The Devil’s Kiss

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I wrote the video The Devil’s Kiss in order to explore our cultural attitudes about sex and pleasure that are often deeply rooted in the shadows of shame. Since sex is central to mainstream gay identity and culture in general, to be openly gay is to bear a greater share of these cultural projections–even more so on behalf of those who are not able or willing to claim their own animalistic drives. A gay identity generally puts us at odds with a negative cultural stance against sex, because our deepest sexual cravings belie our own preferred self-images as socialized “good boys,” putting us face-to-face with our innermost disavowed emotional demons. In a sense, we are animals that feed on others to survive. Religion has collectively named a large assortment of these shadowy emotions and bodily longings: the Devil.

Consider that the ass is also central to much of gay sexuality. From childhood onward, many of us have internalized a tremendous share of negatively impacting messages about our asses. In turn, many of us have been conditioned to fear our own asses, feel disgusted by them, maybe even do our best to avoid contact with them except when necessary. It is frequently difficult to harmonize our carnal desires with the conflicting messages that encourage us to distance ourselves from our own bodies. We may fear our bodies’ odors, our bodies’ functions, and most importantly, the symbolism embodied deeply within them. While our asses are capable of bringing us intense pleasure, as a prolific symbol, they are also corridors that return consumed nutrients to Earth–an allegory of our own impending deaths. Gay sex often highlights this paradox: the life force that courses through us arouses many of us to erotically engage with other men in the very place where death is symbolized.

Not surprisingly, during the early American witch hunts, many believed that witches worshipped the Devil and paid him homage by kissing his ass. Often referred to as the osculum infame, the Devil’s Kiss is mentioned in many recorded accounts of witches’ confessions that were generally extracted under torture. This sign was called the kiss of shame because it was generally regarded as an act of degradation. According to the allegations, witches would give the kiss of shame at the beginning of the sabbat, after the Devil had read the names of his followers. It was believed that this kiss was required for a new witch to be initiated, and the kiss was followed by feasting.

To feel fully free, we must release our culture’s attitudes and inhibitions about the body, its longings, and the truth that it is dying, even as we live. The ass, a symbol of deep depravity in times past, holds an enormous erotic potential–especially when kissed deeply, tongued, sucked, and, yes, worshipped for its sensitivities and its role in our collective eroticism. For the man who kneels before you and takes your hole in his mouth, uphold him with deep respect. To me, it can be a sign of ultimate submission as well as a rejection of moralistic rules that have invaded us for centuries. Honor each other with the Devil’s Kiss.

The osculum infame illustrated in Francesco Maria Guazzo‘s Compendium maleficarum of 1608
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