WATCH: “The Making of Cruising”(1980) William Friedkin Documentary [Video]

With the television version of “Cruising” currently airing on FX as AHS-NYC we thought it might be a time for a refresher of the original.

The 1980 movie “Cruising” directed by Willam Friedkin and starring Al Pacino had a huge (mostly) negative impact that it made upon the LGBT community.  But other than darker aspects the movie, it in itself is a time capsule of a life and places long gone in NYC .

The film loosely based on the novel of the same name, by New York Times reporter Gerald Walker is  about a rookie NYPD cop that goes undercover to bait a homophobic serial killer in the gay leather and  S&M world of New York’s Greenwich Village.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (back when they actually had a task) in a letter to the New York Times wrote that “in the context of an anti-homosexual society, a film about violent, sex-obsessed gay men would be seen as a film about all gay people.  The psychosexual dynamic of Cruising is certainly questionable—deliberately so, to some extent—though in chalking up violent homoerotic impulses to unresolved daddy issues, the movie may be a greater insult to the intelligence of psychoanalysts than to the sensibilities of gays.”

Village Voice writer Arthur Bell was the person who raised a call for full out sabotage on the movie writing that Friedkin’s film “promises to be the most oppressive, ugly, bigoted look at homosexuality ever presented on the screen,” he wrote, “the worst possible nightmare of the most uptight straight. I implore readers . . . to give Friedkin and his production crew a terrible time if you spot them in your neighborhoods.” and they did.

Over 40 years later despite the movies contents which today seems schlocky and mediocre at best Cruising is easily the most graphic depiction of the NYC gay sex underground  ever recreated or seen in a mainstream movie which makes it a faux documentary and a time capsule of days gone by.

Filmed in such legendary bars as the Ramrod, Anvil, and Eagle’s Nest (The Mineshaft barred Friedkin from the premises ), Cruising is a flashback to a time of  poppers, color-coded pocket hankies, hardcore disco, bathhouses, backrooms, park cruising and yes even Crisco. 

Like it or not the movie Cruising is a part of our history. You can get a better understand of the film and the era it was made in The Making Of Cruising documentary below.


*Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research

2 thoughts on “WATCH: “The Making of Cruising”(1980) William Friedkin Documentary [Video]

  1. My parents were informed by an anonymous caller that I was “sleeping with men” in 1976, when I was 18 yrs. old, a freshmen at StonyBrook, and stripping in the Gaiety Male Burlesque as well as a Hudson Valley “gay” club ‘Deja Vu’. After they confronted me and instructed I seek psychiatric help, I told them to seek their own counseling. After Phil Donahue discussed such taboo issues, my parents came around to relating to their estranged gay son, but not after buying tickets to ‘Cruising’ to better understand their son’s so-called lifestyle. I applaud them for sitting through the movie, which I could not relate to,
    but had to assure them that what they saw, which James Franco strangely obsessed about in his under the radar film on the filming of the sex club scene, as NOT my ‘scene’. Even though I was a stripper at the Gaiety Male Burlesque, hustled, I was not into S/M, more underground drug/discos and aboveground legit: the Gallery, Flamingo, the Anvil, 12 West, Crisco Disco, Paradise Garage, Hurrah, Ice Palace 57, the Saint, Sound Factory, the World,…documented in my book ‘Homo GoGo Man: a fairytale about a boy who grew up in discoland.’

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.