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The fictional Wet Palms Inn ( http://GayResort.com -- the San Vicente Inn in real life ) is the sort of place where a man looking for someone enters the wrong room to see a drug-induced orgy and is invited in with someone saying at least he looks like his online picture, yet everyone in the orgy is gorgeous and sexually proficient. And that's before the opening credits!
The first episode of "Wet Palms" wastes no time introducing us to some of the main characters. Gazing at his butt with the intent of an accountant under an audit, Jason Ridge, as Peter Dune, is worried about his ass. Boyfriend Brad Benton, as Tucker Bang, assures him that "it's firm, it's round, it's rough and it's in my way" as he dashes off to his job. Jason may be a bit of an egotist, "the most popular bachelor in town," but this couple seems relatively happy. Until Jason gets a mysterious call he can't mention to Brad.
Into the picture sweeps Gabriel Knight, a stunner of a man with perfect hair and a tight body, handsome as handsome can be. He plays the main character, Lucky Hanson, someone with a past who will obviously be revealing it as the plot rolls along. He shows up at the Wet Palms, a gay inn resembling Melrose Place on a very sexy day, where Bret Wolfe, as manager Brady Littleton, is juggling phones. When Brad sees Gabriel, he forgets all of his calls, recognizing him as someone from his past. Gabriel has come looking for a man who can help him figure out his past, his only clue a photo of his mother signed by this man, who happens to be out of the country. Bret decides to let him stay in the guest room, and introduces him to tall blond Cody Cash, as Tripp West, the inn's "aquatic maintenance engineer." Bret and Cody are nervous about Gabriel being there and immediately call the police.
Meanwhile, Gabriel takes his rubber-band-tight body and phenomenal ass into the shower where he lovingly lathers. Note the care taken as this solo scene unravels. Something less careful might throw Gabriel immediately into posing and angling himself for the camera, performing for the viewer, but this isn't standard porn. There is a story here, so Gabriel keeps his wonderfully blank Lucky face going as he simply showers. Granted, his dick gets hard and he isn't afraid to touch it or enjoy the warm soapy water, but he's still Lucky the whole time, no reason to overdo the solo. But, if we stayed with character all the time, we might as well just have the soap opera and not the soapy sex! Gabriel spies Cody outside of his shower, attending to the pool, and the lasciviousness starts. Cody gets hard and teases with the pool cleaner while Gabriel now flashes his eyes and poses for his watcher. Gabriel works himself into a nice solo, with Cody leering happily, and it takes just the right amount of time before Gabriel cums and ends the scene. Gabriel the actor nailed the beautifully directed scene and Lucky the mystery character worked it just as well.
A now-dry Lucky is introduced to Jason Ridge, who treats him haughtily. "Don't give me that 'babe' crap, I'm not from LA," Gabriel snarls in one of the episodes best lines. Jason, you see, has a reason to be so uppity. He's the main model for "Bubble Underwear" and his well-proportioned ass is on billboards all over town. Jason also seems to recognize Gabriel, both by his face and his ass.
Brad calls boyfriend Jason to make sure he is re-upping his contract with Bubble before Brad's nefarious boss Michael Soldier, playing Simon Jett, shows up and makes Brad hastily end the phone call. Michael runs a tabloid and the big news is a former boy-band artist who has come out of the closet. Brad is desperate to interview him, but Michael isn't about to let that happen (he has an apparent dislike for Jason, but we don't know why yet), sending Brad instead to check out socialite Ethan Marc, as the gleefully villainous Todd Marlowe.
Ethan, acting the hell out of his character with the gusto of the best of the soap vixens (owing to Susan Lucci, owing to Joan Collins, and definitely owing to Larry Hagman, just a whole lot cuter), is the mystery man on Jason's phone earlier, a rich nasty gent who pays Jason for sex. "For services rendered," he snidely drips as he drops money into Jason's undies. Jason keeps swearing it's the last time he'll do this as he undresses the threatening Ethan, a wowing brunet with great lips and a magnificently muscled body. The main sex scene of this episode ensues, a jaw-dropper of exquisite filmmaking. Both are angry, and the editing (a wonderful job done by Mr. Pam) shows it. They rip each other's clothes off, they pout and try to pin the other down, edited in nanoseconds rather than moments so it maintains the emotion of the moment rather than pandering to convention (akin to how the solo was put together). This isn't happy sex, and there's no reason to make it seem like happy sex. Finally, Ethan sits on Jason for a blowjob, which Jason delivers expertly, gobbling it up quickly. He's clearly worth whatever Ethan is paying him and Ethan lords it over him, forcing Jason to change positions and continue blowing before demanding a rimjob. Jason rims with gusto before fingering Ethan. At this point in the scene, Jason has lulled Ethan into ecstasy, and he's about to take advantage of him with a fuck. Jason thrusts into him with an angry insertion and then rattles off a savage fuck, full of rabid forceful jabs that have them both sweating in aggression. The unhappy hooker is taking it out on his john, and after both cum, Jason reiterates, "that was the last time," as someone snaps pictures of them outside the window.
