Danny Tayara and Ari Chivukula – Making Films Not Safe for Work (Or for Hollywood), Thank Goodness!

Ali Naro 11 April, 2018 Comments Off on Danny Tayara and Ari Chivukula – Making Films Not Safe for Work (Or for Hollywood), Thank Goodness!
Danny Tayara and Ari Chivukula – Making Films Not Safe for Work (Or for Hollywood), Thank Goodness!

Directed by Danny Tayara & Ari Chivukula
Written by Ari Chivukula


Starring Ari Chivukula
Written and directed by Danny Tayara

Directed by Danny Tayara

Written and directed by Danny Tayara
Ari Chivukula – Production Assistant

Directed by Danny Tayara and Sara McCaslin

I’ve been having this irritating feeling that has been scratching and poking at the back of my head lately, wanting me to pay attention to what it has to say. I’ve been doing my best to ignore it, because I knew what that irritating feeling had to say, but I wasn’t ready to listen to it yet. I always do my best to be as honest with myself as I can and to keep my eyes as open to the truth as my mental health can handle, but sometimes, people, I want to live in denial land! And so, I kept telling this irritating feeling just that; to please stop annoying me, because I didn’t want to face the truth. At least not yet. But then I was given the opportunity recently to meet a couple of pretty innovative and fabulous genderqueer filmmakers at the Pride of the Ocean film festival (the best damn film festival out there!) – Danny Tayara and Ari Chivukula, who sent me several of their films to view. And after viewing them, I realized I couldn’t avoid that irritating feeling that has been stalking me for several months now anymore – that I’m completely and utterly bored with Hollywood films. Hollywood and their obsession with superheroes and all things CGI no longer has my heart. It’s the independent filmmakers out there like Danny Tayara and Ari Chivukula that are making the films that inspire and stir my passion for this art that I’ve been in love with since I was 4 years old when my dad took me to see the original Star Wars movie. And since some of the films Danny and Ari make are porn, that’s some interesting passions they are stirring in me. 😉

Yep, that’s right, and nope, that’s not a misprint, some of the films Danny and Ari make are porn. And don’t go acting like you aren’t a porn viewer, because with the never-ending access that we all have to porn now, thanks to the Internet, there are way more porn watchers out there now than not. Hell, I’ll admit it. I watch porn. Probably not considered very exciting porn by most people because there are just certain areas of the human body that I feel zero need to see a camera zoom in on for a gander (I guess I have too much of that damn Puritan blood in me), so I stick to very tame porn. Basically the porn that are those “late night” movies and series on HBO or Cinemax, so see, very tame fare. And my life being as weird and magical as it has been, I was contacted a couple of years ago by one of my favorite porn actors in these “late night” movies to review a film he made about the downside of porn and now we are friends and he’s such an amazing, deeply caring and extremely smart guy, so who says porn doesn’t pay? It got me a great friend in Brandon Ruckdashel and now I’ve gotten to know Danny and Ari as well, three really great people and extremely talented filmmakers who just happen to use some of their filmmaking skills to make porn, so stop your judging! And I know people still judge because the very first thing Ari said to me after I asked if I could review their films was, “Do you mind reviewing movies that are on porn websites?” Nope, I don’t mind. Wasn’t Queer as Folk basically porn? Wasn’t The L Word basically porn? Isn’t Game of Thrones basically porn with dragons? And what’s really great about Danny and Ari’s porn is that not only is it porn with a genderqueer bent, but it also has a plot, and on top of all of that, it’s funny too! See, porn can have a sense of humor as well as be all hot and sexy and stuff. 🙂

Superheroes, superheroes, superheroes everywhere, and frankly, Hollywood, I just don’t give a damn!

You’ve Got Tail
And after seeing this picture, don’t go acting like you’re not all curious what this particular porn with a plot and a sense of humor is all about. Hint: If you need a good laugh about Trump, this is the movie for you.

Pizza Roles
A spoof on classic porn films with a modern ending about Hollywood and their sudden dire need for diversity. Pizza Roles mostly got me asking the question – Why is it that porn movies always want to hookup people via pizza delivery? I really wish they wouldn’t do that. I usually just start craving pizza and so get distracted and so then there goes the whole mood.

 Deep Switches
If only Willow and Tara were allowed to be this openly queer and sexual on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Deep Switches definitely made up for all those years I spent mourning how violent Willow and Tara’s relationship ended. Now I can just turn on Deep Switches and see a much happier and orgasmic ending. Who needs Joss Whedon?! Let’s hire Danny and Ari to make a Buffy reboot! 🙂

And when Danny isn’t making porn with a plot and a sense of humor with Ari, they’re making some really funny, insightful and why-isn’t-anybody-talking-about-this kind of movies that just made me even more aware of why I basically only watch independent cinema now. The Curse is a hilarious take on…well…the extreme inconvenience of periods. Now there’s something that’s even more taboo than porn – women’s menstruation cycles. I remember when it was very controversial back in the late 1980s when the TV show Roseanne dared to have an episode about Darlene getting her period. At the time that show sure did help a very confused teenage me come to terms with mine, especially since I had a mother who provided zero education for me about this very scary thing that suddenly starts happening to your body one day. No show or movie really had anything about periods before that Roseanne episode or really since that episode, because that’s how taboo us women daring to menstruate is. And so now I can laugh at having a period, thanks to Danny’s brilliant writing that puts a hilarious twist on our curse. It’s a really freeing thing to laugh about, having those damn awful periods, because usually, everyone makes you feel so horrid and ashamed and embarrassed about doing something your body can’t help doing. 

