Giton from Fellini's Satyricon

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I don’t believe in fate, synchronicity or that ‘things happen for a reason.’ Still I had to smile at the coincidental arrival of Fellini’s Satyricon in the shop while I’m obsessively trying to finish with the births of my sexualities.*

I opened the book at seventeen. If asked I guess I’d have said I was heterosexual. Not that I’d ever used any word of sexual orientation. The unexamined sense of conventionality doesn’t lead to any thinking.

Some of the pictures were pretty exciting. Not that I knew why I kept looking at them or even that I was. I never forgot them.

Max Brand as Giton

My first glimpse of a boy in makeup. To you perhaps a goofy looking kid with too much eyeliner. I’m giddy with surprise at my rediscovery.

I bought the book. Never read it just looked at a few pictures. Nietzsche cited Petronius as an exemplar of mental health. I read the Satyricon not long after I came out. The novel is very funny, wholly free of the antisensibility, cant and smugness that we label Puritanism (looking at synonyms for puritan I find “nice Nelly”).

Fellini’s movie came to Savannah but I was too young to see it. It was being shown at the old Avon that used to be on Broughton Street. They covered the front windows with brown wrapping paper. Possibly more an attempt to profit from the “banned in Boston” effect than cater to censors. (Back in the early part of the century books that were considered too salacious for Bostonians enjoyed huge sales in the rest of the county.) The Avon was two buildings. You bought your ticket in one, passed through a building with the snack confession, passed out a door and through an alley to get to the theater. One sheets and stills were outside the front building.

I never saw Satyricon. By the time I was old enough and living in big cities where it was regularly shown my Fellini fan friends assured me it was boring. A fear of being disappointed probably held me back as well. My main memory of Italian art movies is of good-looking people (seemed to be de rigueur in Italian movies, even the men and women in cheap space operas were nicer looking that similar junk from other countries). Then there was Visconti’s Death in Venice, I all but cried watching Dirk Bogarde’s longing for Bjorn Andresen..

It would’ve been about this time that I became unable to fantasize about girls without including boys.

Max Brand as Giton

Giton again, merely sweet looking.

Encolpio Ascilto

Just about everybody wore makeup.

Satyricon two boys

Rather creepy looking little bitches, er, boys aren’t they. Still, I was quite mesmerized.

Earlier there was Jeff.

* I know using the plural sounds pretentious, it is my affectation du jour.

Comments

Oh dear, with such friends (who advised you not to see Satyricon) you don’t need enemies…

I admit that the second half of the movie is full if bizarre/beautiful images but devoid of any sense or at least, tangible content. Still, the FIRST half! Adorable! Giton’s and Encolpius’ visit to the bordello, the decadent orgy in Trimalchio’s villa, the scenes on the pirate ship - if you never saw this you really missed something. By the way, to see Giton and all the other male beauties in motion is much more enjoyable than looking at them on pictures…

My friend is a much greater admirer of Fellini than myself. But much biased in favor of narrative structure. I’d have rented it by now if it were available here in Durham, NC.

Giton and all the other male beauties in motion

I’m sure you are right, motion and expression are key elements of bodily beauty.

I agree, something about the wavy, tousled hair and the borderline androgynous, yet so clearly masculine appearance of those boys was quite intruiging (I’m mostly an Encolpio/Ascyltos person, myself). Why is it that those ambiguous androgenes are so appealing, both to men and to teenage girls? They should write a book on that.

In mentioning teen girls you remind me how when my little sister used to get magazines like Tiger Beat it always struck me that the boys she was looking at were better than the guys that were on TV. I remember one issue even featured Marc Bolan.

Speaking of decadent orgies, have you seen Caligula? I’d like to know what you think of it.

Even though there was a copy in the shop for many months I never watched it. The few people I know who saw the movie said it was tedious rather than outrageous. Sounded like there was very little gay content, mostly Penthouse Pets. Did you like it?

Well, I remember you mentioned once that you were bisexual, so I didn’t think you’d mind the Penthouse pets. There is some gay content, such as the scene in which Caligula rapes a heterosexual couple on their wedding night:

“Is she really a virgin, Proculus?” “Yes, Caesar.” “One can never be quite sure.” “Lucky girl… to lose one’s virginity to a direct descendant of the goddess Venus.” […] “She really was a virgin! Are you?” “No, Caesar.” [Caligula examines Proculus’s nether hole] “I think you lied to me! You’re a virgin too.” […]

This isn’t the only gay imagery in Caligula (which is based on a script by Gore Vidal), but it’s definitely the most amusing.

While I didn’t enjoy the movie on an erotic level, I considered it a delightful comedy with some spectacular visuals. Being that it is a notorious classic, I do think it ought to be watched, if only once.

“Pansexual” he said either pedantically or pretentiously. (Just can’t identify with the label bisexual.)

I’m sure the Penthouse babes were authentic “hotties.” I never liked the Penthouse pictorials or Guccione (the latter likely being one of my reasons for not watching Caligula).

More gay content would’ve moved me to watch it. You are the first person say they thought it was funny. Another quality that would’ve made me think about watching it.

When I was talking to my business partner about it he said it was too tame. Nothing compared to some of the sicker psychosexual horror movies we’d watched. Back then I was looking for movies that I’d find disturbing (but not art).

Maybe the tape is still in the shop somewhere and I’ll give it a look. There are at least three different editions of it, some of which are greatly eviscerated.

Not sure if you know but I’ve never watched porn, not even erotica (unless you count Death in Venice).

I think I’ll see if I’m up to writing about that.

Your feelings?

Please share your feelings about Giton from Fellini's Satyricon.
Thanks,
Richard

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Giton from Fellini's Satyricon
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