In January 1997, Potential Films had a 79m 16mm print of HUSTLER WHITE Refused Classification by the OFLC.
A 75m version was passed with an R18+ (High Level Sex Scenes, Adult Themes) rating in February 1997. This censored print that went on to be released theatrically in Australia.
Jane Mills, in her highly recommended 2001 book THE MONEY SHOT, examined the problems that HUSTLER WHITE had with the censors.
The Money Shot: Cinema, Sin and Censorship
The Hustler Hassled - Page 123
Pluto Press 2001
To obtain an R-classification, its distributor, Potential Films, initially identified and blacked out a few shots here and there in which erections or masturbation were clearly visible. They also made some short cuts in the amputee sex scene, fearing these would be interpreted as 'actual sex' - a complete no-no under the Guidelines of the Classification Act. To no avail: in January 1997 the film was refused classification due to two scenes. One was a very shadowy masturbation scene with an erect penis. The other portrayed an elderly client asking for and receiving razor blade cuts to his torso and buttocks from the hustler: This last scene is a depiction of entirely consensual masochism which starts with the words 'Cut my buttocks, dear boy' (in an English accent, of course) and ends with a satisfied 'Ah, delicious'. To anyone with a glancing knowledge of either cinema or razors, this scene is quite clearly not actuality; after each shot of a razor apparently scoring through flesh, there is a film edit before a shot of blood bubbling up. There are slightly different tones, too, suggesting different film stock, or perhaps indicating it was shot on two locations. Perhaps the filmmakers lacked the skills to re-present verisimilitude - but then, recreating reality wasn't the point of the scene or, even, of this kind of movie. Although they agreed it only 'appeared' to look real, the majority of the Classification Board demanded this scene be removed. The masturbation/erection shot, on the other hand, had to go because the Board's members thought it looked 'actually' real.
In November 1997, Potential Films submitted HUSTLER WHITE as a 75m videotape. Again, it was Refused Classification.
The Director of Potential Films, Mark Spratt, explained the reasons for this second ban on his Facebook page.
Film Festivals and Censorship
facebook.com/notes/potential-films, July 20, 2010
HUSTLER WHITE is the only film Potential voluntarily made some small cuts for explicit sexual content in before submission for a public exhibition R rating. The reason for this was because at the time of submission there was a very strict policy against an R rated film showing 'actual sexual activity' and although fleeting instances of this had been passed previously, it seemed unlikely some scenes in HUSTLER WHITE would be passed. The film was still refused classification. The board claimed there was still some actual sex (masturbation) visible in one sequence. Sitting with a editor it took several viewings to spot what they were alluding to. A token cut was made and the film was passed.
To give local audiences the chance to see the intact film, we submitted the film again uncut, with the intent of getting an X rating for video distribution. This time it was refused for completely different reasons! Some discussion in the film that a hustler character had died by misadventure during some S&M escapades was judged to be 'sexualised violence' - something against the guidelines for the X rating (although the same material is passed in the R version to the same over 18 audience -- go figure!)
In January 1998, Siren Entertainment had a censored (74:18) version of HUSTLER WHITE passed with an R18+ (High Level Sex Scenes, Adult Themes) rating. It was this version that Siren Video released on tape.
The cover stated:
"Finally released to video with bonus footage not seen in the theatrical version"
Presumably, this was the reason that the film was banned again before video release.
Kojo Pictures released an Australian DVD in December 2008. The film was not resubmitted for classification, and had the same 1998 R18+ (High Level Sex Scenes, Adult Themes) rating on the cover.
In July 2009, Kojo Pictures re-released HUSTLER WHITE as part of a four DVD set titled FOUR FILMS BY BRUCE LA BRUCE.
A French DVD from Cheyenne Releasing contained a fully uncut 80:29 version. It was English language, with removable French subtitles. A 55m extra, titled LETTER TO HUSTLER WHITE, was also in English.
A few months prior to submitting HUSTLER WHITE, Potential Films had submitted Bruce La Bruce's SUPER 8 1/2 (1994). Although it was not banned, it did receive an X18+ (Contains sexually explicit material) rating. It was not until the ROMANCE (1999) controversy of 2000 that actual sex was allowed to appear in R18+ films. This was the reason that Kojo Pictures were able to get SUPER 8 1/2 through with an R18+ (High level sexual themes) rating.
October 1996: SUPER 8 1/2 - A CAUTIONARY BIO-PIC Film (Videotape)
Classification X18+ (Contains sexually explicit material)
November 2008: 8 1/2 - A CAUTIONARY BIO-PIC Film (DVD) Classification R18+ (High level sexual themes)
Thanks to Matt for this review of the DVD.
The Kojo Pictures DVD of SUPER 8 ½ runs 94:26. This compares to the 96m videotape that Potential Films had rated in 1996. The sex on show in the DVD is explicit, with some brief shots of erections, but the rest seems to have been shot to mask the blowjob and penetrations scenes.
The BBFC database lists a 100:14 videotape being submitted in 1997. They censored a massive 10:23 of footage, before awarding it an 18-rating. The same 94:23 print was passed again in 1999.
The Kojo Pictures DVD must be a modified version, as the running time is very similar to the BBFC approved print. It is certainly shorter than the initial 100:14 submission.
In September 2008, Bruce La Bruce's NO SKIN OFF MY ASS (1993) was rated for the first time. Kojo Pictures had it passed with an R18+ (High level sex scenes) rating. The cover claimed that it was:
Previously banned in Australia where it was originally granted an X certificate.
While the website of Beyond Home Entertainment listed it as:
PREVIOUSLY BANNED – FIRST RELEASE IN AUSTRALIA EVER!
The censor's database from this period is far from complete, so we have no easy way of confirming if this is true. The September 2008 entry does not list it as a 'revised version' (previously submitted) so we would guess that the R18+ is its first rating. It is most likely that Beyond Home Entertainment were merely drumming up some publicity with the 'Previously Banned' tag.
See also our database entry for Bruce La Bruce's LA ZOMBIE. The Classification Board refused to allow it to screen at the 2010 Melbourne International Film Festival.