My first time attending HUMP! I joined in on my friends’ second annual Corn ‘n’ Porn event – an autumn friends outing that was half family friendly, half...well...something else: as the name suggests, the day began with a corn maze, and finished with a multi-hour porn festival in a theater in downtown Denver. The maze may have been a total dud (we got a refund before even going in), but the delight and shock from the porn festival has stayed with me for years.
HUMP!, a festival of indie, experimental, and homemade porn, opens viewers up to another world. Before attending, I think I could count on one hand the number of times I’d actively sought out porn as an adult, including my phase as a freshly-minted twenty-one-year-old who couldn’t help but peek at 1970s porn (I’ve always loved a little ‘stache and bush). And although it didn’t convert me into a porn regular (tbh, I still only seek it out for work), I do know I want to keep going to HUMP! for as long as the festival is around.
It’s not just that independent porn is a fun thing to endorse. Seeing diverse shapes, sizes, genders, ages, and sexual identities on the screen felt queer, wonderful, and oddly wholesome. Before, I wrote porn off as an experience made for the male gaze. But there are few things I love more than having my mind changed, and HUMP! Film Festival delivered, altering my perspective on porn for good.
I don’t think there’s really a standard to expect in a porn fest, but when you think of one, you’ve probably got something particular in mind – maybe with extensive cosmetic surgery, lighting that conceals cellulite and wrinkles, perfectly waxed bodies, and trans* representation that’s sensationalized at best (and derogatory at worst).
HUMP! Is none of these. Steering far clear of cookie cutter porn territory, HUMP! takes pride in being totally viewer generated, with amateurs sending in countless submissions that are hand-piceked by a panel of sex-positive porn aficionados.
Part contest, part indie festival, HUMP! invites amateurs and indie directors alike to try their hand at creating their sexiest content. Submissions from the U.S., Europe, and Australia run the gamut of educational, heartfelt, shocking, hard and kinky, hardly kinky, queer, and straight – just about anything goes. Each year, sexy hopefuls who are porn stars, regular joes, sex workers, strippers, indie filmmakers, and arty creatives dive into the action and submit to HUMP! in the hopes of having their short film chosen for a tour around the country. Each video caps at five minutes, and roughly twenty films are showcased each year. This year’s picks have tantalizing titles like The Pizza Topping, Doppelbanger, White Rabbit, and Roll Play. If you’re totally curious, here are the synopses that may leave you with more questions than answers.
What makes this festival so unique is their strict policy against any kind of in-house filming – and they take it seriously. If you’re caught checking your phone, it gets taken away – and if you’re caught filming, you’re kicked out. Stat. HUMP! is a space for people to enjoy a limited run as a porn star – only in the theater, never online. They want people like you and me to act out their fantasies on the silver screen without worrying about their careers or privacy being compromised in the long haul.
Newsweek totally nailed it when they said that HUMP! Film Festival “brings heart to hardcore porn.” The content is spicy, and at times, even shocking, but the central pulse and mantra of the festival is this: it’s a place where everybody’s sexy. In fact, there are only three things forbidden: no minors, no poop, and no animals. Other than that, everything is fair game.
The whole point of this glorious event is to showcase and highlight the beauty of “a cornucopia of body types, shapes, ages, colors, sexualities, genders, kinks, and fetishes.” You’ll see things you love, you’ll see things that blow your mind, and you’ll see things that are so not what you thought you’d like (and even a few things you really dislike).
It’s not that they’re hoping you’ll be turned on by all twenty films; it’s that they want porn to be for everyone, and for all of us to learn a little more about how other people like to get down. The thing is, most porn is so focused on the straight experience that even so-called lesbian porn is catered to men who want to watch two women together. Instead, this experience is by everyone for everyone, meaning you’ll have vanilla folks enjoying the breadth of kinky porn, straight people watching (real) lesbian or gay porn, and cis people enjoying trans* porn made with the trans* experience in mind.
“Assholes belong on the screen, not in the audience.” HUMP! emphasizes this in their intro videos before the screening begins, and they’re not messing around. That means no heckling, kink shaming, or otherwise poo-pooing on someone else’s porn experience. If something isn’t your cup of tea, you’re welcome to close your eyes, twiddle your thumbs, or hopefully, lean back and learn from the experience. Their commitment to sex positivity isn’t taken lightly. When I attended, I watched a duo in my section of the theater get kicked out for loudly shaming the people on-screen (and by proxy, anyone in their vicinity who was feeling it).
It’s not that HUMP! Film Festival expects you to be turned on by everything you see. I can tell you firsthand I wasn’t feeling every video by a long shot, but I did respect everything I saw and learned a lot about other people’s pleasure – and that’s what HUMP! is all about.
