It’s kinda like revisiting your ‘Video Guide’ days,” Gore wound up his pitch, trying to persuade me to start contributing to the Weekly’s new “Indie Threat” department. The man doesn’t lie. I took the very first tape from one of two ENORMOUS boxes full of tapes he sent me, popped it in the VCR…and within minutes, the familiar faces — and then some — of longtime NY Underground figures and FTVG staples Lydia Lunch and Kembra Pfahler were once again flickering across my TV screen. Sing it with me: “Memories! Mem…” uh, never mind.
Beth B’s “Visiting Desire” is actually a fairly provocative quasi-documentary; a series of case studies in human interaction and sexual role-playing. The film opens with half a dozen psychoanalysts waxing intellectual about hidden fantasies and the differences between acting out these fantasies with someone known as opposed to a complete stranger. Then, after a quick series of “man (or woman) on the street” interviews in which the subjects relate their private fantasies, we get to the encounters themselves, the crux of the film. Shot in a single bedroom, the film intercuts a series of unscripted thirty minute encounters between two complete strangers in which the participants are encouraged to act out their secret fantasies with one another.
Divided up into vignettes such as “Aggression,” “Vulnerability,” or “Flirtation,” the mixed-sex couples awkwardly meet and greet each other and then just sort of wing it from there. A few encounters, do, in fact, end up with the players actually indulging in their fantasies; no mean feat considering they’re well aware of the video cameras capturing the whole thing on tape. Other twosomes just seem to be warming up to each other when time runs out while still other encounters collapse into silliness or even occasional open hostility. You definitely feel more like a voyeur as you watch “Visiting Desire,” peeking in on some odd scientific research project, than a film viewer. While this is definitely fascinating stuff, if for no other reason than the subjects are often messes, the film doesn’t really go anywhere or back up any particular thesis. It just kind of unspools and runs its course, making for an engaging, if ultimately pointless, viewing experience.