Yep, they went there. And thank goodness they dared to go there. Maybe if more people made films about periods, little girls and grown women everywhere wouldn’t be so grumpy when we are on ours. We could then turn on a comedy about periods and laugh along with our cramps. Hey Danny and Ari, maybe you could make a whole series about periods? Just think what a more peaceful world we would have. Instead of being mad at our hormones, we could laugh along with the tears those hormones love to make for no reason. Why am I crying? Oh yeah, my stupid period. I’ll just turn on The Curse and turn those tears into laughter. 🙂

Danny co-directed a short documentary with Sara McCaslin called, Oh, I Get It, about queer female comics in Seattle finding ways to express their art even if Hollywood and the comedian world-at-large isn’t inviting them to the party, so they made their own damn party! Even though I wanted so badly to see much more, because Oh, I Get It is a short film, just watching those few minutes of film footage as queer comedians talk and laugh about what it’s like to be queer, reminded me how little I get to hear people joke about what it’s like existing as a queer person in this world. It can be fucking hard, even in this modern world/PC day and age. So having even just a few minutes to watch these comedians, made me see that there are lots of people out there like me still dealing with the world’s prejudices as we simply just try to be ourselves. Laughter really is the best medicine, because my depression was creeping up on me when I first turned on this film, but it crept right back down again when I started laughing at how even though life as a queer person can be fucking hard, it can be fucking great too, because nothing is better than being free.

So, as I’ve been walking around for a while avoiding the fact that my love for Hollywood movies is dying, all that energy I spent avoiding that fact left me blind to the fact that we film lovers don’t need Hollywood anymore, because there are so many amazing independent filmmakers out there making movies outside of Hollywood and, dammit, they’re doing a way better job. At least to this film lover, because I am sent films from independent filmmakers all the time from all around the world (a dream come true!) and so I’ve been spoiled because I’m now expecting Hollywood to do the same thing with movies that these amazing artists are doing – making films with a real heart and soul, with real passion, for the love of the art and not just to make a bunch of money so you can then buy a bunch of crap that not only you don’t need, but won’t make you happy.

So the moral of the story is, the Internet isn’t just for porn, even though a song from Avenue Q proclaimed it was, but it’s also for watching some pretty amazing independent films, the kind that Hollywood usually refuses to fund. So I say, “Fuck Hollywood!” I don’t need you anymore. I have people like Danny Tayara and Ari Chivukula making the films that I love. Hollywood, I’m no longer living in denial land. They have my heart as a film lover now. 

For more on Queer Church (Danny and Ari’s porn company and don’t you just love that name), go to their website. To view You’ve Got Tail or Deep Switches, go to Pinklabel.tv. To find out more about Danny Tayara and the films Oh, I Get It, The Curse and Pizza Roles, go to their website. And for more on Ari Chivukula, go to their website.

P.S.: After watching these films and getting to know Danny and Ari, who are both genderqueer, it got me really thinking about who I am, because we didn’t have the terminology “genderqueer” or “gender fluid” when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, so I never gave it any thought in my formative years. Then again, I spent so much time in my formative years trying not to know that I was a lesbian, I don’t think I would have had time to contemplate my gender identity on top of all of that. I have some Cherokee heritage that I feel a very strong connection to and so I’ve always found myself drawn to the term Two-Spirit, which I think is just another form of genderqueer or gender fluid. So now my mission for my heart and my soul is to stop avoiding that other feeling that has been scratching and poking at my head lately as well; that I feel physically and spiritually both feminine and masculine, so if I had to pick female or genderqueer, I beginning to really come to terms with the fact that I would have to say I’m genderqueer. So, Danny and Ari, thanks for helping me open my eyes to that. Now I’m off to contemplate all of that for awhile. I’m pretty sure all that contemplation will show up somewhere, someday on my website, so stay tuned…

Fun Fact: Before we moved last year, my wife and I had a neighbor whose son had been working in the porn business in California since the 1970s, so since I seem to be surrounded by the porn business lately, I get it universe, I’m supposed to have porn in my life. That’s something else I’ve been trying to deal with lately, that it’s okay to like and watch porn. If my wife doesn’t mind (because she reaps the benefits of my porn watching), then why should I feel guilty about it? Oh yeah, that damn Puritan blood of mine. Well, it’s a work in progress.