A documentary filmmaker gives us his X-rated commentary cut.

Bush Lite 

A documentary filmmaker gives us his X-rated commentary cut.

At a coy 67 minutes, documentarian Benjamin Meade's American Stag barely makes it to third base — and Adam Carolla keeps interrupting. The film compiles grainy, low-rent footage of rushed-looking couples in various states of undress and arousal, with minimal humping. To further retard the viewer's libido, there's historical analysis from academics and commentary from B-list celebrities, including radio host Carolla.

But sex isn't Meade's point. He's more interested in the archetypal fantasy behind these one-reel shorts — that the world is full of loose women who harbor secret cravings for lumpy flesh — and the male ritual of sharing it. The stag film vanished when porn emerged in 1973 as a constitutionally protected force. Meade's smart piece suggests that the relative quaintness of these risible, earnest movies is something to mourn in our hardcore age.

The 51-year-old filmmaker brings his festival hit to the Glenwood Arts (9575 Metcalf in Overland Park, 913-642-4404) Friday, June 8. Meade recently sat down at the Pitch to answer questions about his Stag party.

What do these films have in common with what we think of as porn?

There's always degradation. I find that in most of them, even the animated stuff.

It seems like the appetites on display in both are less about sex than about ...

Domination, ownership. Sure.

Who is the audience for American Stag? Is it a Father's Day movie?

Women like it more than men do.

That's not what you'd expect.

It gives women a chance to poke fun at the male gender. Every time we screen it, the howling and laughter come from women.

So it's a date movie.

Most women don't know what stag films were, but they're curious when they read about them. And men aren't interested because there's no hardcore pounding in it. It's all just very suggestive. Women come up to me after screenings and say, "My grandfather had a projector, and he used to have people over, and now I know what they were doing."

Meade sat down with the Pitch's Scott Wilson to provide this director's commentary of American Stag:

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