The out gay writer and director Alberto Fuguet’s latest film chronicles the erotic adventures, misadventures and dreams of Héctor (Gerardo Torres), a young man from Hermosillo, who arrives in Mexico City to pose nude for a photographer.
Fuguet’s “Always Say Yes,” available on DVD July 23, pays homage to gay classics like “Midnight Cowboy” (Héctor wears a cowboy hat and is a hick in the big city) and “Flesh,” (Héctor rarely keeps his clothes on during his various encounters). The film is naughty, sweet and ultimately romantic as it depicts Héctor’s loneliness and need for connection as he meets various guys for sex and conversation.
In a recent interview, the filmmaker chatted about making “Always Say Yes.”
PGN: What was your inspiration for making “Always Say Yes”?
AF: All the models that pose for these photographers in Mexico [and elsewhere] reach out to the photographers. I was interested in that. Guys want to pose; it’s a safe space and creative. It’s sexy and cool. Photographers George X and Gay Eye, who are part of the Feral collective, are not making porn. It’s a hobby for Instagram or galleries. Since photography is so important for Instagram, they wanted to go further with a movie, which is where I entered. We can’t just shoot naked guys.
PGN: You dedicate “Always Say Yes” to actor Joe Dallesandro and writer Luis Zapata, featuring quotes from Zapata’s landmark 1979 gay novel, “El vampiro de la colonia Roma.” Why are these touchstones so important or appropriate?
AF: I’m a writer, and I like the idea of transforming books into movies. Epigraphs and dedications provide a framework so you see the movie in the way I want you to see it. I think it’s more than an erotic film. Zapata is an underground author whose book was groundbreaking. It is one of the few gay novels in Latin America where the protagonist is not a victim. I wanted to shoot Gerardo as if he were a [Warhol] star, even though he is not a star — like Dallesandro was in “Flesh.” He used his body and was not ashamed of it. And because he felt comfortable being naked, he made the viewer feel comfortable; you feel naked with him. Sometimes in films, nakedness can arouse you or take you out of the film. Naked also means — show your emotion. I wanted to make a film where you show cock and ass and emotions. That was the idea I sent to George X. I wanted to make a poetic porn movie. “Flesh,” “Midnight Cowboy,” and Zapata’s book are all picaresque. Plot-wise, that’s been around for a couple of centuries.
PGN: Can you discuss how you presented Héctor and shaped his character, his loneliness and his horniness?
AF: I wanted to experiment with male beauty, so it was part of the deal to fetishize the men. We talk about the male gaze, but it was important to use the gay gaze. The most important thing was that Héctor not be a hunk. I wanted to choose a guy who could be off the street or subway. I wanted him to be sweet and a kid playing with new emotions and feeling like he’s almost misbehaving and going to Disneyland. He had a bromance in Hermosillo. It was important to be old fashioned and not a Grindr movie — where you can meet people in the park, a bar or sauna. Even though there are cell phones and WhatsApp and filters in the film, I prohibited using the phone for a [sexual] connection. It’s an old-fashioned movie that takes place in the 21st century. I also investigated Mexico City’s steam baths and use the sexual myths of Mexico City. The hotel is inspired by a real hotel called Mazatlan, where the only thing prohibited was to close the door.
PGN: What scene(s) are the most gratifying for you?
AF: The most important scenes to me are not the nudity, but Héctor eating tacos or walking in the park. I like when he is alone. I think it’s very sexy when Héctor sees a guy [exposing] himself in his sweatpants. My goal is to capture intimacy. Movies have that power. This is a film about male intimacy. I want people to see this movie and be moved, more than just aroused.
Gary Kramer is listed as a creative consultant on this film having been asked for feedback on a rough-cut version.