Paradise Bent | Chicago Reader

Paradise Bent

Heather Croall's 51-minute video documentary investigates the phenomenon of Somoan “fa'afafines,” effeminate men who often wear drag and perform household chores. Called the “third gender” for their embodiment of both sexes, fa'afafines may be mocked but have always been accepted. Anthropologists speculate on why this class of men have existed in Samoa (“a helping hand to the family,” says one) and why their numbers have grown since the introduction of Christianity on the island. One fa'afafine insists that they're not homosexual because they have sex only with “straight” men and not with one another; such minor revelations make this ethnographic study fascinating in spite of its shoddy videography.

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