Wednesday, July 13 at 7:30 PM — The Auditorium at NEIU — 3701 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Tickets: $10 at the door

July 13 - Variety

Directed by Bette Gordon • 1983
A decade after pornography’s high water mark of mainstream acceptance in the early 1970s — when family newspapers accepted advertisements for Deep Throat and middle-aged couples bought tickets to The Devil in Miss Jones to prove they were “with it” — dirty movies were back in the gutter and bereft of friends and advocates. While feminist scholars Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon were forming an anti-pornography popular front with the Moral Majority, independent filmmaker Bette Gordon took a more ambivalent and expansive view of the sex industry in Variety, a dreamy tale of empowerment smuggled through the crucible of degradation. Twenty-something city dweller Christine (Sandy McLeod) is behind on rent, so she follows a tip from her gym buddy Nan Goldin (!) and starts working the box office at a porn theater in the heart of Koch-era New York. (The cinema that provides the film’s title and its central location, Variety Photoplays, opened in 1914 and had likewise shifted to adult entertainment by the early ’80s.)  After sneaking into the projection booth during a cigarette break, Christine becomes obsessed with the movies, the sex, the clientele, and their inscrutable masculine demimonde. She begins haunting the peepshows and adult bookstores like a gender traitor on a righteous undercover mission. She unnerves her dweeby alt-weekly journalist semi-boyfriend (Will Patton) by reciting kinky monologues and starts stalking one of Variety Photoplays’ mysterio rich guy regulars, a nondescript mafia bagman straight out of Mikey and Nicky, following him to local seafood markets and a carousel in Asbury Park. Gordon’s understated masterwork shows us a secret society of desire hiding in plain sight. (KW)
100 min • Horizon Films • 35mm from Kino Lorber
Preceded by: “Michigan Avenue” (James Benning and Bette Gordon, 1973) – 7 min – 16mm
Preserved by Anthology Film Archives with support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Film Preservation Foundation.

NEXT UP: All That Jazz on Mon 7/18 at 7:00 PM @ Music Box