmmaker Taylor Benson reveals a severe oral fetish in THE SINS OF JOHNNY X, hardcore gay porn that takes itself way too seriously. Result is a tedious, empty exercise.
Typically, the Something Weird shill writing back-of-the-box liner notes for the video issue misleadingly calls this "poignant porn" and tries to make it sound sort of interesting. The reality is that Benson's approach is remote and mechanical, hardly the romantic or emotional film promised.
It unfolds in an awkward flashback: with clock ticking loudly (Benson probably would have liked to be a Penn or Frankenheimer shooting "Playhouse 90" segments in the '50s, rather than ending up an incompetent pornographer), two men wait for Godot or whatever. Short and mustachioed Sam picks up a copy of The Advocate and chuckles as he reads aloud an ad placed by titular Johnny X, offering male prostitution services. Sam falls asleep on the couch, focus is racked to a blur and it's flashback time, baby.
We see tall Bob's Mercedes-Benz driving up to his home, where pickup Sam is at first just a random lover. Sam later moves in with Bob, but the fly in the ointment is that when they make love Sam is so passive he might as well be a corpse. Bob finds the Johnny X ad and phones him -cue a lengthy, boring MOS sequence of bearded stud Johnny servicing our two heroes simultaneously outside. At first the staging reminded me of Bertolucci's shocking-at-the-time scene in "1900" of De Niro and Depardieu jerked off by Stefania Casini, but I doubt BB saw this ephemeral gay porn movie.
Après-sex, Johnny tells them he never gets involved with his clients, but Bob invites him to stay over for a few days. He invites a pal Phil (gay equivalent to Keith Erickson) to visit, to "teach young Sammy new tricks".
Rest of the endless flashback is the foursome, with Phil servicing Sam in the bedroom while Johnny attends to Bob at the pool. Latter delivers some well-shot slo-mo underwater photography, giving auteur Benson a chance to pay homage, Greek-statue-style, to the male form. Perhaps he missed his true calling, cranking out gay versions of boring Ken Burns documentaries.
After a money shot by Phil, we dissolve back to present day, with the doorbell ringing. It's Johnny, visiting merely to say goodbye. With his exit, Sam decides to leave forever, too. Bob asks rhetorically "What's gonna happen to me", and Sam (exiting stage right) mutters "Nothing", THE END.
If this sounds dull, it surely is. Benson emphasizes endless blow jobs and smooching, with the guys jerking themselves off to produce the requisite ejaculations. There are two brief anal sex scenes, one clearly simulated (standing-up outdoors) and the other, Phil on Sam, looking real but photographed coyly and ineptly in long-shot so it might as well be simulated. I infer that Benson mixes an obvious filmmaking incompetence with a "tasteful" reticence as he clearly wants this to be from the soft rather than hard-edged (s&m) school of porn.
Acting is non-existent, as the unwarranted criticisms of Bob & Sam's lifestyle as well as other pronouncements by Johnny are merely didactic, and neither Bob nor Sam recite their lines with any emotion. Phil is of the Jamie Gillis school, with the pretense of nastiness, barking orders at Sam.
Not surprisingly an Elton John ballad is pirated, and played at least three times on the soundtrack. A familiar cut from the classic David Axelrod/Electric Prunes LP "Mass in F Minor" was repeated twice. Elsewhere there is Santana lite music plus some dreamy classical tracks, designed to put the audience to sleep.
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