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The last time I sat in a theater and watched porn with strangers was in 2019, a year so different from this year that it’s become boring to compare them. There was the world then. There is the world now. Things have changed. But one experience I didn’t realize I missed so much is HUMPing in public. For me, the best part about watching the HUMP! Film Festival, The Stranger‘s long-running sweet lil’ porn fest, has always been watching it with an audience.

The past few years of watching HUMPs online-only has been necessary and good and resilient and hopeful, absolutely! But my recent trip to HUMP at On the Boards reminded me that there’s literally nothing like watching HUMP’s lovingly curated porno short films with a room full of people. What turns one person on won’t necessarily turn their neighbor on, and that’s been part of HUMP’s special sauce since its beginning. Some of these films are so wildly ridiculous—there’s a buttplug that doubles as a wine glass!—and they beg for a vocal audience.

Joining the HUMP team again this year is drag host Betty Wetter. She’s one of the few people holding the special distinction of being featured in the final (for now) print issue of The Stranger—and she’s the only one promoted as the “hostess” who “does the mostest,” a headline that became a curse, as COVID canceled Wetter’s gigs by the time people picked up the paper. She was suddenly the hostess who did the leastess. So it’s fitting and wonderful that we get to share this moment of getting back on our feet with Wetter and On the Boards, two friends of the paper who share its scrappy style.

And if you’re feeling a little nervy about going to live events because of COVID (same!), know that the HUMP crew has made it feel safe. Everyone’s checked for proof of vaccination, masks are worn throughout the screening, and the theater is limiting capacity so people can spread out. It’s safe, sexy, and very, very needed. Revel in it!


The final week of HUMP 2022 in Seattle starts this Wednesday at On the Boards. See more top picks from The Stranger here.