What is a Fluffer?
A master of ceremonies/comedian who would 'warm-up' the crowd with bawdy jokes and witty banter in preparation for the dancing girls.
IN REAL ESTATE:
One who prepares a house for sale, employing cosmetic skills, such as hedge trimming, or psychological tactics, such as baking bread while the house is being shown.
ACCORDING TO FREUD:
One who provides ego reinforcement.
One who provides the necessary stimulation to enable a male porn star to perform.
"The Max Ophuls masterpiece Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) suggests in its very title the self-abnegation of the fluffer. Midnight Cowboy documents Ratso Rizzo's selfless idolatry of Joe Buck, which remains unconsummated, as all fluffer love affairs must. Yet it was Rebel Without A Cause (1955) which, in its triangular relationship among a girl, a gay man, and a beautiful boy who swings both ways, gave us the template for the central triangle of the movie. In all three of these movies, the classic fluffer figure dies. Clearly there was room for an update. "
Richard Glatzer and Wash West (Fluffer Directors)
"This is a story about tackling internalized homophobia head-on and finding sexual liberation at a deep personal level. And as the fluffer is the one who loves, while the other maintains emotional distance, it is also a golden metaphor for inequality in relationships. Amusing and charming, with a healthy dose of visual pleasure, The Fluffer is also soulful and serious. "
Kay Armitage, Toronto International Film Festival
U Know Fluffing?
Fluffers in Mythology:
"…both boys and girls looked to him to make love, and yet handsome figure of Narcissus had little feeling for either boys or girls. "
Ovid, The Metamorphoses
The oldest recorded example of fluffing is in Greek Mythology - the story of Echo and Narcissus. In the myth, Echo falls selflessly in love with vain Narcissus. As he gazes into the pool, she pines away, becoming nothing but a repeating voice. We adopted the myth's central image, the reflection, as a recurring motif. In the modern context, Narcissus is a gay-for-pay porn star - Johnny Rebel. He falls in love with his own image, now reflected in the flesh movies, the magazine spreads, and video boxes of the sex industry. His most significant reflection lies in the eyes of his fluffer, who sees Johnny as a demigod.
Fluffers in Film:
"You're here, and as far as I'm concerned, all the clocks in the world have stopped"
Letter from an Unknown Woman
Hollywood movies are replete with fluffers, who transcend sexuality or gender. The Max Ophüls's masterpiece Letter from an Unknown Woman suggests in its very title the self-abnegation of the fluffer. Midnight Cowboy documents Ratso Rizzo's selfless idolatry of Joe Buck, which remains unconsummated, as all fluffer love affairs must. Yet it was rebel Without A Cause (1955) which, in its triangular relationship among a girl, a gay man, and a beautiful boy who swings both ways, gave us the template for the central triangle of the movie.
In all three of these movies, the classic fluffer figure dies. There was clearly room for an update.
A big influence was Michael Powell's, Peeping Tom (-), perhaps one of the most obsessive films ever made. It explores voyeurism, pornography, and the fetishism of the camera, themes that also find a natural home in The Fluffer. Both films exploit how childhood traumas dictate adult behaviour, and the use of direct through-the-viewfinder footage is a shared stylistic trope. The heady brew of Peeping Tom was too much for the early sixties, virtually spelling the end to Michael Powell's career. We hope that the time has come, where these issues can be looked at head on.
Women and Fluffing:
"You just go through with it. Women understand that from the get go. "
Silver, the Fluffer
The movie parallels Sean's story with that of Johnny Rebel's stripper-girlfriend, Babylon. In bed with Johnny, Babylon complains that he is withholding a cum shot for a porn shoot. Near the end of the scene she makes the inflammatory comment, "Do you think I want your cock inside of me after its been shoved up some faggot's ass?" Everything indicates that she is Sean's rival for Johnny's love.
Later on, however, we see that she has a lot more in common with Sean than in opposition to him. She resists the role with all her pride, but ultimately her most peaceful moment is when Johnny is passed out cold and she can take care of him. She tries to develop her potential, but when the traditional heterosexual issue of pregnancy crops up, she embraces it as a way of effecting change and forcing Johnny to commit. The story delineates the stark choices this working-class girl is confronted with, and traces the painful route to reclaiming her own power.
