Ty Chen and Matt Ford in Cowboy, Choker, Harness & Heart courtesy of Julia Ponce Díaz

“Cowboy, Choker, Harness & Heart,” a new short film directed by Julia Ponce Díaz and Nicolas Blanco, starts as a hookup in the bathroom at a rave — but it turns into a metaphor for queer sex positivity.

The gorgeously lit seven-minute short is an homage to Los Angeles rave culture, following an awkward encounter during which one half of a monogamous partnership risks getting caught cheating by his boyfriend.

“Cowboy, Choker, Harness & Heart” premieres at Outfest LGBTQ+ Festival in Los Angeles this Saturday, July 15, at 9:30 p.m. at Directors Guild of America. You can find tickets here.

Julia Ponce Díaz on the Sex Positive Message Behind ‘Cowboy, Choker, Harness & Heart’

“I am very much an advocate for sex positivity,” Ponce Díaz, who hails from Spain, tells MovieMaker.

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When Blanco — who co-wrote the film with Thomas Kivney and co-produced it with Céline Bava-Helms — approached Ponce Díaz to be a co-director on the project, she was excited for the opportunity to help create a story that questions societal norms around sex and dating.

“The LGBTQ community is really pushing to have these conversations,” she says. “What’s desire? What’s commitment?… We see our main characters dealing with those same questions that we all — LGBTQ or not, queer or not — have asked ourselves at many points in our lives.”

To find their cast, the filmmakers didn’t turn to casting sites. Instead, they went into the real-world community that the film is based on: Los Angeles raves. That’s where they found Jeffrey Castillo Peña, who plays Harness, and Amina Lakin, who plays Mistress.

“We found them both just raving in Downtown L.A.,” Ponce Díaz says.

“In terms of representation, something that we were putting a lot of attention on was also having a diverse cast. When you’re in these spaces, the diversity is so massive… we went to the places where these happen and approached people and invited them to be a part of it.” So it was very, very important for us.”

When the film was finished, they had their cast and crew screening at Akbar, one of Los Angeles’ best-known gay bars.

“Cowboy, Choker, Harness & Heart” will also be screening at GAZE International LGBTQIA Film Festival in Dublin, Ireland on Aug. 5. and at in Canada at Vancouver Queer Film Festival on Aug. 11.

You can watch the trailer for “Cowboy, Choker, Harness & Heart” on Vimeo. Other cast in the short include Ty Chen as Heart, Taylor Vasek as Cowboy, and Matt Ford as Choker. Olivia Segarra served as cinematographer, with production design by Marina Perez Ramirez, editing by Colton Warren, and music by Amina Lakin and music producer Hectic.

Main Image: Ty Chen and Matt Ford in Cowboy, Choker, Harness & Heart courtesy of Julia Ponce Díaz