Film News

Dirty Looks Presents a Gay Porn Theater for 24 Hours in New York This Weekend

COURTESY DIRTY LOOKS

Dirty Looks is staging its first New York edition of Sesión Continua, a roving 24-hour queer porn theater, beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m. at Video Revival, a nonprofit film-arts organization in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

The program, which will run until late on Saturday night, draws largely from pre-VHS pornographic titles, including both gay and lesbian films, with no schedule released in advance to evoke old porn theaters in days of yore, according to Dirty Looks founder Bradford Nordeen. “You walked in—there was no listing of what title was being shown,” he said. “You just saw what was playing.” Nordeen said he remembered such an experience when he visited the historic Bijou Theater in Chicago before it closed after decades of service in 2014.

The aim of Sesión Continua is to re-create the porn theater as a queer social space that has vanished from many cities in recent years, along with bathhouses and traditionally gay neighborhoods. It comes at a time in the gay community when there is much heated debated, in the media and on gay Twitter, about who can visit gay spaces and under what circumstances.

COURTESY DIRTY LOOKS

Nordeen, who curated Sesión Continua with pornography historian and archivist Joe Rubin of Vinegar Syndrome and another queer film preservation group called Curse of Cherifa, said that he positions early pornographic films as some of the earliest examples of queer representation, for and by queer people. “They became the main approachable commercial format that queer people could use to document their life,” he said. “It was a cinema that filled the screen for an inordinate amount of time with various bodies engaging in beauty. This is where they saw themselves on screen.”

Dirty Looks, which has staged versions of Sesión Continua in Los Angeles yearly since 2015, is perhaps best known in New York for the three editions of its month-long festival “Dirty Looks: On Location.” Billed as “queer interventions in New York City space,” the festival has included wide-ranging programming of queer film and video across the city, from conventional art spaces like the Kitchen, Pioneer Works, and Participant gallery to traditional queer gathering spaces like the Stonewall Inn, Julius, the Eagle, and even a nondescript motel room on the West Side.

For the first edition of Sesión Continua in New York, Nordeen said has made a priority of “staying true to what people think of Dirty Looks and embellishing that with the pornographic space we’re trying to create. Instead of treating it like a film festival, we wanted to treat it as a free-flowing space not having ownership over what you see.”

On deck for the screenings are what Nordeen described as the Hellraiser of gay porn as well as an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, a beach film double feature, and “lezsploitation” films that will screen around 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Paraphrasing wisdom he learned while collaborating with Rubin, Nordeen said, “There shouldn’t be a minute where someone walks into this theater and feels bored.”

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