Before HUMP!, the closest I'd ever come to centaur sex was watching a rock-hard dwarf pony in a Shriner's fez nip the generous ass of a divorcée at a petting zoo. I'd also never seen a man get buttfucked with another man's nose, or found a zombie to be particularly arousing.
But that's the beauty of HUMP!, The Stranger's annual amateur porn competition—for a few weekends a year, crowds of sex-positive people kick firefighters and schoolteachers to the curb and celebrate the real unsung heroes of the Pacific Northwest: the brave men and women who open wide their orifices like plush receiving parlors for dicks, doughnuts, knives, and joysticks, and those willing to become mummified in duct tape with a mouth siphon that only accepts Bud Light and come, so that we, their voyeuristic audience, may laugh and cringe and be turned on and take notes (in varying stages). This year's batch of HUMP! videos was overwhelmingly the most polished, entertaining bunch in history. Some observations:
• Video-game joysticks have replaced anal hooks as the sex toy du jour. (Incidentally, masturbating with a joystick makes you a video-game prodigy.)
• Gay shower scenes are a triumph of both musical theater and hygiene.
• There's no better way to show your devotion to green transit than having sex with a bike (unless you're having sex with a bus).
• You can only watch so many cocks being sucked before you start to focus on how clean everyone's feet are. Or the shifting trends in pubic grooming. Or what people's tan lines say about them. Or how handsome butts can be (this year's cast had a particularly handsome collection of butts).
• Doughnuts and strawberry milk smeared across the breasts, bellies, and butts of trans couples prove sex can be hot, tasty, and political.
• Centaur come tastes like "mountain spring water."
• Hey, Missy: I, too, want to bike-lock your partner to a chair and slap the shit out of his silly face.
• Sex will continue to drive American innovation into the future, as evidenced by the film about the man who invents a time machine to seduce his former self.
• Post-HUMP!, it's delightful to run into a stranger on the street, compliment his cock, and not feel weird about it.
Through zeitgeist or The Stranger's curatorship, this year's submissions seemed overall more funny than sexy (voters at the HUMP! screening I attended struggled to cast their ballots in the Sexiest Video category). Winners in the festival's categories—Best Humor, Best Sex, Best Kink, and Best in Show—will be announced shortly after Portland's final showing on November 19. It's interesting to note that this year, straight and gay couples dominated with a slew of hot, funny, endearing videos, which, while delightful, left audience members loudly bemoaning the porno version of lesbian bed death. Please, sexy lesbians and transgender couples of Seattle and Portland, next year put off rotating the tires on your 2001 Subaru for one weekend. Set aside your caulking guns, crate your pack of Labradors, pick up a video camera, and go to town on your partner's nethers for a few hours in a tasteful setting—on a waterbed, maybe, with a flannel American-flag bedcover. Party it up! Your city demands it.