Caroline Dodge, HUMP!’s marketing director, says their mission is pretty straightforward: to revolutionize the way the country sees, makes, and shares, porn. In my opinion, their success comes from their broad definition of porn – not all of it has sex, or even nudity. One year, they featured a film of a woman jumping on a trampoline, fully clothed, encouraging viewers to “go ahead, pee” before peeing herself.
Porn is diverse, it’s not for all of us, and it’s beautiful to see everyone’s kinks and hobbies and interests in an earnest, open space. So play nice, and you’ll have a fine time.
HUMP! Film Festival’s first year was expected to be small, way back in 2005. The limited run of porn screenings was first announced by The Stranger, a biweekly Seattle publication that reports on all things fringe (including a decades-long relationship advice column that’s run by the festival’s founder, Dan Savage). They originally announced five screenings, not anticipating a massive response – only to have every screening sell out by the next day. The evening ones went even faster, selling out within forty-five minutes. To meet that shocking demand for homegrown porn, The Stranger upped their show count to a total of fourteen, selling over 1,400 tickets in their first, locals-only showing.
Fifteen years later, this festival has grown into something of a different nature entirely. Although it originally screened in Seattle alone, in November of 2019, you can peep these gems every weekend in four additional cities around the west coast of North America: Vancouver, BC; San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; and Olympia, WA.
For those of you not on the West Coast, HUMP! Film Festival has grown so engorged over these fifteen years of honing their prowess that they’ve answered eager fans’ prayers, setting up tour dates across the U.S. and Canada that stretch from January into October 2020. This festival may have started small, but now it’s a behemoth in its own right, with tours happening almost all year, a growing media presence, and even attention from big names like Newsweek, Playboy, Maxim, Buzzfeed, Vice, and The Huffington Post.
Nowadays, while it still focuses on indie porn from folks who want to be on the screen for the night (not for life), it’s become so acclaimed as an independent festival that you might actually catch adult film stars there too, like Jiz Lee, the seasoned adult star who also is known for their role as Pony on Transparent. However, despite those stars gracing the screen, you’ll still find that HUMP! has stayed true to its roots: the majority of the babes doing their thing are anonymous folks looking to tap into their exhibitionist streak.
Of course, this festival wouldn’t exist without the man behind it all: Dan Savage.
For decades, Dan Savage has been gracing our radios, televisions, newspapers, and smartphones with his wisdom. In 1991, he got his first break as an advice columnist for The Stranger, the same place that advertised HUMP! Film Festival for the first time. His column Savage Love began as a joke, where he offered scathing sex advice as a gay man to straight people in a response to mainstream culture’s dismissive treatment of queer relationships. Although he thought it wasn’t going to last, nearly thirty years later, Savage Love has become an essential reader for open, compassionate, and hilarious sex advice for all orientations.
I’ll admit it, I didn’t always like him. He’s gotten a lot of flack for his early views on bisexuality, and it took a good conversation with my good friend Jess (always a great advocate) to see his exponential growth. Thankfully I listened, and opened myself up to his thought-provoking content, including a return to enjoying my first introduction to him: his podcast.
Since his column’s existence was so dang popular, Savage expanded into other mediums. The year following HUMP!’s first release, he created Savage Lovecast, which served as one of the cornerstones to many a questioning young person’s understanding of their own sexuality.
If you’re curious as hell about what’s hiding behind the festival’s velvet curtains, but just aren’t sure how open you’ll be to the kinks, fetishes, or dynamics you may witness, try his podcast or column first. They’re a great place to start when trying to open yourself up to everything to a smorgasboard of sex.
The bottom line is this: Dan Savage is on a mission to make sex acceptable for all consenting parties, and he wants people to love themselves for it. You’ve probably heard of the It Gets Better Project, the nonprofit connecting queer adults with queer young people who are bullied. Savage started that with his husband, to help remind all kids who are bullied (especially those bullied by adults) that the future is bright for the LGBTQ community.
A man of many hats, Savage is also known for some very different work, like coining now-famous terms to describe different shades of sexuality, including monogamish, the oh-so-controversial rebranding of Santorum, and GGG, the attitude that’s the very bedrock of HUMP!.
Since as early as 2006, Dan Savage has been imploring his readers (and listeners) to be GGG in bed: good, giving, and game. What he means by that is that we should be “good in bed,” “give equal time and equal pleasure,” and be “game for anything – within reason.” He doesn’t mean ignore your boundaries. He means you should head into sex with an open mind, looking to please your partner while you get off, and be open to what your partner suggests. This mentality has stuck so hard with people on the prowl and long-term married couples alike that it’s now both the name of a cocktail and a question on OKCupid.
