Home » Sex, The New Gay Interview
6 May 2010, 4:00 pm 5 Comments

Travis D. Mathews, Creator of Indie Porn Sensation “I Want Your Love.”: The New Gay Interview

This post was submitted by Zack Rosen

Last week we ran a review of I Want Your Love, an unusually well-created and emotionally resonant piece of indie porn. The piece was directed by Travis D. Mathews, who also created the interesting In Their Room series of shorts for Butt Magazine. After one or two screenings of his newest project, I was finally able to stop using my hands long enough to pick up the phone and ask Mr. Mathews some questions about it. It turns out it was just a short to preview of what will eventually be a full-length project, and that’s not even all the surprises. Read below to find out more.

And check out this extremely NSFW link to watch the short itself.

TNG Zack: My first question is about casting. Where did you find these guys? They definitely don’t look like your average porn stars.

Travis D. Mathews: I don’t think they would call themselves porn stars. They are just regular guys who have never done this before. Jesse [the top] is someone I shot for my “In Their Room” series. I didn’t know him before I knocked on his door and started shooting him in his bedroom five minutes later. We had a good connection, and I liked how he got what I was trying to do. He got that right away. I think with all of my work I was really interested in trying to capture small, nuanced, in-between moments that we have as shorthands for bigger emotions. Jesse’s a really good actor, he’s a performance artist here in San Francisco, and he’s good at being very natural. Then it became a process of finding the person who would be the opposite of Jesse. I put a casting call on Butt’s blog and put the word out in my circle of friends, we auditioned less than ten people and any number would’ve done a great job, but the chemistry between Brandon and Jesse was pretty off the charts and it was really nice to see, it felt authentic.

TNG: It is definitely a different kind of porn than one normally sees. Would you even call this porn?

TDM: I’ve tried to stay out of any argument about how it’s labeled; I don’t want to be in the position of having to defend it as not porn. The way I think of porn is that its primary purpose is to get you off, and anything else is trimming. That’s not my main objective here. The stuff that interests me is male intimacy, vulnerability and honesty. There are a lot of different ways to show that, and sex is one of them. If you watch the demo, there is still a little dialogue; it’s not all about the escalation to cum shot. There’s a porn company producing this, and there’s hardcore sex in it, so by many people’s definition it’d be porn. I’m fine with people calling it what they want to call it, but it’s lazy to call it that and leave.

TNG: There’s not usually a middle ground between porn and something like Brokeback Mountain, it’s either just sex or high art. A lot people I know responded to this saying it is what a gay hookup is actually like…

TDM: It’s been amazing to get emails from people all over the place saying that it really resonated with them, that it seemed refreshing, or it felt honest and familiar. I love to hear that, that’s what I’m trying to capture. To hear that from the reviewers and the individuals stumbling across, it is really great.

TNG: What does the concept of erotic filmmaking mean to you?

TDM: I stumbled into it. I went to grad school to be a psychotherapist, and I did a documentary six years ago on gay men and body image. I’ve always been interested in looking at gay men’s issues, digging a little deeper than I see a lot of people making gay media. I’m interested in male vulnerability and interpersonal relationships.

TNG: What is it about sex that makes people vulnerable?

TDM: I think that sex is just another way of exploring male vulnerability and intimacy, and I don’t think that it’s been done very well. It excites me to try and do it well, and also document this particular demographic of gay men in a way that feels respectful and honest. Sex is a big piece of that.

TNG: What demographic?

TDM: I wanna be careful about pigeonholing or creating a demographic, but it’s basically people that are in my circle of friends, or a circle removed from me. I guess I’m talking about guys in SF, specifically guys in their 20s and 30s. This all started in In Their Room as an exercise to do something for Butt Magazine. So I guess in some ways the demographic could be labeled to the effect of Butt Magazine readers.

TNG: There’s been a shift toward that Butt aesthetic in porn. It’s gone away from beefcake.

