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Gay Sex in the 70s (2005)

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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 437 users   Metascore: 65/100
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A chronicle of gay culture in New York during the post-Stonewall, pre-AIDs era.


(as Joseph Lovett)
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Cast overview:
Robert Alvarez ...
Himself - Hand in Hand Film Productions (as Bob Alvarez)
Alvin Baltrop ...
Himself - Photographer
Barton Benes ...
Himself - Artist
Tom Bianchi ...
Himself - Photographer
Mel Cheren ...
Himself - CEO, West End Records
Arnie Kantrowitz ...
Himself - English Professor, Activist, Writer
Larry Kramer ...
Himself - Writer, Activist
Lawrence Mass ...
Himself - Addiction Specialist, Writer (as Lawrence Mass M.D.)
Rodger McFarlane ...
Himself - Foundation Director, Writer, Activist
Susan Tomkin ...
Herself - Asst. to Bruce Mailman, The Saint & St. Mark's Baths
Richard A. Lynch ...
Ken Unger ...
Himself - Internist (as Ken Unger M.D.)


Thirteen men and one woman look back at gay life and sex in Manhattan and Fire Island - from Stonewall (June, 1969) to the first reporting on AIDS (June, 1981). They describe the rapid move from repression to celebration, from the removal of shame to joy, the on-going search for "someone," the freedom before AIDS, the friendships, and brotherhood. They take us through cruising and sex in public places, the drug scene, the bars and the baths, the birth of entertainment and dance clubs, and starry nights on Fire Island. Photographs, home movies, newsreels, and film clips illustrate the story. A few contemporary "what did the 70's mean?" man-in-the-street takes end the documentary. Written by <>

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Release Date:

26 April 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gay Sex in the 70s  »

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Features Times Square Strip (1982) See more »


Kind of Life (Kind of Love)
(MAW Remix)
Written by Arthur Baker, Anthony Carbone
Published by Russell Presto
Shakin Baker Music (BMI), New Gigi Music
Administered by Bug
Performed by North End
Courtesy of West End Records, a Division of Payback Industries, Inc.
by Arrangement with Bug
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User Reviews

Just Like The Title Says...
8 March 2006 | by (Arlington, VA.) – See all my reviews

There are very few movies that dispense with the coyness and cleverness of a catchy title, and simply tell you flat out what you can expect to see. This is one of them.

Director Joseph Lovett's documentary is kind of like one of those retrospectives you see on VH-1 or the E! Network, only with more naked men, hot explicit sex (well, explicit for a documentary), and snapshots frozen in time that show us visions of a bygone decade, where the Gay Wide World went from draconian repression, to sexual liberation of Bacchanalian proportions, to the next chapter where "the bill came due" for all that excessive indulgence.

No one clucks their tongues or passes judgment, as the interviewees regale us with tales of just how things were back in those days, (although you have to consider that there was some extravagant embellishments here and there.) I was only privy to a taste of the lifestyle of which the subjects speak in this film, and I guess I should be grateful for it, because more than likely it saved my life and the lives of more than a few other people I know. Even back then, in my younger days, I only knew of the stories about Fire Island, the New York-based bars, baths and clubs and the infamous Piers and Trucks through hearsay, and it all sounded fabulous, hedonistic and legendary even as it was happening.

There are touches of the ominous, though, and it certainly doesn't shy away from the dark side of all that "jazz." There were risks other than STD's, and in pursuit of ultimate bliss, there were some who still paid the ultimate price, and that was way before AIDS came to call.

Funny, touching, shocking and sobering all at once, the only drawback is that it isn't the fully rounded account it could be. Maybe Lovett can find a way to extend this into a series and capture more accounts of the shock waves that spread out into other parts of the country, from the "epicenter of the gay universe" as someone in the doc describes the Big Apple. New York and San Francisco were important touchstones of gay culture, but they were not the 'Alpha and Omega' of the Seventies' sexual revolution.

At the very least, it is an important historical record that a new generation can learn from, for those who think that "Stonewall" is just another place in the mall where you can buy acid-washed jeans.

And on a sadder note, maybe the reason why it hasn't been possible to film a more complete history of "Gay Sex in the Seventies," is because many of the eyewitnesses to this remarkable time in history are no longer here to tell about it. I certainly hope that isn't the case.

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