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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

CRUISING, the Movie

From: Jeff Ritter

FYI guys - FilmOut San Diego will be screening "Cruising" in November - a crime drama set in the pre-AIDS NYC leather scene in the late '70's. Many scenes in the film were shot in actual leather bars with real leathermen used as extras. The film is (and was) considered controversial, however it is a great historical record depicting the raw sexuality of the 70's leather scene! 

Check it out! It will be on November 9th at the North Park Theatre.

(Note from Tony: I remember when this film came out in major, mainstream theaters. A whole bunch of us went in full leather to see it in the theater. We left about halfway through the film (and very noisily), because it was so clearly biased against gay leathermen. The music and the lighting made it clear that leathermen belonged in a horror movie. A bunch of my buddies were extras in the film, and several bars participated as authentic sets, but grew less willing as time went by. Nobody was originally told that the movie would be hostile to us, depicting us as victims and monsters. Every leatherman I knew was PISSED.

I REALLY want to see it again, though - The last 31 years have transformed so much of our culture, for good and for bad, and I want to the chance to see it without the hostile laughter of contemptuous straights around me this time. I will probably cry when I see the faces that are no longer with us, but I definitely want to share this unintended cultural documentary with my brothers in 2011. 

I think that we were all so very over the whole gays=monsters thing by that time. Vito Russo's book was being previewed all over the country, and the Advocate had published excerpts. Activists were PISSED, because as you may recall, we hadn't had any POSITIVE representations in major movies since the 1930's. I mean, crap - Making Love didn't come out for two full years after Cruising, and it was a weak, crappy film that didn't really say much that was nice.  We were ready to BURN things, and Hollywood was scared of us after that.

I love this disclaimer, added just before the movie came out:

"This film is not intended as an indictment of the homosexual world. It is set in one small segment of that world, which is not meant to be representative of the whole." In other words, it IS an indictment of the gay leathermen's scene, which is okay.

As Jeff says, the movie IS accurate in its people, locations, gear, crowdedness of the bars, and cultural references. If you seriously want to see what things were like, just before our community crashed into the mountain called AIDS, see this movie. Try to imagine, when watching it, what things would be like in 2011 if we hadn't had thirty years of breakdown in between.)


From: cubby jeff

Greetings Sir!
this is cubby jeff, Sir Mike Russell's boy. We spoke a few a weeks ago re: the upcoming screening of "Cruising" being presented by FilmOut at 7PM on Wednesday, November 9th at the North Park Theatre.
i am associated with the Board of FilmOut, and the Board had generously donated about 50 free tickets for the screening to distribute to interested members of the Leather & Fetish community. It is my hope that we may be able to assemble a large group to attend the screening.
i am well aware that the film is controversial and even ugly to some in our community - however, i also think it is a worthwhile film and it showcases a big part of our history on film. i applaud Film Out for having the courage to even screen it and hope that our Leather community will be willing to support it.
i would appreciate it if You would be willing to spread the word that i have free tickets to attend for anyone who is interested (until they run out) - my only request is that anyone who accepts a free ticket commits to attending. 
The screening begins at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, November 9 at the North Park Theatre, located on University Avenue and 30th Street.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or to forward any inquiries to me directly.
jeff ritter (cubby jeff)
Thank You so much!


From: Eric Swenson

     Yes, it could be interesting to see "Cruising" again.  Action shown in the movie most certainly would be more tolerated these days..., one hopes!  But, the movie was a horrible experience for me as well, in addition to showing a really ugly (but exceptionally rare) depiction of leather and leather sex.  To see someone you actually know on the movie screen being picked up, having erotic leather sex, and murdered was quite a shock to me.  He was a friend (an actor I worked with at the Old Globe) and a very hot man I had sex with.  

     I thank God for all of the wonderful leathermen in San Diego, who over the years have since given me many opportunities to trust, play with, and love in the years since.  It was just a movie...  A fiction...  One character's unusual circumstances...  I think the crime of the story could have been shown a lot less sensationally...  Now, we have a chance to judge again.
Your old buddy,
Eric Swenson


From Mark Holmes:

I dunno. I saw it back then and thought it was spot on, probably the only depiction of gay leather life that's ever been on film to be so accurate. The stuff in the bars was, well, as real as it gets, maybe a little tame from what really went on there. Streets, too, etc. The fact is that still today, there are victims and monsters within our own community, why it pays to be careful and either get references or at the least let the person you've gone with know you've shared their address or phone number with a friend, or call a friend and let them know where you're going.  For the most part, we're a fun loving group but now, as then, there are folks that give us a bad name.

The only thing that didn't click in Cruising was the bad guy's haircut. That was out there at the time and no matter how hot his leathers were he wouldn't have gotten much attention.

It was a horror movie. Set in our community. That scene with the knife will stick, has stuck, in my brain forever.

Be careful who you go home with, good advice today as it was thirty years ago

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