What do you get when you cross realism with an ultra-campy script and lots of dancing, half-naked people? Well, the answer to this question is "Circuit," but if you also said "Glitter," and/or "Showgirls" you are also correct. "Circuit" is the sophomore effort of former Playgirl Man-of-the Year turned film director, Dirk Shafer, who previously directed a small 'mockumentary' called "Man of the Year," which discussed his trials and tribulations of being the object of desire among Playgirl's women readers, although he is gay.
Covering a series of 'circuit' parties in Southern California, "Circuit" covers the life of a small-town gay cop named John (played by Jonathan Wade-Drahos, who looks amazingly like Pierce Brosnan) who moves to Los Angeles in order to live a much more open life. Moving to Los Angeles, John meets up with his cousin Tad, an amateur filmmaker who is filming a documentary on attitudes and life on the circuit party scene.
While in Los Angeles, John finds himself delving in the decadent lifestyle common among many in the circuit scene. From drug use to hustling, John gets acquainted with the help of new found friend and hustler Hector (Andre Khabbazi) which allows the viewer to see changes in his character. With a slew of other forgettable characters, the film progresses somewhat like a crash and burn sequence where we see the principle character try to discover himself through the means of reinvention only to begin a recovery of his former self in order to live a more meaningful life with someone who can love him for himself and not for his appearance.
While many characters such as Bobby (Paul Lekakis) an HIV+ dancer who has little ambition in life and Gino (played by William Katt of the television cult classic "The Greatest American Hero") do add some substance to this film, "Circuit" fails in many attempts to capture many aspects that makes it a stand out as a realistic film. Due to a small budget, a cast of mainly amateur actors, and a very campy, and a predictable script, "Circuit" succumbs to these factors. I must admit that Shafer does a good job of covering drug use (the close-up, rotational views of a Special K bottle reminds me of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's internal close-ups of normal, everyday objects in his films), but the film's overall art direction, the poor quality of the film used, the sappy selection of dance songs used throughout the film (except for Taylor Dayne's song, where are club legends such as Victor Calderone, Junior Vasquez, Thunderpuss, and Peter Rauhofer on this soundtrack?) and the short coverage of the actual party circuit causes the film to fizzle before its' time is up.
Although most of the actors are not Oscar-calibre thespians, four performances stand out in the film. Veteran actors William Katt and Nancy Allen (they had previously worked together in the horror classic "Carrie") are always great together, especially Katt who plays a seedy circuit party organizer/drug dealer. Paul Lekakis' character of Bobby does have some highpoints in the film, however the true standout in this film is Andre Khabbazi. As Hector, Khabbazi truly has a wide range of emotions that indicate that he has had some extensive dramatic training, and his overall appearance validates the film's message that in the 'circuit' beauty is everything.
The 'circuit' might be considered the "Superbowl for gay men," but due to the above factors, "Circuit" the film is like the "Showgirls for gay men." Campy, predictable, weak script, and plenty of overacting, especially by Daniel Kucan ("Tad"), "Circuit" is a film that hits and misses not only when it comes to quality, independent filmmaking, but also when covering today's party/circuit scene. Again, I give the director and his team credit for some creative camera angles, some accuracy in covering the theme, and providing viewers with a morale, but "Circuit" falls short of what many encounter after a weekend of hard partying.