The ecosexual potential of porn: a review of Gentleman Handling’s The Wonderlust Kid

The following is a review by Michael J. Morris, originally published at ecosexuality.wordpress.com and reprinted with permission. Images appear courtesy Gentleman Handling.


I am completely smitten with this video, The Wonderlust Kid. Gentleman Handling is an exceptional porn project that focuses on presenting images of male sexual pleasure, specifically in videos of men masturbating (more about the project itself below). This particular video is one of my favorite pornographic representations of male sexual pleasure I have ever seen, specifically because of how the setting becomes a participant in/through the performer’s interaction with it. This is not merely outdoor sex—and I don’t here mean to suggest that there is not something radical in “merely” outdoor sex, only that in addition to being outdoors, this video does something more; the performer—the Wonderlust Kid, as he is called—draws my attention to the ground, the plants, the air, and so on, as he pleasures himself. The attention that he gives to the world around him implicates the world in his pleasure.

I’m interested in how sexuality becomes something different when the world becomes a participant, when masturbation is no longer solo or self-pleasure, but comes to encompass a range of relations to the nonhuman world, in ways that reconfigure “pleasure” and potentially reconfigure “self.”

A recurring theme in my investment in performances of ecosexuality is how bodies become reoriented and reterritorialized, enabled to become something other than the gendered and sexed positions produced within a normative compulsory heterosexual economy. If, as Judith Butler has established, binary sex positions—female and male—and binary gender positions—woman and man—are effects of a compulsory heterosexuality, and if we understand these positions as ways in which bodies become territorialized, organized, inscribed with socio-cultural significance and language and rights and mobility and so on, then what other possibilities for bodies might be enabled by other sexualities?

Monique Wittig claimed that a lesbian is not a woman, because a “woman” is only intelligible in relation to a man, a relation that is only necessary and definitive within an assumed heterosexual matrix; in this way, “lesbian” becomes (for Wittig) not only a sexual orientation, but a gender/sex position outside of the binary positions made available (imposed?) through heterosexuality.

Whether or not this has ever been widely accepted, I take Wittig’s point seriously. If gender/sex is an effect of a particular sexual apparatus, a specific set of relational possibilities, then what are the positions enabled by other apparatuses, other relations, other sexualities and practices and orientations?

If a body’s sexuality is understood in relation to the nonhuman material world—the Wonderlust Kid’s pleasure in relation to the ground, the plants, the air, the sound of moving water—then what becomes of this person’s body? What are the assemblages through which it becomes organized, through which its pleasure is produced? Hand-to-cock, but also fingers-to-leaves, eyes-to-flowers, whole-body-to-grass, -to-ground, nose-to-flower, ear-to-falling-water, cum-to-grass-and-soil, etc.

What are the organs of pleasure, the body as it becomes through its pleasure, when the experience of pleasure is distributed throughout this spectrum of relations? What do we call the sex act of a body taking pleasure in being fully supported by the ground that it rolls over? What can we say about the pleasure of a foot or toe as it brushes against the tips of petals and leaves? What can we say about the pleasure of flesh as soil and grass clings to its surface?


The Wonderlust Kid

Perhaps there are not yet words for the positions/sexes that are produced through such a sexuality; what I am hoping to draw attention to is how such a position cannot be adequately accounted for through the roles/language/positions that are available within normative gender/sex/sexuality. The ecosexual potential of this video—and other pornographic works that bring attention to relations that include the nonhuman material world, like Dangerous Curves, which I introduce in another post, or Matthew Barney’s film HOIST—is the performance of such sexualities, such relations, in ways that exceed the available terms, in ways that mark the limits of what we can say [that we know] about bodies, their pleasures and parts and positions.

I hope that other producers and directors of porn begin to document/represent this spectrum of sexuality that becomes inclusive of a more-than-human world.

About Gentleman Handling:
“What we’ve made here, really, is a lovely place to watch moving images of male masturbation. Gentleman Handling attempts to situate male sexual pleasure in a style of image-making that is honest, attentive, and reverent. Men have just as much to lose as other genders from the superficiality of mass-produced sexual imagery. We aim to present our contributors in a manner that highlights their human-ness, their individual sexual style. Self-pleasure is a deeply personal thing and is often glossed over or neglected in mainstream sexual media. We’re trying to take steps to change that.

“In addition to our more virtuous motivations, we also just like to make the images that we want to see. We want to raise the bar on the quality of erotic films available on the web and the way that the people in them are portrayed. We value aesthetics and hold a high technical standard for our work, so what you’ll find here is (mostly!) high-definition, high-resolution footage that has been made with careful attention to composition, colour, light and sound. We want this to be an opportunity for our viewers to delve into a pansensory experience of male sensuality. First and foremost, we are making films; the subject of those films just happens to be sexy. Stylistically, we range from the more contained and dramatic imagery we produce in our studio straight through to some rather adventurous pieces shot in both public and private spaces.

“The men who appear here are generous and brave. They’ve agreed to allow us to film them just as they are, which isn’t necessarily easy. Historically, pornography has created a limited role for the male of the species, and these folks are expanding the possibilities and fleshing out our understanding of male sexuality in the visual realm. They construct and represent a diversity of masculinities. They are brilliant to work with and beautiful to witness. Some of them also engage a little more deeply with the experience by involving their lovers in their work or by bringing their own ideas and fantasies to the table. We are most grateful to be collaborating with some wonderfully thoughtful, open, and expressive individuals.”

About the Author:
Michael J. Morris is a consulting astrologer and tarot reader, artist, writer, educator, and facilitator committed to personal and collective healing and liberation. They began their consulting practice Co Witchcraft Offerings in 2019. Michael holds a PhD in Dance Studies from The Ohio State University and was a university educator from 2009-2021. Their writing appears in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and TheaterTDR: The Drama ReviewChoreographic PracticesDance Chronicle, and the European Journal of Ecopsychology. Michael is based in Columbus, Ohio—the ancestral and contemporary territories of the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Delaware, Miami, Peoria, Seneca, Wyandotte, Ojibwe, and Cherokee peoples. Learn more about their work on michaeljmorris.co and michaeljmorris.weebly.com and follow them on Instagram and Twitter. This post was originally published on ecosexuality.wordpress.com.

Watch The Wonderlust Kid, and browse the collection from Gentleman Handling.

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