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444556_largeHUSTLER WHITE
Written and Directed by Rick Castro and Bruce LaBruce
Starring Bruce LaBruce and Tony Ward

Jürgen Anger: According to my calculations, this strip of Santa Monica Boulevard is a hotbed of cruising activity. At least that’s what it says I’m my Damron Guide 2000.

Bruce LaBruce’s oeuvre is a staple in the Canadian Queercore movement of the 80’s and 90’s. His films are subversive, pornographic, political and often times darkly comedic, so needless to say they won’t be for everyone. The mainstream moviegoer has got to have a pretty open mind about the art of film to sit through an amputee stump-humping scene without getting up to demand their money back. Which is probably exactly what LaBruce wanted when he co-directed HUSTLER WHITE with Rick Castro back in 1996. Up until now, HUSTLER WHITE was seen predominantly through the music video “Misogyny” by local Toronto band Rusty and worn out VHS tapes over the years. I never thought I would have the chance to see it on the big screen, but now I can at last say that I have seen that glorious stump-humping action in all it’s beautiful high definition restoration.

The movie opens with what is probably LaBruce’s most well composed shots: a dead hustler face down in a swimming pool. The voiceover (by ex-Madonna boy toy and model, Tony Ward) is of the voice of said deceased hustler, Monti Ward, who lets us know that he is taking us on a journey back through time to reveal how exactly he ended up the way we see him now. Cut to an airport where dandy Jürgen Anger (a take on influential experimental filmmaker, Kenneth Anger, played by LaBruce himself) steps out into L.A. and steals the show from that point on. His character is a snippy queen that has fierce and hilarious comments for every situation as he desperately tries to infiltrate his way through the L.A. hustler scene for research on an article he is writing.


Ward and Anger’s paths cross as Anger is being driven around well known hustler hotspots on Santa Monica Boulevard, when he immediately becomes infatuated with a gorgeous topless hustler, who leaves behind another tank top that is covered in blood. Jürgen is now set on a path to find this mysterious man and return his shirt and hire him to teach him about the history of hustling.

The film moves between Jürgen deriving around famous L.A. cruising spots and vignettes of stories of the local hustler’s and their john’s. HUSTLER WHITE almost becomes a tongue-in-cheek Hustling 101 lesson, complete with a history of the L.A. hotspots and the various activities that go one there. We see how business transactions are conducted or declined, different extreme fetishes from various clients and a rather dark and comedic interpretation of the porn industry as seen by an outsider, perhaps someone who was never let in to begin with. There is an air of sarcasm throughout HUSTLER WHITE that stops it from feeling too serious despite it’s often dark topics; this is one of LaBruce’s signature traits, that nothing is ever taken too seriously. Think early John Waters films, the idea of laughing at sex and all it’s absurdities rather than just shying away from it, or making it look bad.


The sex is often graphic, but despite the sarcasm, the scenes are also successful in their eroticism. Extreme bondage and cutting may not be your cup of tea (or mine), but watching the actors in these situations reminds us that it takes all kinds to make up this insane world, and LaBruce isn’t afraid to show it, because it often feels like he just doesn’t care what you think. The Queercore movement was born out of the punk scene and carries with it a similar attitude of transgression and subversion that was not only important 30 years ago, but remains equally important today.

HUSTLER WHITE could have been filmed today, even though its been almost 20 years since it first made its appearance; its themes still hold relevance today, even with its SUNSET BOULEVARD-esque journey through the backlots of the industry we know as Hollywood. The new digital transfer transforms the movie from its grainy texture and unbalanced audio but keeps it’s indie charms. As one of the first Queer films I ever saw, it pleases me greatly to think that this film will be introduced to new audiences during its run for TIFF’s Bent Lens: Pride on Screen series. Hopefully those seeing it for the first time will find it just as hilarious, dark and erotic as I did the first time I saw it, and be able to appreciate it for its significance within the industry. Some may say that this isn’t LaBruce’s best film (it comes in second for me after SKIN FLICK in terms of preference) but it is an absolutely perfect place to be introduced to the Toronto director for the first time.

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Bruce LaBruce himself will be in attendance at tonight’s screening of HUSTLER WHITE at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. The film screens as part of the Bent Lens: Pride on Screen series that runs through August 17. For more information and for tickets, visit

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