A squaresville term like hardcore just doesn’t apply to the nonstop sexual activity in Shortbus. Core-free is a more apt description for the real sex performed by the noodly actors in John Cameron Mitchell’s giddy carnal extravaganza. The participants demonstrate, as per the impish intentions of the man who invented the brilliant Hedwig and the Angry Inch, that inserting tab A into slot B is as unremarkable a daily activity as brushing one’s teeth. Except maybe funnier, if that diddles your funny bone.
It’d be dishonest not to disclose that it doesn’t diddle mine, not the way Mitchell has in mind. If I’m going to see sex on screen — as opposed to the brushing of teeth — I want something hotter. I find these people silly, and desperately antic.
Anyhoooo — the movie is a fiesta of effing as well as of joking, singing, and even of complaining the way clothed people do all the time. Sook-Yin Lee plays a sex therapist seen banging her way through positions A to Z with her husband, yet frustrated that she has never had an orgasm. Paul Dawson and PJ DeBoy play boyfriends looking for a willing third. A dominatrix has relationship issues. Everyone knows his and her way around downtown New York City streets.
And for the getting off of rocks, everyone makes visits to a weekly Brooklyn sex salon of Mitchell’s invention, named for the stubby school vehicle that transports special-needs and special-ed kids. Shortbus is chipper, it’s fresh, it emits a distinct musk of controversy. I’ll take the longbus.