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Ten erotic images that explore the voyeuristic world of an Athens gay cinema

"Documenting the behaviour of an era that is now fading and recreating scenes of lost intimacy has been part of the core motive".

By Alastair James

We’re being taken on a journey to explore the erotic and voyeuristic world of gay porn cinemas in photographer Helias Doulis’s collection of images, A Faggot’s Destiny.

Shot before the Covid-19 pandemic, this ode to gay cruising sees several men enjoying each other’s company in a number of erotic scenarios inside one of Athens’ gay cinemas.

Speaking to Attitude about the collection Helias laments the rise of dating apps and explains that he is reclaiming the word f*****.

Where did the idea come from for A Faggot’s Destiny?

I was a poet before I ever thought of taking photographs, but I needed to visualize what my words were all about in order for them to become visible to a wider audience. Most of my work has existed in my head and notes for years before I showed it.

The homonymous poem I wrote back in 2016, titled η μοίρα του πούστη describes the not-so-intimate love affair of two gay men behind a track at midnight and showcases how gay men had to invent spaces of safety during our journey for self-acceptance to survive in heteronormative societies.

What do you want to achieve with this?

I wanted to create this sense of community for those who have lived in a purely cruising era and for others who have been lucky enough to proudly hold hands but wanted to experience what it’s like to be jerking off side by side in front of a cinema screen.

What did you find through the collection?

Shooting at porn booths around the world is part of my personal journey. Exploring these spaces and then filming both myself and strangers in them, I was filled with this instinctive rush I wanted to experience along with those who are willing to not only secretly fantasize about it but examine themselves.

A Faggot’s Destiny is a photographic journey that unites all backgrounds at the altar of sex and freedom, while the erotic spectrum embraces the nostalgia of one’s daring sexual self.

What have you taken away from it?

Although A Faggot’s Destiny is an ongoing project I want to explore in several countries and cultures, I’ve had the opportunity to witness men shamelessly entertain themselves, while watching porn next to strangers in Paris, Athens, and London already.

Documenting the behaviour of an era that is now fading and recreating scenes of lost intimacy has been part of the core motive in order to embrace and present parts of the LGBTQIA+ community to the world.

What’s your experience of gay cinemas been?

I was a teenager when I watched The Pianist by M. Haneke and obsessed over the performance of I. Huppert staring into the camera while sniffing a used tissue at a porn booth.

That was the very moment I felt the need to experience what it’s like in a smelly tiny booth, jerking my way out of my shame. My sex cinema virginity was taken away in Pigalle. The unforgettable sense of belonging has marked my views on porn and the way at times I enjoy sex itself.

View the full collection of images in A Faggot’s Destiny as well as more of Helias’ work on his website, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.