Every year, Seattle hosts HUMP Fest. It’s a short film festival started by Dan Savage in which every film is pornographic. I’ve only been twice now, and despite the discomfort inherent in watching sexually explicit (and often wildly kinky) material in a theater full of strangers, it was a blast both times.

Each viewer gets to vote at the end for Best Sex, Best Kink, Best Humor, and Best in Show. Since it debuted in 2005, it has expanded to cover multiple weekends and it now airs in multiple cities including San Francisco and Portland.

Each film is short, so short that it can be difficult to know how you feel about one until it’s already over.

Crimson Cruising, film number one, was a red tinted homage to gay cruising in a sexy art house lesbian flick.

Body Language made use of body paint to make two people look like one heart, beating together as they fucked. In English and Spanish with untranslated titles, filmmakers made a convincing argument that verbal language plays second fiddle when it comes to coming together.

The Boy With the Tighty Whiteys was a-fucking-dorable. Our young protagonist shares his love for the bum-hugging undies and turns what could have been traumatizing memories of middle school bullying into a niche, and a surprisingly hot, kink. My only disappointment was that we didn’t actually get to see our hero cum, but I’m pretty sure he has an only fans…

Anathema was ridiculous, absurd, and hilarious. Two space cadets wind up on an alien planet a la Captain Kirk and what few garments they had to begin with don’t survive landing. A bubble gun adds the perfect fun foolish gimmick to a charming queer five-some.

Feast of Fantasy confused me: I both wanted to attend the surreal sex and food party, and was terrified by it. Someone popped an olive out of her pussy to garnish a martini. Someone else mashed cake all up in their bits. A plague doctor fucked an I don’t know what and there was a LOT of eating food off of people. I have politely nibbled strawberries and cream from a breast or two in my day, but the sheer magnitude of the licking overwhelmed me.

Shadow Play took a minute to understand. Shadow puppets kissing, then fucking in a variety of poses. Pretty straightforward as to the action, but what’s the backdrop? Is that a leg? Someone’s cock? Oh dear god it’s a scrotum pulled taught! I can’t imagine the patience required to hold yourself stretched like that so someone can make smooching noises and film silly shadow puppets.

No Translation brings Spanish and English speakers together again, but this time their bodies are translated as well. An afternoon at home together invites the audience to enjoy the pleasure his pussy and her cock bring each other. A final shot of the two flipping through his sketch book drew an “awwwwww” from the room at what was arguably the most intimate moment of the film.

Screen/Play gave us all the hits as far as seventies lesbian porn tropes go. Roommates watching TV can’t help but imagine themselves soaping up cars (but mostly each other’s tits), slapping flour in a mixing bowl (but mostly on each other’s bums), and just generally projecting themselves into the screen. Off screen, they realize what’s up and things on the sofa get steamy, too. Cute and hot. What more could you want!?!

The Cannoli brothers introduced me to the term docking, in the style of a (deliberately) badly shopped nineties late night infomercial. If you’ve never heard of docking, it’s…. Well, don’t worry about it. Just imagine a cannoli made by wrapping the dough around a couple cute lil cocks. They do not look delicious, but they do look fun to make.

Grace spent a lot of time off my screen. A few moments in I realized that this was the film to miss if you had to use the ladies’. I’m not into cutting, blood, or piercing, but starlet Grace very much is and for those who love it, it’s got it all. What I did see before excusing myself was a very happy young lady. If all I had seen was her face, I could not have guessed what was happening to the rest of her.

Bloom Room… I don’t… I know this is an indy film festival, but this was too indy even for me. It wasn’t even pornographic! Just weird.

Ronald McDonald for Some McDicken just skeezed me out. The other food related films made me slightly uncomfortable, but still offered something visually compelling. This couldn’t be anything but satire, and not very good satire at that.

State of Mind was, for me, one of the most difficult to watch. I admire the dynamic between a loving dominant and a loyal submissive, but I struggle to watch black people assume roles and postures of fear or subservience with any comfort. Had the dominant not also have been black, I think it would have been impossible. The cinematography was beautiful, and I believe that, because of what HUMP is, the relationship on display must be loving. But without knowing the two men personally, it was hard to get comfortable with it.

For Your Health doubled down on the discomfort, except this dominatrix and her submissive added a heavy dose of medical fetish play. Again, well shot and well edited, the film did exactly what it was going for. Which was not my thing at all.

