Tag Archives: cruising

Gay History – July 25, 1979: “Cruising” Movie Shoot Protested By NYC’s Gay Community

For those of you too young to remember the movie Cruising it is a 1980 psychological thriller film directed by William Friedkin of The Exorcist fame and starring Al Pacino. The film is loosely based on the novel of the same name, by New York Times reporter Gerald Walker. It’s about a rookie NYPD cop that goes undercover to bait a homophobic serial killer in the 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 and did something ) 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.”

The movie suffered a huge backlash from the LGBT community which did everything  it could to disrupt the movies filming in Greenwich Village and promotion in NYC.

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.”

Gay-owned businesses on Christopher Street barred the filmmakers from their premises. People attempted to interfere with shooting by pointing mirrors from rooftops to ruin lighting for scenes, blasting whistles and air horns near locations, and playing loud music. One thousand protesters marched through the East Village demanding the city withdraw support for the film to which Mayor (and famous closet case) Ed Koch responded, “Whether it is a group that seeks to make the gay life exciting or to make it negative, it’s not our job to look into that.”

Al Pacino who starred in the movie said that he understood the protests but insisted that upon reading the screenplay he never at any point felt that the film was anti-gay. He said that the leather bars were “just a fragment of the gay community, the same way the Mafia is a fragment of Italian-American life,” referring to The Godfather, and that he would “never want to do anything to harm the gay community”.

Friedkin asked noted gay author John Rechy, to screen Cruising just before its release. Rechy had written an essay defending Friedkin’s right to make the film, although not defending the film itself.  At Rechy’s suggestion, Friedkin deleted a scene showing the Gay Liberation Front slogan “We Are Everywhere” as graffiti on a wall just before the first body part is pulled from the river, and added a disclaimer:

“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.”

Friedkin later claimed that it was the MPAA and United Artists that required the disclaimer, calling it “part of the dark bargain that was made to get the film released at all ” and  “a sop to organised gay rights groups”.   Friedkin also said that no one involved in making the film thought it would be considered as representative of the entire gay community, but the late great gay film historian Vito Russo disputed Fredkin claims citing the disclaimer as “an admission of guilt” writing  “What director would make such a statement if he truly believed that his film would not be taken to be representative of the whole?”

Now over 40 years later despite the movies content which by today’s standards seem schlocky and mediocre at best.  Snippets of Cruising are easily one the most graphic and true depiction of the NYC underground gay leather scene ever seen in a mainstream movie and is also in a way, a documentary of a time and places lost in history with background shots of the West Village and West Side highway that capture that period in time.

Locations like The Ramrod, The Anvil, Mineshaft, and the Eagle’s Nest (the latter two eventually barred Friedkin from the premises) have been gone for decades, but Cruising is a flashback to a time of  poppers, color-coded pocket hankies, hardcore discos, 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 wreck havoc on the gay community in the years after the movie was released.

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.

Note: The exterior entrance of the club that Al Pacino enters into is actually the door to the infamous Mineshaft in NYC. (CLICK HERE to learn more about The Mineshaft.)  But as stated above Friedkin was barred from filming within the establishment.  The next shot of Pacino walking down the stairs was actually filmed at the Hellfire Club Sex Club in the triangle building  at 14th street which later would house J’s Hangout and home of the New York Jacks on 14th and  Hudson Street.

What now stands in its spot is the gentrified 675 Bar which is described as a “subdued lounge attempts to bring back some dignity to the Meatpacking District with pedigreed cocktails, and uncomplicated entertainment”  

If only the patrons of the 675 Bar ever knew.

Undercover Sex Sting in Washington DC Park Results In Arrests of 26 Gay Men

Undercover Sex Sting in Washington DC Park Results In Arrests of 26 Gay Men

The U.S. Park Police have made at least 26 arrests during the past year in Meridian Hill Park known as Malcolm X Park in Washington, D.C. of men seeking other men for a sexual encounters according to a Park Police spokesperson.

