Hey! Watch It With The Camera! We’re Having An Orgy Here!
There are documentaries that enlighten – and inform. They are, in many ways, educational and thought-provoking. Yes they are, even when they are about sex clubs and orgies!
American Swing – 2008
It was one of the craziest, dirtiest chapters in American history – New York in the 70’s – home to grind house movie theaters like these:
New York’s Times Square was notorious at the time – filled with places like Playland, that offered live sex shows on while just uptown was the legendary “swinger’s club”, Plato’s Retreat!
“American Swing” is a terrific documentary of the time: telling the story of Plato’s Retreat, the famous Manhattan Sex Club for straight couples that operated from 1977 until the mid 1980s, when it all fell apart. It’s also a fascinating look at the life of Larry Levenson, the club’s impresario.
In present-day interviews, Larry’s family talks about him, while writers, reporters, and clients talk about the club. Mixed with these interviews are still photographs and archival footage of the club – what a wild place!
The documentary also has Larry’s appearances on talk shows as, by the late 70s, the sex club was in full swing, with talk of Plato’s Retreats opening around the world!
By the end of the decade however, that all changed. The inevitable tax problems had Larry in trouble with the IRS and changing mores gave the club a different vibe.
Then AIDS became an epidemic, and the party was over.
Rules For The Mattress Room!
Look at these rules!
“No One Admitted Fully Dressed.”
Can you believe this was a legal, legitimate business?
This was a public orgy – and “American Swing” is a fascinating look inside this business, the owner, and the people who participated in the orgies – who willingly discuss what went on inside the club!
Here is an IMDB user review, which I think does a terrific job summing up the documentary: “American Swing” refers to the “wife-swapping” phenomenon that swept through middle-class suburbia in the 1970s. And no figure did more to popularize that trend than Larry Levenson – the “King of Swing” as he came to be called – whose “live sex club,” Plato’s Retreat, located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, served as the epicenter for so much of the action.
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. 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.
This is a really fascinating look at a bygone era – not so long ago, when the “sexual revolution” tuned into a sexual free-for-all!
New York’s Times Square district in the 70’s was really something:
From “Dating Rooms” to grind house theaters, it was “anything goes” – and some of these places had more violence in the seats than on the screen!
Here are some of the best films that played there:
When it comes to the seedy history of New York’s Times square, there’s one guy who knows it best!
Grindhouse Pete lived it, and wrote all about it in his wild memoir:
Pete Chiarella was in all of those places and more and he tells all! You can have read his story – see how you can buy his books and “Grindhouse Purgatory” magazine by clicking here:
Support Pete’s great work – and keep Grindhouse history alive!
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