Credited cast:
Chad Diamond
Justine Joli
Aiden Starr


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10 July 2013 (USA)  »

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Followed by Fluid 2 (2014) See more »

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More icky than entertaining
25 May 2016 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Much as I admire Dana Vespoli, both as auteur and performer, I found watching one of her attempted avant-garde porn videos "Fluid" a rough, unrewarding slog. The talented DV seems committed to balancing her excellent work with an equal measure of crud in order to maintain some fictional "street cred" with the debased Adult Porn community.

That's because if you were simply to make sensual, erotic, '60s-style abstract/mystical porn films or imitation Douglas Sirk weepers, you'd be tagged a wimp and ostracized. In this post-Max Hardcore environment, the quest in video production is "can you out-gonzo so & so?", as the mad rush to the bottom has already occurred.

So taking water and bodily fluids as her jumping-off point, Dana directs four ridiculously long segments (averaging over 50 minutes each and playing tediously in pseudo-real time), popping up herself like a ringmaster from time to time. Her boss is John Stagliano, owner of the video's distributor Evil Angel, so the contents follow the gonzo formula of the great Stag himself. I interviewed him back in his formative years ('80s) and never thought Buttman would turn his fetish niche into such an influential mainstream force.

Opener resembles more closely the work of Jules Jordan, himself a hugely successful gonzo director heavily influenced by Buttman. Glamorous (but strictly stuck in gonzo) Sheena Shaw hangs out in a waterfall-styled fountain and then humps Manuel Ferrara. For some reason his mighty dickhead never fully emerges from his foreskin this time around, but 45 minutes later he delivers a facial on cue. Vespoli hired this superstar but decided to leave his face off-screen for nearly the entirety of the vignette -likely figuring it's his dick rather than his mug that the fans want to see.

Group sex follows with an extremely phony (and way, way too long) immersion in lesbian BDSM presided over by the capable if over-qualified Aiden Starr. (Starr recently landed the gig of BDSM consultant for Showtime Cable's "Submission" series.) She manhandles lovely redhead Justine Joli, mainly in a bathtub, with drowning, suffocation and even water-boarding thrown in for good measure. Vespoli intercedes wearing a strap-on dildo to amplify the young actress's distress, although distress = ecstasy in this topsy-turvy BDSM culture.

Just to make me mad, Starr and Vespoli keep up the pretense throughout this scene of Joli being some fair young maiden miraculously discovered and introduced to the world of bondage. The fact that Justine is famous for bondage work in the industry for a decade and a half already kind of spoils this b.s., especially since in "Fluid" we're not dealing with a fictional story line and actual characters, but rather gonzo performers at work. Had Vespoli crafted one of her excellent lesbian scenarios, such as the dozens she shoots for Sweetheart Video, Joli could have played an actual character and I could have become involved in her plight. Once again, we see erotic cinema or pornography (name your poison) reduced to the level of "I like to watch" prostitution.

Similarly, in the next vignette Steven St. Croix and Allie Haze make a comfortable and familiar pair with latter abused, even subjected to brief suffocation with a plastic bag over her head (I know that in these benighted times that's considered sex, but I have trouble swallowing it, just as Allie had trouble gasping for air). Both of them are very talented actors with excellent acting credits in story line features, which is where they belong.

Finale has Dana returning as star opposite Johnny Castle (a teaming memorably reprised in her feature "Girl/Boy"). This vignette more closely approximates a short story, with Dana wearing Lolita sunglasses and seducing Johnny the pool boy for outdoor sex.

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