Continental

DIRECTOR: Malcolm Ingram

Expected to attend: director Malcolm Ingram.

“To be successful in business you have to create a desire and fulfill a need,” says sage impresario Steve Ostrow in the fascinating documentary Continental, and sure enough this savvy pioneer of the queer sexual revolution had his finger on the pulse (and other throbbing zones) of horny NYC denizens when he opened the renowned bathhouse in the in 1968. Now a silver fox and charming raconteur, Ostrow looks back on his fabulous career in this entertaining history of the legendary “private men’s club,” filled with steamy dark-room encounters and onstage antics by The Divine Miss Mand other celebrities of that time.

“It was the golden age of promiscuity,” recalls Edmund White of post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS Manhattan, and the Baths “provided a beautiful setting, attractive people, and first-class sexual experiences, all designed to promote pleasure.” At its peak of 24/7 polymorphous bacchanalia, 20,000 towel-clad revelers packed The Continental Baths every week to revel in the orgy room, skinny-dip in the giant pool, gyrate on the dance floor, and even get tested for STDs at the health clinic. The party really got started when Bette Midler performed, with baby-faced Barry Manilow as her pianist, while Dali, Jagger, Hitchcock, and Nureyev mingled with the sweaty masses. With gossipy dish from Michael Musto and Holly Woodlawn, as well as pumping music courtesy of acclaimed D.J. Frankie Knuckles, Continental is yet another triumph from director Malcolm Ingram (Small Town Gay Bar, Bear Nation).

— STEVEN JENKINS

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D308

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