Bike Porn curator Rev. Phil helps whip up some passionate bike-blended frozen cocktails at House of Yes. — Photo by Paul Cox

Bushwick suits bike culture far better than its pitted streets and industrial traffic would suggest. At least, that is, the particular bike culture that concerns itself with tallbike jousts and carbon angst and calling itself “bike culture,” which springs up wherever there is a collective will to cobble together an old steel frame and stick a boombox on the back. We must bow to Portland, however, as the true capital of greasy chains, where the bicycle is elevated to a way of life, a tool of liberation, and an object of lust.

If we ever doubted that Portland cyclists are hardcore, they settled the issue last week with a wild Friday night of bike eroticism at House of Yes. Recognizing how humdrum bike carnivals, bike polo, and Critical Mass rides have become, the Bike Porn crew are reigniting baser passions around North America with their touring film festival and getting audiences to talk frankly about the sexual energy of human powered transport. The blending of sex-positive and bike-activist agendas is certainly attention grabbing, but the real surprise is just how turned on some people really are by their bikes.

Curator and ringleader Rev. Phil (because every countercultural movement needs a fake clergyman) suspects that many riders are aroused by cycling and don’t quite know what to do with it. This can be as direct as just the right sort of unergonomic saddle, or as abstract as the thrill of freedom, sweat, and the intimate bike-rider partnership. Liberation from cars and sexual repression are interlinked, with the isolated automotive interior taking over symbolic duty as the new white picket fence.

The film festival is already in its third year and returning to New York for the second time. Last year it screened in a midtown venue, as the Rev. didn’t realize that some parts of our city were less bike friendly than others. This time around the team’s connections led them to a more geographically savvy location at House of Yes. The audiences attending the night’s three consecutive shows were in tune with the spirit of the evening, and seemed full at ease with watching porn in public.

As showtime approached Rev. Phil disappeared to change out of his biking vest and into something more appropriately sequined. The crowd for the first show was the smallest but he did his best to work it before the films began to roll. The shorts, submitted from all over the continent, ranged from five-second clips to elaborate group productions and from artistic experiments to good old bike-messenger-with-a-big-package-for-you porn. See the trailer for a glimpse, unless you’re at the office.

Submissions for the next festival are open now, and they’ve never had any from New York. If you’re tempted to contribute it’s worth reviewing what’s already been done this year. Mechanics and messengers are both well established as vectors of porn. Old tubes make good whips and binds. The saddle is the only real sex organ on a bike, though drop handlebars or an open seat tube will do in a pinch. Bike crashes are an easy way of bringing characters together but the genre has yet to find its post-petroleum David Cronenberg. If you want to clearly describe the mapping of human anatomy to the bike frame, dress someone up as a bondage bike, but see if you can actually make them roll this time. And sorry, the line “if you pump it it gets bigger” has already been used.

The steamy material was as uneven as any collection of amateur film but did do a good job of exploring this particular fetish-in-the-making. There were clear resonances of the older, more mainstreamed genre of motorcycle porn, reminding once again how much bike culture owes to biker culture, and that the eroticism of the open road is not a new idea. But in trading the machismo of a Harley for the frail humanity of some very ordinary bicycles, Bike Porn subverts that genre too. Replacing 500 HP of internal combustion with a little pedal power makes for a very different breed of crotch rocket.