A few days ago on another social media platform I made a post about the 1980 movie “Cruising” directed by Willam Fredkin and starring Al Pacino and the impact that it made upon the LGBT community. But other than the negative aspects the movie itself is a time capsule of a life and places long gone in NYC in the late 70’s and early 1980’s.
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.
Now over 35 years later despite the movies content which today seems schlocky and mediocre at best. But Crusing is easily the most graphic depiction of the NYC gay sex underground ever seen in a mainstream movie. It is also in a way, a documentary of a time and places 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. It is a visual time capsule back to a part of our history that has been overshadowed by by the plague known as AIDS that would soon to happen after it was made.
Like it or not the movie Crusing is a part of our history and reflects an era of images and memories that is slowly being lost forever and so I present the full movie and The Making Of Cruising documentary below for historical purposes.