It's a safe bet that any film with a cast that includes Mink Stole and someone by the name of Moist Towelette isn't going to be your conventional popcorn flick. And "Leather Jacket Love Story" isn't a conventional anything.
Part exploitation-style sex flick, part tender romance, part comedy, part coming-of-age tale, "Leather Jacket Love Story" winds up being not much of anything, save for a platform for some encouraging performances, great cinematography, a few funny scenes, lots of bad poetry and lots of graphic sex.
Kyle (Sean Tataryn) has just graduated from high school and fancies himself a poet. Indeed the audience meets him as he scribbles earnestly into a notebook about oceans and valleys and mountains and ... stuff. The pampered son of the San Fernando Valley, Kyle is convinced that the stuff of life lies elsewhere -- like Silver Lake, a working class Los Angeles suburb. "Silver Lake is hip, it's gay and poets are everywhere," he explains to his best friend Ian (Geoffrey Moody).
Kyle moves, and once his "Sweet Bird of Youth" poster is hung, he immediately immerses himself in Silver Lake's coffee house culture, befriending three sisterly drag queens, the cafe proprietress (Mink Stole) who puts on regular poetry readings and a very tough-looking construction worker named Mike (Christopher Bradley) who seduces Kyle purely for the sexual pleasure of it. But soon the two are attracted as much by their hearts and minds as by their nether-regions.
First-time feature director David DeCoteau has given "Leather Jacket Love Story" -- which opened Baltimore's Queer Film and Video Festival last week -- a velvety, classic look that belies its minuscule $66,000 production budget. Scenes filmed around Ian's swank swimming pool -- where two hunky blonds always seem to be a-slather in tanning oil -- glow with an especially vintage-looking luxuriousness.
Other high points include Bradley's charismatic and convincing performance as a handsome cad (think Treat Williams or any number of the Baldwin brothers), an expansively generous cameo by the always-compelling Mink Stole and Moody as a gay male Cher from "Clueless."
Rounding out the film's vivid cast of characters are an aging poet who reads his latest ode, "Oh, Tired Sphincter Boy," with actorly drama and the three drag queens, whose fistfight with some teen-age homophobes ends on a hilarious B-movie note.
It's a shame that the many well-earned laughs in "Leather Jacket Love Story" are interrupted by the film's less graceful sex scenes, which will surely put off filmgoers who prefer their movie sexuality R- rather than X-rated.
"This is stupid," Kyle finally says after watching a particularly strenuous sequence at a sex club. Spoken like a true poet.
'Leather Jacket Love Story'
Starring Christopher Bradley, Sean Tataryn, Geoffrey Moody, Mink Stole
Directed by David DeCoteau
Released by Goldeco Pictures
Sun score **
Pub Date: 6/12/98