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Let it be stated right up front that this eye-opening documentary is not for the prudish or the easily offended, for its footage is graphic and its language raw, often akin in its look to crude 1970`s porn. It takes us straight into the heart of a scene that became famous for its flagrant nudity, its unbridled group sex, and - if the eyewitness accounts are to be believed - its really bad food (apparently, the smorgasbord that kept bringing the people in was of quite a different kind!). Directed by Matthew Kaufman and Jon Hart, the film features interviews with many of the now-aging club regulars who happily regale us with tales of their personal escapades there. A number of celebrities who frequented the club, as well as certain reporters and broadcasters who covered the beat at the time are also interviewed.
"American Swing" is most interesting as a social document, showing how the "free love" ethos espoused by the hippies in the 1960's expanded into the mainstream a decade later. Suddenly, ordinary businessmen and housewives, truck drivers and longshoremen could partake in the life of the sexually liberated.Read more ›
(Magnolia Pictures, 2008)
(NOTE: some spoilers included below)
This is an utterly compelling documentary about an amazingly seedy topic, the life and death of a popular New York sex club called Plato's Retreat, which catered to heterosexual "swingers" during the height of the disco era. It was, apparently, the equivalent to the swinger scene what Studio 54 was to the gay-socialite set, a place of immense personal liberation and shocking group debauchery. I used to think of the heyday of "wife-swapping" as being in the early and mid-1960s, but this saga took place in the musty ashes of the '60s Sexual Revolution, as the hippie era gave way to a more generalized hedonism and self-centeredness in American society. The film largely shies away from an examination of the larger changes in society at the time, sticking closely to the immediate drama of the Plato club, and indeed, it's a pretty compelling story. It's also an unsettling topic: I had no idea that straight (hetero) society had such an out-there free-sex culture, and while this is fascinating in theory, seeing it made plain (there is quite a bit of archival footage) is a little nauseating, if the truth be told.
As the story unfolded, I assumed that the advent of AIDS and HIV disease would be what would do the club in, and while it did factor in, it was actually the club's ties to organized crime that rocked its foundations: the club's owner, Larry Levinson, went to jail for nearly three years for tax evasion in the early 1980s.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was not a legitimate order. Someone had temporary access to my accountPublished 11 months ago by Robert
I thought this was an awesome documentary on something that is too quickly looked down on in this world. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Gside