New York City, the early 70s. A mustachioed construction worker, a fur-shrouded woman, and a man in an automobile collide at an intersection near Lincoln Center. Actually, the woman and the man in the car are the ones who physically collide, but the construction worker’s the one whose life will change forever. Pocketing the woman’s purse as she lays dying on the concrete, the worker brings it back to his modest apartment where he discovers the only item of any interest, an exclusive invitation to a mysterious club called Bijou. Soon the man masturbates. And masturbates some more in the shower. He might be straight-there are posters of naked women strewn throughout his dwellings-but his extended play with the dead woman’s lipstick and the erotically charged, zoom-happy movements of the camera toward and away from the well-endowed, self-loving blonde suggest something else entirely.
When our unnamed hero eventually visits Bijou he confronts, in a series of mirrored, darkened rooms, his own desires and his starring role in a porno that slowly evolves into an elaborate orgy replete with sensual, kaleidoscopic lighting, large perspective-diminishing genital sculptures, and a host of other fit young homosexuals. Made at the height of the mainstream theatrical pornographic film (Deep Throat was also, er, released in 1972), gay porn trailblazer Wakefield Poole’s sophomore effort after Boys in the Sand is appropriately “artistic” for its time and well beyond it, more sexual odyssey than straightforward fuck flick and the missing link, perhaps, between Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks and David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. After watching Bijou even non-homosexuals will long for dreamier portrayals of the shadowy yet rapturous unknown of sexual exploration; all will definitely pine for the limitless possibilities afforded by a now ancient, grimy NYC captured here in almost documentary rawness.
The poet Eileen Myles introduces a screening of Bijou tonight at Light Industry.