Fred Halsted: Body of Work
Sex Garage, LA Plays Itself, A Night at Halsted's, El Paso Wrecking Corp. (actor) Three Day Pass (actor), Pieces of Eight (actor)
1972 - 1982, 16mm on video and video.
Curated by Bradford Nordeen
10PM – 4AM
Fred Halsted's film works offer a dark alternative to the pastoral scenes of Halsted's contemporary, Wakefield Poole. Like Poole, whose Boys in the Sand was an art house crossover hit, Halsted's LA Plays Itself was a sensation, hitting screens in a fleeting moment of genuine interest in pornography (an interest mimicked by hetero smashes Behind the Green Door and Deep Throat). Halsted's world reflects his engagement with S&M culture, and his films depict such scenes with a neorealistic flair. As akin to the works of Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger as he was to any pornographic film forms, Halsted's oeuvre is a dark, ominous and enthralling one, as fascinating for its now-documentary depictions of 1970s hustler street culture as it is erotic and titillating.
Fred Halsted's LA Plays Itself (1972) was gay porn's first masterpiece. Halsted, a self-taught filmmaker, shot the film over a period of three years in a long-vanished Los Angeles, a city at once more rural and sleazier than its present day version. Director of other films such as the great black and white short Sex Garage and the hallucinatory feature Sextool, Halsted also performed in Joe Gage's El Paso Wrecking Corp., owned a Silverlake sex club (called Halsted's, of course) and published his own magazine, Package.
Eastern Bloc is an East Village, Communist-themed institution. Small and gloriously dank, the establishment is as famous for its dimmed debauchery as it is its creative décor, which features Xerox posters of porn and queer icons, and vintage porn playing on the monitors that flank the bar.