Malcolm X Park, has been known for at least 50 years as a cruising spot in a secluded areas of the park at night for mostly African-American gay men.

Washington, D.C. defense attorney John Albanes and other attorneys who are representing  some of gay men who were arrested report that undercover officers are pose as consenting partners interested in a sexual tryst.

“I am on a D.C. Superior Court trial lawyers association listserv and recently several criminal defense attorneys on the email list have mentioned that they have had criminal cases involving essentially the same set of facts,” Albanes told the Blade in an email. “[U]ndercover plain-clothes Park Police officers entice men in Meridian Hill Park for purportedly consensual sexual activity and then proceed to arrest their targets for a crime (often misdemeanor sexual abuse),” according to Albanes.

“I find this pattern extremely disturbing and reminiscent of the Stonewall days when gay men were often the target of police discrimination. The tactics used in these cases just fly in the face of proper police work and should be exposed,” he said. The officers are posing as willing participants in a consensual encounter between adults. The target is deceived into thinking that what he is about to do is wanted. This raises serious doubts about whether the government can prove criminal intent.”

Sgt. Eduardo Delgado, a Park Police public information officer, told the LGBT website the Washington Blade the 26 arrests made in the park since Aug. 7, 2018 involve charges of one or a combination of Disorderly Conduct, Lewd Acts, Unlawful Entry, and Simple Assault (Sexual).

In a statement Delgado said : “The U.S. Park Police receives complaints about lewd acts that occur within Meridian Hill. As with any other complaint of illegal activity, we then take actions to stop it,” he said. “Plain clothes officers are just one method of enforcement sometimes used to deter, stop, and/or arrest violators within the parks.”

Before being “reclaimed” by the neighborhood and gentrified in the 80’s. Meridian Hill Park was a virtual den of thieves. One newspaper article quoted a police officer who called it “a supermarket of drug dealing.” A 1989 study called the park the “Most Murderous” in that section of the city.

WATCH: CRUISING (1980) Full Movie and The Making of Cruising Documentary – Video

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.

Sundance 2013 – James Franco’s: “Interior. Leather Bar” – TRAILER

Crusing 1980-horz

The 1980 film Cruising, starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop investigating a murder in the New York City gay, leather, bar scene, was plagued with controversy, and protests by the gay community.

Director William Fredkin cut over 40 minutes of sexually explicit material to deliver an “R” rated movie and to appease the  Motion Picture Association of America.

Those 40 minutes have never been screened publicly.

Franco and Travis Mathews set out to reimagine what might have transpired in those lost scenes in this intriguing film about the making of a film and actor Val Lauren  re-creates the Al Pacino role.

Val is repeatedly forced to negotiate his boundaries during scenes on and “off camera,” as unsimulated gay sex happens around him. The film itself is constructed as a play with boundaries remaining queer in subject and form. As much a film about filmmaking as it is about an exploration of sexual and creative freedom, and defies easy categorization.

“Interior. Leather Bar.” opens at The Sundance Film Festival this week.

Go Cruising With Kirk Cameron (Sometimes The Jokes Just Write Themselves)

I never knew there was a ship in Griffith Park.  Because it’s my understanding that that’s the only place Kirk Cameron cruises.

But seriously Boston, PTown, Montreal and the steam room of a cruise ship? Its the gayest summer vacation ever!

Someone let Kirk know how to find Dick Dock.

George Michael Joins The 21st Century – Stops Cruising Restrooms and Starts Cruising The Internet On GRINDR

Probably tired of being busted George Michael the pop singer, famous for getting arrested cruising for sex in a public toilet, is now on Grindr, a location-based iPhone app that allows gay men to meet up via their phones. And he’s terrorizing Australia’s gays with it.

On a recent vacation down under, it appears Michael logged on to the service under the profile “Back for Wood” and contacted several men.  Fortunately, since Grindr displays where a user is located, it should be easier than ever to stay out of his way