Essential Film Directors, Gregg Araki

Greg Araki directs the Dutch-American drama, Mysterious Skin, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet.  The film follows the traumatic story of two young boys who are sexually abused by their baseball coach at the age of 8. A young and naïve Neil (Gordon-Levitt) mistakes these activities as normal sexual activity, perhaps partially misinterpreting the actions due to his own homosexual proclivity.  By age fifteen, Neil becomes a male prostitute and begins selling his body in New York City.  One evening, a man tricks Neil by convincing him to take a ride home.  However, Neil is beaten and raped.

Brian, on the other hand, has blocked out memories of their abusive baseball coach and withdrawn socially.  Years later Brian discovers a photograph of the boys playing baseball and recalls his old friend Neil.  The two young men finally reunite, forming a bond with each other and finally bringing some closure to their painful past.

Mysterious Skin

Born in Los Angeles in December of 1959, Gregg Araki is one of the premier American New Queer Cinema filmmakers.  Growing up in the seaside town of Santa Barbara, Araki enrolled in the University of California, Santa Barbara to study film in the School of Cinematic Arts.  Araki went on to achieve his Master’s degree, graduating in 1985.

Araki began his career in the underground.  Working with little or no budget, and without proper permits, Araki filmed a variety of touching, gay friendly stories, some of which went on to earn the young director great praise for his work.  In subsequent years Araki embraced opportunities to work with a number of notable actors and actresses, including Margaret Cho, Parker Posey, and Heather Graham.

Araki is a self-identified bisexual director who continues to direct films that approach taboo topics and cult-classic themes.

Follow Gay Essential’s board Mysterious Skin on Pinterest.

Following his graduation from UC Santa Barbara, Gregg Araki began directing underground films with very limited budgets.  His first projects were completed with less than $5,000, but the director still managed to deliver compelling and heartfelt stories.  Beginning with Three Bewildered People in the Night and The Long Weekend (O’ Despair), Araki embraced and explored gay themes and characters.  His third film, The Living End, saw an increased budget and garnered the young director awards from the Locarno International Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Araki’s next phase of work was his Teen Apocalypse Trilogy, which explored teen alienation and sexuality and was comprised of titles Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation, and Nowhere.

Araki returned to themes of homosexuality with Splendor, Mysterious Skin, and Kaboom, earning the first ever Queer Palm from the Cannes Film Festival.

Alexander Ryll
When I couldn’t find a gay themed romantic film online via search engines or on any websites in early 2014, I created Gay Essential. launched in June 2014 we regularly promote rare and new gay-themed titles. Gay Essential is the first independent film website to categorize gay-themed films making it easier for visitors to learn about films based on their mood preference. Together with an incredible writing talent, we promote films and we make it easy for you to purchase them based on your location. Please add your support and purchase one of our incredible gay themed film T Shirts , unique and full of attitude.
Alexander Ryll


'You shouldn't dream your film, you should make it!' The Gay Essential Film Blog Edited by @alexanderryll
Alexander Ryll
Alexander Ryll

Latest posts by Alexander Ryll (see all)