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Geri (Geraldine Smith) ejects her husband Joe (Joe Dalessandro) from bed, and insists he go out on the streets to make some money for her girlfriend's abortion. This leads to Joe's various encounters with clients on the streets of New York City: an Artist (Maurice Bradell) who wishes to draw Joe, a Gymnast (Louis Waldon), and another 'John' (John Christian). Joe spends time with other hustlers, one of whom is played by his real life brother, and teaches the tricks of the trade to the New Hustler (Barry Brown). Back home, Joe interacts with his real life one-year-old son. Joe gets back home, presumably at the end of his duty work, and is in bed with Geri and her girlfriend Patti (Patti D'Arbanville). The women strip Joe and begin to get intimate with each other; Joe gets bored and falls asleep. (Source: Wikipedia)Written by
Flesh is the first film of a trilogy by Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol, and is perhaps the first attempt to create an icon of desire out of a male leading role. Although the film is focused on an uncomplicated character development of Joe (Joe Dallesandro), a gentle and subtly unhappy hustler, it depicts him as a passive and ambivalent object, who, in spite of a semi-evident sense of self-control, is possessed, shaped, and evaluated entirely by others. Joe is a young and somewhat naive Adonis who exudes comfort and beauty in his independence, but he works the streets to support his lesbian wife and her girlfriend. He is restlessly bored by an artist/customer's speeches on Greek athletic sculpture and 'body worship', but he sells his nudity anyway. He regards the increasing advances of his homosexual friend with ambivalence, but lets them happen nonetheless. This passivity dominates the film and succeeds in creating a visceral element to Dallesandro's appeal: not only is he desired, he is had.
Perhaps the film's most interesting element is the balance of its obviously experimental nature with its palpable directness. The snappy editing and fragmented dialogue make it fresh and 'real', yet it manages not to rely on the clichéd abstractness of art-films. It is rough, and indeed a weaker effort than Trash or Heat, but nonetheless presents a collection of perfectly plausible characters in a light of almost absolute neutrality.
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