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Sex and the city … of Seattle

Seattle- It may seem strange that in a city where you can’t get a lap dance, can’t smoke in a bar and can’t buy high-octane beer downtown (as of Nov. 1), you can watch a whole bunch of amateur porn and not feel like a total pervert.

At least, you could this past weekend. The Stranger sold more than 1,400 tickets to its second annual “Hump!” festival, which featured a variety of amateur erotic — and locally made — films.

Seattle’s second annual “Hump!” festival continued with a series of homemade videos featuring the non-siliconed, not-so-slender and less-than-buffed having a lot of sex.

The appetite for the two-day event — which doubles as a judging contest of the movies — has been insatiable.

Initially, The Stranger, the cheeky alternative weekly that organized the contest, announced five screenings. Every show was sold out by the next day. The 8 p.m. shows sold out within 45 minutes.

The paper added more screenings and encountered the same voracious demand. Slowpokes without tickets wailed on the paper’s blog for more shows. Porn fans scoured craigslist, where tickets were going for nearly twice the price.

In total, the paper received about 40 movies and sold more than 1,400 tickets — most at $20 a pop — for 14 shows, said Stranger editor Dan Savage.

“We could add four more shows and still sell out,” Savage said. He said the event builds on the success of last year’s festival, which he called “fun” and “wholesome.”

“A lot of films were erotic and charming. But we use a pretty broad definition of charming,” he said.

This year, films included gay, straight, funny and group sex; copulation between a salt shaker and a napkin; beautiful, artsy sensuality; and raunchy, stop-motion sex between two dolls.

Some people say the popularity of the festival, which ended Saturday night, is a liberation of sexual taboos and a dig at what some people view as an increasingly dour City Hall.

Others say Hump! is an ideal blend of Seattle’s love of film, do-it-yourself leanings and a Northwest sexiness borne of rainy winters and rugged summers.

“There’s the long, dark winters in Seattle that lend themselves to sex,” said Rachel Venning, co-founder of Seattle-based Babeland, a chain of sex-toy stores. “It’s the perfect event for Seattle. It’s no wonder it’s so successful.”

Savage, who pens the candid sex advice column “Savage Love,” said he had mused upon the idea of the festival for years. Finally, he was inspired by a similar festival in Boston called “You Oughta Be in Pictures.”

“It’s a window in the collective erotic imagination of the city,” he said. “Even if every film isn’t to your taste, it’s interesting to have that window into your fellow citizen’s inner life.”

He also called the festival a throwback to the trench coat days when people consumed porn in a theater.

But instead of porn being shameful or furtive, a giddy Hump! audience last Friday celebrated celluloid skin with giggles, hoots and applause at the intimate Northwest Film Forum on Capitol Hill.

Brian Peters, whose entry in the festival features graphic group sex, said Hump! is a welcome release from what he felt was a sometimes clenched aura in the city.

Last year, city officials banned lap dancing and required brighter lights in strip clubs. This year, Mayor Greg Nickels wants to dampen noise levels in nightclubs and bars.

“Seattle is considered a liberal town, but I think it’s very conservative on a lot of levels, like the strip clubs,” Peters said. “It’s really uptight on a lot of things, sexually. Just to see a festival of porn films, it’s pretty out there.”

Peters, who is 26 and has a degree in film and video, said he advertised on craigslist for actors, after all his friends rejected his proposal to be filmed. He found his leading lady easily, an exhibitionist who wanted to fulfill some fantasies.

Of the 200 men who responded to his ad, nine ended up in Peters’ movie, which he filmed in his Edmonds apartment.

As he worked his day job — packaging meat and stocking shelves at a small grocery — he said his parents were cool with his latest project.

“I think it’s good anytime somebody’s being creative, and sticks with something, and is passionate,” said his father, Ed Peters, who is Brian’s boss at the store.

Even when his son is filming a woman having sex with a horde of men?

The father laughed and said he hadn’t seen the movie yet, which he was planning to do tonight.

“I might have a different opinion.”


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