Sam: Gender Fluid Movie

Sam_ss_r8.indd

Directed by Mel Brooks’ son, Nicholas Brooks, Sam tells the story of a sexist womanizer who wakes one day to find he has been turned into a pretty, petite woman with a voice, as he says, like a chipmunk.  How will he react?  What will life be like for a man like that who suddenly finds himself dealing with a sexist boss, who can’t go to a bar without getting hit on by sleezy guys?  Who is now small and pretty and has to look up at just about every adult he meets?

Most interesting to me– is biology destiny?  Will a straight man who disrespected women, given a straight woman’s body, find himself thinking like and wanting all the things that straight women want– or at least that society says they should want?  That is, will be become all about marriage and babies and wanting to be a wifey and a mommy?

The movie maker put some money and time into the film– it looks good, and features performances by some well-known and accomplished actors such as Morgan Fairchild, Stacey Keach and Brian Batt. Natalie Knepp is excellent as Sam in his female form, being able to play it butch without being cartoony.

The story, both in terms of the plot and tone, very much feels like an old-school Fictionmania story, with a distinct resemblance to a Spell R Us tale, right down to a mysterious wizardly character who turns on the magic to give our misogynistic male his own boobs.

Now, here is the thing.  It ends much better than it starts.  The early scenes go through beats you would expect in a story of this genre– the sexist male character making derogatory comments about women, hitting on women in the office, mocking his friend who is getting married to a “ball buster” and bonding with his sexist boss over the shared belief that the best part of a woman is her ass.  However, much of this early dialogue sounds unnatural, with strange turns of phrases and contrived scenes that all serve a purpose but which often seem forced.   I felt as I watched that the actors were struggling with commitment in some of these scenes, as they sounded more like they were reciting lines at a read through.

Then, the change happens.  The sex change, that is.  The early stages of the change are all you’ve seen it before moments– if you read a lot of this kind of TG Fiction– and they follow a pattern that is familiar in many stories but which have often struck me as a little absurd– these include the character trying to persuade his best bro that he has been turned into a woman, the character just being allowed to show up at his old job by claiming to be his own cousin– because, of course, every business will employ any random woman who comes along as long as she provides no proof she is related to an employee who has mysteriously vanished.

Of course, I understand why these scenes exist, and I am even willing to accept them as part of the genre, but there was not a lot of jazz to the scenes for me.  They just felt like perfunctory scenes, and I always want more tension, emotional stakes and even psychological realism.

Once all that is out of the way, though, I found myself liking the movie much more, and I feel it is very much worth watching once we get down to the business of this guy, now a girl, and how he responds to his new sex.   After initially dressing in masculine style clothes and doing nothing with his long hair, he decides that in order to be successful in as his new sex, he needs to learn how to dress and act like a girl.   Therefore, he hires a coach, Brian Batt, who teaches him to dress and act more ladylike.  Sam is clearly terrified of going down this path, even as he needs it, and tries to run away at the last minuite, then gets in a battle of wills with his fem coach, played by Brian Batt.  Batt is great, though the character is a stock gay character, and the scenes are fun as we see the sexist male slipping into a leotard, stockings, heels, and learning to do his makeup and to sit and gesture like a woman.

There is a seen where he expresses his bewilderment as his sex change, asking his friend, “How do you think I feel seeing this face in the mirror?  Hearing myself talking in this voice?”  I would have loved more of that– even in a comedy– but often he seems to be moving through the world as if the change has made very little difference.

The film hits its best moments when it morphs into a romantic comedy, with Sam, now called Samantha, falling in love with his best male friend.  He is shocked to realize it, and even makes a booty call, where he confesses that he is having lusty and romantic feelings for his bro, who freaks out at the thought.   And once Sam has allowed himself to luxuriate in the male musk of his friend he becomes obsessed with cuddling and then even begins to have a sudden new interest in what it would be like to have a baby.  In this film, he not only adapts to society’s expectations by dressing like a woman, but he starts to think and act as a traditional woman as well, experiencing all the needs and feelings.

Given the genre, it will be no surprise that our character is eventually given a choice– to stay as a woman or go back to being a man.   I won’t give away the ending.   I am glad I watched the film, and there are some fun, interesting scenes.  This film falls on the side of biology, suggesting that Sam, given ovaries, will become a straight woman.  For him, biology is destiny, and as long as he has a female shape he will be forced to accept a traditional female life of man, marriage and babies.  Or maybe he is just fulfilling his own sexist beliefs about what women want?

