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Film Review: Alpha Kings
by Marinell Haegelin

Enrique Pedráza Botero, Faye Tsakas, United States 2022

There’s a cool indifference, emptiness with a touch of the absurd, albeit undoubtedly, it’s another abnormality of the internet’s ubiquity in directors Enrique Pedráza Botero and Faye Tsakas’s ALPHA KINGS. They wrote, shot, and edited this documentary about several young males living high on the hog in Montgomery, Texas.

Proud of their prowess showing off comes naturally to the cam-boys strutting, flexing muscles in various “come hither” poses in front of mirrors. Whenever asked, “What do you do for a living?” one laughingly says he replies, “I sell my feet.” They’re hooked on Findom, an internet-induced financial domination fetish lifestyle. Key word here: financial, also an escapism mechanism; seldom, if ever, do in-person meetings occur. Allowed to film sessions shows hyperbolic actions/talk compliment their adopted position of being the alpha male. One teenager acknowledges this isn’t something everyone does (to earn a living). Another talks about it being sex work, and the gay aspect, saying a year and a half ago he said, “no way,” – “[I]t seems normal now.” One hasn’t talked to his parents in a couple years; another’s mother works 8-hour days telling him to get a job – “compared to them, I’m pretty great.” They’re blasé about finding anything different to earn a living.

Succumbing to the lure of money, fame, and control they embrace the odd-hours and prurient interests to maintain an extravagant lifestyle. Working late nights, midnight swims, and irregular mealtimes go hand-in-hand with Findom. One’s girlfriend actually accepted his lifestyle. Only when talk turns to loosing do their mouths tighten as seriousness oozes into voices. “Being broke is part of the game, but staying broke is not.”

ALPHA KINGS is quite an eye-opener; these guys won’t stay young, cute forever. What happens when their king (money) abdicates? Production values are good, as is Dan Olmsted’s music. It won the Hamburg 2023 Short Film Jury Award (3,000 euros).