Halsted Plays Himself
Fred Halsted's L.A. Plays Itself (1972) was gay porn's first masterpiece: a sexually explicit, autobiographical, experimental film whose New York screening left even Salvador Dali repeatedly muttering "new information for me." Halsted, a self-taught filmmaker, shot the film over a period of three years in a now-vanished Los Angeles, a city at once rural and sleazy.
Although his cultural notoriety at one point equaled that of Kenneth Anger or Jack Smith, Halsted's star waned in the 1980s with the emergence of a more commercial gay-porn industry. After the death from AIDS of his long-time partner, lover, spouse (and tormentor) Joey Yale in 1986, Halsted committed suicide in 1989.
In Halsted Plays Himself, acclaimed artist and filmmaker William E. Jones documents his quest to capture the elusive public and private personas of Halsted-to zero in on an identity riddled with contradictions. Jones assembles a narrative of a long-gone gay lifestyle and an extinct Hollywood underground, when independent films were still possible, and the boundary between experimental and pornographic was not yet established. The book also depicts what sexual liberation looked like at a volatile point in time-and what it looked like when it collapsed.
- Hardback | 200 pages
- 178 x 254 x 28mm | 998g
- 28 Oct 2011
- Semiotext (E)
- New York, United States
- 25 color illus., 55 b&w illus.; 80 Illustrations, unspecified
Other books in this series
01 Dec 1990
31 Oct 2007
-Sam Biederman, Bookforum As a project born out of the author's sincere admiration for his subject, Halsted Plays Himself amounts to a very passionate, if not sentimental, account. Jones not only attempts to symbolically revive Halsted in this elegy, but continuously constructs imaginary scenarios which could have resulted in him still being alive, better understood, or more accepted.
-Aliina Astrova, Kaleidoscope (blog) [A] rich and rewarding excavation of a blazing moment in the early 1970s...[A] valuable installment in a recent, resurgent interest in queer documents from that flourishing social period, positioning Halsted's artistic legacy within a teeming moment of gay visibility.
-Bradford Nordeen, Art in America
About William E. Jones