By: Rob Perez –
For the seventh year in a row, Movieboozer.com had a front row seat at the kinkiest film festival of them all. The Cinekink Film Festival recently celebrated its 15th anniversary in New York City and as always, presented to an open-minded public a terrific selection of long and short form films, documentaries, and panel discussions that center on safe and consensual, yet always “kinky” and edgy sexy topics.
And while no one would say virginity is exactly the sexiest of topics—usually something people snicker at—V-Card offers up a hilarious, poignant take on virginity from the point of view of Dillon Birdsall, the focal point of this amazing and original documentary that won the Cinekink Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary feature. Walking around New York City, we see Dillon going up to complete strangers, comedians, and pornstars, admitting he’s a virgin, and seeking their advice on how to lose it, and speaking to sex experts about how much pressure society places on losing one’s “v-card.” While people in his life, from his friends who have no problem getting sex, to his own parents, offer up their own tough love assessment why Dillon can’t seem to lose his virginity despite his many qualities, we do see Dillon go through various stages during the documentary—from being a happy, approachable guy to an almost angry self-loather who continually beats himself up about being a virgin, and becoming almost obsessed with why he can’t get a woman to notice him. I think most guys can relate, especially when we see Dillon persevere and just accept his virgin status for the time being, knowing one day he’ll lose his cherry
If you’ve ever been in that place where you’re suffering from a raging case of blue balls with no end in sight, or just can’t seem to figure out why you’re in such a deep dating slump, V-Card is a documentary that will strike a chord with you.
Virginity is such a sensitive topic, especially for adults who are still virgins. What possessed you to document your struggle to find someone to lose your virginity to?
There were two things that initially gave me the idea to talk about my virginity in the form of a documentary. The first was that I had never seen a movie do it before. I’d seen plenty of docs on sex and plenty of teen comedies talk about virginity, but never from the point of view of someone who was older than their teens and never had sex (The 40-Year-old Virgin being the exception). So, I figured if no one had done it yet, I was in a perfect position to tell my story. The second was that I really wanted to see why I cared so much. I hated my virginity for a very long time and by extension had a lot of self-hate. I wanted to see if I could change the way I thought about my virginity and hopefully help anyone else who felt the way I did about not losing their v-card.
Before filming this documentary, were you very open about your virginity? What was the reaction you were expecting from people when you announced it and what sort of reactions did you receive when you announced you were an adult virgin?
Before making the movie I definitely lied about being a virgin. I would make up the same tired stories you see in those teen movies like “I [had oral sex] over the summer” or be vague about it when the subject came up. But I’ve never been a big fan of lying, especially to my friends, so I eventually just started admitting I’d never done anything with women and it was very freeing. It was still kind of embarrassing sometimes, but for the most part people didn’t care. When we started filming the movie and we told people I was a virgin it was great. Being so willing to admit something that’s so personal and be willing to be 100% honest with strangers really makes people talk about things that they might not have been willing to before you told them. The reactions when I tell people have almost all been positive and encouraging.
Why do you feel virginity is an almost taboo subject, one that should not be talked about publicly if you are one?
Well, sex by its very nature in Western society is not exactly something most people just talk to each other about. We’re very strange as a country; we watch more porn than almost anyone else but are also the most likely to shame others for their kinks and turn-ons or in my case lack of sexual experience. So, virginity is not really a taboo until you start to get further away from what “normal society” is used too. I was 22 when we started making the movie and I did not know any other virgins (a large majority of people lose their virginity before the age of 20). So, it’s definitely kind of weird to feel like you’re the only one who is this thing. A big part of the movie is just trying to dispel the myth that there is a taboo for older virgins. Society places a very high value on sexual identity, it has a very high social currency especially with some men. But when you really step back and ask yourself “Does it matter if I have sex at 18 or 80 as long as I’m happy with the person I am?” virginity as a taboo kind of just falls away. It took me 3 years and a documentary film to realize that, but everyone gets to where they need to be in different ways.
I’m a native New Yorker and the bulk of this documentary was filmed in New York City. I noticed that many of the native New Yorkers you interviewed had typical responses one would hear from New Yorkers about sex, love, and virginity. Do you feel if you traveled to the Midwest, the Bible Belt, or even internationally, the views about virginity wouldn’t be seen as taboo-ish as they seem to be in large, metropolitan cities?
Yes and no. The great thing about New York is that we got to interview people from a bunch of different countries and different parts of the United States. I would definitely say people from Europe have a much healthier way of talking about sex and not feeling shame about enjoying their own sexuality. They were also the ones who had the hardest time believing that I was a virgin. Apparently, Europe does not put the same premium on virginity that America and other more religious countries do. Virginity is very much tied to religion, especially here in America. The funny thing is, I’m an atheist and virginity was never about religion to me. I felt alone because no one seemed to be attracted to me, but making sure I stayed pure was never a thing for me. That’s why we don’t talk about religion very much in the movie because it doesn’t fit with my idea of virginity.
