River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves star in Gus Van Sant’s haunting tale of two young street hustlers: Mike Waters, a sensitive narcoleptic who dreams of the mother who abandoned him, and Scott Favor, the wayward son of the mayor of Portland and object of Mike’s desire. Navigating a volatile world of junkies, thieves, and johns, Mike takes Scott on a quest from the grungy streets to the open highways of the Pacific Northwest, in search of an elusive place called home. Visually dazzling and groundbreaking, My Own Private Idaho is a deeply moving look at unrequited love and life at society’s margins.
the above is a synopsis of the 1991 film "my own private idaho". i have included it in this post with some thought. we have just begun a new support mechanism for gay men who are experincing substance issues and i was reminded of this film and some of its themes.
firstly, let me say i adored this film. i remember feeling as if my jaw were hanging open during parts of it. when river phoenix's character was on his hands and knees, naked, and scrubbing the floor of a trick's kitchen with rubber gloves, an apron, and dutch cleanser, i thought i would lose it. it was such a memorable scene for me. another was the phrase "everything black today" and everything brown today" also sticks out in my mind. i do try to forget the performance piece of udo kier with the lamp, but somehow i always am able to still recall that.
one resemblence i see is the dichotomy of sex. the main characters are both hustlers and engage in sexual activity abundantly. it is woven into the daily fabric of their lives. but neither of them are very much interested in the sex really. they just engage in it out of habit, because perhaps on some level they are hoping it will lead them to their true quest- love. they are both avidly looking for love ( a different type of love for each, no doubt) and are using sex amongst other things to find it. i wonder if this is true at all, or true for many.
but the mirror for me today is the ambience and the culture of the film. the crossover combinations of drugs, alcohol, polysubstance use, on the road, sex for money, degradation, sex for drugs, the ongoing search for something, and the ongoing running from something brings the current situation to mind. i vividly recall river phoenix having fallen asleep when he was hitchhiking to somewhere and there he was just laid out in the middle of the road- all a classic example of narcolepsy in still-action. he would then wake up, try to remember where he was and how he got there. sometimes he would remember, and sometimes not, and aoutomatically start moving forward anyway with no real immediate direction.
narcolepsy can easily be a metaphor for heavy drug use and the perpetual confusion and inertia that accompanies it. people will find themselves waking up somewhere in transit on their journey, not knowing how they got there and not knowing where they are headed. many times they will go on anyway, rather than try to figure any of it out. and i wonder often if gay men use drugs and sex as they search for their holy grail called love.
the intention of the work we have started this week is to give guys an opportunity to explore these encounters with their "narcolepsy" and see if they can give each other guidance. or if it will make a difference to bring questions and ideas they might have into the light. i know that i have often found revelations in the ramblings of someone i barely know. not always, but at least sometimes.
it's all so much to think about sometimes. i wonder if i will ever be able to help any of these guys. maybe if i.....
now where was i???
today's sound choice is the udo kier scene from my own private idaho called "sitting on a bullet"