Pink Narcissus

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Erotic, Experimental, Fantasy

Somewhere between "Scorpio Rising" — Kenneth Anger's 1964 paean to homoerotic fetishism — and the explicit gay porn that began appearing at the end of the decade, stands physique photographer-turned-filmmaker James Bidgood's nearly indescribable ode to male beauty. A handsome, self-obsessed young hustler (Bobby Kendall) lolls about his impossibly...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Somewhere between "Scorpio Rising" — Kenneth Anger's 1964 paean to homoerotic fetishism — and the explicit gay porn that began appearing at the end of the decade, stands physique photographer-turned-filmmaker James Bidgood's nearly indescribable ode

to male beauty. A handsome, self-obsessed young hustler (Bobby Kendall) lolls about his impossibly pink boudoir in various states of undress, gazing at his reflection, taking calls from clients and dreaming himself into a series of erotic tableaux. He imagines himself a strutting matador doing

battle with a blond "bull" on a motorbike, then a harem boy entranced by the undulations of a dancing slave. But the outside world, embodied in a nightmare vision of Times Square, crawling with freaks, midnight cowboys and aging johns, crashes in on his idylls. Narcissus is confronted with the

prospect of growing old, but not without the promise of rebirth. Bidgood toiled over this mini-masterpiece for nearly seven years, until it was finally taken away by his more profit-minded investors. The film feels unfinished — it's full of sudden lurches and odd blanks — but that hardly

detracts from its fascination. Part underground art film, part soft-core porn, the film marks a turning point, a moment when highly aestheticised erotica was about to give way to liberated but far less imaginative hardcore. Bidgood's artistic sources are clear (Anger, Cocteau, Genet) but the

film's fluid imagination and startling ingenuity are entirely his own. A delirious, decadent mix of baroque kitsch and real artistry, most of this highly stylized film was shot on meticulously handmade sets in Bidgood's cramped New York City apartment. The artifice is amusing, but it's a mistake

to dismiss the film as mere camp; Bidgood was an untrained but resourceful filmmaker who, in translating his fantasies to celluloid from scratch, happened upon the essential magic of filmmaking.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Somewhere between "Scorpio Rising" — Kenneth Anger's 1964 paean to homoerotic fetishism — and the explicit gay porn that began appearing at the end of the decade, stands physique photographer-turned-filmmaker James Bidgood's nearly indescribable… (more)

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