DRUMSTICK at Outfest/Platinum

DRUMSTICK production still by Eve Fowler

DRUMSTICK production still by Eve Fowler

DRUMSTICK production still by Eve Fowler


A film by Deanna Erdmann & Darin Klein
Cinematography: Rhys Ernst
Followed by: Community Action Center
A film by A.L. Steiner & A.K. Burns

Friday, July 8, 2011
REDCAT Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater
631 West 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Buy tickets: www.outfest.org

Darin Klein speaks with Deanna Erdmann about DRUMSTICK

Darin Klein:
You asked me to be in a film with you. We watched some late-‘70s gay pornography to prepare for the shoot. Can you describe the original film that actually inspired DRUMSTICK and the thought process that led you to “remake” it?

Deanna Erdmann: I love gay male porn and this film is one of my favorite memories. I first saw the film that inspired DRUMSTICK in 2004 over an evening of film and drinks. It was an iconic COLT production: foreplay included glistening men with handlebar moustaches feeding each other fried chicken in a hot tub. The sun was bright and the water was turquoise blue, very Southern California. I fixated on the drumstick and for years have wanted to make an homage to this film.

When starting this project, I was unable to locate the film. I watched a lot of COLT films along the way, mostly with the guy who works at Video Active, on all the monitors around the video store. Ultimately, I couldn’t find it, and this phantom source material for our collaboration became part of our oral histories. It is not about remembering what actually happened, but what I remember happening.

What role did hearing about the film play for you? I asked you to collaborate with me, and you said YES. Can you tell me what you found interesting in the project?

DK: I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to work with one of my favorite artists. Whether you’re shooting work with human subjects, making experimental animations, or deferring to structuralism, I feel a meditative quality running through all of the work you make.

I’ve seen my share of vintage gay porn. There’s a certain aesthetic quality to it that can’t be matched by today’s technical processes. Not to mention the body types, fashions, and overall style of fucking going on – it’s all totally different today. So I just went there in my imagination when you described the original. It was interesting for me as a cisgender male to inhabit the role of a transman. Transgender and gendervariant culture, identities and politics are very close to my heart. But after you asked me, I started over-thinking the concept. I was trying to introduce a plot or give the film some sort of narrative. I thought maybe we needed to rewind a bit, kind of explain trans identities, give transmale identity a context. You gently steered me away from that and we made what I think is a simple, humorous and beautiful film. Though we circled back to your original idea, the process was very collaborative.

DE: Simple, humorous and beautiful; I completely agree. I love that we focused on a small gesture, and let it unfold like a landscape. For me, that is narrative.

DK: The theme of switching came into play making this film. I’m thinking of bodies, gender and maybe even dominant/submissive sexual roles. Another theme that emerged was substitution: vegan chicken legs, prosthetic genitalia, fabricated facial hair.

DE: Present from the beginning of the collaboration, substitutions and switching permeate the film and its making. It began with a narration of something palpable and experienced, but not materially available. We created an image from something uttered. I think in the switching and substituting we were being playful with realness. Remember, we matched my soft pack to yours?

DK: Yes! When we were checking them out at the shop, I think I said, “Well, what size cock would you like to have?” We went with the one that was exactly like mine! I felt a fondness for it because it was so familiar to me. We also went shopping for something else we needed - binders. In the finished film, the audience doesn’t see much of our bound chests or anything below that. Can you talk about whether or not it was important to have these items since they are not on camera?

DE: Wardrobe is transformative. We knew what we were wearing. In a restrictive form, think about what happens ideologically when kids wear school uniforms; there’s a psychological effect.

I think part of wardrobe and style is cultural grafting. You can attach, insert or tie anything you want to your body, and there it continues to grow, developing and becoming in an environment with new chemistry. I think ideas can function in a similar way.

DK: There was a real sense of community surrounding the shoot. Access to Lawrence’s hot tub was a key element. Rhys Ernst was invaluable as the lighting director and cinematographer. Jenn Kolmel deconstructed our kooky costume mustaches and made them quite realistic by incorporating hair that was cut from our very own heads. Eve Fowler shot tons of amazing stills.

DE: Totally. Lawrence’s Jacuzzi was beyond ideal and idyllic. It’s a queer location that has its own energy. Rhys was also a fabulous contribution and wonderful to work with.

I look hot in a mustache, and that’s Jenn’s doing.

You are incredibly sexy with a mustache. Look at the production stills!

DE: Eve’s photographs are incredible. During the shoot, Bobbi Jablonski and Jenn helped by holding bounce cards and diffusers, it felt very community based.

DK: It was an incredible experience making this film with you and all the people who helped us out.