Phantom of the Paradise

I was just in Denver recently seeing my brother and sister in law and one evening we watched Brian De Palma’s “Phantom of the Paradise” from 1974. It’s silly and campy but I really enjoyed it again after many many years. There are some spoilers below so be warned if you haven’t seen it yet.

I saw it first at a midnight movie when I was probably sixteen and it really freaked me out. The steel teeth really got to me and the plot was so cruel. I think my teenage brain was just going, “What’s happening to this guy is just really unfair!” I may have been a little buzzed on weed at the time too – can’t quite remember but that was a common thing at the midnight movies at that age, which would have only made it worse.

Paul Williams stars as the devil, which is perfect casting. And he has those cool ’70s bangs. I couldn’t place at first who the main actress was till the credits rolled and I realized it was Jessica Harper from Dario Argento’s “Suspiria,” which was one of my favorites when I saw it in the ’80s. (Goofy trailer here). She’s also a very good singer and has some dance moves to match.

“Phantom” has some similarities to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” including a stage performance with a hunk who’s sewn together from various body parts, like Rocky (not Stallone), and a singer, Beef, who’s gay AF.

It’s not high cinema, obviously, but it’s a good guilty pleasure. I think De Palma’s “Carrie,” which came out only two years later, is probably much more skillfully done – and far more frightening. I actually found the poster for “Carrie” so utterly disturbing that I avoided looking at the movie ads all that season when it came out in late ’76. Even now I don’t like watching the pig’s blood scene from that movie. I once turned on a television and that scene popped up with Sissy Spacek and her wide horror-stricken eyes – Holy crap!

If you’re looking for something campy and fun though for Halloween “Phantom of the Paradise” could be a good choice. We just started watching it on a whim and I’m glad we did. Fun stuff!


I wasn’t sure I should post this as I don’t like to post things where it sounds like I’m complaining. But, well, one thing I’ve noticed the last few years is an increase in “ghosting,” or the habit that some people have to just go silent or incommunicado during an email exchange.

It’s strange but I’ve had a number of such exchanges in just the last few months. I’ll be emailing with someone who’s interested in meeting to take pictures, they look good and are into bondage, it sounds like it’s going to happen, and then once it becomes time to commit and choose a date, the conversation goes silent. It’s baffling. On the one hand, I get it. Doing a photoshoot for Trannies in Trouble is a big step. There is some risk putting your face out there on the internet. But most of these people are people who have written me inquiring about doing a photoshoot.

I do have a little theory, which I have no data to support, but I sense that social media and smartphones have contributed to this weird self-defeating habit. So much online communication nowadays, especially texting, which has become so insanely popular, feels almost “throwaway” – you chat with someone, you put it out there, and if you lose interest, well, just close the tab and move on. I certainly didn’t find ghosting to be so common even ten years ago, although on Fetlife people have often complained about the general flakiness in meeting others.

The crazy thing is that among crossdressers and people who are into bondage, it’s a fairly small group of us who are online talking about this stuff and willing to meet, and one’s reputation does get around.

I actually had a really nice local CD write me back just last week and tell me that she was having second thoughts and felt she wasn’t really comfortable modeling right now. Getting such an honest message like that is very rare and I wrote her back to say that while I was sorry to hear she didn’t feel up to shooting, I actually respected her even more for being so honest and up front about it. For someone like that, the door will always be open for her if she ever changes her mind.

Of course no one is required to follow through on a photoshoot with me, even if we’re in the middle of planning a meeting. Even if someone wrote me the morning of a shoot and said, “Hey, I’m having second thoughts and don’t want to do this after all,” well, it would be disappointing and probably pretty annoying but, hey, I’m a realist and I wouldn’t want anyone to go through with it if they didn’t want to. I certainly don’t want to be the kind of producer who pressures people to do stuff that they aren’t comfortable with. That’s just bad karma. And in the scheme of things it’s not that big a deal if someone changes their mind. I’d rather hear “yes” but “no” is also fine. It’s the sudden silence that’s just so baffling and crazy making. I know I’m not the only one.


I don’t get to watch as many movies as I used to, but I am a bit of a movie geek when I get the chance. Recently I saw an interesting German movie called “Victoria” on Amazon Prime (I actually had to sign up for a free intro membership to Shudder to see it, though it’s really not a horror movie). It’s in German, Spanish, Turkish, and actually quite a lot of English too, with subtitles for everything. It’s the kind of movie where it’s best not to know much about it going in, but I can say it’s basically about a cute Spanish club girl in Berlin who decides to hang out with these creepy guys. I had a feeling of dread as it started out and progressed and then it suddenly shifted gears and changed direction quite dramatically.

The one thing that really stands out though is that the movie was shot in one single continuous take, which absolutely blows my mind since it’s about two hours and fifteen minutes long. The first title that pops up on the credits at the end is the camera operator’s name, and rightly so. It’s frankly an awe-inspiring feat to think that they could pull this off, coordinating the camera and the actors and even physical effects that occur during the movie, plus getting into and out of cars and driving. And then keeping it all in focus and mostly framed up correctly. The pressure must have been enormous. The one main criticism is that the movie is probably forty minutes longer than it needs to be since to get to the next location you’re walking along with the actors while they walk and talk to the next spot. So the pace is much slower than it would have been in a normal movie. But hey, it’s European, definitely not a Hollywood movie

I don’t know if it’s a great movie but I certainly found it intriguing, especially for someone like me who shoots videos (though of course I don’t operate on this level of skill and expertise by any stretch). Also, the movie’s not kinky at all and there’s no bondage, but the lead actress who plays the title character is very cute and likeable. If you’re in the mood for something different and know what you’re getting into, something kind of slow and artsy with a slow burn, it might be worth a view. I’m glad I checked it out and especially am glad to have became familiar with the actress, Laia Costa.