Pink Screens: from tender to hard core

Pink Screens: from tender to hard core

(Keep the Lights On)

Embracing nuance and rejecting taboo, the Pink Screens film festival focuses on films about sexual orientation. The two opening films are a good example. The Chilean Joven y alocada (Young and Wild) is about a girl with strict, devout parents who writes a sexually flavoured blog. During an enforced internship at the local religious television station, Daniela starts a relationship with Teresa. Keep the Lights On sketches the destructive, unlikely relationship between two men who meet via a phone sex service. The fact that the festival still dares to be subversive, radical, and militant is demonstrated by the screening of work by Fred Halsted at the Centre for Fine Arts. Halsted was a botanist; gardened for Vincent Price, and had great commercial success with market gardens. A softie, or so one might think. In the late 1960s, he made the autobiographical film LA Plays Itself with hard core porn scenes that climax in the hardest, rawest sadomasochism and the first man-on-man fist fucking tableau. Halsted somehow convinced New York that it was an avant-garde film. In the equally radical sequel The Sex Garage, there is apparently a scene with a motorbike exhaust that would even make Kenneth Anger blush.

LA Plays Itself and The Sex Garage are part of the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) collection, but are almost never screened. Through his films, Halsted wanted to display sadomasochism and related perversions so that people could watch them, reflect on them, be touched by them, or whatever, so long as the topics didn’t remain secret and taboo. However, the rise of commercial pornographic films, among other things, prevented Halsted from staying relevant. He committed suicide in 1989, never having got over the death of Joey Yale, his fetish actor and oft-abused lover in front of the camera. Halsted expert William E. Jones will introduce the films at the Centre for Fine Arts.


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