It’s Me, Mr. Yamface was hilarious. Two dolls go to have sex but can’t find their genitals! At a loss, they are excited when Mr. Yamface bust through the wall kool-aid man style and offers them a plethora of choices. This stop motion film plays a silly game full of vulvas, tits, and dicks of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Truth be told, given the chance for some spare stick-on parts, I think I would be just as excessive as Barbie and Ken.

Cum As You Are tried to make an angry feminist point. Lots of smashing things and yelling. Vice overs about power and witches. I’m not a particularly angry person so I didn’t see the appeal. But whoever made their props did a great job. Real glass beakers won’t break against soft flesh. Their sugar ones were pretty darn convincing.

Get Ready With Betty starred our hostess, Drag Performer Betty Wetter, as she did a simple, brief makeup routine. Drag makeup is not only precise, it’s outrageous. But I never knew they could get such results using people’s cocks for brushes! Charming and exactly a Drag Queen’s amount of farcical, her tutorial made the whole theater laugh.

Luscious was exactly that: Sumptuous fabrics, long slow kisses, elegant lingerie, an envy inspiring peignoir, and two overflowing bodies gently roiling in an 1800’s royal bed made for a sensational short film celebrating big beautiful bodies.

Demon Seed absolutely had to have been satire. It had all of the worst things about porn guys :TM:. Uninspired dialogue, stiff acting, a complete lack of foreplay of any kind, and the money shot didn’t even make sense. If you’re trying to put a demon baby in the guy, why did the demon pull out!? I didn’t get the feeling that any of that was done on purpose, and I have no idea how it made it into a festival so richly populated with quality art house style works.

Color Me Wild was by far the hottest from a strictly sex perspective. What happens when you and your lover dip your hands in UV paint and fuck under a blacklight? This. And when you and your lover are stunners with a friend willing to hold the camera for you? This. Hands down my all over favorite.

A Deep Understanding gave it’s viewers a window into probably one of the most obscure kinks of the night. I did not know until now that watching attractive women “sink into quicksand” is a fetish. I get it, the ostensible helplessness, the viewer’s fantasy that only they can rescue the young lady, and being consumed I am all familiar with. Plus, they writhe and moan and whimper, all of which are sexy visual and auditory cues. But the best part was finding out that the performers who do the sinking love it, too. Not because they find it sexy, but because they find it hilarious.

Menage a Fromage tickled my nerdy bone. Hard. Imagine you’re an amateur cheese maker and want to make a unique cheese. Now imagine you have five or six adventuresome eaters who like to fuck. Add a dude in a hazmat suit wielding q tips and you’ve got it. The yeast sampled from the bodies, lips, bootys, even feet of the orgiastic revelers went into a gallon of whole milk, fermented overnight, and became a fresh, soft cheese. Yes, they ate it. And no, I can’t promise you I would’t at least try it.

Two things I noticed this year: there was, in my opinion, an over abundance of slo-mo shots. I get it, it’s a cheap and easy way to make something look dramatic and give yourself extra seconds of the best shots. I myself have used it when editing my own content. But it’s like salt. Too much ruins the dish. Between that and the wildly popular and headache inducing shaky camera trend, I felt like things were a little more amateur-art-housey than I wanted. But hey, I’m not behind the camera, and for 25 bucks it was totally worth it.

The second thing I noticed was a complete lack of cis/het/white couples. No one likes being excluded from spaces and so I notice in myself a mild sense of feeling left out. I don’t like that feeling. But I am SO glad it was there this time. I live in Seattle, I consider myself pretty socially progressive, the festival is run by a gay journalist. This is nothing that isn’t welcome or expected. Ditto with my discomfort: humans are inherently tribal. Discomfort at exclusion is a survival mechanism we have not yet learned to overcome. But I am doing my best to see it, acknowledge it, and let it go.

As with the Seattle Erotic Art Festival, I am trying to remember to attend these city specific sexy events more often. I’ve been to two HUMPs and one SEAF now, in my twelve years as a Seattle Resident. And I’ve been to zero Fremont Summer Solstice Parades. It’s fun to see what happens when creativity and sex meet in the hearts and minds of a variety of folks. It’s fun to talk with friends about how the products of those creatives make you feel and think. And it’s fun to absorb these events and bring them into the privacy of my bed where I can share them with others who aren’t quite ready to enter the arena of public sexuality.

I look forward to hearing from those of you who have been to HUMPs now and in the past, who can’t see themselves there, or who just haven’t been yet.