Free Sex Arts Fest to help filmmakers
September 10, 2009

By Veronica M. Cruz
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.10.2009
R-rated magician Herr Bruno Bill, performance artists with Parasol Project, and burlesque troupes Cabaret Boheme and Cirque du Sin will shake and shimmy Saturday for a good cause.
All are part of the Free Sex Arts Festival, which challenges performers to interpret what sex means to them by using visual art, music, dance and film.
Now in its second year, the outdoor festival is expected to draw up to 250 people — a jump from the 150 who attended last year. In addition, 25 artists have submitted work to be exhibited or will be part of the performances.
The festival benefits Pan Left Productions, a collective that for 15 years has helped amateur filmmakers create films about their interests and experiences. Many focus on border as well as gay and lesbian issues.
“Part of the Pan Left mission is to represent voices that don’t often get heard in mainstream media,” says Mary Charlotte Thurtle, the organization’s executive director.
Festival coordinator Oscar Jimenez, who is also a filmmaker at Pan Left, said he intends to continue the event annually, but has had requests to hold the event more often.
One of its most unusual features is an interactive exhibit called “The Confessional.”
Participants walk into a booth and write down a secret anonymously. At the end of the night the secrets will be read aloud to the crowd.
Jimenez likened the effect to that of a Catholic confessional. “You walk in to confess, then you walk out refreshed.”
The evening will be hosted by mistress of ceremonies Mark Fettgatter, better known as his hairsprayed, glammed-up, stiletto-clad stage persona, Bunny Fu Fu.
Exhibits will also look at sex in relation to culture and identity. “My goal is to provide a stage for artists that debunk myths of sexuality through their art,” Jimenez says.
Drea Colores, who founded the variety performance group Cirque du Sin, says the group plans to ditch its usually comedic acts in favor of more sensuous routines.
“We like to blur lines,” says Colores. “We like to push buttons.”
People who attend Free Sex can “expect to walk away with questions and maybe expand their views about what sex is,” says Jimenez.
At last year’s Free Sex, Cirque du Sin performed a form of Japanese bondage called Shibari. This year, Colores says her group has plans for a honky-tonk burlesque performance, complete with cowboy and saloon girl costumes.
The night’s soundtrack will be provided by Tempe musician Marc Pedraza, a regular at GLBT events who plays mellow reggae/ Caribbean-inspired tracks with a positive message, encouraging everyone to just get along (think Jack Johnson).
Veronica M. Cruz is a University of Arizona student who is apprenticing at the Star. Contact her at