At L.A.'s infamous Abbey Bar ( http://AbbeyFoodAndBar.com ), Brad is anxiously waiting for Jason, nervous as each man enters, when in ambles Gabriel for a beer he can't afford. "Another hustler," sniffs the bartender, but Brad offers to get it, noting amiably that "there's nothing worse than being broke at Happy Hour." Gabriel is appreciative that Brad is treating him like a person, and not like the hustler everyone else that day has. Jason finally bounds in, but sees Brad and Gabriel talking and jealously storms out.
Back at Wet Palms, Bret takes the opportunity to root through Gabriel's things as the police call him back. "I'll definitely keep my eye on him," Bret says quizzically as the episode ends.
Yes, there is more plot time than sex in the first episode of "Wet Palms," but to set up something so intricate, we need to meet the characters and understand the situations. The writers and director do that with an effortless teasing, using only three men in sex scenes, but managing to make it seem hardcore at each turn. The solo proves Gabriel a major porn force and the two-way shows Jason and Ethan to be the sexual pros they have always been. The plot is off to a fascinating start (take that major networks!) and before I say anymore, let's move on to episode two!
DVD features (Disc 1): A written summary of the episode; a sneak peak at the next episode; the original webcast trailer; written character profiles; auditions (of folksy fun Brad Benton, a strutting exciting Ethan Marc and an intense Michael Soldier who auditioned beautifully, as well as some recognizable porn stars who understandably didn't make it and others who looked like close seconds); interviews (Cody Cash, frisky and full of fun snarky attitude; Rod Barry, suffering an injury, but gracious and philosophical; Chad Donovan, exceedingly playful; Rob Romoni, discussing food with as much panache as he does his character and his co-stars; and Ethan Marc, adorably sweet and professional); chapter selection that leads right to the sex scenes; and no regional coding (playable worldwide).
When I was five I fell in love for the first time with a girl named Robin. Unfortunately, Robin was a teenage prostitute on my mother's favorite soap opera, Search for Tomorrow, so my infatuation was, naturally, completely unrequited. But Robin did send me on a passionate affair of another kind -- my eternal love for the art form called the soaps. So you better believe that with my subscription copy of Soap Opera Digest tucked firmly away in ACDC duffle bag, I was thrilled to receive my latest review assignment at my editor's office -- the deluxe three DVD episode set of the very first gay porn soap opera produced by the amazing Jet Set Productions, Wet Palms! This beautifully put together DVD set has the first three landmark episodes of the recently broadcast soap on NakedSword.com and includes gorgeous extras such as behind-the-scenes footage and audition tapes. The producers also did an incredible job of incorporating many trademarks of the classic daytime soaps. In fact, the opening theme and credits are a loving tribute to the opening credits of the popular Bill Bell creation, The Bold and the Beautiful.
Like the classic soaps, all the characters are entwined somehow, and we are treated to many of the classic soap staples -- the playboy cad, the powerful villain, the handsome rebel stranger with the murky past and the classic soap opera couple that you love to root for. Wet Palms -- directed by Matthew Moore -- is set at a apartment/temporary housing complex of the same name owned by the mysterious never seen Randall Jett -- very Alistair on Passions, for those of you who know what I mean. Richard's brother is the incredibly evil Simon Jett, who runs Jett Magazine. Simon is hell bent on breaking up Tucker Bang, his assistant and wannabe journalist and his boyfriend, underwear model Peter Dune. Dune, a recovering drug addict, is truly in love with Bang but in his insecurity is still carrying on an affair with Todd Marlowe, a married executive at Bubble Underwear -- the company Dune models for. Of course, the couple resides at Wet Palms, run in Richard's absence by the very high strung and overprotective Brady Littleton.
At the opening of the series the young and mysterious Lucky Hanson arrives looking for Randall, who has a connection to his mother. Hanson seems to be a hustler with a criminal past, but is apparently connected to the Jett family in a powerful way that has just begun to be hinted at by the end of the cliffhanging third episode. Of course, there is plenty of hot, hard-core sex, but it is incorporated into the plot line for the most part with the frothy soap opera shenanigans playing front and center.
The characters are played for the most part by familiar porn names, so the acting, as you might expect, can be a mixed bag. Though there are truly some fine performances, particularly from the supporting players. Rod Barry, in a nonsex role as Bang's straight best friend/ coworker, is truly natural and believable and his role, while fairly non-demanding dramatically might be the best acted in the series as of yet.
Rob Romoni, also, is truly believable as another very horny executive of Bubble underwear.
Jason Sechrest, a gossip columnist, plays himself, and while some might find his role annoyingly stereotypical, he is truly at ease oncamera. While his behavior is over-the-top, it seems like his natural persona, not an overblown act. Essentially, he is the comic relief, and I actually, truly enjoyed his "character" and thought he added some lightness and fun to the proceedings.
Of the leads, I found Ethan Marc, as the soulless playboy executive with whom the model character is having an affair, and Gabriel Knight, as the handsome and mysterious stranger, most embodied the true essence of soap opera acting. Marc comes off like Terry Lester, the original Jack Abbott, when he was one of the best-loved soap sleazes on The Young and the Restless, and Knight is much like Jon Hensley during his early days as Holden on As the World Turns -- someone with a beautiful presence and a decent-to-modest range met with the perfect role.
