‘Maybe this is what I wanted, maybe I like it’
What do you get when you mix greed and a hunger for being on top with the first taste of success and a desire for lavishness – oh, and a bit of gay porn? The answer is simple, you get King Cobra.
Justin Kelly’s King Cobra tells the true crime story spun from a rivalry between porn producers over a knock-out young film star’s namesake which ended in the brutal murder. When you’re young, sexy, and just innocent enough to entice anyone you become a target. In King Cobra, Sean Paul Lockhart, also known as Brent Corrigan, wasn’t just a target, but a decorated pawn in the middle of a pissing contest turned desperate last attempt at riches and fame.
Sean became Brent Corrigan under Stephen (Brian Kocis was the producer’s real name) at Cobra Films and while he was rising to fame – seemingly overnight – Joe and Harlow from Viper Boys were experiencing a variety of cracks in the foundation to their once shiny and lavish lifestyle. The circumstances of both pairs, had they continued on their separate paths, would likely have worked themselves out but when Brent met Joe and Harlow – the end result was lethal.
While Stephen and Brent tried to make sense of their business relationship turned personal, Joe and Harlow were navigating through their own passionate, but extremely volatile partnership. The desperation of Joe and Harlow came to a head at the same time that Brent began to question Stephen’s motives and finances, and when Brent had dinner with Joe and Harlow to discuss starring in a Viper Boys film, he had to admit that he wouldn’t be able to use the name Brent due to Stephen trademarking it behind his back.
This wasn’t the only time he’d had trouble finding work; once he left Stephen, no other producer would work with him unless he could use the name Brent. They desired the brand that came along with the name and because of that, Sean took matters into his own hands and went legal, admitting he was only 17 when he starred in a number of movies produced by Stephen. Instead of an easy way out of a contract, he ruined what was left of his reputation in the industry.
Of course, to Joe, this was a non-issue. He told Brent that he’d take care of Stephen at the conclusion of their dinner meeting and within days, he made good on that promise.
Stephen was murdered in his home by Harlow under the guise as a new gay porn hopeful but the murder was so vicious it was clear that there was much more to it than just killing a man to make money. When viewers watched that scene and paired it with a breakdown Harlow suffered earlier in the film, it became clear that Harlow had been the victim of sexual assault and in killing Stephen, he was getting revenge for every other victim who’d suffered the way he did.
Humanity, however, caught up with Harlow and Joe and in a scene towards the end of the film where Joe looks at his lover and asks simply “What did we do?” It seemed that in those moments of vulnerability both men understood that their need to keep their riches truly was less important than the life they stole of a man who was trying to do the same.
The big takeaway from King Cobra isn’t the nature of the complicated and desperate relationships between the characters, it’s not the gay porn or the sexy shirtless scenes; although we aren’t complaining. The takeaway comes from the way all four men were working towards the same goal – to be number one – and in the process disguising their personal chaos and hiding their skeletons. It’s the way they completely crossed the line to madness from reason before they even realized that it’d happened.
We spoke with Jordan Yale Levine of Yale Productions just a few weeks ago about the film and asked what he would say about the film to get moviegoers interested.
“I like to say it’s kind of a modern version of Boogie Nights. Boogie Nights in the gay world, but in saying that, I don’t consider the movie a “gay film” whatsoever. I think that it’s a murder mystery, whether gay or straight or black or white or whatever, it’s a story where it doesn’t matter what race, color, sexuality etc. that you are. I think that everybody would be intrigued by the story and the message regarding limitations and boundaries.”
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and this King Cobra is proof of just that.
‘…but I knew him’