Friday, January 20, 2006
I AM A SEX ADDICT
No that is not a confession, though I will admit to liking sex a whole lot. However, as Caveh Zahedi points out in I Am A Sex Addict, enjoying loads of sex isn't the same thing as possessing a sexual addiction. The autobiographical film traces his history of compulsive sex with prostitutes, one which ruined two marriages and several relationships.
Although giving quite possibly the world's worst performance of a man receiving a blowjob [Crazy Guggenheim having a seizure springs to mind], Zahedi portrays himself in a candid manner and comes across as an amiably soft-spoken, nebbishy character. However, he displays a sense of situational ethics that would leave George Costanza breathless. Actually, he rarely displays any willful cruelty, mostly coming across as a somewhat naive, passive-aggressive man whose staggering lack of self-awareness careens him from one foible to the next. At one point Zahedi asks one of his girlfriends if she wouldn't mind watching him have sex with an Italian streetwalker on the theory that this might provide him with a kind of cleansing catharsis. In an odd way he's the inverse of Steve Carell's character in The 40 Year Old Virgin, who possesses a practical innocence, but is anything but innocent in his mind. However, self-awareness eventually dawns and he gets his act together, marrying his current wife at the end of the film.
Despite the potentially squirmworthy nature of the subject matter, Zahedi handles the material with a light touch. Like Shane Black in Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, he uses reflexivity to add just enough irony to sugarcoat what might otherwise be an unpalatable pill. The result is flat-out hilarious and, at least at the screening I attended, only two people walked out. Indeed, given the number of couples laughing their asses off, it would appear to be a good date movie. That is not to say there aren't some serious moments, but overall the film is a humorous and sometimes graphic look at sexual relationships. Not only is film entertaining, but as you can see, it has one hell of a poster. I coveted it the moment I saw it and asked Adam Hart, Nora Weideman and Peter Lucas if I could have a copy. Not only did they grant my wish, but Nora got Zahedi to autograph it for me. I would like thank Adam, Nora, Peter and especially Caveh for their generosity in granting my wish and yes, Peter, I did get it framed and it is hanging in my bedroom.
In addition to begging for a poster, I contacted Caveh Zahedi to request a short Q&A. Conducted via e-mail, here it is:
The title of your film is 'I Am A Sex Addict' but it seems that it wasn't sex per se that you were addicted to, but sex with prostitutes. That it wasn't that you were having too much sex or that you didn't enjoy having sex with your wives or girlfriends, but that you had various sexual compulsions you couldn't express with them and that your inability to thoroughly enjoy intimate relations fed an obsession to seek release with paid strangers. Am I in the ballpark or am I being obtuse?
It's true. The film could have been called "I Am A Prostitute Addict." But "sex addiction," as defined by Sex Addicts Anonymous, includes any sexual compulsivity that "leads to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization." And my particular addiction is a classic case of the kind of sexual compulsions that one finds at Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings. The term has nothing to do with having sex "too much." Who's to say what "too much" would be? The term "addiction" implies a kind of destructive acting out of unprocessed emotions.
Were there any factual changes and/or elisions that you had to make in your film in deference to the privacy or your ex- wives and girlfriends?
Well, I had to cover over one person's face, and I changed all of the names. Apart from that, I didn't make any factual changes.
Your film reminded me in many ways of the cartoons R. Crumb has done over the years on his sexual escpades, in particular the ones he published in the anthology 'My Troubles With Women.' His humor is perverted, self-lacerating, vicious and hysterically funny; an opinion which seems to be shared by his wife. What does your wife think of the film you've made?
It makes her a little uncomfortable, but she's been very supportive.
Were you really surprised to discover Rebecca Lord was an adult entertainer? I quite liked her acting in the film [not to make a value judgment, but most porn stars tend to make lousy actors]. What was it like working with her as an actress? Has she seen the final film? What does she think of it?
I had no idea Rebecca Lord was a porn actress when I cast her. She was the most easy-going, good-natured, cooperative actress I have ever worked with. An absolute delight. And yes, she has seen the final film, and she is an enthusiastic supporter.
Are you considering a commentary track for the DVD? I would think it would present another opportunity to add a layer of observation to your film. If so, would you also consider inviting any of the actors or their real-life counterparts to contribute commentary as well?
I'm actually not a big fan of commentary tracks. Instead, I have a "making of" documentary in the works, which will include interviews with all of the major participants in the film.
In an interview you said you asked Vincent Gallo to play you in the movie, but he refused. Are you happy that you played the part yourself or do you still wish someone else had done it? If Judd Apatow were to offer to do a remake with a name cast would you let him do it?
I'm happy that I played the part myself. That was always the initial idea, and it was only scrapped when it seemed that there would be no other way to raise the money. Who's Judd Apatow?