Dan Savage's Hump! Film Fest Comes All Over the Capitol

Dan Savage, beloved disseminator of sexual advice in his syndicated weekly column "Savage Love," presents the 11th iteration of a porn festival that aspires to celebrate and positivize the full spectrum of sexual appetites. The Hump! Film Fest arrives at the Capitol Theatre for two screenings Friday.

"We bill Hump! as an amateur porn festival, but it's more than that," said Savage, in a statement about the festival. "It's rare for people to watch porn that takes them outside their comfort zones — it's rare for people to watch porn that, if they were home alone in front of the computer, they wouldn't choose to click on and watch. At Hump! straight people watch gay porn, vanilla people watch kinky porn, gay people watch lesbian porn. And people laugh, they gasp, sometimes they cover their eyes. But at the end of every film people clap and cheer. It's moving and wonderful and newcomers don't expect it. The whole festival is a celebration of sexual diversity."

Diversity indeed:

In Cake Boss, a straight couple have sex whilst assuming the roles of chef and cake. (Flour, eggs and frosting are involved.) In Blown, trans men talk about, and receive, oral sex during their transitions. In Film Bonoir, a foreplay role play, penises on green screens solve a pun-heavy mystery — at "The Grundle" bar, 'Rod,' 'Shaft' and 'Slick Johnson' are subject to potential interrogation. The private dicks must eventually visit the scene of the crime, in the tunnel at Twin Cheeks. In I Fist a Grrrrl, vaginas are penetrated with various objects to a fetish-friendly parody of Katy Perry.

None of the 22 films is longer than five minutes. That's been a rule for submissions since the festival began, back in 2005, and in keeping with Savage's ideas about it.

"You can protect yourself if something is too hardcore, extreme or unnerving by closing your eyes," he said in 2015. "It makes people better humans to be comfortable with and down with what other people are doing, what other people are into."

Some of the films are serious reflections and representations of off-the-wall desires. Unicorn in the Castle is a sort of music video depicting S&M activities involving rope, fire and clothespins. Others are hardcore-sex-themed home videos, designed (one presumes) to entertain as much as to arouse. Some are creative. In Level Up, a video-game theme allows a costumed heroine to (literally) 'fuck the patriarchy.' Others are more like sketch comedy. In The Collector, a man proudly shows off his collection of celebrity semen, which he's been accruing — "mostly by letter writing"— for years.

Mike Huckabee — nothing if not a mascot for anti-gay rhetoric — is lambasted in multiple films. His book God, Guns, Grits and Gravy is the festival's favorite recurring prop and punching bag. In fact, the 2016 Hump! lineup kicks off with a solo act, a woman doing her finest Meg Ryan (a la When Harry Met Sally) as she reads from the text aloud.

This festival is by no means for everybody. And we should get over thinking that diehard social conservatives and grandparents are the only sets for whom this material will be beyond the pale. Celebrating sexual diversity is important, and it's true that exposure to diversity increases acceptance of diversity, but watching 90 minutes of homemade erotica (much of it lovingly crafted, make no mistake) isn't likely to convince many folks that porn of any stripe is something to be shared communally in a darkened theater auditorium. Feel free to see for yourself.

As Cleveland Cinemas says, Hump! Fest covers "every color in the sexual rainbow ... and some we never knew existed." Tickets are $20.