“I Want Your Love” is an unflinchingly honest portrait of gay life. Today, The Sword sits down exclusively for an unflinchingly honest conversation with its star, Jesse Metzger, on everything from fans discussing the size of his dick to him discussing everything else.
The Sword is premiering “Indie Focus Thursday” today where we’ll examine the driving forces in Indie cinema and dive deeper into the independent provocateurs responsible for the films selected for inclusion in NakedSword Film Works (NSFW).
“I Want Your Love” (IWYL) premiered at NakedSword in 2013. Three years hence, how did the universal acclaim and international controversy sparked by the film impact the life and career of its star? As it turns out, in some deep and surprising ways.
The Sword – Jesse, we’re so glad to catch up with you. One thing to sort out as we begin: should we refer to you as Jesse Metzger as credited in the film, or Jesse Hewit?
Jesse Metzger: I’m glad to be caught up with! I guess you should refer to me as Jesse Metzger. This is always a funny quandary, but…for simplicity’s sake … we’ll go with that.
Artistically, is Jesse Metzger a slice of Jesse Hewit that you’ve only been able to express in “IWYL?”
Radley Metzger is a film hero of Travis Mathews’ (the creator, writer and director of “IWYL”), who is famous for making really gorgeous erotic films from the early sixties to the mid-eighties. Travis dubbed me with this name early on in our collaboration together.
How has “IWYL” impacted your career?
“IWYL” happened in a really organic way, where a fellow artist (Travis) approached me about collaborating on his work, which was work that was/is attempting to push at constructs of how we look at sex and sexuality on film, how we look at bodies, and how we negotiate our presentations of self. “IWYL” is a decidedly small and humble film … it’s just a gentle and honest perspective.
From what I can tell, careers are slippery and fussy monsters, so I just try to keep making projects that feel exciting, difficult, and important. If they add up to some kind of career, then great. If not, then I’m pretty content to keep cutting coupons, buying second-hand clothes and the cheapest wines, and letting occasional treats make me feel rich as fuck.
Have you ever been recognized from the movie?
Yes. I work a lot in western Europe and the film played those festival circuits quite a bit. As a result, there was a period of time where I was “recognized” a lot.
Sometimes, people (mostly fags) were really nice and said something quick about liking the project. I just always kind of wonder – because I’m healthily self-obsessed/aware – if they’re saying “oooh he’s cute, that’s cool that we’re seeing him” or if they’re like “oooh his dick wasn’t very big and he was kind of boring.”
But I’ve had some really nice conversations with people who recognize me from the movie, and who took something from the movie that was important for them. I’ve had more drinks bought for me than ever before! :)
There are lots of guys who have gotten off to “IWYL.” Did being a part of it impact what you now view as pornographic?
It actually has, because we were challenged so many times to define and categorize the project as EITHER porn or NOT porn. Honestly, this conversation feels super simple to me. What people get off to is such a truly endless array of stuff. Therefore, I’ve decided to think of porn as an exchange, as opposed to a pre-determined thing.
Something becomes my porn if I use it as images for getting off. Therefore, porn could be anything, and also sexual images that are produced for the purpose of getting people off could be easily recontextualized and become very much not porn.
“IWYL” is porn for some people. Brawny paper towel commercials are porn for some people. Watching people eat is porn for some people. What IWYL operates as, porn or not porn, is none of my business.
You had a small part in “Looking.” How did that come about?
“IWYL” Assistant Director Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh were working with HBO to cast that show, and I was in talks to maybe play the lead. When they went with Jonathan, they just invited me to come to set and do some smaller work on the show, kind of just for fun. Which it was! Michael and Andrew are such sweet guys, and it was really interesting to be on their set.
Who are your favorite filmmakers?
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, A.L Steiner, Jill Soloway, Atom Egoyan, Wong Kar-wai, and I hesitate to say it, but: Lars Von Trier. (just to name a few)
Lastly, what can you tell the “IWYL” fans about your experience filming it that will help them enjoy the movie even more?
“IWYL” is a brief moment in time for a group of people; in the story of the film and in real life. I like when the film is honestly and humbly celebrated as such. I’m very proud to have worked on it. I like it when people understand that IWYL is a labor-of-love project that was cobbled together by a group of friends.
We made this movie because we ALL know (our audiences included) that sex and sexuality are really very multidimensional things, and how they operate in our lives can be so very UN-hot. They can be our survival strategies, our addictions, our masks, our handshakes, our traumas or our triggers, or they can be a thing that we honestly use to just mark the passing of time.
The passing of time has made Jesse Metzger an even more compelling, sexier man. What is your favorite part of “IWYL?”