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Masters of the Pillow
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by Brian McKay

"What the world needs now, is porn - MORE PORN"
4 stars

God knows, there seems to be no shortage of adult entertainment in the world today - but there is one particular sub-genre that has yet to be filled. Darrell Hamamoto, a Japanese-American professor of Asian American studies at UC-Davis, sets out to make the first all Asian-American adult film, SKIN ON SKIN, and director James Hou brings a documentary film crew along for the ride. The result is part political statement and part celebration of Asian-American sexuality.

"But aren't there plenty of Asians in porn, and lots of all-Asian porn?" you might ask. The answer would be "Yes" on both counts. However, Hamamoto contends that the only time you ever see Asian males in adult films are ones that come from Asia. And while the western porn industry features a number of Asian-American women (including Skin on Skin star Layla Lei), they are always depicted having sex with white or black males. Hamamoto would like to change all that by opening a niche in the industry exclusively for Asian-Americans.

For his porno shoot, which he describes as his form of social statement (wink nudge), Hamamoto recruits Chun Lee. Lee is a good-looking lad, but one who has zero film experience (not to mention porn shoot experience). Luckily for him, he has co-star Layla Lei, who has had plenty of experience in the industry and is there to take him by the hand (as well as other extremities). Hamamoto describes Layla as "A fine-looking Sister", and she certainly is that, a petite cutie with an upbeat personality- but not exactly the learned or eloquent type (she is a porn star, after all). However, she does provide some interesting insights about the Asian experience in an industry dominated by Whites. (She describes white males in particular as being "too rough" - apparently having a big schlong and being in porn is no remedy for an inadequacy complex)

She certainly seems to enjoy working with Hamamoto and his all Asian-American crew, however, and the atmosphere is much more relaxed and friendly than what one would imagine for the average porn shoot. In between footage of the shoot itself, Hamamoto offers up his points of view on Colonialism, interracial dating, and social mores. Asian-American filmmakers like Eric Byler (Charlotte Sometimes) and Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow) are also interviewed, along with other Asian-American actors. Byler gives one of the most amusing comments on the way in which Asian sexuality has been portrayed (or not) in mainstream America with a Star Trek reference:

"Sulu drove the Enterprise and later managed to get a ship of his own. Then we find out in one of the later movies that he has a daughter (played by Charlotte Sometimes' Jacqueline Kim) . . . but when did he ever even have sex?"

Judging by the reaction of Asian-American audience members, there is no lack of demand for the kind of porn that Hamamoto wants to create. However, he maintains that the most important aspect of his project is not the porn itself, but the statement of Asian-American unity that he wants to get across.

Following Masters of the Pillow, the festival audience was treated to an "experimental" version of Skin on Skin entitled Yellocaust, which featured outtakes of Chun and Layla's lovemaking, while the ears are assaulted by the sounds of what appear to be people who are being tortured. Subtitles roll across the screen, describing a litany of historical atrocities and racially motivated injustices that stemmed from America's practice of colonialism in Southeast Asia and discrimination here at home. The images of two attractive people making love, while accounts of rape, mutilation, and murder scroll across the screen are certainly jarring and sobering. However, while Hamamoto is a likeable and obviously very intelligent guy, his points of view seem ethnocentric in the extreme at times. And while it is important to recognize the horrific acts that have been committed by Americans on Asian people, isn't it also important to recognize that many Asian nations have inflicted plenty of atrocities of their own? (such as the women forced to work in "comfort stations" by the Japanese army in the 1940's, for example). He also seems to be of the opinion that Asians who date outside of their own race do so because of societal pressures and mores imposed by a "white supremacist culture", rather than because of any real free will or choice on their part. Yo, Darryll, lighten up - some Asians like Whites, and some Whites like Asians - and not because we all grew up with "Anime' and internet Asian porn".

Still, Hamamoto has plenty of valid opinions - including his complaint that there is currently no acceptance for Asian males in the adult industry. Why shouldn't our Asian brothers be able to lay down a money shot just like everyone else?

Some Asian American filmmakers featured in [b]Masters of the Pillow[/b] commented on their concern that porno may not be the best way to forward the cause of Asian-American sensuality. Indeed, wouldn't a film like Byler's CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES, an excellent romantic drama featuring a primarily Asian-American cast, be a better vehicle? Perhaps, but Hamamoto has his own agenda and he's sticking to it - and I say, more power to him. Maybe SKIN ON SKIN won't blow the lid off of Asian-American sexuality right away . . . but if you film it, they will cum.

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originally posted: 03/09/04 12:44:25
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/17/10 yellafella the DVD is available on Amazon 5 stars
11/16/09 Da Mon Where can I get a copy of this movie? 5 stars
1/09/09 Lynn Baliton Awesome. It's about time the "asexual" asian american man is broken. Kudos! 5 stars
7/10/06 Chadz Lor haha, Its fantastic! I want to be get a role myself too! haha 5 stars
2/28/05 Michael Le Great movie and with dealing issues faced by Asian males 5 stars
2/05/05 xian I thought that the filmmaker did a great job bringing the issues to the forefront. 5 stars
10/09/04 kong ohhh yeah fuking good 5 stars
8/11/04 Jayson Lee Great! 5 stars
3/20/04 Joe Chen Great movie, awesome message 5 stars
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  02-Mar-2004 (NR)



Directed by
  James Hou

Written by
  James Hou

  Darrell Hamamoto
  Funie Hsu
  Chun Lee
  Layla Lei
  Eric Byler
  Justin Lin

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