Would you walk into a respectable movie theater to see a film called The Two-Headed Pussy? Probably not. That's why Jacques Nolot's skanky yet somewhat interesting film, entitled La Chatte à Deux Têtes in France, was renamed twice, first as Glowing Eyes for the international audience and then as Porn Theatre for us more literal-minded Americans. No matter what you call it, this slice of X-rated life, set on a typical afternoon in a particularly seedy Parisian porn house, is a chilly dose of despair leavened by a touch of humor.
The world-weary cashier (Vittoria Scognamiglio) at this theater of ill repute has seen it all, and the pigeons soiling her sidewalk are far more annoying to her than the parade of tranny hustlers and desperate perverts who head down the steep flight of stairs (a Hell symbol?) into the theater. She enjoys regaling the hunky young new-in-town projectionist (Sébastien Viala) with tales of her wanton youth while she knocks back shots of whiskey and sympathizes with the constant complaints of the bitchy drag queens who visit daily. One has to give her credit: She really seems to enjoy her work.
As for the drag queens... wow. It's a grim vision to watch these fat, middle-aged men, most of whom have the physique of Jackie Gleason, wander in from a long day at the factory or the auto repair shop and slip into ratty wigs and some lipstick in preparation of their patrols of the theater. There in the dark, where a film called The Two-Headed Pussy is indeed playing, they desperately seek out oral sex and find it in abundance from the two dozen or so patrons, a mix of immigrants, scared teenagers, and typical dirty old men. It's interesting that so many seemingly gay people have found their way to a straight porn theater to get their rocks off. One wonders if there's a gay porn theater in town, and if so, what's going on there?
All the characters, if that's what you can call them, remain unnamed and undeveloped, even writer/director Jacques Nulot, who shows up as a friend of the cashier and goes off on a long and jovial monologue on how a man-man-woman threesome can work out really well for a closeted gay man who wants a taste of the forbidden fruit. Perhaps, he suggests, the young projectionist and the cashier would like to join him to see what he means? Back inside the theater, none of the drag queens or patrons goes on any sort of journey other than from their seats to the aisle, where every act of oral sex attracts a crowd of onlookers who drop their pants in order to get their own piece of the action. And get it they do, in full view of the unblinking camera.
It's this detailed dance inside the theater that makes Porn Theatre interesting. What lengths we needy humans will go to for even the most casual of connections. How desperate we are for just a little solace. The camera glides back and forth across the audience as the hustlers and the hustled play an endless game of musical chairs, rising to find new partners for even the briefest human touch, then sinking in their seats to enjoy it somewhat surreptitiously. When the lights in the theater come on even briefly, it's almost unbearable to see the garish orange seats and the flocked wallpaper, not to mention the scattered condom wrappers, tissues, and sticky stains that the camera captures as it slowly moves down the aisle, row by disgusting row. This is where these desperate men have come for comfort? It's a world that should only be seen in the dark.
Aka Porn Theater.