The Fluffer in relation to Gay Cinema:
"I think most people have a natural instinct to rebel"
In the last two decade, gay themed movies have moved through two specific trends. The early nineties was dominated by New Queer Cinema, serious in content, often dealing with AIDS, and steeped in Art film tradition. The late nineties saw a lightening of subject matter with a series of romantic gay comedies. Believing it was possible to have queer film that was entertaining and thought provoking, the filmmakers of The Fluffer set out to make a movie that crossed lines.
The Fluffer focuses on the transgressive: a straight man who does gay porn for money; a female stripper who is a sexually aggressive as any gay man; a Tennessee Williamesque queen who prefers undercover closet sex to open gay life; and a lesbian who loves watching penises.
The radical thing about The Fluffer however, is its taboo central subject: internalized homophobia. Our hero is a gay man who prefers to dream about a straight icon rather than engage in a relationship with an equal. It would be nice to think that this kind of self-defeating idolatry went out with Stonewall, but that's not the case. In the last ten years, the three biggest gay porn icons in the U. S. have all identified themselves as straight (Jeff Stryker, Ryan Idol, Ken Ryker), and "straight-acting" is the most commonly desired attribute in gay personals. What The Fluffer suggests is that the character of desire, often forged in the repressive fires of adolescence, and often focused on 'the inaccessible' does not automatically alter later in life, but can remain a key part of a persons sexuality. Our fluffer finds that he has to go back to examine a disturbing early imprint in order to move on with his adult life. It is the story of sexual liberation at a deeply personal level.
Johnny Rebel and the Crisis of Masculinity:
"The image is one thing and the human being is another, it's very hard to live up to an image"
The fluffers central question: What is it to be a man?
There are two male leads in The Fluffer: hyper, masculine Johnny and self-effacing, boyish Sean. Johnny is the kind of man that other men would like to be. In a body-conscious world increasingly focused on the six-pack, he seems to have it all: charisma, good looks, a big dick, and lots of self-confidence. But how deep does that self-confidence run?
Gradually, we come to realize that Johnny needs a lot of attending to, a lot of ego support. His girlfriend Babylon isn't enough. Neither are his adoring fans. Drugs prop him up, but only for a short time. Johnny's unquenchable appetite for attention lads him on the path to destruction. His undoing is his inability to see beyond his reflection, preferring instead to believe in his own mythology.
Sean on the other hand is full of insecurity, with no sure sense of self. His obsession with Johnny Rebel is the ultimate fan worship, and it takes over his life. Initially, his infatuation and willingness to service Johnny lead him to the depths of submission and humiliation. Yet through his love of Johnny, Sean is eventually forced to scrutinize his past and face up to it in an honest way. This becomes a source of strength which leads to self-realization. It is, ironically, Sean's feminine side that enables him to become a man.
Interview with Deborah Harry by Mickey Skee
Q: What made you interested in The fluffer?
DEBORAH HARRY:"I think the title was so intriguing and funny and the idea that someone would go out and make a legitimate picture about a fluffer and almost make it a PG rating I thought "God that is pretty clever".
Did you know what a fluffer was before reading the script?
DEBORAH HARRY: "Oh yes. Yes. "
Q: What do you think of Wash and Richard, the directors?
DEBORAH HARRY: "I met Wash and Richard and I thought these two are nuts and I've got to be in this. "
Q: Did you have any hesitation playing the lesbian owner of a strip club?
DEBORAH HARRY: "No, I didn't. You know, I don't really have a problem with sexuality. I think it's really mostly about personality for me. "
Q: How do you see the role of Marcella?
DEBORAH HARRY: "She's the boss. I didn't really care what part I had. I just wanted to be part of this kinky, sort of funny project. With independents you really have to (laughs) sort of take a leap of faith and I find that very exciting. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty. "
Q: What do you think about pornography?
DEBORAH HARRY: "I believe pornography is protected by our Constitution and should not be censored, it's an adult privilege. If someone wants to watch sex on film, that's their right. "
Q: You seem to have an affinity with the people in porn.
DEBORAH HARRY: "I somehow feel that were I to be the same person back in the 70's when I went into music, and things didn't happen to me like they did, then I would have been attracted to the porn industry. I like the freedom that one has there. It's very powerful. "