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Case Number 09389: Small Claims Court

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Gay Sex In The '70s

Wolfe Video // 2005 // 71 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // June 6th, 2006

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All Rise...

Hip to the gay thing, Judge Eric Profancik takes a look into the homosexual counterpart to flower power and free love.

The Charge

"Some people have talked about it as the most libertine period that the Western World has ever seen since Rome."

The Case

It's with a happy look of wistful nostalgia, a small nod of his head, and a smile that brings back many a debaucherous memory that he succinctly responds to the above statement:

"It was."

What hedonistic locale are we talking about? We're speaking of New York City. Specifically, we're talking about a distinct sliver of that metropolis, the homosexual community in New York from June 1969 (Stonewall) to June 1981 (the beginning of the AIDs epidemic). Gay Sex in the 70s is a brief documentary of a time of intense sexual freedom and liberation for homosexuals. Heterosexuals had flower power and free love in the 60s, but it took another decade for homosexuals to embrace that mantra…and so much more.

As a straight man, why am I reviewing a title like this? What interest might I have in such a title; and, perhaps more importantly, how can I know what I'm viewing and talking about? I mention this now, after reviewing a handful of gay titles for The Verdict, as this is the most sexually charged DVD yet. I thought it would be fair to you to know that I am not completely ignorant of the topic. Wait; let me clarify that. Before I moved to the conservative Mecca known as Cincinnati, Ohio, I lived an hour north in the more liberal Dayton, Ohio. While there, by a weird chance of Star Trek fate (another story entirely), my best friends were all gay. In fact, my two closest friends were a committed couple of seven years. We were neighbors for five years, and over that time I learned a whole lot about the gay community, as I found myself being hit on by guys, going to gay bars, and just simply socializing with an assortment of gay men. To this day, some of my closest friends here in Cincinnati are gay.

I tell you that so you know that I have some inkling about homosexuality and that my frame of reference to the gay community is a modern perspective, from the late 90s until today. I'd heard stories of the sexual escapades of the 70s, but I never really did any investigation. With this title, I now know a bit more of the decade that led to newfound freedom and newfound diseases.

Imagine rampant sex on the streets, in parks, in trucks, in doorways, in any semi-secluded location. That's what was going on in New York, as homosexuals broke free of the persecution and stigma of their sexual orientation. Until the 70s, homosexuality was classified as a sexual deviance. It was considered unnatural and unhealthy. (Funny how history repeats itself.) Then things changed. People realized a homosexual wasn't a deviant, and with that, gay men began to indulge in any number of sexual escapades. And they indulged and indulged and indulged. Gay Sex in the 70s is a series of stories told by men who lived during this stunning period. These men basked in the revelry, the freedom, and the debauchery. They had sex many times a day, took a scary cocktail of drugs, partied until the wee hours of the morning, and did all over again the next day and the next day and the next. Wrapping themselves in the ecstasy of the moment, they rarely gave any concern to the potential dangers, from being mugged inside a dark truck, to falling off a dock and drowning, to catching a sexually transmitted disease.

Yet we all know the result of this sexual revolution was the spread of AIDs. The homosexual community was ripped apart by the outbreak of this horrible disease, and the unbridled lust of the 70s eventually would end with death upon death of friend after friend.

What I found most fascinating in this documentary was the rationalization for their behavior. I've already discussed the primary thrust of the argument: the freedom from persecution. Yet another argument bubbled up near the end, that at first, I found to be self-deception. I was incredulous to the idea, but as more and more of the men interviewed began to say the same thing, I found myself convinced that maybe there was some truth to it. Beyond the simple carnality, the men said they did what they did because there was always the hope that the next guy would be Mr. Right. In the midst of unbridled heat, maybe he would be the man with whom he would want to spend the rest of his life.

This last idea does seem a bit hard to swallow when you realize the decadence of what went on during this decade. I find it hard to believe that a guy climbing into the back of an empty, dark truck looking for some sexual gratification might also be looking for a life partner. How could he be looking when he couldn't even see the men kneeling in front of him? Still, they had a point. Sexual freedom does not equate to happiness, and finding someone to relieve the loneliness was a motivating factor.

Gay Sex in the 70s is an adult title. It's obviously a frank discussion of mature themes, but it's done intelligently, without the intent to titillate or shock. The documentary makes use of many photographs and videos from the time, most being tasteful but there are some glimpses of male genitalia and men doing what gay men like to do. (You never see an actual act, but the picture speaks a thousand words to that act.)

The best way to describe the video transfer for this DVD is average. It won't knock your socks off nor will it make you mad. The combination of older footage and the newer interview footage has good color accuracy, reasonable black definition, and enough contrast and detail to move things along. I didn't notice any significant errors. The biggest thing to be said about the video is the confusion of the correct ratio. While the DVD packaging states "widescreen," the official studio site states "letterbox 4:3 ratio." I'm inclined to believe the latter. For the audio, it's a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 mix without hiss or distortion, allowing all the interviewee's words to be easily heard.

We do have a section on the menu labeled "bonus material," but none of it is truly special. What you'll find here is the trailer, a photo gallery (3 minutes of photos you saw during the main feature), a trailer for Wolfe Video, and an ad to buy the movie soundtrack. Oddly, there is also where you'll find the subtitle option.

Comparing my current frame of reference to the spectacle of the 70s, have I learned anything? Indeed, I have learned quite a bit and my frame of reference is greatly expanded. The 70s were a wild time, leading to the AIDs epidemic. Twenty-plus years later, with AIDs not as prevalent in society, you see some men returning to those days of carefree, condom-free sex and fun. Funny how history repeats itself.

Gay Sex in the 70s clearly details what a time these men had. From the highs to the lows to the massive repercussions of their actions, this documentary will surprise you with everything that went on. You think you might know, but unless you were there, you can't possibly imagine. When comparing what really happened in the 70s to gay pornography in the 70s, one interviewee called porn a "comic book" compared to reality. It's an insightful and interesting documentary, one worth seeing but I'm not sure if you need to own it.

Those were the days.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Wolfe Video
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Documentary
• Gay
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer
• Photo Gallery
• More from Wolfe
• Get the Soundtrack!

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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