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Monday 10 October 2011


The night we met Greek Pete

Posted in: Movies
By Christopher Banks - 9th April 2011

chris-banks-greek-pete.jpg
Chris Banks (left) and Greek Pete
It was a cold March night at the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2010. Producer Andy Jalfon and I had made our way in from the biting winds on the South Bank to a party upstairs at the British Film Institute being held by one of the country's major gay film distributors.

We were there to support our short film Teddy, which by this stage had already been around the world and picked up a couple of awards in New Zealand. The DVD was selling in the gift shop downstairs, and we'd been interviewed on Gaydar Radio.

We were pretty pleased with ourselves, to be honest, as we walked into the rowdy room of semi-drunk revellers (note: in case you were wondering, most revellers at film festivals are either drunk or semi-drunk, no matter what time of the day it might be).

As we're pretty much the only Kiwis on the gay film festival circuit, you tend to try and make new friends quite quickly when you're travelling, lest you end up standing in the corner talking to a pot plant all evening. So we scanned the room looking for familiar faces – and that's when I saw him.

I poked Andy, probably a little too excitedly. “Isn't that Greek Pete over there?”

And indeed it was – the famous rent boy subject of the award-winning, darkly comic and voyeuristic documentary of the same name was merely metres away. We'd seen the film about six months prior when showing Teddy at Outfest in Los Angeles, and met its director, Andrew Haigh.

He'd thanked the audience at the time for showing up, as the film had been scheduled against the opening of the latest Harry Potter film across town. We laughed, asked questions, and endured some ignorant people behind us complaining loudly that they couldn't understand the accents.

Anyway, totally fanboy-like, we both exclaimed that we had to get a photo. Andy was the bravest by that stage (probably a few beers ahead of me, as usual), so he headed over, introduced us, and we dragged Pete outside for a couple of iPhone snaps.

I tell you this longwinded story to assure you, firstly, that Peter Pittaros (to use his full, real name) is doing quite well for himself. He's out of the sex work business now, having achieved his money making goals, and is back up north living with his family.

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The year in his life that Andrew Haigh captured in a very intimate manner, sometimes giving a camera to Pete himself so he could totally remove himself from the process of influencing what occurred, paints a delicate, sad and sometimes funny picture.

Pete's totally business-oriented mindset wreaks quiet havoc in his relationship with fellow rent boy Kai. An evening of intimacy can get thrown out the window when Pete gets a call from a client, and while it may seem paradoxical that a rent boy can get upset about his boyfriend nipping out for trade, it does happen. It's difficult to separate emotion from sex, and that's the delicate line that Pete walks.

His clients also find this difficult. Some of them don't even want to be fucked, they just want to have him round for dinner and cuddle him on the couch.

Watching Pete as he brazenly declares his desire for fame and fortune as a rent boy while seeming to be blissfully unaware of the stigma attached to sex workers, or the fact that his family don't really know what he's up to, is a fascinating train wreck of a watch.

You sense his resilience isn't as strong as some of the other rent boys in his orbit, with whom he formed an alternative family – they even spend Christmas together – and you're left wondering how well they've fared on London's cruel streets.

But Pete's alright. And “Greek Pete” is a hypnotic window into a year of his life that you're not likely to forget.

Greek Pete screens at Galatos on Thursday April 21 at 7pm as part of the Number 8 Films Auckland Gay Film Nights. Tickets available online at www.number8films.com.


Christopher Banks - 9th April 2011

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