Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tearoom: Vintage glory holes

For two weeks in the summer of 1962, using a two-way mirror, police in the central Ohio town of Mansfield secretly filmed the activity in a public men's room in the town square. The surveillance recorded dozens of men having sex, resulting in more than 30 prosecutions for sodomy, with at least a year in prison time for each.

Decades later, acclaimed filmmaker William E. Jones  acquired the Mansfield footage while working on another project. The images so fascinated him that he's been screening it, unaltered by further editing, as the 56-minute Tearoom.

Shot without sound, in grainy color 16 mm, it's a stunning document. The men range in age from their 20s to their 60s. They are white and black, fat and thin, in a banker's suit or name-patched mechanic's uniform. Faces humorless, eyes on the door, they masturbate, give handjobs and blowjobs, and perform anal sex; a few exchange money. 

The Andy Warhol Museum screens the film. 

(16mm film transferred to video, color, silent, 56 minutes, 1962/2007) 

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