Gay Porn King Michael Lucas’ Love Affair with Israel
When most people think of Israel, they think of a country that exists in a perpetual state of war.
For many years, the news media has been flooded with reports of suicide bombings and rocket attacks across the Holy Land. Images of Ultra-Orthodox Jews standing in prayer before Jerusalem's Western Wall led many outsiders to assume that the country was controlled by conservative religious fundamentalists.
All that began to change when gay porn entrepreneur Michael Lucas released what he now says is his all time best selling title: "Men of Israel." The film, shot entirely on location in the Jewish State, was the first gay adult feature to showcase Israeli models. Sex scenes were brazenly filmed outdoors in various locales around the country. To the Russian born Lucas, who has been very public about his strong Jewish identity, Men of Israel was an idea whose time has come.
Lucas has never been afraid to shy away from controversy. In addition to his work in the gay adult industry, he's a columnist for The Advocate, and has also contributed to Huffington Post, Pink News and the New York Blade. He's been an outspoken critic of drug use and barebacking in the porn world, and has no qualms about condemning the rampant homophobia among Orthodox Jews and Fundamentalist Muslims.
This year, Lucas unveiled his first non-pornographic feature. With Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land, the filmmaker's camera takes his audience on an eye opening tour of Tel Aviv, the beachfront Israeli metropolis that has, in recent years, emerged as the Middle East's answer to New York, San Francisco, West Hollywood and South Beach.
As the film opens, the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, offers an official declaration of support for Israel's annual Pride festival. The camera then follows Lucas as he tours Tel Aviv, chatting with local gay residents. What we see is an out, vibrant community with a strong sense of self, and even stronger family connections.
As Lucas walks down a quiet Tel Aviv street with gay father Yossi Berg, founder of Rainbow Families, gay couples, some pushing baby strollers, can be seen. Lucas also attends an Israeli gay wedding, where a proud Mom gives her son away to the man of his dreams.
"I am ethnically Jewish," Lucas told SFGN. "I was born into a Jewish family in the Soviet Union and many of my relatives died in the Holocaust. Growing up I experienced not only homophobia but also anti-Semitism. So I understood from a very early age the importance of the State of Israel."
Lucas is unconcerned with how the religious and anti-Israel lobbies perceive him. He said that he's never been in contact with the Orthodox community. His condemnation of queer-identified activist organizations such as Jewish Voice For Peace, which protests the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, is harsh.
"There is no point in having a conversation with that self hating group who have made up their minds and only care about the destruction of Israel," he said.
But Lucas is no anti-Arab hater. On a stopover in Jaffa, Tel Aviv's historic, ancient neighbor, he has a friendly, upbeat chat with Hader Rayan Abu-Seif, an openly gay Arab-Israeli.
Many surprising fact emerge in "Undressing Israel." The country's gay citizens enjoy a level of federal equality that their American counterparts are still dreaming of.
"I hope to show Israel as it is," Lucas said. "A country that is not only a champion of gay rights in the Middle East, but is also way ahead of many Western countries. And of course, I want to see more tourists go to Israel."
In addition to founding Lucas Entertainment, currently one of the largest and most respected brand names in gay adult cinema, Lucas was himself a popular and award winning gay adult performer. He said that his notoriety in the industry had no effect on his ability to obtain interview subjects for "Undressing Israel."
"Israelis know me as a friend of the country," he said. "I'm well known in the gay community so that can only help spread the word."
For more information, go to www.undressingisrael-themovie.com
"Undressing Israel: Gay Men" in the Promised Land has toured at various film festivals. A DVD release is expected to follow.