These days you can’t get away from someone or other talking about chillouts, those seedy after parties where horny gay guys enjoy marathon sex sessions whilst on GHB and crystal meth.
According to the acres of recent press coverage on the subject, everyone’s at it, although some research suggests that it is still something of a niche activity, indulged in by those post-night out clubber-types seeking even more fun.
According to the The Chemsex Study, the practice is particularly popular in Vauxhall, south London, and its surrounding areas, although it has been noted that the amount of people taking part in chill out sessions is on the rise. Highly reputed sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street estimates that over 3000 men who use drugs in a sexual context visit them every month. Scary stuff, eh?
The main fears surrounding this current scene is that some guys get so off their faces they may be incapable of ensuring they stay safe during endless bouts of sex with strangers, or misjudge their drug intake, which can sometimes lead to users becoming vulnerable to sex crimes, falling into a coma or even ODing.
In Mitchell Marion‘s harrowing but fascinating short film G O’Clock, former Brookside hunk Leon Lopez plays the host of a chill out party, who happily throws himself into the excitement of the night, but who eventually crosses a dangerous line, resulting in disastrous consequences.
GuysLikeU caught up with the handsome actor, who has just landed a role in EastEnders, to discuss the issues surrounding the film and why he was so keen to strip off to take part.
G O’Clock, Leon, is a pretty hard hitting film. Why did you want to get involved in it?
Mitch, the director, is a friend of mine so I trusted him and his vision. When I first read the script I didn’t realise what I was getting into. I understood the enormity of the issues being raised, that the drug and sex culture on the gay scene in large cities like London has gotten way out of control. However I think I must have skipped the part of the stage directions that mentioned me being naked for the majority of the film!
What were your thoughts about the chemsex scene from the outset?
I am all for freedom to do what you will, and I respect anyone’s wishes to enjoy themselves on what ever levels. I’m no angel myself. However I have seen so many friends and people I know and love ruin their lives through so called ‘party’ drug use. I’ve had friends die from accidents to do with drugs, overdoses, hospitalisations. Its a scary situation we are in. But I also believe it’s not just the drugs to blame. People’s substance abuse is due to a deeper routed need to connect, an inability to communicate with the real world when sober, so the use of drugs lowering inhibitions allows them to feel more confident. The London gay scene is a frightening place. People are not as friendly when sober as they are when high. I hear so many gay guys saying they can’t have sex without drugs. That’s a frightening statement in itself!
Had you ever been to a chill out before the film?
I am 36 years old. I’ve been openly gay and on the scene since I was 20 so I’ve seen a lot. And I’ve seen enough to cover the research needed for this film. I think the portrayal of the chill out in G O’clock is pretty close to the truth, although I don’t think they usually occur in penthouse apartments and filled with guys who could be on the front cover of Men’s Health!
Do you understand why some men attend these parties on a weekly basis?
I feel its escapism. I feel there is still a lot of homophobia in society and in our own gay community. Internalised homophobia. We as people, not gay people, but people in general, just want to be accepted. And sadly we are still fighting a battle. It’s not as bad as it was but its still a battle and we are facing new evolving problems. It’s an escape from the 9 to 5, a place where people are so high they will sleep with you and find you attractive even if they wouldn’t when they’re sober. People take drugs and feel more confident. But this is all a false state of being. It’s not real and when the drugs wear off, and the come down hits, people feel depressed and down and some people have even been known to take their own lives. What’s more, these drugs are not controlled. So people take too much by mistake, or there are stories of people being so high and passing out and guys having sex with them when they have been unconscious. It’s a dangerous world.
Chill outs have been here in London for as long as I’ve lived in London. They were here before I arrived. What I do think is growing is the use of hard drugs. When I was younger people took ecstasy. Now they are taking crystal meth. That’s the frightening part. These drugs are not safe, highly addictive and people high on them are more open to having unsafe sex. There is no sexual health education any more. For me it feels like when heroine was all the rage in the late 80s early 90s. I am more worried about the drug abuse than anything.
Are the use of apps and the gradually disappearing gay scene partly to blame for the rise in these sex parties?
Apps are definitely the death of the gay scene. People can stay home and order in without the whole worry of being judged in a bar. The London gay scene can be a daunting place. It can sometimes seem cold and unfriendly and if you don’t look a certain way then people don’t give you the time of day. Not all people but it happens. So people turn to apps as they know they can be who ever they want to be with less judgement. It seems like a safer place than a busy bar with steroidal gym bunnies and ‘A gay’s’ who look down their noses at you. But again these attitudes stem from peoples insecurities and our own internalised homophobia. If everyone in gay bars smiled at eachother and said hello without worrying that that person just wants to have sex with them nut just to be nice then may be more people would go to gay bars.
Have you noticed an increased use of drugs on the gay scene? If so why do you think that is? But do you think its just as prevalent in the straight world?
I don’t really go onto the scene any more. I stopped clubbing years ago because I found people rude when sober and only wanted to talk to me when they where high. And I know now that it was due to lack of confidence. The drugs take away inhibitions. My straight friends take drugs just as much as my gay friends but not things like Crystal meth. I think straight people party just as much as gays, but they do it in a different way.
What effect do you want the film to have on your viewers? What is the message you want them to receive? What have been the reactions so far?
As with everything I am part of I want people to make up their own minds. It’s not for me to tell people what to feel from it. The reactions have been intense. People watching it can’t believe this actually goes on, and when I tell them it does go on, and sometimes its a lot more hard core than what the film shows, they can’t believe it. I think people who have lived this life style and or are a part of it respect that its being put out there for people to see.
Acting wise, ‘I’m appearing in a horror film early next year. But i’m not taking on too much acting work at the moment. I’v kind of taken a back seat with it. I’ve moved more into directing now, I just put out my first feature film ‘Soft Lad’ earlier in November which is doing really well. And I’m hoping to shoot a TV pilot I’ve written early next year. Its and LGBT themed show about struggling artists in London and the world of escorts.
Check out out the G O’Clock Facebook page or follow the film on Twitter.
The film will be screened at the Flare Festival on Tuesday 22 March and Saturday 26 March. Leo’s other film Let’s Talk About Sex And Drugs is also being screened on the same days.
Read an interview with the film’s director Mitchell Marion here: