CRUISING FOR GIALLO
When I first saw Cruising I was a teenager discovering my sexuality. I was also a teenager with a big thing for horror and murder in movies. So confronted with a murder mystery set against an unflinching portrait of the seedy leather scene of pre-AIDS New York, with footage of orgies, fisting, and sweaty men in nothing but jockstraps, it was like all my dirty Christmases had come at once.
Being so young I had no idea of the controversy surrounding the film from its inception onwards. Protested against and bastardised largely by the gay community, the film was seen as an insensitive, homophobic stab (no pun intended) at an already marginalised group of people. As I developed my own opinions that are forever evolving I have come to take this with a pinch of salt. I often think that when a film receives such a negative response then internalised homophobia has a part to play.
Had I been a gay man in NYC in 1979/80 I might have felt differently. I might have seen yet another attack, yet another setback for my community despite making great steps forward to finally be accepted by the mainstream. Or, I might have been one of the actual patrons of the leather scene featured in this film, wearing me sleaze on my sleeve, albeit coated in grease and buried to the hilt in the rectum of a horny muscle daddy. I might have been on the side of the movie. Sick of being marginalised by my own community, I might have seen people like me – the dirty ones, the less respectable ones, the ones who weren’t trying so desperately to fall into heteronormative step with everyone else, finally portrayed onscreen.
Either way I can see both sides of the argument.
We discuss this in depth during the podcast. We also discuss whether this film is in fact a giallo movie. Serial killer? Check. Black leather? Big check. Gender roles and masculinity under threat? Check. The list goes on. I think it is a giallo. But you decide for yourself. The whole movie is on Youtube. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. Then listen to our take on the film right here: