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March 3, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 09
 
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BOOGIE NIGHTS: Gay Sex In The '70's
BOOGIE NIGHTS: Gay Sex In The '70's
by Maggie Bloodstone - SGN A&E Writer

Gay Sex In The '70's

Directed by Joseph F. Lovett

Opens March 10, The Varsity Theater

Here's a sweaty little hunk of celluloid destined to make 40something viewers moist with nostalgia, 20-somethings sick with envy, and homophobes just plain sick (Good!). If even half of the steamy tales told by the interviewees of Gay Sex In The '70's are true (and there's ample photographic proof to back up their claims), in the 10-year space between Stonewall and Patient Zero, New York city made Sodom look like Knottsberry Farm and Gomorrah look like an Exodus International picnic with saltpeter in the punch.

Speaking as a Me-Decade baby, I can affirm that things were pretty fucking loose, even in the deceptively whitebread wilds of Auburn, WA. But even the most libertine hetero would be hard put to imagine what it must have been like for that generation of Gay men born in the '40s and '50's-being told, in no uncertain terms, a man sucking another man's 'thing' was on a par with Hitler and Satan playing hacky-sack with Catholic fetuses, and prison, the madhouse, or the graveyard were their only options if they gave the slightest outward indication of faggotry. After living with that shit in the years where 'normal' kids were, if not boffing, at least able to smooch in public, then suddenly, almost literally overnight, having permission to fuck, fist, french and felch your brains out must have seemed like Jesus himself in a posing pouch coming down with a big bottle of K-Y and screaming "Hi, sailor!".

And according to the former Wild Boys of Gay Sex (including Larry Kramer and photographer Tom Bianchi), that's pretty much how it went. With tons of archive footage, grainy-but-still-hot vintage porn, and some very straight talk, Lovett treks though the dense, sultry topography of bathhouses, iconic hangouts like the Saint and 54, notorious fuckfields like the Trucks and the Piers, and on into the streets of NYC at its rawest & raunchiest. He paints a vivid scarlet-and-lavender picture, but his knack for visual collage (vital for making a modern documentary) and awareness that this was still a film about humans, not several cubic miles of thickly veined meat, makes Gay Sex a highly satisfying and heartfelt record of what could be considered the Gay 'Greatest Generation'.

Ultimately, you realize these are survivors you're looking at, and Lovett handles the fact of the disease that abruptly slammed the door on the party with sensitivity and a refreshing lack of mawkishness. There is the sense that if the interviewees wouldn't necessarily do it all again, then at least they don't waste a moment of their lives regretting a damn thing, either. I found myself wishing Lovett had avoided AIDS altogether, and ended the film with the almost misty- watercolor shots of smiling shirtless men in the sunset at The Pines with the last lines of Kramer's '78 novel Faggots gently exulting on friends and lovers both. But Lovett does the responsible thing, stressing, as one interview states, that the rise of AIDS may well have brought about the rise of true Gay Community. The fact that the youngsters he films over the end credits are here, and queer, and alive to enjoy it, are the best possible evidence that maybe the road of excess really does lead to the palace of wisdom.

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