Filmmaker Christopher Hines created the documentary The Butch Factor (2009), which aired on LOGO-TV earlier this year. The Adonis Factor is his follow-up, which Breaking Glass Pictures will release on DVD on Oct. 26. Again, Hines interviews dozens of gay men about issues relating to them but like the topic at hand, Hines' profiles or rather lack thereof are very superficial.
Hines perhaps interviews double as many men as in his previous film, and gets hardly anything substantial or all that informative out of them. The main point here is that men who are more beautiful, more muscular, and more masculine are what's more popular or more desirable to gay men. He basically concludes that gay culture is based and driven by looks and sexuality. This is in fact true of the culture at-large. If you examine television, movies, magazines and advertising as well as the criticisms of those media going back decades, we know this to be true.
I suppose Hines wants to show parity within the gay community, but I feel that unfortunately The Adonis Factor only aides in depicting that community as a very vain and superficial one. It also aids in proving that for people, "bigger is better" and that beautiful people get more attention and that society rewards them.
Hines talks to Los Angeles photographer John Ganun who says that for his photos he wants more than a guy with a great body or physique but also a great story. Ironically, Hines never gives us any of Ganun's own great story. How did Ganun start? Why did Ganun get into photography? What other projects has he done? Has Ganun himself had body issues? Hines never digs deeper.
Hines even talks to models Anderson Davis and Quentin Elias who reveals that he was called Alf as a kid, but neither he nor Davis give us anything more about their lives. They and a lot of the interviewees reiterate platitudes that everyone knows. Did Hines not care to ask or did they not care to share or did Hines ask and simply edit out any deeper stuff for timing purposes? I don't know.
There is one interesting factoid that this movie raises. Hines claims that 15 percent of gay men suffer from eating disorders as compared to only 5 percent of straight men. Hines explores it a little, which was compelling, but it wasn't enough. Later, Hines cites The Advocate magazine, which reported Atlanta to be "the gayest city" in America, but Hines doesn't give us any details as to why. He could have offered us some indications or statistics here.
But, this is how this documentary plays out. It doesn't give us any details or much indications. It shows a lot of shots of dancing, shirtless men who are all about going to the gym and grooming themselves for prurience's sake, but is substantially no better than an episode of The Jersey Shore. Yet, for some viewers this might be all you need.
Hines touches upon circuit parties but only skims what the documentary When Boys Fly (2002) does. He touches upon gay porn but is nowhere near as revealing as John Roecker's Everything You Wanted to Know About Gay Porn Stars (2010). Hines also touches upon the bear community but isn't as enlightening or all that personal as Dan Hunt's Bear Run (2008).
I think all of this would have been fine, if Hines had let us get to know his interviewees a bit better. He introduces us to over 40 men and doesn't spend more than two minutes or less on each. In terms of getting to know who the men are, where they come from and what they're really about, I'd say only two stand out: Clint Catalyst and Juan Pablo Zuluaga.
Don't get me wrong. All the guys are potentially interesting and compelling, but Hines' techniques here make them ultimately forgettable. He breezes by them. He didn't have this problem with The Butch Factor. He didn't include as many people, so it freed time to get to know these people, for them to tell their stories, their histories, childhoods, etc. One example was Lt. Vincent Calvarese, a deputy sheriff in San Francisco. We actually got to know him, not just what he thinks is hot.