PISS OFF (20)
Henry Baker / United States / 2019 / 20 min
Shocking. Intimate. Taboo. Is it porn…or is it really…art?
Piss Off explores a long-practiced erotic fetish from the point of view of a gay millennial who expresses it as performance art. Known online as “Athleticpisspig,” he uses video and internet to demonstrate and perform “water sports” or piss play with other gay men in various ways. He travels the world to act out this activity, in public and semi-public spaces, with individuals or groups, to examine and break social norms–to create “art” from shared piss play – a fetish which is a “closet within the gay closet.” Followed by more than 80,000 subscribers, Athleticpisspig’s work will elicit many judgments–from degrading and decadent to arousing and celebratory. It’s certainly defiant and challenges the viewer to re-think the human nature behind the shadowy world of erotic fetishes. And the old question—since ancient Greece, through the Renaissance to burlesque, Eakins, Manet and Mapplethorpe—is it mere pornography or groundbreaking art worthy of consideration and criticism? The film poses these questions which viewers must answer for themselves.
Director Biography – Henry Baker
Henry Baker works in video, film, sound, print, oil paint and interactive media. In 1987, he founded the video post production company, BXB, Inc., NYC. Clients include HBO, Cinemax, SONY, Panasonic, Four Seasons Hotels and many others. He’s received numerous awards for his commercial and his creative work including: Houston International Film Festival, Broadcast Designer’s Association, ACE and IFTA awards. He has worked in film since the 1950s and video since the 1970s. He holds a BFA in Special Studies in Art and a MS in Synaesthetic Education at Syracuse University, with an additional MS in Information and Library Science at Pratt Institute.
His work has been screened at: Leslie Lohman Gallery, National Museum of LGBT History, Simon Watson Gallery, Vancouver College, Hallwalls, Intermedia Arts Center, Matrix Gallery et al. His works are in the permanent collections at The NY Public Library and the Everson Museum. He co-founded the New York State Media Alliance. As director of The Synapse Video Center he ran the Video Artist Grant Program – awarding grants to Artists and curating exhibition and distribution programs. He served as a panelist at the National Endowment for the Arts, the WNET-TV Lab, the Broadcast Designer’s Association, the Ithaca Video Project and for the past 5 years as a judge for the Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival.
He lives with his husband in Washington DC.
I came across Athleticpisspig’s videos during some online forays. Far from usual porn fare, I was impressed by the innovation and quality of his numerous productions, editing skills and dedication to the statement he was trying to make. I wasn’t as familiar with piss play as I thought. I was aware that water sports or “golden showers” as a fetish spans the sexual spectrum. It’s practiced in both hetero and homosexual erotic play and may, but doesn’t always, include outright sexual acts. Most LGBT communities are open and frank about certain “specialties” but surprisingly, pissing is less known in “mainstream” gay culture, remaining taboo for some: a closet within the larger gay closet. Still, piss fetish has become a staple sub-genre of gay porn.
I feel that exploring motivations and reasons for such controversial erotic fetishes may help illuminate the delicate and complex human sexual psyche. Instead of dismissing piss play as disgusting or perverted, I believe it is worth examining, especially given its growing popularity.
My film opens that door a bit with the help of someone who is a true expert practitioner. I hope we can discover something about our sexual identities, especially as gay people and overcome a few fears and stereotypes. Besides, it’s always fun to decide whether a particular work is just porn or really art. I hope viewers will learn a bit and enjoy making that decision for themselves.
– Henry Baker