Hello ladies, gents, and otherwise! It's been a little while, but do not fear, I have a slew of XXXmas treats in store for December, starting with Eve's Gift, written and directed by David Stanley.
It never fails to surprise me that after all this time, I can still stumble across people in porn movies that I've never seen before, but turn out to be huge stars. In spite of the cover of Eve's Gift being dominated by plastic Devon, this movie belongs to Sydnee Steele. She impressed me so much, playing the role of hooker Eve, that I looked her up only to find that she is an accomplished all-arounder - award-winning actress, published author, sex educator - totally living up to my initial impressions.
Stanley is obviously the man behind this movie - it's classic David Stanley, and perfect for those of us who hate Christmas, but can't help but get caught up in the Christmas spirit as long as its suitably sad and cynical. Eve's Gift starts out in a lonely bar on Christmas Eve, with eerie Christmas music echoing around while Mr. Stanley himself cameos as a guy on the phone, presumably to his wife, arguing with her and saying he'll be home when he feels like it, regardless of what day of the year it is. A guy dressed in a Santa suit, drinking milk, tells Stanley to "love her" and so begins a rather tragic and depressing story. After Santa has been accosted by hooker Eve, whom he rejects, he passes out in the alley, and is discovered by Eve who takes him home. She doesn't steal his wallet, like you might expect, but rather sleeps on the couch. After they wake up, Santa asks Eve to stay, and the remainder of the film consists of their "Christmas dinner" (muffins and tea), during which they recall their worst Christmas ever, told through flashbacks.
Santa believes he killed his wife, played by Devon, and he plans to blow his brains out once the day is through. Turns out, what really happened was he cheated on her, leading to her cheating on him, and then both of them getting in a car crash because he was distracted. Narrative details aside, the important thing is that when Devon catches Santa fucking around with some other woman, she is carrying a gift - the same gift that now sits under the tree next to where Eve and Santa are telling their stories. I assumed this meant that Santa's wife was Eve, but not so - this superficial wrapped gift is nothing compared to the gift of friendship that Eve provides Santa, and so it is this "gift" that the film prioritizes.
Eve shares her story with her new friend early on, retelling how she used to prostitute herself to fund her boyfriend's drug habit. Her worst Christmas ever consists of fucking a dude and another hooker for heroin money, concluding with "three broken ribs, two cracked vertebrae, and one shattered pelvis," all while her boyfriend is passed out drooling on the floor. After sharing her story, Eve is perturbed to see Santa smiling - but he explains he simply doesn't feel alone anymore.
One of the things I liked about this movie was the way Eve really drove the modest narrative forward, never the victim, and always the instigator of emotional awakening while remaining totally autonomous - she nearly leaves several times. The sharing of stories between a suicidal loner and hooker with a heart of gold leads to a confrontation where Eve tries to persuade Santa to open the gift that his wife gave him before she died - he feels that keeping it wrapped somehow avoids the need to acknowledge her death, and Eve recognizes the necessity of his facing up to reality. He didn't kill her; it was an accident. Finally, Eve manages to get him to unwrap it, and apparently it's something that requires batteries - luckily Eve has a vibrator in her purse. "A whore that keeps on giving!" she says with a grin, as she hands over the batteries, demonstrating a total lack of shame in her sexuality. Santa retorts that she's not a whore. In turn, Eve's retort summarizes the leveling of gendered tragedy that we have witnessed: "Maybe I'm not a whore, and you didn't kill your wife. Or maybe I am a whore, and you did kill your wife. Either way, it doesn't matter. And you know why." Why? "Because it's Christmas, you asshole." The End.
So our dark Christmas tale ends, expressing a familiar sentiment that is both uplifting and depressing: that traditional imbalances and injustices can be overlooked during the Christmas season. Any other time of year, this conclusion suggests, Eve's whoredom and Santa's infidelity and "murder" of his wife matter absolutely, but on this day alone, they can settle down at the same table and understand each other. For better or worse, this is what Christmas is all about.