Your best friend in the documentary has no problem getting dates- it’s easy to see why one would be envious of him, whether they’re a virgin or not. Knowing me, I’d be lying if I said I also wouldn’t be a little bit angry/jealous about it, more at myself than him. You mentioned you’re envious of his ability to attract women. Is there also jealousy towards him and others who are just able to get attention without trying? Does it make you ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me?”
Before making the movie “What is wrong with me?” “Why are women not into me?”, and “What am I doing wrong?” were always raging in my head. The funny thing about envy is that you only put yourself in the other person’s shoes when it would benefit you. “That person has an amazing body, so their life must be amazing”. That of course is bullshit. People are people, ugly or beautiful people are always going through changes, hard times, and stuff that you don’t know about. It’s very easy to say your life would be easier if you were beautiful and, in some ways, it might be, but if you have a horrible personality no matter how pretty the outside is, in the long run people will not want to be around you. It took me a lot of effort to change the way I looked at the world. When I looked at people who were great with women I only saw the surface, it took me making this movie to see that loving yourself, being genuinely interested in other people, and having confidence in yourself are way more important than a six pack and a nice head of hair… not that I would be opposed to a six pack and a good head of hair, but if a person is only dating you for what you look like and not the actual person you are maybe you should look into how fulfilling that relationships is.
Can you pinpoint why you feel you couldn’t attract a girl? You’re a nice guy, tall, not lacking in looks, are an actor, you live in New York City, and you have a great personality. Those are qualities that would be desirable for women. Why do you feel you were “Friendzoned” through most of your life?
The sad thing is that I didn’t see any of the good parts of myself for a very long time. I was in a pretty big depression for a long time and it got really bad when we were making the movie. The thing about depression is that it doesn’t let you see the good parts of yourself, it keeps you negative and pessimistic. Some parts of dating definitely don’t help. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been turned down by women in some very shitty ways. Rejection hurts, it hurts a fucking lot. So, if all you know is rejection, you already have a preconceived notion that you’re unattractive because you don’t look like a leading man and live in an online dating atmosphere that can be very hard to navigate. Of course, you’re going to start to think you’re not enough. Not enough of a man, not attractive enough, your dick isn’t big enough, and on and on and on. It’s so easy to fall into the trap. For a long time, I just stopped talking to women, tried to not involve them in my life because to me they were just going to hurt me. I could have so easily turned into someone who hates women, blaming them for all the pain I was feeling. I was very lucky that did not happen. This documentary showed me how depressed I was, how much I was selling myself short and just being an overall asshole to myself. Women are not just objects for you to collect and conquest. They are living breathing incredible people who might not want to fuck you, and you know what? That’s totally fine. Once I stopped seeing women as a thing that was going to hurt me I really started to listen to their advice and their wisdom. So, I can’t pinpoint when I started feeling that I was not enough for women, maybe the first time I asked a girl out and she looked horrified? I can definitely pinpoint when I started to accept who I was as a person and changed the way I looked at women and that is a much better moment to remember.
Do you feel there’s so much emphasis and pressure placed on people to lose their virginities as early in life as possible? Do the therapists and other sex experts you interviewed in the film feel the same way?
Yes, there is definitely an implied emphasis on sex at a young age. Seriously, just look at any teen movie, show, or popular music video. There is also a biological aspect at play when you hit puberty; you are going to have urges and start thinking about sex a hell of a lot more, but our media seems to go out of its way to show youthful people having sex. So, if you’re constantly seeing people have sex in movies and shows and live in a culture that has porn at its fingertips you might start to feel weird that you’re not doing something that “everyone” is doing. I think introducing sexuality to young people is important, sex is going to be a big part of your life, but I wish we were a little more realistic about it. When losing your virginity, you should not be trying to make a porn, you should be trying to connect with your partner emotionally and physically. Don’t rush into having sex; if you feel you’re ready and you have a partner that you like and trust then go for it. Only you will know when you’re ready to start having sex, so don’t feel like you need to have it just because everyone else has.
I also write about the adult industry and I was happy to see you treated the adult performers you interviewed in V-Card with respect while being playful with them. Did any of them offer any really good, substantial advice about how to lose your virginity other than pay for your first time?
