SPOTLIGHT: At the Heart of “The Chemo Darkroom”

The Chemo Darkroom

Harvey Rabbit has a long history of arts, healing, and themes around gender and sexuality. A transgender artist living in Berlin, Germany, he has produced, hosted, and curated a variety of works ranging in political cabaret to movies about homophobia and gay love. His most recent work, The Chemo Darkroom, combines health, sex, and art in ways that are surprising, vulnerable, and innately relatable. The film has played to International audiences, including being selected for the Short Film Competition at the PornFilmFestival Berlin and IKFF Hamburg. It is now available streaming online — and for a good cause! We were lucky to find time with Harvey for a short interview about the film’s origin and intentions.


At the Heart of The Chemo Darkroom

How did The Chemo Darkroom come to be?

In August of 2016, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Up to that point, I had lived inside my physical and erotic body. Chemotherapy took myself away from me. I lost my sense of sexuality and gender. There was nothing to do in the hospital, so I made a lot of videos and took a lot of pictures. I thought I was going to make a documentary. In the end, I guess I did.

I attended the 2017 PornFilmFestival Berlin. One of my short films was in the program. At a party, I found myself in the darkroom, watching people. It was the closest I had been to any sort of touch that was not medical since my treatment began. The darkroom and the chemotherapy felt connected in some way. I had just started film school. I asked members of my new class if they would make a film with me. They said sure.

I am plugged into parts of the queer porn scene in Berlin, so I asked some people I knew if they would like to be in a film.

Editing it was a sort of alchemy, very cathartic and healing. I got to distance myself from my cancer identity and transform it into a palatable story.


The Chemo Darkroom

Do you think porn can be a place to explore issues around health and healing?

I do! I think porn can be a wonderful tool of exploration, for personal and social issues, including health, illness and healing. What is porn? It’s a film genre that explores sex, sexuality and gender, which should be incorporated into health and healing, not pushed aside.


The Chemo Darkroom Trailer (Watch the full film)

In what ways does The Chemo Darkroom give back?

Though this film is extremely personal, outreach was on my mind from its conception. Doctors and nurses can care for the physical body, but no one ever talks about what happens to the sexual self during such intense medical trauma. In the aftermath of treatment, this was the part of me that was affected the most. There was no map or instruction manual to guide me. I want to give voice to the ways in which we rediscover ourselves. To tell the truth and offer hope for those struggling.

As well, all the proceeds from The Chemo Darkroom will be donated to the Cancer Care Collective at Casa Kuá, a Trans*, Inter*, Queer* Community and Health Center in Berlin, Germany that centers itself around the needs of BIPOC Trans* people. For more information about Casa Kuá, visit casa-kua.com
Thank you Harvey for your time and your art. Follow him on Instagram at harvey.rabid and @queerutopianow. His feature film, “Captain Faggotron Saves the Universe” is currently in post-production. Find out more by visiting CaptainFaggotronSavesTheUniverse.com.

The Chemo Darkroom streams on PinkLabel.TV

The Chemo Darkroom

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