Geographies of Public Sex [LA&M Film Fetish Forum]

Playing at the LA&M Film Fetish Forum Saturday, March 16th at 7pm EST; It Will Be Co-Presented by Henry Hanson of Full Spectrum Features.

“Geographies of Public Sex” is a series of eight short films curated by Henry Hanson, most of which revolve around the Gay experience and accounts of the gay lifestyle. It’s a mixed bag, admittedly, but an interesting gallery of shorts, nevertheless. 2021’s “Trade Center” from Adam Baran is the best of the bunch; it’s a fascinating documentary about cruising in the seventies and eighties, and the amount of sites in New York City where men could have sex with one another any time of the day.

Baran speaks with a lot of older gay men, many of whom discuss their encounters and how the World Trade Center was easily the most popular spot in the city where men met up to have sexual encounters. 2018’s “Tribute” from Max Disgrace is an okay short that’s more experimental exploring the power dynamic between two lesbian lovers in a chance encounter. The black and white photography lend it a real grit, even if the short goes on a bit too long. 2016’s “The Magic Hedge” from Frédé Moffet is a fascinating short documentary about a young man who ventures in a former Cold War site turned bird sanctuary that’s become a meeting ground for gay men.

The short ventures into the fleeting encounters and how the anonymity helps ease insecurities. “Watchqueen” from 2021 is an interesting sociological experimental short that examines former meeting spots as historic sites that warrant examining. Del La Grace’s “Pansexual Public Porn” from 1998 is an SOV part documentary, part erotic film exploring gay encounters in random wooded areas. The short is fine but loses sight of the narrative mid-way, sadly. “Death of a Bathhouse” from 2013, directed by Rolyn Chambers and Raymond Helkio, chronicles the long life span of the St. Marc’s Spa that became a very popular meeting ground for sexual encounters.

Inevitably it was shut down prompting a lot of self reflection from regulars that still ponder on its time. “Been Too Long at the Fair” from 2015 is a documented accounting of The Fair Theater in Jackson Heights, a once prominent gay porno theater that became a popular meeting ground. It’s a fine film, albeit another one that loses sight of its initial premise mid-way. Finally, “Fuckin Around” is a weird short completely lost on me centering on a gathering of Leather men and their random encounters. Despite the breakneck speed of this short, I was mostly disinterested as it values shock over anything else.