Culture Fop / Don't Worry, Israel, the King of Gay Porn Is Behind You

Plus: Rock star Ivri Lider talks quantum mechanics.

A documentary the Israeli government can finally be proud of

The first film that Michael Lucas made about Israel was called “Men of Israel” and featured some of this country's most beautiful male specimens in some of the most beautiful natural landscapes, enjoying each other’s, um, company. It was supposedly the first pornographic film shot on location in the Holy Land with an all-Israeli/Jewish cast and apparently became a hit for Lucas Entertainment, the gay adult film production company that Lucas founded.

Lucas’ interest in Israel isn’t just a filmmaker’s taste for the exotic “other” – it actually stems from his deep and passionate Zionism. The Russian-born Lucas, who is Jewish, has become known for his spicy brand of pro-Israel activism and efforts to beef up gay tourism here.

Among other things, he has written political opinion pieces detailing Israel’s impressive record on gay rights, organized gay tours of the country and recently – and very publicly – pressured the New York LGBT Community Center to cancel meetings and events held by anti-Israel groups.

His latest film, “Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land,” premiered this past weekend at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. That's right, as in a totally legit Jewish film fest in the South.

Lucas’ most recent project is actually a, um, straight documentary about how great it is to be gay in Israel. It features interviews with community activists, gay celebs and politicians, including MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), the first openly gay MK elected to the Knesset.

To be clear, neither MK Horowitz, nor any of the film’s other participants, shed their clothes. Lucas, in an interview with the Huffington Post, called the title a “tongue-in-cheek recognition of my background in the adult industry.”

“I've been frustrated at how little people know about Israel,” he said in the interview. “[Israeli culture] is actually very progressive and tolerant. That's especially true when it comes to gay rights, which are more advanced there than in the United States.”

Well, this is quite a welcome respite for the Israeli government, which hasn’t fared so well cinematically this year: Two other high-profile documentaries that earned Oscar nominations, “The Gatekeepers” and “5 Broken Cameras,” highlight the less photogenic side of Israel.

What a relief it must be to Bibi, et al., therefore, that a gay porn kingpin should come to the rescue and restore the country’s good image. Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who recently came out as no longer a homophobe, should be thrilled.

A spoonful of music helps the string theory go down

It usually takes a bachelor’s degree in the sciences to find yourself in a lab coat and peering through a microscope at the Weizmann Institute, Israel’s internationally renowned research center. But last fall, Ivri Lider, one of Israel’s most popular rock stars, found himself on the campus hopping from lab to lab with band mate Johnny Goldstein. Lider is only slightly less accomplished in the field of physics.

“I studied physics for about a year in high school,” he says.

But we’re never too old for a fieldtrip, right? Lider and Goldstein were invited to create a music video for a reunion of the institute’s physics faculty, which was passed around internally at the institute and recently made its YouTube debut.

“Usually physics is considered difficult for the general public,” says Yael Goren-Wegman, director of the alumni association. “We wanted to make it popular and accessible to show that physics is not as difficult as it sounds.”

The resulting video, called “Touching Something No One Found,” is an attempt to inject the family-friendly reunion with a little pop glam and increase awareness about the newly established alumni association. And fans of Lider and Goldstein’s electro-pop project The Young Professionals can get a taste of their signature sexy/cool, groovy style mixed with a dose of scientific theory.

The video, filmed on location by Weizmann alumnus-cum-award-winning-filmmaker Khen Shalem, splices interviews with Weizmann physicists talking about their areas of research with lyrics Lider wrote specifically for the project.

“We wanted to create something that made sense musically and logically,” Lider says. “We created it to be about them, their world, their motivations.”

Bringing in one of the country’s biggest musical duos may seem like introducing a foreign body into an otherwise isolated and controlled environment, but the two socially disparate organisms appear to have discovered some shared properties.

“They’re in the lab, searching for particles and equations and theories and we’re in the studio, searching for a word or sentence or feeling or a sound,” says Lider.

“If there’s something similar in what we do and they do, it’s the point when you sit in your room – them a lab, us a studio – and you go inside yourself. That searching. That’s very much in common with being an artist and a scientist.”

The chemistry faculty reunion is up next. Perhaps Sarit Hadad will enlighten us as to recent developments in ecotoxicology?

Wiki Commons