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LaBruce at Die Untoten (May 2011)
|Born||January 3, 1964|
Southampton, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation||Actor, writer, filmmaker, photographer, underground adult director|
LaBruce was born in Tiverton, Ontario. He has claimed both Justin Stewart and Bryan Bruce as his birth name in different sources. He studied film at York University in Toronto and wrote for Cineaction magazine, curated by Robin Wood, his teacher.
He first gained public attention with the publication of the queer punk zine J.D.s, which he co-edited with G.B. Jones. He has written and photographed for a variety of publications including Vice, the former Nerve.com and BlackBook Magazine, and has been a columnist for the Canadian music magazine Exclaim! and Toronto's Eye Weekly, as well as a contributing editor and photographer for New York's Index Magazine. He has also been published in Toronto Life, the National Post and The Guardian.
LaBruce's filmmaking style is marked by a blend of explicitly pornographic depictions of sex with more conventional narrative and filmmaking techniques, as well as an interest in extreme topics which mainstream audiences might dismiss as shocking or disturbing taboos. For instance, his films have depicted scenes of sexual fetish and paraphilia, BDSM, gang rape, racially-motivated violence, amputee fetishism, gerontophilia, male and female prostitution, and zombie and vampire sexuality.
He has frequently been identified with the New Queer Cinema movement that emerged in the 1990s, although at the height of that movement's prominence, he rejected the association on the grounds that he felt more personally aligned with the queercore movement. The queercore movement was born in the 1980s and LaBruce was one of the fathers. Noted as the avant-garde and unapologetic gay answer to the punk movement, queercore expressed the very same discontent with society as the punks were stating.
His movie, Otto; or Up with Dead People debuted at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. L.A. Zombie was banned from the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2010 because, in the opinion of Australian censors, it would have been refused classification. However, the film was subsequently able to screen at OutTakes, a New Zealand lesbian and gay international film festival, in May 2011.
In March 2011, LaBruce directed a performance of Arnold Schoenberg's opera Pierrot Lunaire at the Hebbel am Ufer Theatre in Berlin. This iteration of the opera included gender diversity, castration scenes and dildos, as well as portraying Pierrot as a transgender man. He subsequently also filmed this adaptation as the 2014 theatrical film Pierrot Lunaire.
Beginning with Gerontophilia in 2013, LaBruce dropped some of the more sexually explicit aspects of his filmmaking style. He retained his traditional interest in exploring sexual taboos, dramatizing an intergenerational relationship between a young man and a senior citizen, but opted to do so within a film that would be more palatable to a mainstream audience.
In 2018, LaBruce directed the short film Scotch Egg as part of Erika Lust's XConfessions series. The short is about a Scottish gay man who has sex with a woman in a gay bar. LaBruce was inspired to create the film after reading a confession sent to XConfessions by a heterosexual woman who fantasized about going to a gay bar and having sex with a homosexual man.
According to Courtney Fathom Sell of South Coast Today, some of his films explore themes of sexual and interpersonal transgression against cultural norms, frequently blending the artistic and production techniques of independent film with gay pornography.