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101 Rent Boys

This is a documentary style feature which talks about 101 rent boys in Santa Monica Boulevard in the LA area. Although the film features 101 different hustlers, it focuses on the lives (and loves) of a few key men. They have been chosen to reflect the immense diversity of the boys of the Santa Monica Strip. An amazing thing happens when you cross a video camera with award-winning directors, $50 and a hustler. To prevent the film from becoming monotonous and repetitious, it was divided into seventeen chapters with titles like, "Losing It," "The First Trick," "Gay," "Straight," "Turn-ons," "Turn-offs," "Pain," "Weird [stuff]," "Drugs," and "The Future." The stories, for the most part, are painful to hear: some interviewees clearly struggle with drug addition and it is clear how they will spend the $50 they earned making this film, many are victims of childhood sexual abuse or parental abandonment, others suffer from the recent departure or death of loved-ones. Some hustlers took the money politely and immediately tucked it away in a pocket, their underwear, or inside a sock. Some said "thank you" softly, with a sparkle in their eye. One man held his fifty dollar bill throughout his interview as though it were nothing or as if he had forgotten he was holding it. n many respects the men are indeed what you might expect, but in each instance they show, perhaps unintentionally, their humanity. They are indeed considerably more than the flesh and bone rented for a few hours by their customers. They are human beings and much, much more like the "average man" than they are different--a realization that adds to the film's uneasiness and which is, indeed, the ultimate point of the whole thing. As a documentary, however, the film has two very distinct flaws. The least obvious of these is the fact that the prostitutes are selling more than their bodies: they are selling illusions, fantasies, and dreams. Its different. Its not a feature film but a documentary that every person will have a personal preference to. (3/10)

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