Oh my god, the pornstars where the best! Seriously, some of the nicest most accepting people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and yes, the pornstars gave me advice that I will always remember. We were very lucky to interview Nina Hartley and she really changed the way I looked at my virginity and sex in general. She also has one of the funniest lines in the film as well so when you do watch the doc please listen to this amazing woman. All the other pornstars gave me good sex advice and other advice about being a supportive partner. Asa Akira had some amazing advice on being in long-term relationships that really hit home for me as well. I would love to interview more pornstars, maybe in a different project, because they were so great.
You had wanted your first time to be with someone who liked you, not with someone so you can get it over with. Most guys just want to get their virginity over with. Why was it important for you to wait to lose it in that way?
Well, once I decided that I was going to make a documentary about my virginity I really started looking at myself. I started analyzing what made me happy about sex and what made me afraid of sex. A big turn on for me is knowing that my partner is attracted to me not just physically but emotionally as well. Not to say you can’t have a one-night stand with someone who fills both of those roles, but now that I was really putting my virginity in the spotlight I wanted to lose it when I was ready. Before making the movie, I was very close to losing it to a sex worker. There is nothing wrong with losing your virginity this way, if you just want to get it over with and move on a sex worker might be perfect. But with me making the movie and taking a deeper look at what would fulfill me sexually I knew that I wanted to find someone who would accept me without paying for it. The great thing about looking at your virginity in a different way is that you don’t need to “lose it”, instead you can “share it”. I think sharing is a much better than losing.
What kind of public reaction are you getting from this film?
It’s been incredible. After every screening we have so many people coming up to us to share their stories or talk about how it changed the way they look at virginity. It’s been kind of overwhelming to be honest. I’m so happy that I’m getting people to talk about sex in a healthy constructive way. I hope that especially for the men in the audience they see that it’s OK to be vulnerable. Being a “Man” can be so fucking exhausting sometimes—you can’t show emotion, can’t admit that you have fears and doubts. I think this movie really shows me at some of my lowest points and when you show people that when you are willing to bear your soul to strangers it makes them start to look at things differently. I’m very happy with the response we’ve been getting.
What were your expectations with this documentary before filming and did they end up changing while making this? It did appear to get darker near the end, especially when you were filming yourself in your room. That nice, sweet guy seemed to be getting angry at times.
I was afraid to make the documentary at first. It’s one thing to have this cool idea I had in college; it’s another thing to actually show people your secrets. If we were going to make this movie I had to be 100% honest and tell the world some of my biggest shameful moments. That’s a lot to ask anyone, let alone a 22-year-old. But once we started filming I knew it was going to be ok, we had some fantastic interviews right out of the gate and that just kept going. Don’t get me wrong, things do get a bit dark in the movie. Like I said before, I was in a pretty big depression during the filming process. This is my first film, we were making it for almost no money, and I was definitely feeling the pressure of creating something from scratch. The movie was like a very long, very public therapy. Now that it’s finally being shown to the public I absolutely believe I made the right decision. It’s changed me as a person. That’s a huge deal and I’m so happy we as a team finished it.
Has anyone come to you privately to tell you they can completely relate, that you’re not alone, there are other adult virgins living in New York City not out of choice?
Of course, and I’m always there to really listen to their stories and give any advice I can. Being willing to tell the world about my virginity is kind of weird. I understand why more people aren’t rushing to scream it from the rooftops. I just hope people, both virgins and non-virgins, see this movie and start to accept themselves more.
Also, your parents are very frank and honest, especially your mother about why you are still a virgin. Was it tough to hear that from the people you’re closest too, but also, were they right?
No, it wasn’t tough at all, in fact it was great. I’m very close with my family, we talk like that all the time, so it wasn’t anything that I had not heard before. I just feel so lucky to have parents who are that open and honest. They have some of the best lines in the movie and give me great advice. Thanks Mom and Dad, you’re the best!
Will V-Card be screened at other film festivals? Are you in talks with a distributor? Where can the public see this amazing documentary next?
Yes, we are doing our best to get this movie out there as much as possible. We were very lucky to be picked up by our second film festival! We will be showing the movie at the NY Independent Film Festival May 7-13th. As for other festivals we’ve submitted to over 30, so hopefully we’ll get into a few more around the country and abroad. We are shopping the film around to some distributors, but we also have a plan to self-distribute as well. I promise this movie will be available to the public soon. We just need to go through the festival circuit and once that is done we’re going to do our best to bring it to as many people as we can!
V-Card, a film by Dillon Birdsall, was directed by Jamaal R. Green. Executive Producer Dillon Birdsall. Produced by Wilson Mbiavanga and Natasha Chanel www.vcardfilm.com
ALL PHOTOS (EXCEPT FOR THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN IMAGE) COURTESY OF DILLON BIRDSALL/ALL-THE-BIRDS PRODUCTIONS