The program of excerpts from hardcore pornography hasn’t been part of the Las Vegas edition of the CineKink film festival since its first year in town, but this year’s event still included a number of opportunities to sit in a room full of strangers and watch explicit, non-simulated sex play out onscreen. That’s just one of the charms of “the kinky film festival,” which stopped in Vegas for the third time this past weekend. The traveling version of CineKink features the best of the annual six-day festival in New York City, and this year that included four features and two shorts programs, augmented by a panel discussion on sex in Las Vegas.
After low attendance in 2010, the festival attracted a decent crowd last year, but this year’s audience was a little smaller, with only about 10-15 people showing up for the most popular screenings at Downtown’s Theatre 7. Of the four features shown, the strongest was the documentary Stage Brother (which was also probably the least sexually explicit). Existing at the intersection of reality TV and personal-essay filmmaking, it explores director Richard Buonagurio’s ambivalent involvement with his sister’s efforts to become an adult model (primarily her hopes of posing for Playboy). Buonagurio and his sister manage to be naïve and deeply cynical at the same time, and the movie’s lack of self-awareness in its exploration of family dynamics and adult entertainment is fascinating.
The other features ranged from tedious (the interminable, amateurish kink exploration Sirwiñakuy, from Bolivia) to playfully dumb (the softcore B-movie Sweet Prudence and the Erotic Adventure of Bigfoot) to artfully explicit (Erika Lust’s Cabaret Desire, which was short on story and character development but long on steamy hardcore sex). Festival director Lisa Vandever joked about vice raiding the venue as she was introducing the Best of CineKink shorts program, but one of the greatest things about CineKink is its matter-of-fact embrace of all facets of sexuality. Despite the small turnout, Vandever promised the festival would return next year, and adventurous film fans would do well to add it to their calendars.