Now out on Itunes, Amazon, Vudu and everywhere!  Here is the Amazon Link:

Sam on Amazon

Official Website

 

Sam: Gender Fluid Movie

Slow Swap/Fast Swap

Pic is promo for my Hero series, in which NYC cops get body swapped into the bodies
of young strippers.

I know some readers love a slow, leisurely swap.  One day the character wakes up and notices he’s a little shorter.  Next, he finds that he can’t get a jar open.  He’s losing muscle.  Then, he pops a pair of little breasts, and his hips start to widen and round.  His voice slips to a higher register!  Eventually, he wakes up to find he has fully become a woman, and he runs to the bathroom to grab his girlfriend’s maxi-pads as he has his first period.

I tend toward the slow swap.  I find it more interesting and love to watch the character dealing with the gradual changes in their bodies and personalities as well as how the world treats them as they begin to read as female to those they meet. I love the internal conflict and exploring how different kinds of personalities react to their blossoming womanhood.

On the other hand, we have the sudden sex-change.  I feel these often take the form of swaps.  A poorly worded wish to a genie, and a bickering couple suddenly find themselves trapped in each other’s bodies.  A mad scientist builds a machine which switches minds and our hapless couple stops by their house looking for directions.   Now, Jim is Jane and Jane is Jim and they have to deal not only with their sex-change but the need to impersonate each other.

Or, as in the case of Thorne Smith’s Turnabout, a weird old statue swaps the couple into each other’s bodies and again they decide they need to live each other’s lives, with the guy becoming a stay at home housewife who ends up pregnant while his wife goes off to work.

These stories often explore radical changes not just to the character’s sex but also their identity.  Suddenly, a man is not only a woman, but a wife and how does he react when his big, strong wife starts pressuring him for sex?  Or, the sexist boss finds himself a busty little secretary, and all of a sudden his old buddies are hitting on him while he scurries around the office in his skirt and heels trying to figure out how to be a secretary and a woman in the workplace.

These are men who are usually forced to assume new roles and identities instantly, and the new roles are almost always, at least in their eyes, inferior to what they had as men.

In the case of the slow changes, there is the fun of watching as they slowly change and everyone around them knows it.  This isn’t a case where the guy wakes up as a cheerleader and has to try and fool everyone into thinking he’s Tiffany, the perky blonde who loves teddy bears!  This is the football stud who finds himself getting weaker and smaller, whose voice cracks as he’s calling plays and settles into a tea-kettle squeak like a little girl, who has to switch to showering in the girl’s locker room because his perfect D-cups are driving the boys crazy and who usually finally has to accept what is happening and ends up ruefully joining those giggly girls in their pleated skirts and tight sweaters, kicking and squealing for the team knowing that everyone in the stadium knows that he, the hot new girl, was the studly quarterback when the season started.

I feel they both have their pleasures.  They can both be great fun.  I tend to do more slow changes myself, but even as I write this I am thinking about some ideas for instant swaps and what could be really fun about them that I can’t do in a slow swap, which is, of course, mostly that sudden bucket of cold water to the face a straight, white male would experience to wake up to find he’d become one of THEM, and then when he realized he not only was in the body of that smoking hot piece of ass he’d slept with the night before, but that he now had to figure out how to live as a smoking hot piece of ass.

 

 

 

 

Slow Swap/Fast Swap

Talking about Tom Tame

BACKSPACE by [Tame, Tom]Pinsedo by [Tame, Tom]

 

An elderly billionaire finds himself trapped in the body of a beautiful young Caribbean girl, living and working as his wife’s maid.

A man allows himself to be feminized in order to pass as a woman and infiltrate a mysterious and diabolical mega-corporation.

A couple is cursed by a witch on Halloween, so that each time they have sex the man becomes more feminine.

These plot lines come from the books of one of my favorite TG authors, Tom Tame.

What I like about Tame’s books first and foremost is that they are always plot-driven. These are stories in which TG is a major element, but they are stories where the characters have goals, conflicts, developed personalities, and in which the stories advance and progress which each scene.

They all explore gender and identity.  The characters struggle with what is happening to them and what it means about who they are and how they fit into the world, and the people around them struggle with the changes as well.

In Little Brown Girl, for example, the main character is a very rich and powerful alpha male type who not only finds himself suddenly female, but a penniless female totally dependent on his ex-wife, and powerless to stand up to her when she pushes him into serving her as her maid.  The books very patiently explores how his new sex and newly disenfranchised state impact him mentally, as he finds himself browbeaten by people who he used to believe were beneath him.  The physical change is very fast, but the mental changes come very slowly as he struggles against biology and society.

