- Gay Internet Medievalism: Erotic Story Archives, the Middle Ages, and Contemporary Gay Identity
1. Gay Medievalism and Internet Archives
Post-Stonewall gay men’s culture, including sexual/erotic culture, stands in a consistent (but largely unanalyzed) relationship to the Middle Ages.1 To represent that relationship in an initial, gestural way, I present one image (see Figure 1), a reproduction of the VHS box cover of Jeff Kincaid’s 1995 pornographic Hard as Marble.2 Here, the knight (played by Jake Andrews) who figures at the center of the video’s opening and closing scenes—which also involve a squire (Kyle Brandon) and a wizard (Gio Romano)—stands disarmed, yet ready for action. The movie begins with the knight and the squire in a sex scene that is interrupted by the wizard, who claims that the squire is his and not the knight’s. The wizard magically binds the squire (in the movie, it is the squire who stands in the position occupied by the knight on the box cover, never the knight himself), immobilizes the knight, threatens him with torture, but instead forces him to have sex. At the end of the scene, all three men reach orgasm, the squire while watching the other two men have sex, and the knight under the control of the wizard. As the wizard reveals at the scene’s end, he has “cast a spell on [his] spunk,” and when he ejaculates onto the knight’s body, the knight shrinks and is transformed into an effete, [End Page 913] decidedly unmasculine statue (in the left foreground of the cover image, back side to the viewer). The film then traces the statue’s fortunes after it is rediscovered and circulated in the late twentieth century: the statue now has the power to make ostensibly straight men desire gay sex, and the bulk of the film’s narrative is dedicated to depicting sex scenes stimulated by the statue’s presence in the contemporary moment. In the film’s final scenes, however, the medieval makes an uncanny return: a masked burglar discovers the statue and, sexually aroused, masturbates. When he ejaculates onto the statue, somehow its magic is reversed: the burglar himself turns into a statue, and the statue/knight returns to life. As he cruises the street, now dressed in the burglar’s clothes, and as a
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version of medieval music plays in the background, the knight rediscovers the squire. They again have sex, and again their sex is interrupted by the wizard, but this time the outcome is different: the knight and squire take control of the wizard, and when the knight ejaculates on the wizard, the wizard responds by ejaculating on himself, and magically self-destructing. Knight and squire are thus finally, happily reunited.
Hard as Marble, along with the cover image by which it represents itself to the potential viewer/buyer, suggests several of the features of the Middle Ages that are potentially taken up and eroticized in gay men’s sexual fantasies. The movie features both “swords and sorcery,” and in fact dramatizes the two in conflict with each other. In the cover image, the knight’s martial accoutrements—sword, shield, helmet, gauntlets—feature prominently, but so does the knight’s helplessness (accomplished by the wizard’s magic), both in his literal bondage and in the foregrounded statue that, in the film, is the diminished, incapacitated, and demasculinized self of the enchanted knight. Both the masculinity of the knight and the very different masculinity of the wizard are meant to be erotically exciting, and part of the charge of Hard as Marble is the way in which an ideal of impermeable, military, chivalric masculinity is mastered by the wizard’s superior, but non-physical power. And that power is perpetuated in the effects that the statue enables, its ability to seduce straight men into gay sex. The masculinity of the medieval knight, like the masculinity of twentieth-century straight archetypes (in one scene, for instance, a policeman), is clearly the...