DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
GAY SEX IN THE 70S (director: Joseph Lovett; cinematographer: Michael Sean Kaminsky/Joseph Lovett; editor: Jason Szabo; music: Art Labriola; Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Joseph Lovett/Michael Sean Kaminsky; Wolfe Video; 2005)

 
"Shows us the faces of some of the gay activists involved with that free love party scene who survived."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Joseph Lovett's "talking head" gay liberation flick has its moments of putting an historical stamp on the movement but never goes past being a giddy exercise in nostalgia for the fiftysomethings or sixtysomethings now looking back on their salad days as a life filled with sex and drugs. The documentary on promiscuous New York gays talking openly and warmly about the period from the Stonewall riots in 1969 to the discovery of AIDS in 1981, uses photos, interviews, short sequences from gay porno films and archival footage to tell of the good old days when the boys never used condoms and had sex in such public places as the crumbling abandoned piers on the Hudson River off Christopher Street, the many Village bathhouses (the most prominent being the St. Marks Baths), inside unlit trucks parked in the Meat Packing District, behind trees in the Ramble in Central Park, as a result of cruising the streets and even the subways, gay health clubs, discos (like Studio 54 and the Paradise Garage), Fire Island at the Pines or Cherry Grove, and the backrooms of the varied gay bars in the Greenwich Village area (such as the Ramrod and Anvil). One character states "You could do whatever you want without consequences." The dark side was getting the clap, gonorrhea or syphilis. Life was pictured as a pornographic film, as the activist gay community after the Stonewall riots went from repression to celebration in gay pride and free love in such a short time. It ends on the more cautionary note that such a hedonistic period cannot be repeated due to AIDS, but no one seems to have regrets only wishing they were better informed at the time of the health risks. The film suffers a bit because it has both a limited appeal and perspective, as it seems bent on providing mostly a mind fuck for only those who either made that scene or wished they had. It's not substantial enough to be anything more than breezy entertainment for most of the country that's out of the loop. Lovett tells us that the ten or so years covered in the film was "the most libertine period the Western world has known since the Roman Empire." What this film does best, is document how libertine things were in New York during that period and shows us the faces of some of the gay activists involved with that free love party scene who survived.

Some of those interviewed include professor Arnie Kantrowitz, medical doctor Larry Mass, activist Roger McFarlane, artist Barton Benes and author/activist Larry Kramer.

REVIEWED ON 7/1/2007        GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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