Brad Benton, as the hero Tucker Bang, has some nice moments and despite some awkward patches does a decent job and should truly grow into his role as time goes on.
Jason Ridge, as Peter Dune, is almost as successful as Benton and should also grow into his role with time.
Bret Wolfe, as Brady, the manager of Wet Palms, does some nice work but has a few too many moments where he rushes his dialogue and overexaggerates his responses to the point of unnatural parody. He truly has a nice character developed though, and, hopefully, with time will calm down some of his mannerisms.
The only performance I was truly disappointed in, though, was Michael Soldier's as the true villain of the piece, Simon Jett. I am a true fan of Soldier's -- he was amazing in A Porn Star is Born. He is extremely sexy, and I think that he is a perfect fit for this role. It seems, though, that he and Moore made too extreme a choice with his acting style. He plays Jett as if he were a silent movie villain who has just gotten through tying Lillian Gish to the railroad tracks every moment he is onscreen. While committed, he is far too loud and broad and seems very out of place with the other more subtle performers. The only time he is truly relaxed and beautiful to watch is in his sex scene, which closes out the third and final episode of this deluxe box set.
In fact, the same can be said of all the performers to a certain degree. They are truly alive and do their best acting during their sex scenes, which average about two or three encounters per episode.
In the first episode, the hunky blond Knight has a nice and soapy solo scene while dreaming about the even blonder pool boy of the complex, played by Cody Cash. Knight is beautiful, but the scene is very abrupt and quick and ends up being more pretty filler than titillation.
The second and final sex scene of the debut episode, performed by Ridge and Marc as the illicit lovers, is one of the hottest of the series, though. Ridge's character has been sleeping with Marc for the money, and his conflict is apparent even as he is passionately fucking Marc. He is truly torn between the enjoyment and release of what he is doing and his growing love for his boyfriend. Ridge works up an incredible sweat as Marc flaps ecstatically below him. Marc works himself into a frothy orgasm as Ridge moves inside him. This scene truly works on two levels: As the building of character and as something very hot to look at.
The second episode features an almost comically urgent meeting between Wolfe and Paulo Cortez, as a lost and temporally marooned stranger passing through the complex. Wolf does great work here as his character -- still on the clock -- tears off his clothes and bends over to be fucked by the gorgeous, dark Cortez without foreplay. This is a demanding, sweaty, hard and enjoyable scene with many urgent commands issued out by the nearly frantic Wolfe.
Benton has another fairly comical encounter in the next scene. At his character's office, he encounters the mysterious office masturbator played in shadows by the legendary Chad Donavon, who does display his gorgeously legendary huge phallus to grand effect before coating Benton's shirt with a gigantic load.
The final scene is another hot one, featuring Romoni's businessman. Romoni makes a pass at Knight but winds up being fucked by a guest at the complex, played by hot blond Euro-stud Ashton Sorenson. Sorenson has a long, thick, meaty cock that Romoni goes to town on. Romoni eventually begs to be fucked by Sorenson, and it is truly a powerfully erotic sight to watch the beefy and masculine Romoni be turned out so totally by the younger and leaner Sorenson.
Sorenson, featured briefly in the opening credits -- though not listed as a regular cast member -- returns for another passionate encounter with the nosy Cash in episode three. Cash has gotten into a resident's dildos when Sorenson happens upon him. Cash then proceeds to dive for Sorenson's amazing package like Kirstie Alley going for a Twinkie and thus begins a very hot encounter between these two very blond and well-matched pups. Cash also has a pretty cock that Sorenson eventually gives a lot of attention to, and the pair burst their fluids out upon one another at the end like two most-impressive firemen at a professional spitting contest. The final encounter -- which closes the episode out on a cliffhanger -- involving a very fucked-up Ridge about to capture Benton entwined with the manipulative Soldier is boiler room hot. Soldier blackmails Benton into his private office. Stripping down to reveal full leather gear under his business garb, Soldier forces his young protégée to strip down, lay down on a bench and begin to bench press an enormous weight while making him beg for his cock. Soldier practically redeems his previous over-the-top performance by getting down to true-to-life, honestly gruff nasty business here. The previously reluctant Benton is soon begging to be pounded by this most sexy motherfucker and with legs in Victoria position is soon howling out louder than Jack Nicholson in Wolf as the trimly hairy Soldier maneuvers away inside him. Moore truly ends this episode on an explosive note and leaves you hungry for more.
So I'm sure that it causes no drama to realize that I truly believe that this is a major achievement in porn theatre. Both the soap fan and the porn lover in me eagerly anticipate watching the next three episodes in this ongoing series. Even if you are not of the All My Children set -- and, in fact, my only complaint with the beautiful packaging is that someone spelled the highly publicly engrained name of that show's legendary character, Erica Kane wrong on one of the prominent box cover reviews. You should check out Wet Palms for its revolutionary treatment of the porn experience. I can assure you, you won't regret it.
- Christian James
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