Takes a Mile


USA, 1985
Director: Matt Sterling
Stars: Tom Brock, Jim Pulver, Jeff Quinn, Steve Wright, Doug Jensen

Apart from being a great masterpiece of gay porn, Inch by Inch is one of the precious AIDS-cusp televisual objects like Kiss of the Spider Woman or the video clip to The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star”, objects that ache with the tragedy of paradise lost and an eerily clairvoyant sense that a mega-viral curtain was about to come down on a barely nascent golden age of promise.

Tony Stefano hops out of the shower to discover muscular, golden-haired Steve Henson is hiding under his bed. Under interrogation from Stefano, Henson confesses that “a man” has offered his $500 to steal a pair of Stefano’s sweaty underpants. Though he claims to be mystified as to why anyone would want a pair of his soiled y-fronts, Stefano seems to know that the apparently-hetero Henson will suck him dry with very little coercion. The headjob happens as foreplay to a dramatic dry-fucking scene, where Henson either acts quite well or is in real pain as Stefano ploughs into him without mercy. Mike Raymond (also known as Brian Estevez), also hiding under the bed, makes a noise and is discovered by Stefano. Henson escapes the scene, leaving Raymond to cop Stefano’s second load.

With the underwear thieves thus dispatched, Stefano relaxes in his bedsit with a masturbation fantasy about three guys fucking at a beach. Well-built Doug Jensen crawls across the sand in a strangely feminine, cat-like way to interrupt towering Steve Wright’s sex with another guy, and a three-way orgasm is intercut with shots of waves crashing on the beach.

Across town, the incorrigible Henson spies on Tom Brock who’s naked and caressing himself at home. Raymond comes all over Brock’s window pane.

Then, lusty Jeff Quinn is minding his own business in a rattling carriage of a speeding subway train, when Aryan and stacked Jim Pulver catches his eye. Quinn worships Pulver’s sweaty body and enormous, thick cock and the noise and movements of the train backdrop a thrilling, rollicking fucking sequence.

The film ends with Brock exiting a train and a message that the story will be continued, though a sequel was never made.

Inch by Inch was the first porn movie I ever bought. It was in the bargain bin at a Sydney adult shop and me and my first boyfriend snapped it up because it was inexpensive. We watched it morning, noon, and night for weeks, before Stefano’s cartoonish dialogue took up long lease in our in-house jokes and the tape got packed away. I think we even threw it out when we moved! Now, ten years later, copies on DVD retail for around $50. The movie seems to have shifted from being an old-fashioned screamer to a place it better deserves as a valuable, in-demand classic.

The aptly-named Matt Sterling’s eye for gay porn stacks his films with great-looking guys who are attracted to each other’s cocks, armpits and buttholes, he always avoids camera-fetishisation of body parts or practices. Most scenes are held in comfortable mid-shot, so we can see almost all of both guys at all times. Seeing someone flex a tube-socked foot or grimace as they’re getting fucked is far more exciting, I think, than a six-minute close up of a penis going in and out of an anus. Present day gay porn, with it’s disembodied framing, has an impersonal, grocery store appeal, with the camera guiding us product-by-product along an aisle of separated body parts.

Inch by Inch’s Moog synthesiser soundscape and petty-crime, blue-collar milieu contribute to the film’s real sense of menace and tension and the characters seem locked wholly within a throbbing and suspenseful world of testosterone and the need for sex. It’s a hell of a lot hotter than listening to tinkling classical piano music while watching two clean-cut Hungarian boys with apparently loads of free time making out by a Bavarian stream, or New York pozzies drinking each other’s meth-tainted cum.

Great for whacking off or historical reflection and with a distinctive aesthetic that should be recognised as pop-art, Inch by Inch is important and fun.

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