Last year, John Summers' Rock Hard fook the AVN awards for both best feature and best director in the Gay Video category. With Backstrokes, Summers uses much the same approach and format — solo vignettes of attractive young men accompanied by voice-over narration—with more limited success.
The video's subtitle is the key to Summer's framing device: every Summer our unseen narrator lures hunky guys to his beach house on Cape Cod, watching them jack off while he takes photos for souvenirs fr his trophies of Summer. In Backstrokes the memories come to life and Summers delivers strong moments of physical heat heightened by erotic nostalgia. A big plus is the lyrical narration scripted by Lars Eighner, a widely published short story writer and one of the brightest (and hottest) voices to emerge in gay publishing in the '80s.
Despite a good idea, a fine script and Summers' typically mouthwatering models, Backstrokes doesn't quite match the impact of Rock Hard. The key is variety, or a lack of it. In Rock Hard, the settings changed with each new model; so did the fantasy, along with the voice on the soundtrack. The video moved from man to man, breaking new ground with each new body In Backstrokes the set is static; the voice and viewpoint never change. Consistency may be a virtue, but a tape made entirely of solo vignettes needs all the variety and sense of motion it can get—qualities which Backstrokes, by its very structure, can't deliver.
Such criticism will probably mean little to the prospective viewer seduced by the sight of Anthony Armani in living color on the video's box, and there's no denying that Summers has again turned out a product with style and quality.