Men of Israel
|Men of Israel|
|Directed by||Michael Lucas|
|Produced by||Lucas Entertainment|
|Edited by||mr. Pam|
|Distributed by||Lucas Distribution|
Men of Israel is a 2009 gay pornographic film released by Lucas Entertainment studio. Journalists from The Atlantic, Out Magazine and Yediot Aharonot noted it as a landmark film as the first pornographic movie shot on location with an all-Israeli cast; while Tablet magazine and the Los Angeles Times remarked on it being the first to feature an all-Jewish cast. Director Michael Lucas—who is Jewish and obtained his Israeli citizenship (made aliyah) in 2009—undertook the film as "a bold move to promote Israeli culture and tourism" and to counterbalance what he saw as biased portrayals of Israel in mainstream media.
Director Michael Lucas was born in Soviet Russia and experienced antisemitism at an early age, which led him to form a strong connection with his Jewish identity and the state of Israel. Lucas is particularly well known for his activism and outspokenness on a variety of issues in LGBT and Jewish cultures. Hezbollah's attacks in the 2006 Lebanon war stirred Lucas to go to Israel to entertain gay soldiers who are allowed to serve openly in the military. The trip stirred debate in Israeli society, which is pulled between a progressive, almost secular Tel Aviv—named the "gay capital of the Middle East" by Out Magazine—and the conservative, Ultraorthodox community centered in Jerusalem.
His New York Blade columns on Ultra-Orthodox Judaism and Islam sparked a campus debate at Stanford University in February 2008 when Lucas was invited to give a speech to students. The New Republic and the New York City media have called him the "Lion of Chelsea" and the "last of the New York porn moguls". He contends that his film Michael Lucas' La Dolce Vita is the most expensive gay porn film ever made, with a budget of $250,000 and multiple celebrity cameos. In 2009, Lucas was inducted into the GayVN Hall of Fame, noted for "his stature as an A-list director and performer".
According to Lucas the intent of the film is to help viewers see Israel for its geographic features and history, and a place not much different than Prague or Palm Springs: an inviting LGBT vacation destination where handsome men have sex. "The global media has created an image of Israel as war-torn nation, which streets are lined with destroyed debris and crumbling ruins," wrote Lucas on the film's site, "Never are we shown Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Red Sea, the Dead Sea resorts, the beautiful beaches, the amazing architecture and the embracing culture that allows its citizens to thrive."
The film received widespread press coverage, particularly for its use of an all-Jewish, Israeli cast. Tablet Magazine's Wayne Hoffman noted that Jewish porn stars like Harry Reems of Deep Throat and Ron Jeremy adopted deracinated porn names. Writing on the Los Angeles Times website, Patrick Goldstein observed that the stars of the film use plausibly Jewish and/or Israeli names, and that "whenever Jews are more open about their Jewish identity -- as the Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow and Sarah Silverman generation of comedians has been in recent years -- it sounds like a healthy development, as it would be for any minority culture." Haaretz openly wondered "Can gay porn save Israel's image?"
After the film's release in July 2009, Lucas wrote a letter on August 31 to the website GoGay, Israel's largest LGBT Internet site, admonishing closeted Israeli gays. He wrote the letter after Israeli men "started hitting me up on the web site, inviting me to hook up, then said they're not out. They're delusional. They're cruising this web site, benefiting from the fights of other people. They think the gay movement has nothing to do with them, that the shooting of gay youths in Tel Aviv has nothing to do with them. What reason is there to be in the closet in Israel in 2009? It's embarrassing."
Max Blumenthal, the Jewish American author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, points out that the film was shot in "a Palestinian village that was ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias in 1948." Nadia Awad, a Palestinian American film maker, referred to this as "desecration porn".
- Great Exxxpectations, Wayne Hoffman, Tablet Magazine, July 21, 2009.
- Gay-Porn Mogul Hopes to Arouse Interest in Israel, David Graham, Newsweek, September 23, 2009.
- First-Ever All-Israeli Gay Porn Movie, DNA magazine, May 9, 2009.
- Pornographic Stimulus Plan, Michael Kaminer, The Forward, September 16, 2009.
- Gay Porn's Neocon Kingpin, James Kirchick, The New Republic via CBSNews.com, March 20, 2006.
- Van Meter, William (October 30, 2006). "The Lion of Chelsea". New York Movies. New York Magazine Holdings LLC. Retrieved 2007-01-09.
- GAYVN Announces 2009 Hall of Fame Inductees, Harker Jones, AVN, March 12, 2009.
- Bunder, Leslie (August 19, 2006), "Entertaining gay Israeli troops": "Talkbacks", retrieved from www.ynetnews.com on September 5, 2006.
- "Was Arafat Gay?". Out.
- Burden, Chas Newkey (2007-01-08). "Tel Aviv, the final gay frontier". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
- Bunder, Leslie (August 24, 2006), "Lucas responds", retrieved from www.somethingjewish.co.uk on September 3, 2006.
- Lucas, Michael (August 23, 2006), "Dear friends and fellow Jews", retrieved from www.lucasblog.com on September 5, 2006
- Adult film star’s remarks spark debate, Kelly Fong, February 14, 2008, The Stanford Daily.
- Men of Israel About the film - official site.
- 'Men of Israel' the new box-office stud?, Patrick Goldstein, The Big Picture blog, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2009.
- Can gay porn save Israel's image?, Michael Haminer, Haaretz, September 22, 2009.
- Israel Cranks Up the PR Machine, Max Blumenthal, [The Nation],November 4, 2013.
- Israel-Palestine and the Queer International Sarah Schulman page 117.