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    Alberto Fuguet Dishes on His Sensational and Sexy Queer Thriller Cola de Mono

    By Gary M. Kramer–

    Cola de Mono, now out on DVD and available for streaming, is out gay writer/director Alberto Fuguet’s sensational and sexually explicit genre film about two brothers in Chile. It is Christmas Eve, 1986, and Borja (Cristóbal Rodríguez-Costabal) and Vicente (Santiago Rodrígez-Costabal, Cristóbal’s real-life brother), each are discovering their queer sexuality.

    After dinner with their mother (Carmina Riego), Vicente heads out to go cruising in a park. Meanwhile, Borja gets drunk and breaks into his brother’s bedroom, where he puts on a jockstrap and looks at dirty magazines. Things come to a head when Vicente returns.

    Cola de Mono then jumps to thirteen years later, with an erotic episode in a bathhouse that echoes the film’s earlier themes involving sexuality and violence. Fuguet, a Chilean author-turned-filmmaker, chatted via Skype with me for the San Francisco Bay Times about his stunning film that pushes boundaries and stretches the genre limits.

    Gary M. Kramer: You feature American movie posters, books and objects from the 1980s throughout Cola de Mono. Can you discuss your inspirations for this film?

    Alberto Fuguet: When I was 14–17, I was let in to movies like Carrie, where I had fun. I was scared and enjoyed them fully. They were cinema. DePalma was better than Richard Attenborough. Stephen King resonated in a repressed Catholic society, because under the dictatorship in Chile in the 1980s, things went bump in the night here without devils or ghosts. Even though I saw genre films, they were talking to me. I could relate to Keith Gordon or Carrie—the weirdo or misfit. And whenever there was a naked guy. But let’s not get too intellectual. It was pure pleasure.

    Gary M. Kramer: Can you talk about the sexual tension in the film?

    Alberto Fuguet: Cola de Mono is about male intimacy. I always felt that when you see men like Rusty James in Rumble Fish, the guys in The Outsiders, or the brothers in East of Eden, that you can get a lot of intimacy. Papillion is very homoerotic. Fights between males involve skin contact—especially guys fighting in their underwear or in the shower. For a gay guy like me, who has only sisters, I lost that possibility of borrowing a brother’s t-shirt and the homoeroticism and intimacy of that. Gay doesn’t only mean having sex with guys. Like you, Gary, I’m more romantic. But part of the turn-on of films about men who are friends was that the guys could cry and speak from the heart.

    Gary M. Kramer: Borja is constantly told to grow up. What prompted you to make this a coming of age story about an age where “everything is scary?”

    Alberto Fuguet: I set it in the time when you are starving for information and stimulation and they are hard to get. Sexuality was forbidden, scary and risky. No one came out as gay then. Everything is known, but not spoken, which is a good premise for horror films. It’s a ghost story, in a way. There are a lot of ghosts. The mother wants sweet sons; she really wants her sons to wear revealing shorts, but never to touch themselves.

    Gary M. Kramer: Cola de Mono features extended nudity and sexual expressions. Are you using sex and skin to comment on repression?

    Alberto Fuguet: Going back to DePalma’s films, he enjoyed women, their bodies and showed them empowered. I wanted to make a film where the actors, myself as the director and the public were not afraid of their bodies. I think a lot of movies that you see—even those catered to a gay audiences or festivals—are repressed. Actors can only be seen naked from the waist up. With my film, some viewers get nervous, some get horny and some have never seen so many naked guys.

    Gary M. Kramer: I don’t see the film as homophobic, but some might. How do you respond to that criticism?

    Alberto Fuguet: The film is not homophobic. I’m not conveying sex is dangerous, or that you get punished if you’re horny. In this genre, those things happened. Even Call Me by Your Name says love is dangerous and you could get hurt.  There’s a scene in Cola de Mono where a character has a cute boyfriend, and they have an intimate scene when he’s comforted by him.

    Gary M. Kramer: You play with time in the film—not just in setting the two interconnected stories 13 years apart, but also in your editing. Can you discuss this approach to your storytelling?

    Alberto Fuguet: If viewers are confused—don’t worry about it. That comes out of Dressed to Kill. This is a mix of an art film and a genre film. I wanted to make a mystery and reveal things, so it’s like solving a puzzle. Not knowing everything is sexy. It’s like learning about a guy. A little mystery is not bad. You can even keep an air of mystery about yourself even when you are fully naked.

    © 2018 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer