San Francisco's chance at seeing 3D porn goes flat

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If you thought wizards and animated toys were fun in 3D, imagine putting on a pair of those nerdy glasses and getting popped in the face by some erect nipples. Sex on the big screen is always a thrill, but the Chinese film, Sex and Zen, is taking eroticism to a whole new dimension (corny pun intended) and is sure to get viewers foolishly grasping at the seemingly tangible passion. Keep your hands at your sides, San Franciscans; unfortunately the film's debut in our city will only be offered in standard 2D.

Based on the ancient Chinese novel, The Prayer Mat of Flesh, and a remake of the 1991 film with the same name, Sex and Zen claims to be a bold, sexual comedy about a lustful scholar's sexual adventures to become the ideal lover for his new wife. Practice makes perfect and therefore the film is packed with colorful sex and stars a roster of hot bods, including Japanese porn stars Hara Saori and Suo Yukiko and Hong Kong actress Vonnie Liu. Sex and Zen is considered soft-core, so don't get your hopes up for massive erections or explosive female ejaculation, but you can still get your shameless 3D kicks with gags featuring jiggly breasts and a gigantic horse cock. 

So why is the Bay Area being teased and then restricted from the 3D amusement? Sex and Zen's distributor, China Lion Film Distribution, brings about 15 films a year to the US, usually without issue, but this film's mix of campy-eroticism earned a NC-17 rating from Motion Picture Association of America, meaning big, fat corporate theaters weren't interested in showing the movie and most smaller, independent art house theaters don't have the ability to show in the third dimension. China Lion CEO and Kiwi Milt Barlow, says in general, finding happy host screens in the US has been a battle, but San Francisco seems to be the biggest loser in this round.

"On the surface, America is a very conservative country and I find it quite puzzling. It's supposed to be the land of free speech, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll," says Barlow, chuckling, although audibly disappointed. "Americans invented porn, didn't they?"

According to the MPAA, NC-17 simply means the film contains visuals "most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under" and "does not mean 'obscene' or 'pornographic' in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense." Many corporate theaters uphold policies that restrict the showing of anything past the 'R' rating. When you take a glimpse at the types of programming available on cable or even prime-time TV, it feels likely some creepy censorship shit. 

"You can see some pretty rugged stuff on Showtime. Sex and Zen is not a porn-- it's an erotic farce. It's slapstick and campy."

The film's popularity on opening night in Hong Kong surpassed Avatar and stripped the original, highly popular Sex and Zen from its title for highest grossing adult film. Barlow, and I'm guessing many a San Franciscan, are hoping that this potential cult classic will garner a positive response from other theaters in the US who are showing in 3D, such as Dallas, Portland and LA, and eventually swing back around in its intended form. Until then, our hands are tied, and not in a fun way. Boo America. 

 

Sex and Zen

Fri/12, check theater website for showtimes

Four Star Theater

2200 Clement St., SF

(415) 666-3488

http://www.lntsf.com/4-star_theatre

 

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