In the early 1970s the terms “experimental film” and “pornographic film” had a big overlap. And Los Angeles had not only a film underground but also a gay underground. Fred Halsted was at the center of these movements. A self-taught filmmaker, Halsted created L.A. Plays Itself (called “gay porn's first masterpiece”) over the course of three years. The explicit and autobiographical work is said to have left the likes of Salvador Dali dumbfounded. Halsted was consumed in the 1980s by the larger gay-porn industry as well as the AIDS crisis – the disease took his longtime partner Joy Yale in 1986, and three years later Halsted took his own life. William E. Jones depicts the filmmaker's turbulent life in Halsted Plays Himself. In the course of doing so Jones describes a long-gone gay lifestyle as well as a Los Angeles that no longer exists, “at once rural and sleazy.” Jones, himself a filmmaker, discusses the book as well as the life and times of Halsted tonight.
Thu., Dec. 8, 7 p.m., 2011