TDM: That’s just another group of people that should be able to see themselves reflected. There are a lot of other people that don’t have porn or erotica that reflects who they are, so I think that’s great.

TNG: What do you think about the Butt aesthetic being how young gay men are represented in culture these days?

TDM: What I think is interesting is that in some measure, the whole Butt phenomenon happened as a reaction to the chiseled, very clean-cut kind of gay that was around in the 90s. It had a very smart alt, counter-culture edge to it and now it’s becoming the standard. But it’s hard for me to see outside of where I live. In San Francisco, and with many smarty-pants-alternagays on the coast it may be becoming the standard. It’s definitely becoming more popular and it’s being co-opted by brands like American Apparel, but I can’t say for sure.

TNG: To shift gears, I understand that the clip online (the one that’s been circulating) is not the actual finished feature. What’ll it be like when it’s done?

TDM: The primary purpose for the demo is to generate interest from prospective funders and from people who might want to be in the movie or be part of the crew. We’re tentatively scheduled to go into production in August, and that seems really soon to me. Production will happen sometime this year, I should say. There will be other characters; it’s not just the story of Jesse and Brandon. The thing you don’t know when watching the demo is that the whole premise is that Jesse has been living in San Francisco for a decade, and for reasons that involve money (or lack thereof) he is leaving the city to move back to the Midwest to live with his dad. The movie is the last 24 hours of his ten year spell in San Francisco, there are all these opportunities for the things I like: introspection, reflection, and intimate moments with people as you say goodbye. But people also wanna celebrate at the same time as they reflect. He’s wondering if he failed the city, or did the city fail him? It’s the reverse of Tales of the City.

I want to make a movie that does not have a huge plot to it in terms of big crazy Hollywood drama things happening, but a lot more of the natural interpersonal connections people have with each other. It’s not important for me to have a 20 minute sex scene. While there will be more sex in the feature, I want to be careful that everything else is not just some perfunctory prelude to cum shots. The demo will be reshot, and when it’s reshot, the sex will probably not be as long.

The demo has also been compared to mumblecore in some ways. I know it is a pejorative thing to a lot of people, but I think the idea is fantastic. There are some (films) like Funny Ha Ha and Humpday that are really good and well acted, so that’s also been a reference point for my work. If I could make a feature that had some of the qualities of mumblecore as people talk about them, that would be great too.

TNG: Anything else you want to say?

TDM: I’m just really thrilled to the response. I’m so happy it’s connecting with people, and that people seem to be wanting more, that’s really encouraging to me. It makes me feel like I’m on the right path. I think it’s going to be really useful as part of a larger arsenal that my producer will take in trying to get funding.

And like I mentioned earlier, we are going to be looking for people to be in this. Some people think that the feature is already done, but it’s open for anyone that would want to audition to be part of this.


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5 Comments »

  • Topher said:

    This guy’s really fantastic. There’s such a great middle ground (as you said, between “porn and Brokeback Mountain”) that I’m really excited to see is finally being explored.
    Basically video version of gay Harlequin romance novels, but more REAL.
    Anyway, I think it’s pretty necessary that TNG gets a mole into the filming of the full length version, so I think it should be required that all the blog’s staff and contributors audition.

  • TNG Zack said:

    Topher, I’m serious when I say that I’m working on it. Maybe my wang will finally make its screen debut!

  • Joe Clark said:

    Maybe you could correct the numerous copy errors in this piece, none of which should have ever seen the light of day.

  • Sir Lindsey Buckingham said:

    It’s a shame that Matthews doesn’t want to focus on making porn. Clearly he’d do well for himself and maybe he’d even raise the bar a bit for other porn producers. And like we need more alternagay aspiring mumblecore directors in the world? boo hiss.
    Well whatever, this was at least a genius way for him to create buzz about himself. Props for that.

  • Dana said:

    The best part of this film that makes it almost documetary like and yet more stimulating than most “porn” is not only it’s relationship development but it’s use of actors that are more real and not “Hollywood’s youth ” that grabs my attention!