Michael Lucas Documents Israel’s Gay Life in 1st Non-Porn Film
Michael Lucas doesn’t shy away from controversy. In fact, some would say he courts it. In fact, many would say it.
Since his arrival in New York several years ago, the Russian-born Lucas has built Lucas Entertainment into the East Coast’s largest and best-known gay porn production and releasing company. His porn oeuvre has become known for its kinky fetish videos, but the studio also wins praise in the adult-film industry for high production quality.
Unlike many studios that limit sets to an abandoned warehouse or back room, Lucas has taken his actors to Barcelona, Mykonos and other scenic locales. He’s also done a contemporary New York version of "Dangerous Liaisons" and "La Dolce Vita."
No film, however, has won the praise of his "Men of Israel," which features gay porn’s first all-Israeli cast, some very hot sabras (Israeli natives) in equally breathtaking settings. The film was one of those rare gay porn movies that received attention in the wider world, including Chelsea Handler, who, along with her co-hosts, tossed off some bon mots (examples: This is the only porn film where everyone in the orgy scene has an advanced degree; Lucas is having trouble releasing the uncut version).
Kidding aside (and even his biggest antagonists would have to admit that the film is hot), "Men of Israel" both reflects Lucas’ fascination with the ancient land of the Bible and helped foster an abiding interest that led him to take a dual citizenship. Lucas, who describes himself as a Jewish atheist, has emerged in recent years as one of the most outspoken gay advocates of Israel.
In columns for the Advocate and Huffington Post, Lucas has defended Israel against defenders of the Palestinians. Lucas has taken particular aim at gay activists, who combine what they see as humanitarian interest in the plight of Palestinians with criticism of "pinkwashing." They claim that the Israeli government, its tourist agency and liberal defenders, are exploiting the relaxed climate in cities like Tel Aviv and Eilat to justify or deflect Palestinian repression.
Lucas has extended his avowedly pro-Zionist sympathies with a decided antipathy to Islam. In columns, interviews and lectures, Lucas has fiercely condemned what he claims is ingrained homophobia. His outspoken stance has earned him widespread notoriety -- including some who agree in general with his pro-Israel stance.
At a recent dinner party, when I mentioned Lucas to a gay executive at a prominent Jewish organization, he practically spit out "Lucas is a "fascist." Not only would such a comment not bother Lucas, it’s that kind of comment that keeps him in full-speed rock-the-boat in-your-face mode.
Now Lucas has taken his pro-Israeli advocacy to a new level. He has stepped out of his presumed X-rated comfort zone into documentary filmmaking. In its 46-minute running time, "Understanding Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land" includes interviews with a gay member member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament; an openly gay member of the Israeli Defense Forces, Israel’s formidable army; an Arab-Israeli journalist; and a gay pair of dads.
Even though he never addresses pinkwashing, Lucas always intended the film, which is being screened on Feb. 8 at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, as a direct challenge to anti-Israeli gay activists.