In Pinsedo, where the private investigator agrees to be feminized, we see a similar exploration of identity as the main character sinks deeper and deeper into his role, and the man who was once pretending to be a woman more and more becomes the act.  It’s an interesting exploration of how the masks we wear come become our faces, and of course a thrill to watch as he begins to find himself thinking like and having the same needs as the young female he pretends to be.

And then Femmer is a wholly different story altogether, and the variety of Tame’s work also interests me as I don’t feel like I am reading the same story over and over again, but different stories with different characters experiencing the results of gender changes.  In Femmer, one of the intriguing things is the way the male character becomes trapped not only in a female shape, but trapped by his own ultra feminine passivity.

That’s a quick survey of a few of Tame’s works, which can be found at Amazon and elsewhere.  My only complaint with this author is that I want more!   Get typing, Tom Tame!  The world needs your stories!

Tom Tame on Amazon

Check out his blog!

 

 

Talking about Tom Tame

Weird Scenes in NY Basements

hedwig
Hedwig.  This pictures is not from a stand-up show.  I just like it!

I’ve been hitting up the open mic comedy scene in NYC the last couple of weeks.   In New York, there are dozens of places all over the city where people can come and in exchange for 5 dollars they get a 5 minutes of time at the microphone. These typically take place in bar basements, comedy clubs before the pro shows, occasionally coffee shops or restaurants.

What does this have to do with genderfluidity?

A lot.  The thing is, a lot of people show up at these mics because they want a chance to express their rage.  They may think they are comedians, but they are really just angry people, usually white males, who feel entitled to vomit their hate and anger into a room full of strangers under the guise that, hey, it’s a comedy show, so I can say anything I want.

What they want to say a lot of the times is that they hate gay people, and anyone who isn’t hetero-normative.  Recently I was at a mic where a comedian identified herself a bi-sexual and did her set about the trials and tribulations of being bi in a mono world.  Some of the material was funny, but I was the only one that laughed.  The room was cold, unwelcoming. She and her friends left after her performance, and I felt bad for her, but also proud that she had the courage to get up on stage and do her material knowing full well how the room might react.

Shortly after she left, another “comedian” came on stag, grabbed the mic and began screaming, “I am sick of people who feel they have to get here and tell me their sexuality.  Choose a side, bitch!  That’s what I’m saying and choose a side or just start eating ass!”

The crowd cheered, laughed and applauded.

Earlier in the show, a gay comedian had gotten up and talked about how frustrating it was for him that white males would get up at these mics and gay bash, and people would laugh. He was still there, and was among those who wasn’t clapping for the blatant gay bashing.

Not surprisingly, the list of people subjected to open hate speech included African Americans, Jews, gays, bi-racial people and, of course, liberals–  ie, whites who are not hate mongers.  “I’m sick of these liberal pussies and their political correctness!”  Cheers and applause.

The book on millennials is that they are supposedly more open to genderfluidity and racial tolerance than previous generations.  Folks, I was sitting in a room full of millennials, and I can tell you the notion this generation is tolerant is bullshit.  They just know what to say when they take a survey, but give them a stage and a spotlight, and the hate just pours out of them. Not all of them, but just as many as in my generation.

How to respond?  I don’t believe in answering hate with hate.

I am tempted to answer hate with hate, but I don’t.  I think that just fuels the cycle.

Instead, I do bits about male insecurity, and how much of the behavior that guys do to seem “macho” comes from fear.  I talk about how in a group of most men, I can’t praise woman for anything other than her sexual desirability without being mocked and ridiculed, and I suggest that any man who reacts with fear and annoyance to hearing a phrase like, “I am in awe of Tina Fey’s intelligence” should accept and embrace the fact that he is still afraid of girls.  “Accept it.  Embrace it.  And then work on it.”

I get mixed reactions.  Some rooms freeze me out.  Sometimes people thank me.   All reactions are fine.  I do not own other people’s reactions.  I can only do what I do, and let them feel the way they feel about it.

I do feel like I need to keep going to these mics, and hopefully eventually clubs, and I need to bring my message to people because it is important to me that we keep moving forward, keep connecting.  There has been progress, but the forces of intolerance and hate are still out there, and they are always looking for targets, and from what I have seen, there are a whole lot of young people out there just dying for a chance to cheer and laugh at some plain old fashioned gay bashing.

 

 

Weird Scenes in NY Basements

New York Times Opinion Piece

The New York Times recently ran an Op-Ed piece where the writer discusses her life and how she and the world have changed and not changed.  It’s poetic and interesting and a little political, and I am just going to pass it on without further comment!

Loving Freely

AND, if you are in the New York Area, there are some interesting panels and films to check out as well mentioned in this article!

Film Fest!

New York Times Opinion Piece