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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Erotic > Gay > Political > Gay Sex In The 70s (Documentary/Wolfe Video DVD)

Gay Sex In The 70s


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Documentary: B-



The packaging touts Joseph Lovett’s Gay Sex In The 70s as a “sexy romp” and then does an amusing thing with quotes.  On the front of the case, the quotes read like some XXX review, while the quotes on the back of the case actually refer to the documentary.  It is this dual approach that unfortunately also occurs all over the work itself and in trying to have it both ways gets into some unexpected trouble.


Without explaining it effectively enough, the 1970s (especially in places like New York) was a boom period for Gay Rights, which means THE boom period of Gay sex simply because there had never been no such period since Germany prior to Hitler and they did not have the more advanced media of things like Disco music.  The Art Deco and Euro-styles of more than a few items even reflect a making up for lost time and continuance of a culture that was already there.


What is more amazing is that the 71 minutes so blindly covers the sex mania of the period after the events of Christopher Street without total explanation outside of men having so much excessive sexual contact that when AIDS arrives, it is handled more passively than maybe it should be just on a political level, let alone as the health crisis it still is.  It wants to show the period as the gay side of the sexual revolution and rightly so, but it does so with many problems.  No matter where you believe AIDS came from, with all the VDs out there, all this openly unprotected sex and physical contact would have had to eventually lead to a health crisis of some kind.  If not AIDS, something, because it is mathematically impossible for all of this to have happened and to expect only vitamin shots at best to have kept all well, especially since the program makes it explicit that so many of the intimate encounters were between strangers and that this was part of the excitement.


Also, interviews with the likes of Larry Kramer and Tom Bianchi are very informative and there is much to learn here, with the vintage ads and footage archival.  However, it is what goes unsaid that ultimately makes Gay Sex In The 70s a far more limited work than it should be.  Without expecting a mini-series, it is what goes unsaid that is the issue and is darkly ironic in reflecting how the community has a long way to go before it can be the force it was politically in the 1970s.  Another way to put it is that this is still too conservative for its own good and that is the reason gays are having the political showdowns with conservatives they are today.  A more knowing variation of this will eventually surface and the community will have to sort out besides AIDS why things were so bad for civil rights at the turn of this century.


The 1.33 X 1 image the usual mix of new and old footage, originating on professional analog NTSC video.  The newer footage is mostly interviews of the guest subjects, though a few “men” in the street are asked their opinions as well.  Know this is borderline NC-17 in nature.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is simple and just fine for the purpose.  The only extras are stills and a trailer.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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