It’s this giving and game mentality that bleeds through every single video you get to watch during HUMP! Film Festival, and the GGG tenet is the common themes for every submission. That’s why the festival moderators ask for respect from the audience when showing the kinkiest, messiest, bloodiest, queerest, and fringiest scenes in the festival each year.
So if you’re ready, step into your kinky (GGG) boots to learn more about the pleasure of pleasing the babes in your orbit – and maybe even pick up a thing or two from this year’s short films.
By now, I’m sure you’re salivating at the chance to see what kind of films are on offer this year from Dan Savage’s illustrious HUMP! Film Festival touring from coast to coast. You’re not alone, and you’ve got options for getting down.Whether you want to be a voyeur, a participant, or just peep their social media to see if it’s for you, here’s how you dive into this year’s action.
For such a limited event, tickets are affordable – but they sell out fast. They go for twenty five dollars a pop, which is a small price for this curated porn event. If you’re in San Francisco or the Pacific Northwest, give it a go this month.
If you’re clicking this page after November, or live in an area where the festival doesn’t linger, don’t worry! HUMP! has gotten so popular that they now tour, crossing the entire United States from Providence to New Orleans to Sacramento (plus a few key spots in major Canadian cities). The tour spans from January to October 2020, and you can currently buy tickets as far out as June 2020.
The festival’s gotten so big and faced such surprising acclaim, that 2018 featured a new kind of tour. Drawing from a decade of submissions, they hand picked the best short videos from 2007 to 2017. For 2020, we can only cross our fingers that they unleash that same event for our (re)viewing pleasure.
Luckily, that’s not the only way to catch some of the best oldies. Although anonymity is the norm, there are a handful of these short porns that have gone on to be distributed or remade as internet porn to great success. Two of the most popular are called “Lawnboy” and “How to Get a Leg Up in Porn.” I’ll leave it up to you to Google the details for each.
For now, we can’t access any more “best of” features, but their social media followings are just small enough where you can send a message asking for them to do another run of their “best of” soon.
Are your little wheels spinning? Do you suddenly have an idea for that sex positive, all-inclusive porn you’ve always wanted but can’t seem to find? You can take a seat in the director’s chair and submit what drives you totally wild to HUMP! here. The deadline for submission runs all the way to September 2020 for the November 2020 showcase, so you have plenty of time to get a group of cuties together to write, direct, produce, and star in the porn of your dreams..
Submitting a film that gets the green light doesn’t automatically give you five minutes of (nude) fame. In their first year, HUMP! received forty video submissions from Seattle locals, so I’m sure you can imagine just how many they get fifteen years down the line, now that HUMP! travels nationwide. Make sure your idea is unique, good, and something that’ll delight (or shock, or wow) your viewers. Creativity is your friend!
It’s not just bragging rights you’ll get, either – when you submit you throw your hat in the ring for a shot at winning some dough. Each year, HUMP! gives away $20,000 in five categories of prizes:
The best are chosen by viewers, meaning you can be a real fan favorite and win that sweet ten grand for it. You aren’t limited to winning in just one category, either. If you have a hardcore latex fetish and are one hell of an improv comedian, try your hand at a comedic porn and see if you can win in the Humor and Kink categories at the same time. Submission is free; what do you have to lose?
Stumped? Think of a kink you’d like to explore, something you love to do in bed, or one of your funniest sex stories, and jot down ideas from there. HUMP! is down to help you get your juices flowing, too. Each year, they post submission ideas that change annually called their “Extra Credit Items.” For 2019, you got “extra credit” for confetti, jello shots, and TSA Agents. Personally, I’d love to see who managed to squeeze all three into five minutes. While these ideas aren’t required, they sure are a nice twist for added inspiration. HUMP! Also has links to free music here.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that turns you on. Maybe you’ve got a panty fetish and want to make a split-screen porno dedicated to a day in the life of the giver and receiver. Maybe you want to make a film all about dirty talk. Whatever you do, honor your freak flag and commemorate it in a video that transforms you into a star for the night.
One tip? There seems to be a wealth of straight people who come back from Burning Man feeling inspired, or couples going to town on top of a mountain – so if you want to stand out, I’d go for something a little more unique.
Sex positivity is facing a crisis. In the wake of shadow bans and other repressive decisions coming from people whose idea of a good time is missionary in the dark without any oral or preamble, Dan Savage’s commitment to a GGG time with HUMP! Film Festival is a breath of fresh air. Sitting in the dark of that theater, I felt permission to examine my own kinks without shame. Don’t miss out on yours.