F*GS IN THE FAST LANE Review: Tasty Gay Garbage

Don’t look at us. We didn’t come up with that title.

So much of modern queer cinema is devoted to notions of respectability and acceptance, driven either by closeted same-sex romances or by the tragedies that have befallen the queer community through institutionalized persecution. However, queer cinema also has a long history of transgression and boundary-pushing, giving voice to avant-garde creativity that is as removed from the mainstream as the queer creators who made it. Often that severe rejection of form was also accompanied by a lack of tact or tastefulness; after all, if one's entire community is rejected on the basis of sexuality, why not lean heavily into sex as the vessel for one's theatricality? This is the ethos behind Fags in the Fast Lane, as this bizarre little ball of neon-colored energy is uneven, absurd, and borderline pornographic, but it's fun precisely because it is immensely self-aware of all those things.

The film follows the exploits of Sir Beauregard, AKA The Cockslinger (Chris Asimos), a vigilante who looks like a Red Baron stripper act. His mother Kitten (porn star Kitten Natividad), the proprietor of a rather… unique bordello, has been betrayed and robbed by her lieutenant Billie Jean (Justine Jones) at the behest of Wanda the Giantess (Aimee Nichols), the leader of a gang of evil burlesque performers. With the help of the cue-balled and handlebar mustached Lump (Matt Jones), the drag queen Salome (Sasha Cuhar), and Squirt (Oliver Bell), the bigoted son of the local sheriff, Sir Beauregard must track down his mother's prize jewel: the Golden Cock, a glittery magic dildo that bestows good luck on its possessor.

As you can imagine, this is fun for the whole family.

By all rights, this should be an unwatchable and untenable mess. Lines are delivered with all the realism of the set-up for the sex scene of a porno, there is little attention paid to continuity between shots, and the crass sexuality is entirely devoid of wit or observation. In other words, this is little more than a lewd excuse to make displays of queer vulgarity at the expense of anyone who isn't in on the joke. But that's why it works. This is a film targeted at anyone whose sexuality has ever been labeled as strange or other, reveling in the strangeness by turning the absurdity up to eleven. One gets the feeling that John Waters would approve, as would absurdist comedians like Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, because while the chaos appears random and careless, there is a clear attitudinal purpose in being as scattershot and loud as possible. You can especially see the care that went into this apparent chaos in moments of extreme craftsmanship, like the establishing shots of buildings made from craft supplies and an extended sequence where a character is accosted by a jungle of dick-shaped monsters brought to life through puppetry and stop-motion animation.

Of course, there's a double-edged sword to this kind of theatricality. The DVD box might as well come stamped with a giant label that says "PROBLEMATIC" because the movie is playing with broad stereotypical tropes, intent to be as offensive as possible to anyone that isn't its direct audience. The use of gay clichés is integral to the thesis of a film like this, but that irreverence extends to a co-opting of South Asian and Indigenous American peoples' attire as flamboyant costumes and casually using transgender slurs as terms of adoration and endearment. This all plays to the heightened reality of the film, with every character being a ridiculous caricature regardless of their racial or sexual identity, but there's still something unpleasant about nominally cisgender white men using their gayness as an excuse to engage in other forms of stereotypical othering than the type they are purposely lampooning.

Still, there's a lot of fun to be had with Fags in the Fast Lane. It's a bizarre and somewhat neurotic ninety minutes, but it's brimming with creativity and wildly entertaining as a piece of purposely transgressive counterculture. It's rough in spots, but that's largely by design, and your mileage with the film is going to vary based entirely on how willing you are to ride along. It's trash, but it's satisfying trash, completely devoid of nutritional value but rich in catharsis from queers turning their perception by the wider culture into sugary junk food.

And there are a lot of dick jokes. The dick jokes are fun.