If you’re looking for a gossipy exposé of London’s wildest new underground trend, this really, really isn’t the doc you’re looking for. It’s a bleak, disturbing and unforgettably frank portrait of a subculture on the edge, and of lives ruined by reckless excess. ‘Chemsex’ is pretty much what you’d expect: rough sex (often group, often unprotected) fuelled by hard drugs, with crystal meth and mephedrone being among the favourites. The scene has been around for a while, but over the past two years it has exacted an increasingly brutal toll on many of the capital’s more promiscuous gay men, thanks in large part to the increased availability of online hookups.
The subjects here speak frankly and often shockingly – one tells of a friend who was actively hoping to get HIV ‘so he could stop worrying’, another breaks down in tears describing his own abduction and rape while high. The whole film is held together by the heroic Dr Dean Stuart, whose 56 Dean Street clinic runs the UK’s only dedicated chemsex counselling programme. A work of stark investigative journalism, ‘Chemsex’ is dystopian in its vision of a world without rules or limits, where the desire for a good time mutates into an almost psychotic drive towards self-immolation.